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The Commerce of the Horse: Tips on Buying and Selling
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The Commerce of the Horse: Tips on Buying and Selling

It is the season of buying and selling horses for many folks. The fall “show season” is here. The weather is getting cooler. Clubs and associations have something going on almost every weekend. The economy is slowly getting better and people of all ages are finding the love for the equine and rural lifestyle.

For those of us who are looking for a great horse or maybe we have a horse on the market, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the emails from potential buyers, the pictures, the requests for “more information” that never get replied to and the search itself. It really is a process—almost a part-time job in some cases—to find the right horse or the right buyer and it can get very frustrating for all concerned. Here are some tips from personal experience to think about as you look for that next great horse or try to sell a horse in today’s market.

BUYERS: Make a list of “Must Have” and “Want” characteristics and talents you would like any potential new horse to have. Also, create a “Give Back” list where you clarify what you can give back to the horse, which can be everything from time to facility to the fact that you love grooming your horse (your potential horse should like that too).

BE CLEAR and HONEST about your own skill level as it relates to riding and training your new equine partner and BE CLEAR about what you want to do together. Have a budget that is a little bit flexible! You get what you pay for and expecting to pay $1000 for a fully finished horse that can perform in the show pen and be kid/husband safe is, frankly unreasonable. A well trained, well-finished horse is NOT CHEAP. If you are not willing to put in the additional time/training with the horse then you have to pay for it to be done one way or another.

Lastly, READ ALL THE INFORMATION the seller provides! Seriously, can’t stress that enough. If the Seller has put real time/effort into providing a “training journal” or detailed ad then you need to READ IT as it probably answers all of your questions and will help you to determine if that particular horse is going to be right for you. Ask questions that are not covered in the provided information and be willing to travel a little bit to meet a great horse.

Everyone has lives and schedules so be flexible when working with a Seller to make a time to meet. If you reach out via email, PM or phone be sure you REPLY to any communication that comes back to you! EXAMPLE: If you email the Seller with “I am really interested in your horse!” and the Seller responds with information LET THEM KNOW YOU GOT IT! Even if you decide this horse is not the best fit, a short “not the best fit for me” note shows that you have some manners and respect the time of the Seller.

You can’t get angry if you send a note today, the seller responds within 24 hours and then you do nothing for days so the Seller drops you from the Potential Buyer list. Your lack of communication indicates your real lack of interest. Plus it is just rude. Think about it from the Sellers point of view.

SELLERS: Please WRITE A CLEAR AD/POST with important information like age, sex, breed, training level, bloodlines and the personality/aptitude of the horse along with any video, picture or blog links you may have. Yes, in today’s world too much information puts folks off (weird I know but true but Reading is Fundamental so do your due diligence) and they won’t fully read your ad/post. Think “Cliff Notes” style. Basic Information, the “Good”, the “Working On It” and “How to Meet the Horse” is usually enough. GOOD PICTURES OF JUST THE HORSE (no one wants to see pictures of your kids on the horse) from ALL FOUR SIDES WITHOUT THE SADDLE are a must! Keep your post/ad clear, concise and simple.

If a person contacts you, then give them the longer version of your post (you know you wrote one) that covers as much as you can about the horse. This is REALLY IMPORTANT: Be sure the horse is READY TO BE SHOWN to potential new families. Pulling a horse out of the pasture that has not been saddled in 6 months or seen a curry brush in while is NOT the way to attract buyers!

Prepare the horse as best you can by giving it a decent “tune-up” before placing it on the market. Seriously, no buyer wants to deal with having to “school your horse” while shopping. Prepare the horse for success. If you don’t then you can’t get mad at a low ball offer. Disclose any “issues” that you know about. DO YOUR HOMEWORK about the market and price your horse fairly.

Be willing to tell a potential family “no” if you feel the fit is not right. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE WELL BEING OF THE HORSE and keeping that mindset will guide you to prepare the horse for success and to really look at the Buyer – not just their money. Be willing to demonstrate what the horse can do on the ground and under saddle and be willing to help the potential buyer find the best way to communicate with the horse.

BOTH SIDES: Respect the efforts that have gone into helping the horse be a positive equine citizen. Respect one another’s time. Show up and be prepared for appointments. Work for the best interest of the horse.

A little effort will go a long way for both Buyer and Seller.

Hope this helps!

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