This is a time of year when many horses will be changing hands for all sorts of reasons – a show rider who wants to move up to a more accomplished horse, a riding school expanding or reducing its herd, someone looking for a good family horse, a child having outgrown their pony…

Whatever the reason for selling, there are pitfalls in advertising your horse for sale. I can’t give you a sure-fire method to successfully sell your horse, but I can give you some pointers on how NOT to sell your horse…

Photos are so important.
Be sure to take photos of your horse when he is turned out, preferably after a heavy Autumn rain. If he is hairy and muddy people will be impressed that your natural horsemanship skills extend right down to the basics, and that you don’t use artificial aids like brushes or hoof picks to present your horse.

Try hard to take pictures when he is not standing even. This will lead your potential buyers to think he has a special number of legs—3 is good, but if you can get a post or object in the background, it can look like 5 or more! Missing or extra legs really helps catch the eye of viewers.

Be sure to accentuate his head. Take the photo when he is standing with his head facing you so that his head appears three times larger than his body. For a really comprehensive photo gallery, you can alternate this with photos that show us just the horse’s butt; we all know how flattering this type of photo is both for horses and people.

With time and patience, you may even be lucky enough to get a shot that combines both of these important features!

Never, ever provide a clear conformation shot that shows what the horse actually looks like.

100% Perfect Temperament

One of the best ways to show that your horse is safe is by including photos of a small, unhelmeted child clinging to its unsaddled back while loose in the pasture. Extra points if there are loose horses and other potential hazards in the background. This will clearly illustrate your confidence in your horse’s perfect disposition. (Note: if you’re running this ad in a newspaper, be sure to try to have it on a separate page from the “Barnyard Tragedy” article.)

A fairly subtle but very effective trick is to include various pasture hazards in the photos. Crappy fencing (preferably barbed wire and falling down) as well as random metal objects are a real plus. To the savvy buyer, this will show that your horse is smart enough not to get injured in the pasture!

Registration Pros And Cons

When you say, “Can be registered, I just never did it”, this shows us that you’re just so busy responsibly attending to your horses that you couldn’t possibly have taken the ten minutes to do the paperwork!

After all, registration is not that important – just look online; registered horses are everywhere! Show your horse’s uniqueness by listing its exotic breeding:
Mother was a Morgan/Quarter Horse and sire was a Canadian Horse/Standardbred.

For example, this is an actual ad for an unregistered QH/Arab cross. Just think of all the breeds you’d be getting for one low price!

“She has not been riden in about two years… She always produces nice foals that are easy to handle. She is available after her current foal is weanded or she can be purchaed now as a 2-in-1 for a reduced cost $750. 2008 foal is a sorrel colt, half-morgan. She can also be bre back to a palamino Morgan stallionor a cremello overo APHA if you would like. “

Height Measurements

You have several options here.

If you are going to list actual height measurements, be precise. Everyone wants a horse that is 14.5 or 15.6.

If you are selling a young horse who has not yet finished growing (anything under, say, 9 years old), provide guesses about your horse’s future height. Nothing says honest like posting your currently 2-year old 12-hand filly and saying:
“She will probably mature to be around 15.2”

Or you can measure someplace other than the withers. If you choose this option, remember, don’t provide the wither measurement.
“She is already 15-3 at the hip”

Sell The Potential

Tell us everything your horse ever could be potentially good at doing in the future. Does your horse have four legs and a head? Perhaps he’ll be a champion at jumping, dressage, barrels. The possibilities are endless, and you don’t want to exclude potential buyers by not listing their particular discipline!

If your horse has working or semi-functional genitalia make sure you also list them as having “breeding potential”! Has your 2 year old unregistered quarterloosarabian with three working legs bred with the donkey next door when he broke down the barbed wire fence resulting in an offspring that survived birth? Be sure to list her as a “proven breeder”!

Keep ‘em Skinny

Horses that have protruding bones not only show us that you are financially conscientious (what real horse person would spend excess money on feed?) but we can also evaluate the horse’s internal as well as external conformation.

Sell Your Horse Because It’s Useless

Show that you’re not a horse-loving softie, but a real horse person. Real horse people know how to use up a horse and sell them when they get too old to work for you. Show us you’re a real horse person by getting rid of the animals that no longer bring you a profit. It’s not like they deserve to be retired or cared for in their old age for all they’ve done for you during their life.

22 YO chestnut mare:
“She had been and is a great mare… she has a stud colt by her side and is bred back to <stud name removed> for an 09 foal. She is a sound breeder, color producer. I’ve had her since she was 4 and she no longer fits my program.”

Grammar Tricks and Tips

Nothing is more fun for a potential buyer than trying to decipher cryptic horse sale ads. This is a very smart marketing strategy – the worse your spelling and grammar, the more potential buyers will remember it!

Here are some great examples from actual ads posted online:

  • “I ahve 3 poines Paint Mare pony is 7 year old she is in foal. Broke to ride. She is 39 inches Paint Stud pony 5 years old. broke to ride.38 inches Pony colt he is 36 inches. Asking 350 each or 1000 for all.”
  • “finnish in your direction.” Does the horse speak Finnish?
  • “he is a 5 yr. old that needs some one. owner just dont need him and wants to have a good home.he is a good boy but aint been rode in while and now has only 30 days back in the saddle. all paper work . will load and do what you want.”
  • She would best suit an eprienced rider, only because she has alot of energy that can be unvercing.

Have you seen any really good ads that fit the “How not to sell your horse” criteria? Let me hear about them – I love a good laugh!

Thanks to “The Ultimate Horse Site” for inspiration and some ad content.