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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 22, 2012
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    Default Tips on Showing a Horse to Buyers

    I recently put my guy up for sale and I have some prospective buyers coming to look at him this week. I have never been so nervous in all of my life! This is my first time selling my horse and I want it to be a good experience for all.

    I've spoken with the the family coming to look and they are friends of a friend. I think that the girl looking would be a great fit for my guy and I really hope she likes him.

    Are there any tips for showing my horse? I'm going to make sure he is immaculate - mane pulled, clipped, all of his turn out mud off, tack clean, etc. He lives in a nice facility with a well-lit indoor since we are doing this in the evening. What I want to know is if there was anything when you went horse shopping that turned you off right away? Things I should or shouldn't do?

    Most of my horse shopping experiences have been really low key and sometimes odd, and I want to make sure I'm not "a story" down the road!



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 27, 2009
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    524

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    The main things that have turned me off are all preventable - horse lame, horse grossly misrepresented or horse very clearly worked down all day. It's one thing to hop on the horse earlier and give it a normal ride and make sure he is his usual self; it's quite another to make it borderline exhausted. Have all of your tack and such together and be ready to tack him up in front of them quickly. If you are riding first, keep it short, simple and informative - put him through his paces and take him over a few jumps and ask if they want to see any more before they get on.

    When they are riding, try to keep your input to a minimum unless they ask for your help or are clearly struggling. They are horse shopping, not taking a riding lesson. I always need a few minutes WTC on my own to get a feel for the horse before wanting outside opinions.

    Lastly, this is your personal horse but try to keep it as professional as possible! Pretend you are an interested third party and do not become defensive if they are making reasonable comments or asking reasonable questions.

    Good luck!


    12 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug. 20, 2006
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    Pa-eternally laboring in the infinite creative and sustentative work of the universe
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    An excellent post of advice.

    My #1 priority was defining the exact use the potential buyer intended for the horse.; and then structured the appts around that.
    I'd try to simulate their *typical* ride, >people have habits and need to be adjusted for. (example: one lady just HAD to lunge for a 1/2 first, no matter what and for a horse not used to such a routine, it might appear difficult). Most did ring schooing ending with a trail ride.

    I was lucky to have *lesson* horses to put folks on first. Sadly, but many were genuine, in over-estimating their riding skills. It was a good way they could Observe the sale horses way of going, while I kept a good eye on them, (their hands, legs use, so to assess *compatability). If, at that point I felt there to be an unsuitability, Id speak up.

    Once they *mastered* the safety of w/t/c, even a few jumps ok, and if I felt comfortable, I'd actually find excuse to leave a little while (always keeping within view tho). You'll notice their immediate change in assessing the horse.

    Rarely, did people buy first visit (2 out of 10)> 2nd visits usually scored 8 of 10 btw... so instead; Id start making an appt for the 2nd visit, perhaps expanding the ride to more advanced tasks, or trailering a horse out for trail. (depends on their use again).
    This always worked well for me.

    Now, be ready for the end -- even with my best efforts in the initial interviews, Id be blindsided by *oh, I have to sell MY horse first, or *I just wanted to check what kind of horse are on the market or * I wasnt planning on buying until after winter, or the most honest one I got ..* I thought he was so neat, I wanted to ride him, but cant afford him. <yea, wow>.

    I shared this earlier in another post ..
    *the right buyer always does come along*
    IN GOD WE TRUST
    OTTB's ready to show/event/jumpers. Track ponies for perfect trail partners.
    http://www.horseville.com/php/search...=1&ssid=057680


    3 members found this post helpful.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug. 24, 2009
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    287

    Default

    Based on my experience selling my horse this summer... if you have people traveling to see the horse from any distance (like, an hour away or more) ask them to confirm with you that they are indeed on the way. I rearranged my schedule a few times only to spend the entire day at the barn sitting around (well, not really sitting around, but waiting around!) waiting to hear that they decided not to come after all.

    Other than that, I usually rode the horse for ten-fifteen minutes to show what he could do, and tried to ride him in an appropriate way for the buyer (for less advanced riders, I just let him warm up on a looser rein; for more advanced people we demonstrated lead changes, got him on the bit and really stepping under himself, etc.) Then they tried him. Quickly learned not to set up anything bigger than a teeny cross rail until we got a feel for the rider - people are terrifying and wildly overestimate their skills. The horse was a packer up to 3' but you still had to sit up and steer a little - many claimed they were showing at that level, but were not able to make a straight line over a small X.

    Not to be cynical - but be ready for ANYTHING. I wish I had asked a few more questions of potential buyers to determine if they were a good match, and hadn't wasted time waiting for people who never showed up. If they are working with a trainer, I would try to encourage them to only come see the horse WITH the trainer. I had multiple people come out, like the horse, schedule a second appointment to see him with the trainer, and then cancel because the trainer sold them something they had in the barn. I don't blame it on the trainer - but if people are going to give that much weight to the trainer's opinion, then they are probably better off bringing the trainer on the initial visit.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 17, 2006
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    Just be as honest as possible. I hate going to see an advertised 16.3 hh horse only to find the horse is MAYBE 15.3. If you haven't put a stick to your horse, I would do that. It's hard to estimate sometimes. Also, if the buyers really aren't a fit, don't try to sell your horse. . Since this is your personal horse, I don't think you would do that, but sometimes people exaggerate. And yes, spotless is important! Then "brush" him quickly so they can see the horse being groomed. Good luck.
    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
    ¯ Oscar Wilde



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 28, 2012
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    New York
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    try to ride your horse 2-3 hours before they show up. Make sure that he is well turned out and if you're going to be hoof dressing on him put it on when you get off try to have someone on the ground to adjust the jumps etc. unless they have specified otherwise I have him on cross ties when they come clean but untacked. when they come quickly tack him up and ride him for 10 or so minutes (go through each gait lead changes, if they ask and take him through a quick course). ask if they want to see anything else and then let them ride without you. after that try to be objective and good luck!


    2 members found this post helpful.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 5, 2009
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    the South
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    Default

    One funny little trick my friend taught me was to give a treat to a non-mouthy horse so they'd put on a happy face at prospective buyers.

    If possible, have someone else on the horse so you are available to answer questions and "talk up" the horse while he's going around.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 18, 2003
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    Alberta
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    Try to make sure that the arena will be empty of other riders! Nothing worse than coming to try a horse and there's a group lesson going on. Not so bad if there's somebody that's already in there exercising there horse, but it awfully hard to flat and jump a horse when there's a lesson going on.

    When I've sold my horses we don't ride them "down" before they buyer comes out, we want people to see what they are actually like! They are groomed as if we're at a show, all tack is spotless, and the horse is in the barn waiting for them and tacked up so they can first do a once over. If they want to use their own saddle, they can, so long as it fits. We ask if they'd like to see the horse ridden first by my trainer (or me as an ammie). Some buyers want to see the horse go before they try, others aren't bothered, especially if they know the horse from seeing it at shows.
    Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!


    3 members found this post helpful.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 16, 2007
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    1,827

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    If you are the only person to ever ride your horse increase his/her tolerance by having a variety of riders in the range of ability that is suitable. They need to be led away from mom and mounted by different riders and lightly ridden at all gaits...simulate the practice ride. It will increase their tolerance and yours. If the horse has an issue you didn't anticipate...one horse I test rode did not accept being held when mounted and surprise! went over backwards for the practice ride. Turns out she was used to her rider vaulting on...duh.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 7, 2006
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    Spruce Grove AB
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    823

    Default

    Oh sh*t Toxicity, I went to give your post a thumbs up, and as I went to scroll down I hit the thumbs down! I was nodding in agreement to your comment about, if some one ellse can give the demo while you(the owner of said horse) can talk lol and I had just said on OT about the whole TU or TD thread, saying I would probably never give a thumbs down! Sorry!

    Back to original poster, all the points that have been given have been great. Immaculate turnout, have your horse worked before hand(day before or what ever) just so he isn't completely fresh and naughty. Confirm meet up arrangements, and do not get upset if a comment is made that is not the most flattering. And listen to your gut instinct if you do not think the match is correct for your horse and buyer. Even if it means your guy will sit for a while.

    Good luck! It must be completely nerve wracking! I have only sold one horse, and that was my sisters TB gelding that never had clicked with, but it was still imperative that he and the owners meshed well. And they did, and still do.

    Keep us updated


    1 members found this post helpful.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 5, 2002
    Location
    way out west
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    3,080

    Default

    I actually don't like it if the horse is tacked up. I want to see everything, and would actually prefer to see him retrieved from a field or turnout, so I can see how he is to catch. I want to see you groom him, pick his feet, etc. I didn't do that with the first horse I ever bought and lived to regret it for the next year it took to teach him decent ground manners. Never assume! I sold a horse last summer and it was not a fun experience. Ended up putting him in training for a month's tune-up, raising the price accordingly, and selling him to a friend who fell in love with him while he was at the trainer's barn. Good luck. I hate selling horses.


    6 members found this post helpful.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct. 6, 2002
    Location
    Philadelphia PA
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    15,316

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    If your barn is in some remote, difficult to find place-- please TELL ME THAT and give me clear directions how to get there. And understand if I call you lost on the way because your serial-killer paradise barn is on top of a mountain and I REALLY wasn't expecting to hit a road too narrow for a car and have to walk the last 1/2 mile
    ~Veronica
    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
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    1 members found this post helpful.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010
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    Alberta
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    Suprised by the suggestion of riding the horse a few hours before hand so it's not "naughty". Unless you are telling them that you are going to do this, it seems a tad dishonest to me. I would expect that when I try a horse, that i am seeing a horse that has not been worked yet that day, and gettting an honest viewing of how that horse would be out of the field.

    If the potential buyer is not bringing their trainer, suggest they bring a video camera, and offer to video them riding the horse for a bit. people seem to appreciate that. If a trainer is present, I usually wander off to the barn for a bit to give them some privacy, and to show them I feel confident in my horse's suitability.

    Clean tack, pretty saddle pad, quiet ride time, and simple course of jumps.

    I also always ask if they prefer the horse in and ready, or if they want to see the horse caught and such. Usually when selling to a kid, they want to catch and tack up, but also with more nervous riders this can help them get comfortable with the horse's personality.

    One thing that sold us on a horse, was that after trying it in the ring, the seller offered to take the kid out back on a trail ride with the horse to cool it off. Kid was thrilled, horse was great, and it clinched the sale.


    3 members found this post helpful.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
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    2,047

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    Don't take it personally or get ruffled if you have people flake out at the last second or reject your horse for a silly reason. There are a lot of "buyers" out there who just aren't ready to commit, so don't over analyze or dwell on it. Be prepared for all kinds of questions and don't commit to anything off the cuff if you aren't sure. People will ask you about payment plans, trial periods, wanting to take the horse to facility X to school, wanting you to pay them a commission if they refer your horse to friend Y, would you consider taking 50% of your asking price, etc. Just say, "I'll have to think about it." Also, be prepared to say "no" in the rare event that someone starts riding your horse in a manner you aren't comfortable with. Also, be prepared with paperwork if someone DOES want to buy your horse. Have your sales contract ready.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun. 11, 2006
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    Berryville, VA
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    I did not think it was common practice to ride a horse before buyers came to look at it. ***I*** would be very up-set to even find out if the horse had been lunged before I got there. That would kill a sale for me. I just leased out a pony that was slightly naughty when coming back from a lease. We ended up shipping him to a large show for a barn to try and we let them keep him in their stall and put him in their routine. We didn't even walk him around the grounds when we got there because the last thing I wanted was for him to be GREAT while we were there and then a little shit after we left. I thought he was bad because I know how perfect he used to be. It turns out they loved him anyway and were very happy the trainer got to see what he needed work on before they signed the check.
    Boarding for Show, Pleasure, and Retirement horses. www.LockeMeadows.com


    2 members found this post helpful.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Whidbey Is, Wash.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BostonHJ View Post
    Have all of your tack and such together and be ready to tack him up in front of them quickly. If you are riding first, keep it short, simple and informative - put him through his paces and take him over a few jumps and ask if they want to see any more before they get on.
    Quote Originally Posted by eclipse View Post
    When I've sold my horses we don't ride them "down" before they buyer comes out, we want people to see what they are actually like! They are groomed as if we're at a show, all tack is spotless, and the horse is in the barn waiting for them...[snip]
    Quote Originally Posted by CHT View Post
    I also always ask if they prefer the horse in and ready, or if they want to see the horse caught and such. Usually when selling to a kid, they want to catch and tack up, but also with more nervous riders this can help them get comfortable with the horse's personality.
    Emphasis mine, because I think it's a great idea. I've always had them in and groomed, but untacked. The above sum up what I would have said, and I never ever ride or lunge before someone comes out. Once they get there, fine, but before, no.

    Also, try to keep the atmosphere quiet. No screaming children, dogs jumping on them, lesson kids coming over to inquire "are you guys here to buy Dobbin??" If they bring their trainer, great, but make sure you have a mental time limit...they are not there to take an hour-long lesson on your horse.
    Aisha, my heart from 03/06/1986 to 08/22/2008.

    COTH's official mini-donk enabler.
    Odie, aka the Evil Burrito, is on Facebook.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec. 18, 2006
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    NY
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    Having just tried a horse recently in the evening, we were very happy to find her in a stall, not sweaty, not tacked up. Owner brought her out, unblanketed her and put her on crossties. Some small talk. Asked if we wanted to see her move at liberty in the arena, we declined and she tacked up. Horse was ridden for us, my trainer rode, then I rode; we videotaped all 3 rides.

    When we tried her a 2nd time, we didn't intend to do so but ended up going to see her with only an hour's notice which we were happy about. We knew that horse couldn't have been ridden in preparation for us, and was in her stall when we arrived. It was great to see her come out knowing she was totally "cold", and get a real feel for how she went on a normal day, not prepped in any way for a trial ride.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug. 7, 2012
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    305

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    I agree with saddleup! I like to see the horse from start to finish. I want to see you catch him in the field (unless its miles away), lead him in, how he behaves on cross-ties, picking his feet, brushing his head, tightening the girth, etc. This holds more boat if the potential buyer is a kid!

    I think you should groom him earlier in the day so that he doesnt need a full groom when the buyers get there, just a dusting off. Really, if he will be a long ways away if you put him out with his buddies in his field, then that might be annoying for a potential buyer. If he will be close though, I would do that and explain that you wanted them to see how friendly his is out and how easy he is to catch. And take the girl if it will be safe for her. Give her carrots to give him when you catch him. Let her lead him in if its safe. I bet you have the horse sold before you even get back to the barn

    Oh darn, I just read that it will be in the evening. Well, maybe you can do all this on their 2nd trip


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  19. #19
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    Far as the working it out a bit (NOT into the ground) before hand and having it ready to go? That is NOT a bit dishonest for an initial presentation. You sure don't want them to get hurt and you have no idea of their riding ability. Especially in the evening when you don't have a ton of time and your buyer is not going to want to be there for hours either. They just want to see if it's a possibilty for further investigation...or they just want to keep you out there until 10pm and never call back. Way it goes sometimes.

    You have no idea of these are tire kickers, kids on a whim or you actually have a serious and qualified buyer. This is simply a showcase of the horse prepped the best he can be without wasting a bunch of everybody's time if it proves obviously unsuitable or they are not serious buyers.

    You, or your rider, will ride the horse first showing what it can do well and and the buyer may request. Then they, or their rider try it.

    You stay available to answer questions but let them do most of the talking. Let them decide if they are interested or not.

    If all goes well, they will schedual another appointment and THEN they can go catch it, tack it up, ride it fresh or watch you or your rider do it.

    Selling in this market is very competitive so you need to make your initial presentation as easy for the buyer as possible by presenting a polished and ready to show horse they can evaluate in a minimum amount of time. If they like it? They can schedual that second visit and take as much of their and your time up as they want.

    Generally, you are not going to sell to your first lookers and they are not going to buy the first horse they look at if they buy anything at all. And, unfortunately, you get alot of pretend buyers.

    Get him ready to impress and get them back for that second appointment.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


    5 members found this post helpful.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 19, 2009
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    I do not like having a horse lunged or ridden before I arrive and will not do that for anyone coming to look at my horses. I feel that buyers should meet the horse and ride the horse that they will pull out of the field/stall if they own it. If the horse does best with a lunge before you get on, tell them and do it while they are there if they'd like. If you have any concern that the horse may be naughty, make sure you get on first to assess behavior. Scenario A: potential buyer will see horse as it is when it's up, or Scenario B: you will have to pull potentially incompetence rider off your horse if they aren't doing well.

    Have horse very well groomed, like going to a show minus the braids. Have tack set out and ready. I always ask if they'd like to see me catch the horse in turnout, or waiting in a stall. Either way, let them see the horse untacked for just a couple minutes while introducing yourselves/having small talk and then tack them up as normal.

    Once you're on, do your quick warmup...not a schooling ride like you would normally do at home, but more like your ride in the show ring. No more than ten minutes..w/t/c, lead changes, whatever your horse knows well on the flat. Have a crossrail set up to do first and then a course your horse is capable of. If they really aren't as good as they claim, you will be able to assess it over theory warmup crossrail and not insulting anyone by lowering your normal fences.

    Don't instruct them on how to ride unless your horse has some definite quirks they should be aware of that will drastically improve their ride (for example, my older horse does best when you give him some warning that you're asking for a canter when flatting by lifting your hands...if you don't do that he can be a little unresponsive). If they are having a lot of trouble and/or ask for help, then tell them how they horse is used to being ridden/asked (don't say "well he doesn't like when you do this" or "you're asking too harshly"...putting the "blame" on them may turn they off. If they're obviously not a good fit, say so and have them get off. It may be a little awkward but it's in the horse's best interest.

    I am always 100% honest about the horse...even with their quirks and flaws. I want a happy horse and a happy rider. You don't want them to purchase the horse only to find out it has some kind of dealbreaker issue and them have to get rid of the horse to who knows where, and come back angry at you. Try to give them full disclosure of everything before they come out so no one's time is wasted.

    Ask them to call/text you when they're leaving and on their way so you know. I hate no shows and this helps.

    Give them some alone time with the horse/their trainer/parent/SO to talk things over...put the horse in crossties, untack, and excuse yourself to put away tack/scoop poop out of the ring/whatever...unless they seem very uninterested or in a rush.

    But biggest tip is being honest and do your best to come off as genuine and relaxed. It makes people more comfortable. Stay professional and don't get defensive over the horse, but since he is your personal horse, make it obvious that you have really enjoyed your time with him, he's helped your riding, whatever (if he has, of course).

    What not to do: leave him dirty in a stall, tell me he's over there and to feel free to groom him and look for a bridle/girth/pad/saddle that "will probably adjust to fit him", while you scrub and curse at another much higher priced horse for a potential buyer coming in a couple hours.

    Also, don't put a young rider on a very barn sour 4 year old pony (while lying and saying he's 8) in a muddy barn yard and allow rider to get run off with into the barn and THEN mention that there is a nice big ring up the hill...amongst other issues that case had.

    Good luck!


    2 members found this post helpful.

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