What do "you" expect from a sales ad(for prospects)?
When looking at sale ads for prospects what do you want to see?
For example say the horse has only done dressage or hunters or xxx up till now. What type of things do you expect to see in an ad(photos, video, ect) to make it worth your time to even look?
Do your expectations change based on the price range you are looking in? Like would you expect the same type of info available(photos, video, ect) from a $1000 horse as with a $10,000 horse?
I really like a good conformation photo: taken from a true side view, in focus, with the horse standing squarely (or in a balanced "open" stance) with his head up at a natural level.
Jumping photos are good too: anything that shows nice form over an appropriately-sized fence (as advertised). Trying to sell a 3'6" jumper with a photo of him over 2'6" raises questions. However, if you don't have rights to a good photo (showing knees up, good form), please don't use a poor photo, and please never steal photos! Be aware that you may have to pay for commercial rights to a professional photo if you use it to market the horse. A grainy, blurry free-jump snapshot taken from a video really doesn't do much to sell me your horse; just show me the video and a nice confo shot.
Dressage/movement photos are nice, but make less of an impression on me. It's all about timing: you can make an average mover look spectacular if the photo is right; you can also make an exceptional mover look ordinary. I don't like dressage photos showing the horse cranked behind the vertical and obviously on the forehand...yes his neck is arched all pretty, but it makes it seem like the rider focuses only on HEAD DOWN and says there could be some retraining to do (no thanks, I'll pass. Next horse, please).
Videos are great, and starting to become almost standard for most ads, especially for higher-priced horses (so yours could be at a disadvantage if you don't have a video). In the video, the horse should demonstrate the level of training described in the ad; at least W/T/C both directions. Show videos are fine, too, and offer good proof of a competition record. Please have a steady, clear video with minimal shaking. Don't include any loud, obnoxious background music-- keep in mind your potential customers have different tastes!-- something quiet and instrumental is ok, but no sound is fine too.
In photos and video, horse and rider should be neat, clean, and well-presented. Leave the barefoot, helmetless and shirtless pics to Craigslist junkies, please.
As far as the ad text goes: at minimum, please include registered/show name, age, height, breeding, location, and price (at least a range). Don't get too crazy with the superlatives; be honest and make your horse sound nice, but don't go so over-the-top that I roll my eyes and think you're barn blind. Be realistic about your horse and your asking price. An attractive, well-worded ad will let the horse sell himself.
“A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
? Albert Einstein
We were shopping this year for about 5 months. My budget was modest and for a project, but with very specific attributes. So this list is for the under $10k category, and closer to 2k. I would say at least 2/3 of ads were frustrating in what the left out. I had to write for the info and wasted both of our time.
A set of GOOD confo pictures. Not horse head down, eating or with some yahoo standing on its back or giving a helmetless tiny child a ride.
Exactly what's been done with the horse. I.e., started last fall, lunged, ridden w/t/c starting leg yields, then turned out for the winter to grow. NOT: 90 days professional training (which could mean almost anything) some undetermined time in the past. Definitely not the "anybody can ride". I run the other way.
Actual sticked size. (What is so hard about this?) For heavens sake if you haven't sticked the horse and are going by dead reckoning or what somebody at the barn said please qualify as such. I know good horses come in all sizes but what we see in the confo pics only makes sense if we have a legend or scale. In our case we were looking for a specific size range to fit a particular rider and her dreams. I've taken time off and driven a day to see several horses who were not close to 16 hands. In some cases it was padding but in most they really thought this is what a 16.2 horse looks like. There was an awkward moment when I offered use of my own stick. If he's 15.3 and you think he's got growing to do for goddess' sake say that.
Video. Not Oscar quality, but as much as possible. Riding, giving size of the rider. Free lunging. Even the very cheap horses need this to be worth the trip to see.
Date all photos. If including photo of Dobbin with fair ribbon with your daughter from 5 years ago, say that. If photos you chose are from last summer when he was slicked out and fit, say that too.
Unless you are selling the pedigree, just provide enough vital stats to allow me to look up the grandparents, if I want to. Tell me his breeding, registered name and any show name, and what registry he's registered with (ads that say "not registered but can be" are ones to run away from).
Whether your price is firm or negotiable.
Don't tell me that you have $x in training, farrier and vet bill in this horse. Horsemen and women know one never gets that back. Heck, if that were a good measure of value, I have more equity in the kids' ponies than my house.
What you think the horse would like to have as a job and why.
I used to say I was the only person in Central Virginia who actually owned a stick and used it. :-) I went through a long, painful period when I was looking at a lot of sale horses for different clients and not one of them sticked out to what the seller said they were. Not a deliberate deception, just people eyeballing and guessing.
Worst of all was when I was looking for a true heavyweight hunter for a big and tall man who hunted hard. I gave up on carrying the stick, and started carrying his saddle, putting it on the prospect and pulling down the stirrup. Anytime the stirrup tread hit the elbow or below I said "next." It saved a lot of "He rides bigger than he looks." Or "He takes up a lot of leg."
Craigslist ads often contain things like "pocket pony" or "first one to greet you at the gate" - not particularly useful. What would be useful is an accurate assessment of the horse's ground manners.
Perhaps I am skeptical, but I think a lot of sellers intentionally pad the height. I too have driven hours to see a horse that is at least a hand under the advertised height. Now I ask if the horse has been sticked. (Perhaps buyers should start asking for a picture of the horse next to the stick, sort of like those ransom notes with the person holding the newspaper with the date).
A lot of these are good suggestions but presume a level of knowledge on the seller's part that's not always there, and not always because the seller is a sleaze or an idiot. I've had a couple of made horses, but they fell into my lap - I didn't shop for them, so my perspective is that of shopper of cheap tb prospects. When I'm shopping at the track, I don't expect a trainer to really know whether the horse will make an eventer. That's not - generally - the trainer's sport. I sort of take sales ads for what they are, and expect some puffery.
What I do insist on is at least a halfway decent conformation shot. I won't actually go see a horse without one. Video is nice, but if it has a gap, I'll assume that there's a reason for the gap.
What I like to see does not vary from a little cheapy project or a classy young prospect. Pictures are free and easy to do well, so it shouldn't matter if it is 1k or 100k. And, really, if you are providing video, doing a quality video is free/cheap and easy to do well, too.
So, I want to know the age, size, sex, and breed. What CAN it do. A little flowery language is fine, but don't go overboard. I don't want the horse's life story or your life story. I want to know what the horse is and why I should be interested.
For pictures, a nice confo shot (NOT tied to a trailer, NOT standing like a cow in a muddy pasture, NOT an awkward picture in a poorly lit barn aisle or indoor). Clean the horse up, put a clean, well fitting, preferably leather halter or bridle on it, and have a friend stand it up nicely for you in a uncluttered, attractive area.
Ridden pictures of fine, and if you tell me the horse can jump 2'6", then try and get a decent picture of it jumping a 2'6" jump. This isn't as easy as a confo picture, but with a little practice and fiddling, most people can snap a few decent jump pictures (hint: if your camera isn't a high performance camera, you can cheat a little and build a simple gymnastic, or even put a placing rail out to help get the timing right). Again, the horse should be clean and tidy, as should the rider, and the jumps and ring should PREFERABLY not terrify me. Other ridden pictures are fine, as long as they FLATTER the horse and show it in a good way. I don't mind candids (look at this horse crossing this raging river on a trail ride), they just need to make me go "Nice" rather "WTF?"
Videos: Again. If you are going to do a video, it does not take much to do a decent one, no matter how cheap the horse. If the horse is broke to ride, show it doing exactly what you say it can do. So, if it w/t/c and is jumping 2'6", please show it doing w/t/c and jumping at least a line or two with some turns and jumps set at 2'6". And, PLEASE, keep it short and sweet. A little walk in each direction, a 20m trot circle in each direction, and 20m canter circle in each direction (if it is broke enough. If it isn't, I still want to see both leads, and both directions). PLEASE SHOW ME TRANSITIONS! I am skeptical if I see a canter depart one way, but a carefully edited out canter depart the other (knew a little horse that had HORRIBLE canter departs in one direction. EVERY sale video of it was carefully edited to show the lovely canter but not the god awful depart). And, seriously, let me see it go both ways, including the jumping.
Again, keep it short, especially the w/t/c. I don't need 5 minutes of it...I need just enough to get an idea. Same with the jumping. I don't need to see it jump 30 Xs. You can show me a warm up jump or two, but I really just want to see where it is in its current state of training. Exception: if you have a horse that is competing/schooling a certain level of dressage (well, other than Training level, since that is basic w/t/c), I would gladly watch a video of it doing a test at the level it is competing or schooling. At least show me it doing all the movements of said level (ie, a First Level horse should do leg yields, medium gaits, and some counter canter). I'll watch a longer flatwork video if the horse is more schooled.
If there are competition videos, great. If the horse has schooled xc and there's a little footage of it doing the basics (logs, banks, water, ditches), cool. None is necessary, but a nice bonus.
Remember, the internet has made the world a very small place. If you tell me your horse did something, I can find the results (and I will LOOK. Fool me once and all....). So, honesty is your best policy.
I have to say something about sizing....I use a proper metal stick on a concrete wash stall floor and I make sure I have someone to help me...we measured a horse for a client and all agreed horse was 16 h..at PPE vet thought he was less ans measured at 15.3. Which tanked the sale...less than a week later horse was being sold to another buyer and I asked her vet to measure horse with his..same metal stick..In their wash stall..they got 16.1.......
I have 4 geldings all 4 years old all measure true 16h yet they fit and ride so differently one taking up my 5'11 riders leg like a bigger horse and one with way more leg who looks so much more like 16.1 yet rider looks huge on him... And another who looks 15.2 but is a hair over 16.h...withers neck set depth of heart girth and length of leg from elbow down all factor in on actual ride size not sticked height of horse.....
One customer bought a horse who we measured and advertised as 16 h...AT PPE vet asked horses height and buyer grabbed a stick and proceeded to self measure the horse at 16.2 100% not accurate...Vet kicked my ankle and said customer is always right and she measured the horse not me..he also made that notation on PPE report..
It very much depends. Age, sex, height, breeding and a brief description of what the horse has done along with a decent conformation shot. I've bought horses on just that much and it is usually fine, provided the seller is capable of a useful, informative discussion about the horse. That matters to me more than pictures/video/etc.
I am just reaching the end of an exhaustive Internet search for a coming 3 year old who is not yet broke. I have narrowed it down to 2 finalists which I have sent to my trainer. There were many good horses, but the 2 finalists have one thing in common:
a GREAT free jump video.
I agree that presentation is everything. I do not want a bunch of sad looking jumps to get between the horse and the camera. Clear the ring out and have the horse brushed to a high gloss, mane pulled and a nice WELL FITTED halter on.
Video should start with a side view -- the horse must be stood up correctly. Then a walk around the horse, showing if his legs are straight (if his tail is too full then do a mud knot tie to get it out of the way of the hocks.
Then walk him away and back straight away and straight back to the camera.
Then he can trot and canter either under saddle or at liberty. I can tell what I need to see in 30 seconds of each gait in each direction. I fast forward over everything after that.
Then on to the jumping. All the horses I have looked at are free jumping and the chute is important. Do not use alot of standards. I prefer tape between standards unless you have enough 12' rails that the standards do not get in the way in the way.
And I want to see the horse jump a decently big jump. Cantering through a chute of 2' jumps tells me nothing. The 2 horses I am thinking of both jumped over 4' and I could really see them push off and crack their backs. Of course, if you are buying a dressage or trail horse, this is irrelevant. But if you are buying a horse that you hope will do the 3'6", then jump him 3'6". He doesn't have to be training at that height, but a coming 3 year old can certainly jump as high as his talent will take him for a short video. Start when he enter the chute and stop when he leaves the chute. Everything else is wasted time and footage.
Finish with a shot of the handler coming up to him and snapping on the lead rope. I am impressed when a young horse will let itself be caught immediately.
Music is OK as long as it is something that everyone likes. Some people have heavy metal music blaring and it gives me a headache. Have something generic and keep the volume down. Music should be background to the horse's performance. The horse is the star.
PHEW! I am glad I got that off my chest. I have actually become angry at the poor quality videos, so I just move on. The horse may be great, but the presentaton and the skill of the videographer make it impossible to see.
Remember, You have only one chance to make a good impression.
PS: Videos taken in late spring are best. The horse has lost his winter coat, the ground has thawed and the leaves are out. By summer, it is hot and the horse is too busy swatting flies.
If you do not have a nice ring with good jumps, go somewhere that does. Fair or not, the ring that the horse is in matters to me. I want to feel that the horse is coming from a top notch barn where the care and training are better than average.
If the video is bad enough that you have to make excuses for it, then it is bad enough to not be posted.
I have talked Maggie into running for President. She will be running on the Curly Haired Dog ticket. Her campaign slogan is "Don't be douchy or I'll pee on your carpet".
What I wouldn't give for a decent conformation shot...Other photos - please show the horse/pony doing what you say it does. Please do not include a horrible photo with the disclaimer that it doesn't do said horse justice. Duh. If the horse has been shown, a photo of that would be great. Even our little schooling shows around here have some photographers snapping shots.
And I would love it if sellers were painfully honest. Maybe even have an uninterested 3rd party write the ad or proof it. Seems like there is a segment of sellers who have an inflated idea of what a horse is capable of or worth when it is obviously not the case. Just because a horse once jumped a 4 ft. fence doesn't necessarily mean it has the potential to be a 4 ft. horse.
ITA w/Lord Helpus' comments. While being caught easily wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, being able to see the animal handled on the ground would be a huge plus. Videos are really quite easy to make these days...I feel like I should be able to see a video before I travel very far at all.
A craigslist ad is one thing. Anything else is a different story - folks should take the time and make the effort to show the sales horse as best as possible. We all know extra effort on the front end has a big effect on the return on the back end.
Perhaps I am skeptical, but I think a lot of sellers intentionally pad the height. I too have driven hours to see a horse that is at least a hand under the advertised height. Now I ask if the horse has been sticked.
Last fall, we did a PPE on a CANTER horse. We knew little about him except we liked the photos and his pedigree. The vet told us he was 15.1hh, which was fine with us because we like small horses.
The animal that strolled off the truck is at least 16.2hh.
Not sure what I expect, but what I WANT is:
confo pic, very short video of all three gaits + free jumping.
Confo pic + walk/ trot in hand is fine too.
I guess if its U/S then I want to see what ever its billed to do. Last time I bought a horse that wasn't recently a race horse was before the internet so I don't really have much imput on "going" horses
Funny story, so I was just horse shopping. One horse fit my basic parameters and was localish so I went to look at it off a video only. Looked nice on the video. Decent gaits, decent jump, probably worth the money they were asking for it. When I saw it in person, low and behold, it had some confo issues I don't like in an event horse, would have been fine for a show hunter. And it wasn't as nice in person as it was on the video LOL. (when does that happen?)
Moral of the story- totally would not have gone to look at it if I had seen a confo shot. Oh well.
What really gets me is that people don't include good conformation photos of their horses in the ad. Such as, all they include is a photo of the horse's head or something like that. It's not that hard to get good conformation photos. Then, to top it all off, when I ask for conformation photos they give me the "you'll just have to come out and see him/her in person, they look better in person". Check that one off, especially if they are out of state, which most are for me.
"One reason why horses are happy is because they are not trying to impress other horses."
"Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction"
I forgot to add something sellers should know about pictures, especially jumping pictures: if it's included in an ad, I'll take it that it's as flattering as it gets. I've seen ads showing horses as event prospects with terrible form. baffling.
The flooring in a wash stall gently slopes toward the drain, which, depending where the horse was standing in the wash stall, could reasonably account for the differing results. It is also important for the measuring stick to have a level in it, and for the user to know how to manipulate the stick in response to its indications, so that the leg of the stick is assured to be perfectly vertical.