That has been my question for the last year. I have a 15 yr OTTB that I bought 7 years ago, from a horse dealer, he was a few weeks/months off the track. I was not into competing h/j anymore so I rode/trained him, took him to lessons and pretty much just enjoyed him. My riding interest have changed over the last few years and although I stil enjoy riding him I find it hard to find much time for him. He is a little quirky (separation issues, hard keeper, etc.) so he requires more input than my other two horses. I have started to sell him twice (once in late spring then again last fall) and both times he developed health issues and I had to take him off the market. All health issues were addressed and were not chronic issues.
I am almost afraid to pursue selling him again because I don't want another vet bill! I had priced him very reasonable, I think in the proper environment he could be a good hunter in a local type circuit.
I am somewhat undecided about what to do next. The other issue with selling is that I keep him a home and I am reluctant to have people come try him at my property. I had considered contacting a local hunter/jumper horse dealer to try to workout a deal to sell him but that was in the fall when the last health issue came up.
I confess I am completely confused how placing him on the market could result in a vet bill? Are you saying the prior health issues were somehow caused by/related to the horse being for sale? Or is your question just a way of saying that you're feeling superstitious? If so, well, here's some input: that's silly.
As for whether to sell yourself or sell him to a trader, I would ask myself what would be best for the horse. As you said, he's quirky & needs lots of input, so it sounds like he's not an easy, slam-dunk kind of horse. He might do best if shown by someone who knows and loves him. But if you don't have a riding ring or are otherwise not set up to show the horse in a good light, then maybe selling him to a reputable,trusted trainer could be in his best interests. But be aware you lose all control, all input in his fate. So I'd emphasize "trusted" and "respected" when looking for a dealer to take on your horse.
Sorry to be confusing. Superstitious. I know it is silly. This was just really a vent. I know I need to do what is best for the horse and me. I need to just sit down and make some calls to find out about the market from local trainers that are familiar with the horse then make a decision about what to do.
I don't understand the reluctance to have people come to your property to try your horse (obviously, you would screen them first), but if you feel strongly about it then the only way you will be able to sell the horse is to send him to a trainer, preferably one who sells a good number of horses.
However, as the owner of the horse, she could still be sued if someone fell off the horse at a sales barn. Please don't assume that the sales barn owner's liability policy extends to the individual owner of sales horses.
Your best defense is always getting a release AND having your own equine liability policy (which is not expensive, BTW).
If it were possible, I would show the horse to prospective buyers at home, assuming there was a ring to show him in. Horses are more relaxed in a familiar situation and in theory should show better. Given the horse as described does sound like a high dollar horse, I would think the sales barn route of training board and commission might get expensive really fast.
Be realistic about asking price. Has he shown? What type of rider does he need? Require shoes all around? Injections? These all effect sale price. Look on line at what horses his age and training have sold for, not just for what they are listed for. And just IMO I really don't like and won't inquire on horses that when they are at an age they should be finished in training that say "great prospect for....."
I would seriously consider having him sold out of a barn with perhaps an indoor, or at least an all-weather outdoor with good footing. From both a buyer's and a seller's viewpoint, I cannot overestimate how great it is to not have to depend on weather to cooperate with buyers' appointments.
My price will be reasonable, I am not looking to make money, just find him a home. When I stopped taking him for lessons we were jumping 3', at home I only go about 2'3", he is great on the flat and has lead changes. I chose not to show him but I think he has the training to go into the ring as soon as I get him back in a little better physical condition. I have not been riding as much the last 2 months due to the rain.