Friday, May. 24, 2024

Of Emily Post, Flip Flops And Selling Horses

After making the difficult decision to sell my horse this winter, I’ve since embarked on a search for a new partner. I’ve spent ample time reading the Chronicle classifieds, surfing the Internet and watching lots of videos on YouTube.com.
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After making the difficult decision to sell my horse this winter, I’ve since embarked on a search for a new partner. I’ve spent ample time reading the Chronicle classifieds, surfing the Internet and watching lots of videos on YouTube.com.

As a result, I’ve traveled to several different states to see a few of these prospects. I’ve been surprised (mostly pleasantly) by what I’ve seen, met some interesting people and ridden a few lovely horses. And while I’ve not yet found that “perfect” horse for me, I’ve tried hard to be a considerate buyer; I arrive on time (thanks to GPS!), assist in the grooming and tacking, if needed, and consider the horse’s welfare when deciding whether to jump another fence.

So, it was with great interest that I opened an e-mail last week titled: “Where Has Emily Post Gone?” Last year I received a letter from a writer who preferred not to have her name published. She wrote about the lack of ethics among horsemen when it came to selling horses. She’s back, and this time she takes umbrage with the lack of etiquette in today’s buyer.

Some of the points she addressed are those that I’ve considered on my searches, while others I’m amazed she’s experienced.
   
So, you arrive and know immediately that this isn’t your dream horse. My letter writer said: “If the horse isn’t what you expected upon arrival, or not suitable, just politely say so. It’s better to be honest than to mislead the seller. My feelings won’t be hurt if you don’t want to ride. If the dress doesn’t look good on the hanger, it probably won’t look good once you put it on!”

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What if you covet a horse you see in an ad but the price is just out of your budget? She said, “It’s OK to ask if the price is negotiable. But if it’s double what you have to spend, please don’t waste everyone’s time with phone calls and long-winded e-mails or come ride the horse. You wouldn’t try on a pair of shoes and walk around in them for 30 minutes if you weren’t going to buy them.”

Likewise, don’t make appointments you have no intention of keeping. Call or e-mail to confirm the night before, and if you have a change of mind or found your horse, let the seller know. She also notes if you’re not 100 percent serious, don’t discuss pre-purchase and shipping arrangements until you’ve negotiated the deal because it sets up a false sense of reality to seller.
   
Bring your helmet, proper footwear and, if appropriate, have your saddle.

She said, “Do not show up in shorts and flip flops—George Morris nightmares will ensue!”
   
For many people, selling horses is a full-time job, and they lose patience and are suspicious about anyone who calls or e-mails when they continually face inconsiderate buyers. Also, as a buyer, don’t forget to check your spam folder; I’ve uncovered several responses that inadvertently ended up there.
   
While Emily Post never wrote about proper buying etiquette for horses, a little of the courtesy and common sense that she offered can go a long way in this business too. Treat others as you would like to be treated; after all, you never know when the tables will turn and you’ll be the one waiting at the barn for that prospective buyer who never shows up.

Tricia Booker, Editor

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