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Showing a horse to prospective buyers - what is the protocol?

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  • Showing a horse to prospective buyers - what is the protocol?

    I have my big guy on the market and will be showing him to some prospective buyers soon. I am not a professional so I'm not sure what the protocol/expectation is for showing him to buyers.

    Do I tack him up and ride him first? Or do I let them tack him up so they get a sense of handling him?

    Who typically rides the horse first? Trainer or buyer/student?

    How generous are you with letting the buyers ride multiple days/times?

    The buyer is coming from about 12 hours away, so I'm flexible and willing to let them do quite a bit with him (flatwork, hacking/trail ride, XC and SJ).

    Of course, I can simply ask them how they'd like to structure their time (and we've casually discussed it).

    What is your advice for best presenting him to them?

  • #2
    You ride first. Show them what he can do. Then their trainer rides if they brought one and then the buyer rides.

    You ride first so if the buyer can't get the horse to canter it is clear the problem is their riding.

    Vet the buyers a bit on the phone. Ask how long riding, ask more subtle kinds of questions that a beginner couldn't answer. You want to avoid having someone who has never say on a horse before come up and have a disaster.

    Also if you have any doubts tell them you will get back to them. Normal buyers always want a chance to debrief without you and will rarely insist on taking horse home right then.

    You could get then to take a lesson with your coach or go on a trail ride if that's important to them

    ​​​​

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Scribbler View Post

      Vet the buyers a bit on the phone. Ask how long riding, ask more subtle kinds of questions that a beginner couldn't answer. You want to avoid having someone who has never say on a horse before come up and have a disaster.

      ​​​​
      Agree with this 100%. I've talked to both the trainer and the buyer quite a bit, looked up their show records, snooped on Facebook, etc. From what I've seen, it's a good match. I also asked many, many questions about where he would live, their approach to management/care, etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        Definitely talk to them about what they want, most of the time horse shoppers want to see the regular rider ride first to get a feeling of the horses training, however occasionally you will have someone who wants to try the horse"cold",so asking is a very good idea.
        Me personally, I want to see a horse, either trotting or cantering freely in the paddock or bring lunged in just a halter first.
        So yes check with the buyer's!

        Comment


        • #5
          Usually let the buyer groom/tack... heck even catch from field if they are already out. Since you've been talking with them and this is one specific buyer, just ask. "Would you like me to bring him in for you and start getting him ready or would you prefer to do that yourself". Owner or owner's trainer rides first (but, if this buyer doesn't need that then by all means if they seem competent let them go ahead and ride). Buyer may ask for a lunge, perhaps for you to do a short amount of flat and perhaps jump so that the buyer, and their trainer, can see the horse move on the ground. Trainer may want to hop on real quick before their buyer... just depends on how confident the buyer is with trying a new horse.

          I've never had anyone ask to ride multiple days or times. If you want to do that just safe guard yourself by making sure everyone understands you aren't holding and he isn't FCFS. If someone else wants to look then they absolutely can. You could do a refundable deposit and 24 hour hold or something once PPE is scheduled, but don't agree to hold until they make a decision because who knows how long that could end up being (and if you have someone else who wants to look you don't want to make them wait).

          Comment


          • #6
            For the initial visit, I would say the prospective buyer ideally would want to see the horse caught/brought in (if he is not normally in at the time of day) and then groomed and tacked up. Horse would have probably had a spa day in advance so probably wouldn't require major grooming effort .

            Most buyers will then want to see seller ride just to ensure that the horse does not do something crazy right off the bat. If for some reason the seller can not ride, seller would hopefully have someone available who can - and if not, I would let buyer and trainer decide which one of them gets on first.

            Comment


            • #7
              My trainer normally has the horse braided, saddled and in cross ties when the buyer gets there. Yes, braided manes because the last few sales have been fairly high priced show horses. She rides first.. In some cases the trainer rode next and in one case the buyer rode next. That buyer was a fabulous rider and her trainer didn't normally ride her horses.

              I showed one horse for my trainer a few times when she was out of state for a month. No braiding. I had the horse groomed and in his stall. I tacked when they got there, rode first then the potential buyer rode. Neither had a trainer the first visit. Second visit for one potential buyer she brought her trainer. I rode, trainer rode, potential buyer rode. For the second ride she tacked up the horse with her own saddle but he was already groomed. It was dead of winter in PA and we had mid calf mud so no way was I having this horse turned about for them to catch. It was loose the muck boots mud and the horse had 4 white legs.

              In general I would think that you would want the horse already in and groomed unless they specifically ask ahead of time that they aren't. I want their first impression of the horse to be good. To me that would be either freshly bathed or at least very well groomed.
              I personally prefer to let them watch me tack or help me tack while they are there. This way they can see the back, see how he is to tack. I figure if they are worried about how he is to groom then they can help brush him off after the ride.

              I figure if they don't click riding then the catching, grooming doesn't matter.




              Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

              Comment


              • #8
                All mine are Tb's fairly recently off the track. I either have them in the stall or a paddock close to the barn but I want customers to see them in their stall generally before coming into the crossties. You can see they are quiet, relaxed and not cribbing/weaving/etc. They should be clean but I groom them just so they can see the horse being brushed/having feet picked but I go quickly. I tack up and ride first. Try to keep it short and sweet since my horses are young and aren't really used to the process of having multiple riders. Generally w/t/c both directions and pop a few fences. Then the buyer rides. Most of my buyers don't come with a trainer but if they do the trainer may ride first.

                I am always open to someone coming back for a 2nd ride. Buyers coming from a long distance might want to come back for a 2nd ride. On that ride they tend to just take up and ride the horse themselves and I just am there to help if needed.
                http://www.benchmarksporthorses.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  I usually ask ahead of time if they want the horse brought in, groomed and ready, or left out. I know I myself want to see how a horse is in his stall or pasture, being caught, groomed, etc, so I always offer that option.

                  I will typically have groomed the horse prior but will run through a second quick cursory grooming just to show the horse can be touched everywhere, feet picked out, etc. To show how the horse handles in the cross ties etc. I will typically tack up with them there, ride first, then offer the trainer or buyer to ride next. I like to show what the horse knows so that if the horse does refuse to do something or do something silly, its obvious its rider error, not deceit on my part.

                  As for subsequent rides, I have offered buyers to come back and ride again if they request it, and typically they catch, groom, tack up, and ride and I am there to assist if needed.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I usually have horse clean and ready waiting in crossties. Legs bare for buyer's inspection. Allow buyer to watch or assist in tacking, as desired. Demonstrate that horse stands quietly, doesn't eat your arm off when girthing, etc.

                    Make sure anyone intending to ride signs a release.

                    I make it very clear that buyer is under NO obligation to ride or continue if they decide the horse isn't right. No pressure to canter, jump, or keep going if it isn't what they're looking for. Some amateur riders feel like you've cleaned the horse up and made a time specially for them, and it's rude if they don't go through the motions and ride the horse w/t/c/jump before saying No. If they feel at all uncomfortable, or just "not clicking," I am happy to wish them the best on their horse search and move on. I tell people, if they get on and walk 5 steps, and it just isn't the right horse, it is not a waste of my time to get off and hand me the reins. I'd much rather put the horse away, than watch someone struggle, a trainer drilling my horse unnecessarily, jump the crap out of it, and get off saying "He won't do." If you know that after one trot circle, that's okay with me! Yes, I spent an hour bathing and scrubbing whites, pulling mane and brushing tail, and cleaned all my tack with the expensive conditioner, but I, too, have other things to do with my Saturday if the horse is not a good match for you.

                    I ride first, show that horse performs as advertised. I might talk about the horse's strengths and weaknesses as I go, pointing out how I manage the crookedness or minor issue we've been working on. I did not use to do this (I wanted horse to seem perfect!) but I had several buyers get on my green horses and say, "OMG you made this horse look so easy! But he isn't! Help!" I'm great at making a horse look easy with small, unnoticeable aids...so while I ride I will point out when I'm using my inside leg, my outside rein, my core, etc if I think it will help.

                    Then trainer or buyer gets on, as they prefer. I am happy to answer questions, give tips and assist if needed to help buyer and horse get along, but generally I stay "in the background" and let buyer/trainer figure it out on their own (if they take the horse home, they'll have to do it on their own anyway). I'm okay if the trainer wants to push the envelope a little to see how the horse responds, but I'm not going to allow anyone to risk the horse's well-being for a "might-buy" ride.
                    Last edited by EventerAJ; Oct. 24, 2019, 05:25 PM.
                    A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
                    ? Albert Einstein

                    ~AJ~

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I prefer to make the buyer do all the work. An hour or so before they show up I do groom and blanket the horse to keep him clean, but don't bring him in from his paddock.

                      The potential buyer/trainer will be the ones handling this horse going forward - so I like to watch them -- it's as much a vetting of the buyer for me, as it is the buyer vetting the horse. I'll go over the horse's character and what they need from a program while they sign the release - and then I pull out the tack while they grab the horse. I watch for how they handle the horse, because that's a big tell right there if the horse is the right fit - sometimes I can tell before the rider ever swings a leg over how the ride is going to go just by watching them handle and tack up the horse.

                      I will ride first if they want, and keep it short/sweet - then hand the reins over. I've occasionally had trainers ride second, students third -- I once had a trainer show up and wanted all four of her students to ride the horse..

                      While this was with a lease situation and not a buyer, I did have someone very interested in a gelding of mine and she seemed to tick all the boxes: she was a trainer, her program was local, she had a wonderful facility and seemed a good match for my gelding. She asked me to tack up and have the horse ready for her in the ring, and I knew then she wasn't a good fit. That left a poor impression on me personally as I think those types tend to be riders and not horsemen.
                      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I always leave the program up to the people. It usually works like this:

                        Horse is dirty/muddy in pasture (I like people to know that the horse hasn't been lunged to death or even handled, for that matter, before they come out). We retrieve horse and cross tie horse and I tell them that I can groom and tack up or they can. Usually if it's an adult looking they let me do the grooming work, if it's a kid looking they almost always jump in and help.

                        I ask, "do you want to use your saddle or mine?" I let it be their choice unless that particular horse has some crazy saddle requirement (in which case I might say, "let's ride in mine, but we can try yours on when we're done"). Though on that note, I always check the saddle fit of their saddle and use one of mine if it doesn't fit. If they want to ride in their saddle, and I'm riding the horse first, I ride in it also (which allows me to feel how the saddle might impact the horse and/or the balance of the rider)...no matter the size (or stirrup length, lol).

                        Then I ask, "who do you want to ride the horse first?" This goes many different ways. Sometimes the trainer wants to be the first one on the horse, sometimes they want to watch me ride it first and then get up, sometimes they want the buyer up first. I don't care at all. If the horse goes poorly *because* of the rider, they're not the right person for the horse anyway. Something like the horse being hard to make go doesn't bother me either...that's an easy thing for a trainer to feel out if they feel like they want to understand whether it's an issue or not.

                        I am totally open to riders riding as many times as possible. I often have people flying in from a distance, and I suggest that they stay for 2-3 days and come back and ride each day. That also means that we can do something like: day 1 - I ride horse to show them how well they have been going here, then trainer hops up, then maybe buyer briefly, day 2 - trainer rides first, then buyer, day 3 - only buyer rides horse....or some variation of that.
                        __________________________________
                        Flying F Sport Horses
                        Horses in the NW

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Ours are dressage horses, but here is what we do. For the initial visit: the horse is inside the cross-ties, groomed, braided, and bandaged. When they arrive, trainer puts on bridle and hops on to warm-up and show them what the horse can do. From there, it's up to the buyer if they want to get on, if their trainer wants to get on, or if they aren't interested.

                          For the second ride, it's entirely up to them. If they want to catch the horse in the field and groom it, fine. If they want it ready, but want to get on first and warm it up themselves, fine.
                          Last edited by joiedevie99; Oct. 24, 2019, 11:35 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            A big thing that I don't think has come up is knowing how much time they have allocated. If this horse is *the* horse of the day then they may enjoy the process of pulling a horse out, futzing around a bit, etc.

                            I have a horse shopping trip coming up where I have 1.5 hours budgeted per barn. That is from stepping out of the car to getting back in. If a horse is in a back field and it takes me 45 minutes before I'm even tacking up then I'm going to feel stressed and rushed.

                            If someone is traveling a good distance I think it is really thoughtful (but far from necessary) to think through 1-2 other horses in the area you could recommend. Double bonus if you send the trainers a quick message to know if they are around that weekend and would have the interest/ability to accommodate someone stopping by. If it is clear that the horse and rider are not a good fit, then you can help them connect with other local horses that may be a better fit to soften the blow of a long trip. Someone did this for me years ago. It was so thoughtful and professional. Even though I did not buy their horse, I go out of my way to recommend them when the name comes up.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post

                              If someone is traveling a good distance I think it is really thoughtful (but far from necessary) to think through 1-2 other horses in the area you could recommend. Double bonus if you send the trainers a quick message to know if they are around that weekend and would have the interest/ability to accommodate someone stopping by. If it is clear that the horse and rider are not a good fit, then you can help them connect with other local horses that may be a better fit to soften the blow of a long trip. Someone did this for me years ago. It was so thoughtful and professional. Even though I did not buy their horse, I go out of my way to recommend them when the name comes up.
                              I loved this when I was shopping! I flew down to Virginia to try a horse, and the owner arranged for the trial to be at a friend's barn that had better facilities and was not in the far back-beyond of the state. She told me that she'd let her friend know I was looking. When I arrived there were 4 horses for me to try! The original one that prompted the trip was much too green for me, another I rode but just didn't like much, one I "just had a feeling" before I even got on that she wasn't the right horse, so I didn't get on. Number 4 was wonderful but unfortunately had been promised to someone else, who had put a deposit on her. This one was owned by the friend... She told me that she hoped the other guy would back out, because she thought I was a better match. But they didn't, so a few weeks later I tried Feronia, and that was 11 1/2 years ago and here we are!
                              You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                              1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I'm horse shopping right now (and have sold a few in the past.)

                                I find I really like it if I can handle the horse in the ground as much as possible. I need to enjoy the horse on many levels, this really helps me get feel for the horse. I would like to get the horse from the stall or a paddock if possible. If it's lightly groomed, that's okay. But I want to see it be groomed and ideally do it myself.

                                I like to see the horse ridden first by the seller. I don't always have a trainer with me but when I do, they typically don't ride or if they do, it's AFTER I ride. Sometimes I just ask them to ride so I can see what they felt/thought.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
                                  A big thing that I don't think has come up is knowing how much time they have allocated. If this horse is *the* horse of the day then they may enjoy the process of pulling a horse out, futzing around a bit, etc.

                                  I have a horse shopping trip coming up where I have 1.5 hours budgeted per barn. That is from stepping out of the car to getting back in. If a horse is in a back field and it takes me 45 minutes before I'm even tacking up then I'm going to feel stressed and rushed.
                                  Yes this is why it’s best to ask the buyer what they would prefer. I recently made a trip and planned it out to try 5 horses in a 300 mile loop. Needless to say I didn’t have time to be going out to catch horses in fields. It’s nice for them to be in a stall or paddock next to the barn and have the sellers do a quick groom and tack up. From there I was able to narrow it down to my favourite which I then went back to try a second time and then caught the horse, tacked up and rode.

                                  Originally posted by SonnysMom View Post
                                  I figure if they don't click riding then the catching, grooming doesn't matter.
                                  Yes this is why I’m not fussed about tacking up the horse myself on the first ride. If I like the horse enough to come back a second time, then I definitely do want to do all that then. There was one horse that I sat on for all of 3mins before I decided he wasn’t a fit and got right off. No reason to have spent half an hour before that catching/grooming etc.

                                  That said there was a horse I looked at as an add on on a trip and knew I’d only be able to see it once, in that case I did ask that the horse be out when I came to see it.

                                  What I don’t like is showing up and seeing the horse already in the ring and being warmed up, or being told they’ve already been warmed up w/t/c.


                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    We operate a small hunter sales barn in a fairly horsey market not far from a major metro area in the Northeast. Prices start in the mid five figure and go higher. Potential buyers are usually visiting multiple barns and trying several horses on the same day so they are interested in efficiency.

                                    Approximately 1 hour before the client is expected to arrive, we will pull the horse in and clean them up; brushing them off, bathing if necesssary, (they are usually bathed and trimmed the day before), etc. Then the horse is allowed to relax in its stall.

                                    When the client arrives, a release form is signed. During the first trial, we do all the handling and tacking so the buyer can observe. Our trainer rides first. The ride is short and sweet and consists of WTC, one flying change in each direction, a warm up jump, then a course. Typically the client's trainer rides next and then the client. During the visit, there is a considerable exchange of information. The horse's program is covered in detail, the show record is discussed, etc.

                                    If the potential buyer likes the horse, they usually schedule a second visit. During the second trial, the buyer might wish to be more "hands on" with the tacking or they might want to take the horse on a short trail ride around the property, etc. It really is up to the buyer as they look to evaluate a potential fit.

                                    In our area, many trials will take place at horse shows. Again, the first trial is often about efficiency, so the horse is presented at the ring fully tacked. Our trainer rides first, then typically the buyer's trainer and then the buyer.

                                    In some cases the trainers know each other or the buyer's trainer has observed the horse at shows which is helpful as everyone seeks to secure a good fit.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks everyone! It was already a given that my horse would be groomed to the highest standard, tack clean, etc. so as to make a great impression. Your advice regarding who rides first, etc. is exactly what I was looking for!

                                      Considering the distance they're coming, we've exchanged quite a bit of information regarding his training regimen, show record, habits, personality, feed, saddle/tree size, blanket size/fit, shoes, health record, etc. I've given them the numbers of my vet, trainers and blacksmith who can provide references and insights. I have nothing to hide. I've also provided them with the names of two top vets in the area who have never seen my horse that would be excellent for vetting him should it come to that.

                                      Your advice about suggesting other horses in the area is great and I will reach out to some contacts that might have horses available.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by PNWjumper View Post
                                        I always leave the program up to the people. It usually works like this:

                                        Horse is dirty/muddy in pasture (I like people to know that the horse hasn't been lunged to death or even handled, for that matter, before they come out). We retrieve horse and cross tie horse and I tell them that I can groom and tack up or they can. Usually if it's an adult looking they let me do the grooming work, if it's a kid looking they almost always jump in and help.

                                        I ask, "do you want to use your saddle or mine?" I let it be their choice unless that particular horse has some crazy saddle requirement (in which case I might say, "let's ride in mine, but we can try yours on when we're done"). Though on that note, I always check the saddle fit of their saddle and use one of mine if it doesn't fit. If they want to ride in their saddle, and I'm riding the horse first, I ride in it also (which allows me to feel how the saddle might impact the horse and/or the balance of the rider)...no matter the size (or stirrup length, lol).

                                        Then I ask, "who do you want to ride the horse first?" This goes many different ways. Sometimes the trainer wants to be the first one on the horse, sometimes they want to watch me ride it first and then get up, sometimes they want the buyer up first. I don't care at all. If the horse goes poorly *because* of the rider, they're not the right person for the horse anyway. Something like the horse being hard to make go doesn't bother me either...that's an easy thing for a trainer to feel out if they feel like they want to understand whether it's an issue or not.

                                        I am totally open to riders riding as many times as possible. I often have people flying in from a distance, and I suggest that they stay for 2-3 days and come back and ride each day. That also means that we can do something like: day 1 - I ride horse to show them how well they have been going here, then trainer hops up, then maybe buyer briefly, day 2 - trainer rides first, then buyer, day 3 - only buyer rides horse....or some variation of that.
                                        This is pretty much how it goes at my barn.

                                        The only difference is that we will bring the horse in and have it cleaned and in a stall for most people. The exception is if the horse is being purchased for a child or timid person to handle and this has been brought up by the parent/trainer. Then we like to let them come out into the field and catch the horse and lead it back to the barn so that they can see that the horse is easy to catch and handle (most of ours are waiting at the gate for you). We've noticed that this helps to relax the more nervous buyers a bit too.
                                        Rhode Islands are red;
                                        North Hollands are blue.
                                        Sorry my thoroughbreds
                                        Stomped on your roo. Originally Posted by pAin't_Misbehavin' :

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