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When you need to sell a horse ASAP...

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  • When you need to sell a horse ASAP...

    What do you do?

    Horse has been advertised since August, had people come out, but nothing concrete. Priced VERY fairly. I am wiling to drop the price, but if I go too low then my payout will be not even worth the time/money put into him.

    Suggestions? Tips? This is a need to sell situation, but he is also not my personal horse, so keeping him and waiting a couple of months isn't an option.
    runnjump86 Instagram

    Horse Junkies United guest blogger

  • #2
    Horses are like houses (in this market) -- if you need to sell, what you put in becomes irrelevant, all that counts is what the market will bear. Cut the price to cut your losses and notch it up as a learning experience.

    (Also, remembering previous threads about this horse, some of which included video, I wonder if the market is telling you that your concept of "priced fairly" is unrealistic.
    He seemed like a pleasant enough guy, but the horse in your videos didn't have the movement, impulsion, etc. that you described when you were asking about pricing OTTBs in the high-four/low-five-figure range (not saying you did this, but just remembering that conversation). Plus, he's older with a bowed tendon. Pleasant OTTBs with pre-existing injuries, a few extra years, little/no show mileage and mediocre movement just aren't worth that much.)
    I evented just for the Halibut.


    • Original Poster

      His movement has improved, and when he lifts his back he does have the impulsion and lift.

      He's priced well under 4k, if that helps.
      runnjump86 Instagram

      Horse Junkies United guest blogger


      • #4
        Dropping the price won't always get you the sale that you want, because it may make your horse perversely look less attractive.

        What I would do instead is network to a pro that you trust who does a lot of sales... even if you are a pro. The options would include getting advice, paying a commission, or moving the horse into a sales barn. As far as "time/money put into him" be aware that the situation can go badly negative in no time as the horse eats a little more every month. You can't ensure a positive financial outcome by hanging on to him.
        If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


        • #5
          Under $4k is a pretty tough place to sell as it happens. In that case my comments about going to a sales barn have to be modulated a bit. If he's steady enough, you might call pros who have a lesson barn who might have riders moving up and looking for an inexpensive first horse.

          If you can get him off the property to some horse shows, that would probably help. Even if they're just local gymkhanas or dressage or jumper schooling shows, it matters and then there's a chance to put up a flyer.
          If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


          • #6
            Sometimes you can't get what you put into a horse. I have a lovely gelding who has been ridden by a pro for 18 months. I am paying for every ride. The results are very good. But he is 14.3 and a non-traditional breed for eventing. I anticipate that I will take a loss on him when he sells because there is no way I can recoup the carrying and training costs. The upside is that as his breeder, I am happy to have him go out and about representing my farm. So he just continues on.

            In the OP's case, if you really need to sell right now, then slash the price. Be willing to take a loss.
            Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


            • #7
              Nothing out there that I'm aware of guarantees that when we sell horses we do so at a profit, or even anywhere close . . .
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                If he needs to be gone... drop the price (and keep dropping) until he goes. It sucks, but unless the owner can afford to keep paying for him, something has to give. Winter is coming, and few people will be shopping. Getting $2000 out of him 3 months down the road isn't going to be much different ($-wise) than selling him for $1250 now.


                • #9
                  Agree that the sub 4K market is a rough one - I actually think it can be harder to sell a horse for less than 10K than it is to sell it for 20-25K. That's because folks looking for the cheaper horse often (not always) have less wiggle room in their budgets and then also less ability to live with a horse's inevitable issues on vetting. Thus, perversely, I've seen buyers in that range be more fixated on "perfect" than buyers of more expensive horses - because they have less latitude to contend with issues that may pop up, be they training, physical, etc. Not true in all cases for sure - there's often a nice sweet spot in the 7-10K range for fancy green youngsters with talent, as well as for the older, experienced been there/done that good soul.

                  If I absolutely had to move a horse, I would consider sending it to a sales professional, even knowing that that might eat up any small amount of profit I was hoping to make. Depending on where you are, someone like Courtney Cooper often moves a number of horses - don't know her rates, but I have friends who have sold horses through her and been pleased with the experience. Online advertising can be helpful though not consistently; I would also try local pony clubs, lesson barns, and just plain getting the horse out competing somewhere or doing things where it can be seen (on the youngster I currently have for sale, I find myself saying "He's for sale" anytime someone compliments him at an event Just in case...).


                  • #10
                    Make sure that you have the obvious covered - good pictures, good video, good description. Sellers can no longer get away with poor footage/pictures on the theory that the horse is only being marketed for $4k.

                    Identify your market realistically. He's priced under 4k and it doesn't sound like he has an extensive show record - you are looking for a local buyer. What barns, locally, have the sort of rider that would suit him. Would he be able to be a PC-kid's horse? Is he nice enough for a talented junior with a limited budget? Pick up the phone and send out some emails. Horses, especially in that price range, absolutely do get sold that way.

                    Be realistic on price. What does it cost to carry the horse every month? Its easy to think that the perfect buyer will walk in the barn next week, but they might not. I'd rather sell for $3k today than $3.5k in two months. Most of the time you'll be out more than $500 in expenses plus the added risk of something going wrong.


                    • #11
                      At some point one just has to cut one's losses and move on. I got my current Prelim horse for free b/c the owner, very realistically, realized by the time she found a buyer for a green 4yo 15.2h TB mare without papers, she would have paid more in board than she would make from selling her. I'm in a similar situation with a mare who just isn't useful to ME, I'm just looking to move her on to someone for whom she will be..... Profit ain't gonna happen.

                      Third Charm Event Team


                      • #12
                        As others have said, if you have to sell then it is all about what someone will pay, not what you have in him, sadly. It does seem like there is a glut of TB prospects on the market, so little stuff like an old bow might be driving buyers elsewhere.

                        (Believe me, I know just how you feel . . .)

                        Personally, I would not send to a pro--I have done that and lost a ton of money as the monthly costs added up quickly and I had to bring the horse home and eat the loss when it didn't sell (YMMV of course). But if there is someone you could list with on a commission basis that might improve his exposure without costing as much monthly?


                        • #13
                          If part of the real issue is to stop the ongoing bills, perhaps consider leasing. Even lease-to-own. Calculate what additional expense you have coming in the next 2-3 months if he DOESN'T go to a new home, before restricting your options on sales price or leasing. That may make a lower price or a lease the better choice.

                          Have you posted flyers in every boarding/lesson stable in a 30 miles radius, maybe further? Just to make sure everyone is aware of him and his "great opportunity" price or lease option.

                          Pricing to cover cost is the way businesses fail. Buyers have no idea what was spent on the item, nor do they care. They go by the value to themselves and what they can afford. As said above, sometimes the goal of the sale is to stop the ongoing cost and move on. (In successful business, one does the cost calculations *before* going into the endeavor, then figures out if the market price make it worthwhile to do the enterprise. That can be very tough to do accurately with horses.)


                          • Original Poster

                            He has been listed on pretty much every sales site, including CL. (Was really hoping not to see a "Cl gem!" thread pop up with his picture! )

                            My BM has an extensive email connection to most people in the area (perks of a public barn with lots of haul-ins, I guess), and sent out a mass email yesterday.

                            This is going to sound selfish, but I was hoping he would go to someone NOT local so I wouldn't have to watch him progress. I HATE having to sell this guy, but he's just not Prelim material. He improves with every ride and has the mind and personality to be a fantastic Youth/Am horse.

                            I'm afraid to keep dropping the price because what I have learned (from past experience and others experiences) that once people start seeing the price drop regularly, they keep waiting and will eventually offer you next to nothing. Already had that happen because he was listed for sale last fall. We are asking 3k; Yes he has an old bow, but he is sound, steady, smart, flashy, big, and I have been advised (from my trainer plus a H/J dealer who came to see him) that 3k is more than fair. It's just FRUSTRATING.

                            I'm going to be updating the pics and video this weekend. I had taken good ones, but they were a few weeks ago and he has improved significantly at the canter (video shows him not wanting to pick up the left lead) and has put on a bit of weight, in a good way. He's a fairly easy keeper, but does need better farrier work. Owner has him barefoot now ($$) and he's fine...feet are not cracking or chipping, but he will need shoes to lift him off his heels (typical long, flat feet of a TB). I rasp a smidge off his toes every week (yay, farrier friend!) and that has really helped.

                            I appreciate all of the advice, I really do. Sending him to a sales pro isn't going to happen for two reasons. One, Owner couldn't afford it. Two, I'd be out the money I've put into him as I've been feed leasing him since August, and have a contract stating I will get that back once he sells. Owner and I both realize there is no way she'll get back what she's put into him. Not even close. But I at least need to get the feed out of him. We had one offer on him, but it was so low it was offensive, and the person who made the offer gave me serious Bad Gut Feelings. We're not desperate enough to sell him to someone like that at least.

                            *sigh* I guess I'm just frustrated. He is such a nice horse. Not the fanciest, but when he lifts his back and engages, now that he's learned how to carry himself, he has a SUPER nice trot, and a rocking horse canter. I just don't get how a nice, quiet, sane horse that's pretty to look at for a good price is still sitting here, yet people around me are able to sell their half-nuts trail horse in a week.
                            runnjump86 Instagram

                            Horse Junkies United guest blogger


                            • #15
                              So then you are an agent already, selling on behalf of the owner for commission/reimbursement or something?

                              What does the owner want? Do they want to hold out because you are paying expenses, or sell quickly because your bill is racking up?

                              Would it make sense to return the horse and cut your losses, if he isn't likely to sell soon or for much money?


                              • #16
                                You're not in Colorado by chance, are you? I have been ogling a Craigslist cutie in that range.... But to be honest, I just had to spend that amount on HAY, and I can't afford another mouth to feed over the winter.

                                It's one of the hardest times to sell... The show season is over, hay is at its most expensive I've ever seen, and the economy is still tight. There are dozens of bargain basement gems out there that I wish I could snatch up. I don't know what the answer is but I wish you luck!!
                                where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?


                                • #17
                                  Is the horse suitable for a college riding program? Some will take donated horses.
                                  Click here before you buy.


                                  • #18
                                    I'm not sure what a "feed lease" is or how much the horse has racked up in only two months. Usually when one leases a horse, they are getting something for that lease -- riding time, lesson use, breeding use, etc. I guess I don't understand a lease where I would pay and get no utility out of the lease.

                                    In any case, if the OP can't afford 2 months of this lease, then the OP needs to end it pronto. No use throwing good money after bad. It's the horse owner's problem to support the horse.

                                    As others have said, it is not uncommon to spend far more on a horse than it is worth on the market. I'd chalk this experience up to Life 101 and the "feed lease" is your tuition. We all have paid this kind of tuition, believe me. Personally, I think the OP is lucky that she is not the owner and can walk away now.
                                    Last edited by IronwoodFarm; Sep. 26, 2012, 01:42 PM.
                                    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                                    • #19
                                      Ditto that, Ironwood. An older horse with an old bow and not great movement -- the horse's owner will be lucky to give that away to a good home in this market. I'd send the horse back to the owner and be happy you are only out two months' feed.


                                      • #20
                                        I had not heard of a feed lease either but she kind of explains it:

                                        Originally posted by runNjump86 View Post
                                        Two, I'd be out the money I've put into him as I've been feed leasing him since August, and have a contract stating I will get that back once he sells. Owner and I both realize there is no way she'll get back what she's put into him. Not even close. But I at least need to get the feed out of him.
                                        So it sounds like she is supporting the horse as she rides/trains and getting some return (perhaps based on her costs instead of a regular commission?) when he sells.

                                        I don't know . . . there are just so many young TBs out there for cheap. I've spent the last few months in shock that I can't sell something big, sound, with a recognized event record in that price range, so I totally understand where you're coming from in not knowing what to do next. But if the owner has only gotten 1 offer and felt insulted and didn't take it, that is a hint that this sale could take a while and you might be left holding the bag. Perhaps a frank chat with her about the situation (selling him now for cheap, holding out/investing more, etc.) would help you understand how you are likely to fare in those scenarios.