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Tips on Showing a Horse to Buyers

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  • #21
    Originally posted by findeight View Post
    Far as the working it out a bit (NOT into the ground) before hand and having it ready to go? That is NOT a bit dishonest for an initial presentation. You sure don't want them to get hurt and you have no idea of their riding ability.

    You have no idea of these are tire kickers, kids on a whim or you actually have a serious and qualified buyer. This is simply a showcase of the horse prepped the best he can be without wasting a bunch of everybody's time if it proves obviously unsuitable or they are not serious buyers.
    This is more of what I was getting at - unless you know the buyer, you don't know their abilities. Riding earlier in the day both ensures your horse isn't going to bronc off Bobbie Beginner and also shows off your horse to its best abilities for serious buyers. Serious buyers will presumably be coming back for a second look, and at this point can do whatever they want with a clean slate - catch the horse (if they are so inclined), tack up (again, if they want to), be the only rider of the day, etc. A fit horse that is ridden for 30 minutes more than a few hours before a prospective buyer shows up is still going to be the same horse; just more polished.


    • #22
      Don't forget this is an evening first evaluation too. Your prospective buyer may not have time to watch every step from stall to warm up with the risk it might be too fresh to show serious work for a while, especially if you usually do not ride after dinnertime.

      Kind of depends on what kind of horse you are selling for what and the price range too. Most buyers looking at finished show horses want to see a bunch of them and then go back to see the ones they liked and spend more time learning about them and what they are like.

      Remember, customer is king and you need to make it easy for them to see your horse at it's best as quickly as possible and either rule it out or make another appointment on a day they have more time.

      Most of the people who you get coming to look are not going to buy it anyway, you have to kiss alot of frogs as they say.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


      • #23
        I agree with findeight and Boston. For a first showing, I have no problem with the horse being worked earlier to ensure he/she behaves. You don't usually know the buyer's ability. I would rather be safe and have my horse at his best. The "ride" is the most important aspect to most buyers. If the buyer likes the feel and the horse, they will come back and try again. Then you can have a longer showing.
        “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
        ¯ Oscar Wilde


        • #24
          I think you're getting a lot of great advice here. A couple of points - BATHE YOUR HORSE prior to the showing. Get out to the barn early and bathe him. As a current buyer, I really appreciate coming to look at horses whose owners obviously care a great deal about them and put effort into making them look nice for me. It warms my heart to come into the barn and see my prospective horse standing there with hoof polish on. It makes me think of a little kid on picture day...trying to look one's best. :-)

          Also, one thing I did when I sold my pony that the buyer, who was buying for her daughter, loved was I offered to take her daughter (riding my pony) on a trail ride around the property. Though my pony was a hunter/jumper pony, I wanted the buyer to see that the pony was well-behaved out in case her daughter should ever wanted to change disciplines. Her daughter had so much fun, she even jumped a couple cross-country fences with the pony. Her daughter ended up getting to ride my pony for about an hour and a half, and they were so thrilled, they bought her on the spot!


          • #25
            As some people mentioned, people differ about wanting the horse in or out. I make a point to ask their preference - I tell them I normally have the horse in and cleaned up, but would they prefer to see me bring it in from the field. Most do want it in and on a 2nd visit will ask to get it from the field.

            As someone else pointed out, be sure to be able to bite your tongue and not take anything personally. Be professional and polite.

            lastly, be strong enough to end a ride if things are not going well. I don't know the level or sensitivity of your horse, but it is not uncommon for riding skills to be over-stated. IMHO, it is better to loose a sale than have it end in disaster or a confidence wrecker for your horse.

            Good luck
            Epona Farm
            Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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            • #26
              Originally posted by PrinceSheik325 View Post
              I think you're getting a lot of great advice here. A couple of points - BATHE YOUR HORSE prior to the showing. Get out to the barn early and bathe him.
              A good suggestion, but can be tough to execute in the winter months in the north. A fresh clip, mane pull, clean as I can get him without water, absolutely, but a bath, not possible where I am this time of year.


              • #27
                Most people coming to see sales horses assume they have been prepped as they would be for a show, whether that's ridden or lunged or both. If your horse is fresh when I come to try it I am going to assume you prepped it and failed, not that you just pulled it out of the barn that way. Absolutely share your prep routine, but don't show an unprepared horse to buyers.


                • #28
                  I have no problem with someone hopping on a horse before I get there for 5 minutes just to verify that the horse is going to be sound at all 3 gaits. If the horse isn't sound, those 5 minutes will hopefully save me the trouble of wasting X hours out of my day to go test ride a horse that can't even be ridden.
                  In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.


                  • #29
                    Any time I've gone to try a horse (always big AA show barns with well known lbnt to but trainers), the horses were clean and out when I got there. The one I ended up buying went like this. I traveled two hours without my trainer to see the horse (with my very well verse horsie father, since I am a junior) and the only reason I went without a trainer was because he (my trainer) was busy and he said he completely trusted the two pros at that barn to guide me correctly and help me out. I got to the barn and we waited in the office sitting area for a few minutes since we were early and the lady showing the horse to us was teaching a lesson. We met her and went into the office and while I only went to try one horse, she listed three I could try so I could compare them all. She asked me how high I was comfortable jumping on a new horse which at them time I said 2'9" I got on the first horse which was already tacked up for me (but not the horse I was trying) and didn't like him at all, but the first ride definitely got my nerves out for the second ride. Second ride, I got back into the barn and handed the first horse off to a working student. Then I semi helped tack up the second, as in handed the girl things while she did the work. Like the horse but wasn't quite as nice as I was looking for. The last horse was the horse I went to try. The woman asked if I wanted to get him out of his stall, of course I did, so she walked me over there and we brought the horse to the cross ties. He was already completely cleaned for me, but I lightly dusted him off. Tacked him up, with a little help from a working student while the woman talked to my dad about something irrelevant. Then he was a little bit bad with the bridle and the woman said it was because he didn't have his ear plugs in yet, which I've know come to know is just one of his little quirks, he likes ear plugs in before the bridle. Other than that she asked me whether I'd prefer the indoor ring or the outdoor, I tried the horse, loved him, took him on trial the next week, got vetted and X-rays done then negotiated the deal all withing two weeks.


                    • #30
                      Keeping in mind that we sell prospects, not horses that are ready-made to jump/show/ride on trails, here are some tips that I've learned.

                      - Have the horse in, haltered, and well-groomed.
                      - Be patient.
                      - If you get a hinky/bad feeling, follow your gut. It's OK to call it off. You're evaluating a potential buyer as much as they're evaluating the horse.
                      - Some people like to groom the horse again themselves to get a feeling for the horse. They may also like to tack the horse up themselves. Or simply mess with the horse in the stall. That's OK and we welcome that.
                      - If anyone is going to ride, I recommend that you or your rider ride the horse first so that the potential buyers can watch the horse go.
                      - If the potential buyer wants to ride, stick with the horse's routine. If the horse is OK with legging up in the ring (or wherever you ride), go with that. If it's better for the horse to start all over again and go back to stall/crossties/whatever, do that. Remember: be patient.
                      - No matter what, when a potential buyer gets on, we walk at least one circuit of the ring leading the horse. No. Matter. What. When the rider is comfortable and gives us the OK, we'll turn the horse loose, but continue to walk alongside if the rider requests.
                      - If the buyer is interested, give them some space, both with the horse on the ground and under saddle. Be within earshot or sight, but give both horse and human a chance to see how they click.
                      - Don't expect much after the potential buyer leaves if they haven't offered to buy AND PAID on the spot. Don't get your hopes up and you won't be let down if they drop off the face of the earth.

                      Good luck!!!
                      It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati


                      • #31
                        From my experience buying this summer:

                        1) Have a suitable place to ride for the intended purpose and level of training of the horse. It sounds like you've got this covered, but if anyone else looks up this post, I can't emphasize this enough!! If it's been off the track for a week and is going to say, be a dressage horse, don't shove it in a 10 m round pen. It doesn't benefit the horse or your prospects of selling it.

                        I looked at EVERYTHING when I was looking because I wanted a hot OTTB (which is surprisingly hard to find at big sales barns these days). And nothing frustrated me more than unsuitable places to ride. I rode in the world's tiniest arenas and paddocks that might as well of been concrete. If you don't have a decently sized arena with good footing, trailer the horse to one or arrange to have a friend trailer it.

                        2) For the love of God, dress professionally. A sports bra and t-shirt with the sleeves cut out is NOT professional. Also, act professional. Be on time, not anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour late. It's really awkward standing around someone else's farm waiting for an owner to show up. If you must be late, take the initiative to call- don't wait for the prospective buyer to call you to see where the heck you are. Don't videotape a rider as she's trying the horse- that's just all types of weird and wrong.

                        On a similar note, try to be friendly, and have anybody helping you be friendly as well. I understand that working students/employees may not be allowed to talk much about sale horses, but having your entire herd of working students completely ignoring a potential buyer who is making light, non-sale-horse-talk isn't a good way to go about that. Gave me the heeby-jeebys so much that I don't think I'd consider riding with that trainer or boarding at that barn.

                        3) Have tack available for the rider to use. I was very surprised that at 2 places (that I drove 2 hours to get to) there was no tack provided. I wanted to ride in my own saddle anyways, but at many places I had to provide my own girths and at one I even had to provide my own saddle pad (thank god I'd packed one just in case).

                        4) Now that those are out of the way, please groom your horse. I can see past the foot-long mane, but it doesn't do much to highlight the horse's conformation.

                        5) Know how to set a horse up for conformation pictures. Ideally you have these on your ad, but if not, as a buyer I would take conformation shots and videos of each horse I tried to compare at a later date.

                        6) I also expected the horse to be up and groomed. It sounds like you should talk to the buyer about this, though.

                        7) If a trial comes up, don't be a total dick. I understand that letting your horse out on a trial is a huge risk, but if you're going to firmly put your foot down, do so NICELY. Offer to have the potential buyer come ride the horse another time or two. I tried a horse at home and took it XC schooling and when she declined a trial, she told me that I'd ridden the horse plenty and ought to be able to make a decision. I REALLY liked this horse even though it was at the top of my price range, but that broke the sale right there. I ended up buying another horse that was just as nice and cheaper (and while I didn't bother asking for a trial, the owner was very open to letting me ride the horse multiple times to make a decision).


                        • #32
                          Let me share two experiences, one on either side of the buy sell transaction. Both were well started and had good show miles...hence they were not cheap. One would assume the iintial evauluation appointments would go smoother then they did. Instead of precluding any further relationship between buyer and seller. Little long but entertaining.

                          #1 I was selling a nice, very pretty kid/ammy horse with a good reputation in the breed show ring. It was a western horse but at as nice a barn as any H/J place. selling on my own, no trainer/agent.

                          Buyer and their "trainer" make an appointment for 7pm. They were from a few hours away, sounded competent, coudn't find anybody who knew them so set it up. So, I get off work early and am at the barn at 4. Did a quick ride to be safe. Bathed, clipped, pulled mane, hoof polish, cleaned the tack, polished the silver, laid the tack out of they did not have their own. Fed early too (all 12 in the main barn per BOs request if I fed one early, I had to get them all).

                          And we waited and waited and waited. They call around 745 and claim they are 5 minutes out (no cell phones then). Show up at 8:30pm. I had the horse tacked up and ready since it was getting late. They want me to strip the tack off, put it back in it's stall so they can observe it's manners. I complied.

                          They requested to be allowed to tack it up, OK. I would guess it was the second or third time they ever tacked up by themselves..took awhile, horse was wonderful. I get on and ride, they ride...and ride...and ride. It's 10pm. I gotta get up at 6 and go to work. They then want to see the horse BATHED. Said nope, we are done, Zippyskippydunthat needs to go to bed. The "trainer" claimes horse was aced because it was too well behaved and I was afraid it had worn off so would not let them bathe it. Buh Bye. Later learn they are notorious lookey lous who pretend to look at horses to keep the kids happy and thinking they would get one. "Trainer" was not well known because they had to lay low and move alot to stay ahead of various collection agengies..

                          #2, this time as a buyer. Looking for an older Hunter type with trainer agent (having sworn off doing it alone). Same thing, 7pm on a weeknight. Well known barn and trainer. Nobody's there, we call. Assistant (main trainer in Fl) and owner turn up around 730. Horse looks like a POS in the stall, hadn't been clipped in quite awhile despite claims of currently showing. That I can look past so we proceed.

                          Must have been 830 before it got cleaned up and tacked up. They say "you can get on". I say "You first". The good news was it was very sound and quite a nice mover. The bad news? It was way too fresh and not used to being out alone in a cold, poorly lit ring and let everybody know it. Finally got to where they could jump it, assistant was on (owner/seller would not get on). He got a little rushy and left long to an oxer, broke in half with a wicked spin on landing dropping assistant into the arena wall.

                          Owner/seller had to take assistant home via the ER for x rays (broken collarbone). My trainer and I put the horse up and locked the place down for the night. I did not make an offer on that one..

                          Both absolutely true stories and both a total waste of my time. Ironically, my western horse was a great match for the pretend buyers and that Hunter was very well suited for me had it not been standing in the stall for a week in mid winter.
                          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                          • Original Poster

                            Thanks for everyone's input! I just got home from the appointment. My guy was a little star and was really good for the rider. I'm not sure she liked his canter, he has a really BIG canter, but he was presented well and took care of her.

                            They hinted at coming to look again so keep your fingers crossed. I think it would be a great home for him, but who knows what will happen.


                            • #34
                              I like simple, honest and to the point.

                              As mentioned- be ready for ANYTHING. I've had "Dressage riders" come to try my easy to flat work on the bit hunters that can't get them forward/moving into the bridle to save their lives- and I've had "professional" hunter trainers ride like jockeys and tell me I could have my horses better schooled - as she jabs her hands below mid point of the shoulder to get it to put it's head down.

                              Prepare your horse. If your horse is not used to being ridden a)by more then one rider in a working session or b) by a different rider- give him/her a chance on a day prior- see what the reaction is. Some don't love it, some get tired, and some don't care.

                              I don't prework my horses- if it is going to be too much horse you can generally tell. Although don't hate findeight's theory on quick evening trials going bad and possibly prelunging to ensure safety- but I would be telling them that it was lunged for 30 minutes.

                              Have your horse and tack presentable. If I know the trainer and know theyre in a rush I'll ask if they want it tacked up so it's quick- but more often everybody wants to see horse being tacked up.

                              Less is more. Yes your sheepskin lined open fronts/ankle boots, blingey saddle pad, and ear bonnet are nice. BUT if its not necessary- this isn't a moment to display what is yours. Very minimal tack/pads. I want to see the horse.

                              Have the barn tidy. Doesn't have to be done if they're coming too early but just neatly swept and tidied up is always much more pleasant.

                              Hope this helps and good luck.


                              • #35
                                Just to be clear...I don't have anything that needs to be lunged 30 minutes and never have, if it won't settle in 10 minutes, that's a problem. And a 20 minute flat with, maybe, a half dozen jumps should be enough if you are presenting a finished horse.

                                Just like the show warm up ring, it is what it is and you are not going to fix anything but you owe your buyer a decent and safe presentation. You also owe the horse a chance to shine for potential new owners.

                                I sometimes asked them if they wanted to see it tacked up...nobody ever wanted to on the first showing. In my barn, buyers are presented 3 to 6 choices as in most Pro situations and they are presented tacked up so buyer can evaluate quickly and pick out the ones they do want to see more of. They can tell right away of they don't like it and move on.

                                That pro situation is your competition for sales if you are advertising it as a show horse. Just something to think about.
                                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                                • #36
                                  I would be extremely turned off to show up and see girth marks that showed the horse has been ridden earlier that day. I would immediately question WHY the horse had to be ridden first, and I'd likely pass on that horse.
                                  "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."


                                  • #37
                                    I'm all for a quick hack before the appointment. That way you won't waste everybody's time if the horse isn't quite right. Better to know it isn't sound and let the buyer know before they drive out there and waste their time.
                                    Last edited by kmwines01; Dec. 2, 2012, 02:40 AM.