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Horse Selling Blues (sorry long)

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  • Horse Selling Blues (sorry long)

    I've talked myself out of writing this pity post for awhile, but now I'm giving in. I've had my gelding listed for sale since September-ish. While I've gotten a few emails, one phone call and hundreds of hits of each of his ads, not to mention numbers ripped off of flyers. NO ONE has come out to see him. Though a handful have inquired about when they could come. I have made myself available for whenever is convenient for them. But around then is when the inquiries end. I don't know what to do! My ad is great, extremely honest and forthcoming about his abilities and current training. My strictly dressage friend has said it makes even her want to come out and try my jumper! His photos are nice, his video shows walk, trot, canter, changes, and jumping. His only flaws are lack of showing (he wasn't 100% ready to hit the shows till late October and being trailer-less I was at the mercy of a very busy friend to take us) and that he cribs. My trainer is in love with him, keeps raving about how nice a horse is. That he's a steal at this price. Trainer HATES TBs. Every other professional who comes in contact raves about him. I feel his price is fair. I'm not picky about where he goes. Just as long as he's safe and happy. I respond to all inquiries in a timely fashion, most within hours. He's a fabulous horse and at a decent price. He's safe, sane(sane is a extreme understatement), good mover and talented. What am I doing wrong? He's been here longer than my business proposal called for, which is fine. My partner and I aren't in a rush, he was well schooled that this could take longer than planed. My only concern is no one is interested enough to come meet him. He needs to move on to his new home. I'm starting to get too attached to him. I don't know what more to do.
    Proud owner of a member of the Formerly Limping And Still Majestic Equine Society

  • #2
    Sale Barns help wit Horse Selling Blues

    Out here in the west, I cannot keep horses in my sale barn. Most trainers rely on barns like us that they have relationships with to buy and sell. You should look into it! It is a great way to get your horse sold in a timely manner and make sure they are marketed and represented accordingly!

    Good Luck!


    • Original Poster

      I've thought about going the route of a sales barn. Seriously considering it. But as lame as it sounds I'd feel like a failure. Training, buying/selling is what I want do with my life. This gelding is the first time I've done it all on my own. (well techincally 2nd, last one is now my beloved pasture puff) There is no pressure to move horse on from my partner. He keeps saying he knows I'm doing my best, and its not my fault the econmy took the turn it did. Cost of sending horse to sales barn is also a factor.
      Proud owner of a member of the Formerly Limping And Still Majestic Equine Society


      • #4
        Have you made it known to your professional friends that you'll pay a commission to them if they sell him for you?

        Sorry to be blunt, but something seems fishy if other trainers are telling you he's great and a "steal" at his listed price, but they aren't providing possible buyers. Either they're just trying to make you feel good, or they have no financial motivation to help you out.

        Selling horses is not my business, but all my friends and acquaintances know that 10% can be had if they bring me a buyer when I do have one for sale. Since you want to make selling horses your business, make sure to treat it like a business and provide financial incentive for other professionals to give you a hand.


        • Original Poster

          I'll be sure to make it more clear to my friends/contacts that I'm offering a commision. My trainer doesn't like to buy/sell. So even though I did offer 10% trainer just isn't motivated to assist in the selling. More than willing to help with all else, even starting to clip horsey at 9pm one night because I wanted to learn and couldn't get up there earlier. By other professionals I meant more along the lines of the vet, various farriers and handlers. The other trainer who has since gotten to know us pretty well is trying to help. Had a buyer in mind when he first looked at horse. But buyer wanted to do hunters, horse doesn't. In his opinion they would have been a great match but it would not have worked in the long run. Since then he works with us a lot, but his looking to purchase clientelle is mostly hunters. Second trainer has only be helping us for about 2 months.
          Believe me BayRoan the thought that they are just trying to make feel good has definitely crossed my mind.
          Proud owner of a member of the Formerly Limping And Still Majestic Equine Society


          • #6
            Hi--having spent the past year looking for a horse, and being an analytical sort of person, I've thought quite a bit about adverts and videos and what works and what doesn't.

            Without seeing them, my first thought would be that at this point you probably should start "fresh." It's like a house that's been on the market and hasn't sold--after a certain period of time potential buyers start thinking there must be something wrong with it. (And probably the cribbing is your real problem.)

            You might do a bit of research into real estate techniques for getting sales moving, and see if you can translate them to your situation.

            Some things that occur off-hand:

            Price--obviously the most tricky. Depending on your range, you may not advertising to the right market. You may indeed have the horse priced too high, or even too low. The cribbing is a real price issue, because there is a segment of the market that will not even consider having a cribber in the barn. It is unfortunate at the moment that it's a buyer's market because this is really working against you. So you have a market that is already depressed, and you lose a certain percentage of it right off the bat.

            So you have to think about why someone would want this horse in spite of the cribbing. What is his value vs the horse down the road that doesn't crib? If he's a great horse and someone will get a "steal" because he cribs, make that a "feature." This is a horse that would cost a LOT more, but he has this issue and so he is truly a fabulous bargain.

            You may have to add to his value, too--not sure what discipline he's in now (dressage?) but you may have to get some show miles. If he truly is a great horse that will help a whole lot.

            Basically what you have is a really nice house in a kinda bad location. So think of it that way. Either the price has to be lowered, or the house has be made so attractive that it overcomes the drawback.

            You do have to face reality. Since you want to buy and sell horses in the future, think of this as part of your education in a tough field. The buyers just don't care that you have invested a certain amount, or want to get a certain amount, or are paying board and need to move him, or your partner wants to move him. They are simply going to look at him as he is, and make their decision. You have to give them a really good reason to come and try him, and that reason is almost certainly going to be that he appears to be worth more to them than you are asking for him.

            So, not having seen your ad, I can't say anything for certain, but first I'd take down all your ads for now and if possible get some show miles on him, and if possible a very good show video.

            Then I'd present this horse in every video and photo as an absolute high-end, perfectly braided, shiny, neck arched, gloriously attractive and polished horse. He needs to look like the stallions in glossy magazine ads--just perfectly presented, not a speck on him.

            Then I would say something along the lines of: this is a perfectly sound, high-end horse that will delight the savvy buyer who recognizes his quality, character and training and takes advantage of the discount because he cribs. My guess is that the reason you are getting a lot of hits but not a lot of calls is because people open the ad, see the word "cribs" and close it. (Unless you aren't telling them until they contact you, and in that case that's why they aren't coming out.)

            So make the discount for the cribbing an upfront feature. And make his quality as solid as possible, which means show success. These may not be easy things to do, but it's not an easy market.

            You may have to adjust price, do all the hard work, and end up not making any profit or even taking a loss. In which case, you can call yourself a smart speculator and seller because you have learned some serious lessons that you can apply next time. One of them is not to sit on something, hanging onto the price, in a market that isn't receptive to it.
            Ring the bells that still can ring
            Forget your perfect offering
            There is a crack in everything
            That's how the light gets in.


            • #7
              I *think* the market is very "specific" for buyers right now. If the horse is not pretty exact in the match they are seeking, they seem to keep moving. We are trying to downsize and it's tough. Even with nice horses that you bred with no issues, if they aren't getting out to shows and clinics, they aren't on the radar screen in spite of good pricing, etc. Let's just hope things get better and the market improves for all of us and makes it more affordable to have them so we can sell them!
              Last edited by TKR; Apr. 25, 2009, 03:48 PM. Reason: spelling!


              • #8
                The market is just really bad now.

                Horses that crib, don't have show experience...I dunno, I think you're better off taking him to a few shows this year and trying again with new pictures. Preferably of him winning a nice blue ribbon.


                • #9
                  Many people won't consider cribbers unless they have some sort of outstanding attribute. It doesn't bother me, but for those who must board, it can sometimes be difficult finding a barn that accept them. Sooooo, you have to find a way to make that worth dealing with.


                  • #10
                    I've been successfully selling ponies for many years.

                    What I have found is that if I've sent out the video, or been advertising the animal for a while and am not getting serious interest -- then it is time to re-do all of the marketing materials.

                    Take new, better pictures. Take new, better video. Write a new, better, ad. This has ALWAYS been successful for me. Starting from scratch again is ALWAYS a hassle from the seller's perspective, but if you can't get people interested the way you think they should be, then it could possibly be the way he is currently presented.
                    Family Partners Welsh Ponies - Home of Section B Welsh stallion *Wedderlie Mardi Gras LOM/AOE http://www.welshponies.com
                    Click here to buy: A Guide To In Hand Showing of Your Welsh Pony


                    • Original Poster

                      Thank you!

                      First I want to say thank you all for taking the time to read this and respond.

                      The fact that he is a cribber is tactfully mentioned in his ad, and in his video you can see him wearing his collar. It is something I feel needs to be known because it is a deal breaker for some folks. I just got back from the barn, after having a week off he was fabulous but it was too dark by the time my "photographer" arrived. I will try to get newer better photos this week and will have a new video in the works by next weekend. And I'm going to redo his ad. I'm also going to talk to a few sale barns and think about sending him off. He knew nothing when I got him and look at him now! I could deal with admitting I don't have the abilities to sell in this market/in general. I think a large part of my difficulties is that I don't have a lot of contacts. I have called everyone I know but its just not enough. I'm a young professional (early twenties) but look much younger than my years as well as sound it. When nervous I babble a bit all in all none of it helps me when it comes to selling. If he's not sold we will be showing this summer as much as possible.
                      slc2 one of his sale photos is of him with the shiny blue and tri colored ribbons he won at his first show in decent company.

                      Again you all of for the advice, I'm taking it all into consideration.
                      Proud owner of a member of the Formerly Limping And Still Majestic Equine Society


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                        The market is just really bad now.

                        Horses that crib, don't have show experience...I dunno, I think you're better off taking him to a few shows this year and trying again with new pictures. Preferably of him winning a nice blue ribbon.
                        Agreed. Even just a few local schooling shows, but get him out there. Not just for the experience, but also for the exposure!! People are MUCH more likely to take a horse seriously when they've seen him go around. Maybe even consider a horse they might not have considered otherwise... like, say, a cribber.
                        where are we going, and why am I in this hand basket?


                        • #13
                          Work on making it more clear to the professionals who like your horse you ARE offering a commish. Use their connections. You might have to go this route to get started. It could also lead to lots of repeat business if you continue to bring along good quality babies, and trainers say "Hey, babies from that person are usually pretty good. I'll call her to see what she's got"

                          It's a way to get your foot in the door and start cultivating your own connections.
                          "The nice thing about memories is the good ones are stronger and linger longer than the bad and we sure have some incredibly good memories." - EverythingButWings


                          • #14
                            I feel you pain as do many other clients and people that have horses to sell. This is a hard market and I will pretty much agree with what the other posters have said. Just saying my piece... Right now the market is flooded with horses and a green (as he has no real show mileage) cribbing TB (especially if tattoed) is extremely hard to sell even if fairly fancy and quiet. If he is fancy enough for a professional (big, attractive, good mover with plenty of step and looks like a great jump) and priced right then he should sell but the more backyard/private individuals "can" do a cribber but won't bother as there are so many nice horses out there that don't crib. Before a slow market I would say cribbing detours 50% of your clientele. A cribber, during a bad market like this, is going to be hard to sell unless the horse is made or a very, very fancy prospect.


                            • #15
                              Just got back today from a schooling show today where we took my trainer's greenie that is for sale. He's a nice young gelding, this was his first show and he was a bit scared but coping well.

                              I was surprised at the interest in him--several people came up and asked about him. He's a Morgan but people would guess Andalusian or Lusitano. So it was easy to say, yes, he's a great little guy and he's for sale.

                              What became clear was that it would have been excellent to have either flyers or cards ready to give out, and a sign that could be on the vehicle or trailer. So when you redo your photos, get some postcard stock and print out a postcard with a photo, contact info and basic horse info (breed, age, size) so you have something to hand to people.

                              We had one inquiry regarding a horse for a third party, and while we exchanged notes w/contact info, it would have been MUCH better to have a card to hand out which could then be passed along to the prospective buyer.
                              Ring the bells that still can ring
                              Forget your perfect offering
                              There is a crack in everything
                              That's how the light gets in.