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Successfully Selling A Horse

‘Horse Wise’ with Lyn Hoffmann


© Lyn Hoffmann 2009

The process of selling a horse can be an emotionally draining process.  Parts of the process can cause a certain amount of stress.  Sorting the ‘real buyers’ from the ‘kickers of tyres’ is one to put into the ‘too hard basket’. Don’t even try!  Try instead to plan for a successful sale. Let’s list the factors affecting the price and sale of a horse. Evaluation of your horse, advertising him through thoughtful wording and knowing how to ‘sell’ him will be easier for you once you have a little more knowledge about the whole process. Remember too, that being truthful and upfront about your horse will be better than not.

(This is a Paint Horse I prepared in 5 days showing a huge difference to the overall look)


How you feel about a particular horse will in no way make a difference to whether or not a prospective buyer will pay what you think your horse is worth. You’ll need to leave the sentimental side of things at your door. If you love that horse and you’re going to be sad to see him go, by all means, tell the buyer, but don’t go on and on about it. Try to keep the emotion out of it as much as you can. It’s a situation that you’ll need to deal with if you are going to go through with a sale.

Another factor that can affect a good sale is letting the buyer know about a particular financial situation you’re in. You need to keep those things to yourself.  Knowing these things about you could influence a buyer into offering a figure far less than what you’re asking, just because they think you desperately ‘need the money’.


Performance:  Most show or competition horse buyers will be interested in what your horse has done and won. These are things that will distinguish him from others on the market.  Performance statistics will help you determine the price. Be realistic here.

Discipline:  The discipline your horse is trained, ridden or shown in will make a difference.  Your horse may be so good at the discipline you compete in that a buyer will purchase him and continue on happily with his winning ways. You may have a horse trained in a particular discipline that somebody wants to buy just because he is quiet and well trained and their daughter wants him for pony club.  No matter what discipline you followed with your horse, it doesn’t mean the buyer will use him in exactly the same way.  So, prepare yourself to sell to an open market with an open mind.  Remember too, that you can decide who you want your horse to go to.  Just because a buyer has the money, you may decide they may not be the right new owner for your horse.

Breed and Registration:  The breed and current registrations will always be of interest. If a horse is double or triple registered its value may go up, but only for someone who is looking for that in a horse.  Have proof of registration (copies) that you can fax, post or email to any potential buyers.

Age:  The value of a horse changes according to its age and soundness. A young horse has years of untapped potential and if you’ve prepared it kindly from the start you are on the right track. Many buyers are looking for a horse that is safe, quiet, sound, has been a consistent winner or placegetter at its discipline and is neither young nor over-aged. Many of these types of horses find homes very easily, with buyers wanting a horse they can trust for just about any member for the family. The age factor can also affect a stud horse’s ability to reproduce. Just because you’ve had a mare for 17 years and she’s foaled every one of her producing years doesn’t mean she is going to be worth a bunch of money to someone else. In fact she may only be capable of producing one or two more foals. Therefore her value will change.  The same goes for a stallion. A vet check here is up to the buyer but, in their eyes, probably well worth it. The result of this check will affect the worth of your stud animal. If it’s good and you have correctly evaluated your horse, you should have no trouble getting a good sale.

Temperament:  The temperament of a horse will become known to a buyer upon inspection so this is something to always make a mention of during an enquiry.  This will include its disposition, attitude, intelligence and trainability. This will add or detract from the overall value of your horse.  The horse’s breeding can be a factor in its temperament.  If your horse needs an experienced rider, let the buyer know.  Being truthful and upfront will save both of you time, money and frustration.

Conformation and Condition:  A horse with sound and correct conformation, structure and muscling is going to be far easier to sell than one without. If you are going to sell, your horse’s condition will be one of the factors that will be prominent in affecting the value and the sale.

Breeding:  The breeding of a horse will always affect its value. Horse people read equine magazines and talk horses to others so many of them know what bloodlines are out there successfully performing.  With a registered stud horse the breeding will always be a factor in the price and sale, so you’ll need to have that knowledge in front of you when buyers phone about your horse. In some selling instances the breeding of a horse won’t even come into it as the horse’s performance record can outshine everything else.

Training:  Of course a well trained and versatile horse will be worth far more than an unbroken youngster. But many buyers figure they can buy a young horse and afford to have him trained or train him over time.  Don’t ever let that change your mind about the value of your trained horse. Buyers work out too, that they don’t have the time to go through the rigours of training, so the trained horse’s value can stand up well.


What else can affect the marketability and price of your horse?  Of course it can be all of the above. But there are a few other things, too.  If he has one, it could be the influence of his trainer and how successful that trainer is, where your horse is located, what the market trends are at the moment and whether you should market him locally, regionally or nationally?  Considering everything you have just read will help you to identify who you intend on directing your advertisement at, in other words, ‘your target market’.


Preparing your horse needs to start as soon as possible. Depending upon how good he looks now, you can follow this 0 to 6 week preparation guide to help you through.

  • Feeding:    Get him looking good through a good feeding routine.
  • Exercising: Feeding and exercise go hand in hand. Don’t do one without the other.
  • Rugging: Get his coat, mane and tail in top condition. Rug according to the temperature. If you need to body clip him to make the difference and then do so, remembering that it will take about 3 weeks for the coat to look its best again.
  • Grooming: Give your horse a full ‘make-over’. Keep him looking good until he is sold. Try to have a farrier attend regularly until the horse is sold.
  • Presentation: Presenting your horse well to each and every potential buyer is a must.
  • Price:  I’m sure you’ll have some idea on what your horse is worth. If you aren’t sure put yourself in the buyers place and look at your horse in a new light. Figure out just what you’d be willing to pay if the shoe was on the other foot. The price you decide to place on your horse will vary depending upon all of the factors but can be enhanced by all of the preparation hints.  So, if you’re willing to do the preparation you may get a better price.


A picture is worth a thousand words, be they good or bad. A good professional photographer can make you horse look absolutely fabulous. So, look into this ‘extra spend’ as a big plus for a good sale.  Contact an equine photographer and check out their work. You may already have professional photos of your horse competing or with awards. If you have a broodmare or a stallion, try to have one or two photos of its progeny.


Once you know who your target market is you’ll find it easier to make a decision on where you will advertise or sell your horse. It can be through a magazine, website, an auction, a newspaper, even an advertisement up on a wall at a feed or saddlery store.  Once you decide, get an advertisement written up and test it on a few of your horse buddies.  Word your advert carefully making the standout things about your horse more prominent. Use quality photographs only with the advertisement and have information ready at home to send to interested buyers, should they be at a distance. Wherever you decide to sell your horse there is a reason for the evaluation, preparation and presentation. The reason being is selling your horse for the best possible price to the right new owner.

So…now that you’re armed with more selling power go out and make that sale happen.



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