Whether you’ve made the difficult decision to find a new permanent or loan home for your horse, or time constraints have made finding a sharer necessary, the process can be daunting. By putting in the groundwork before you place your advert, you’ll help weed out timewasters and speed up the process, reducing your stress – and your horse’s.
Write the perfect advert
The golden rule of writing an advert is to be honest. That doesn’t mean listing every slightly annoying habit your horse has, but don’t completely ignore issues, either. Be frank about his experience, but also highlight his good points. For example, if your horse is nervous when hacking alone, let people know, but don’t forget to spell out his good qualities:
- highlight his best qualities
- mention his experience so far and scope to progress
- overplay his abilities
- avoid mentioning things people should be aware of (particularly vices, which must be declared by law)
Your horse’s vital stats
Everyone has a story about travelling miles to see a horse who was much too big or small, despite the advert saying otherwise. Save everyone’s time by making sure you measure him accurately before writing the advert. Passport heights aren’t always correct as they’re generally produced before a horse has finished growing. Be sure to include your horse’s breeding if you have access to it, and remember to state his age.
Imagine a close friend was asking you to describe your horse in 100 words. What would you say? Now cut that down to the length of your advert.
Take the best images
A picture paints 1,000 words, right? Except when it’s a bad image – then it’s worth nothing more than a hasty scroll past that means no one reads your carefully crafted advert. Whatever else you do, it really is worth putting in the time to get a quality image of your horse.
- pick a day with good light levels and photograph him with the light behind you – dark, blurry images, or ones with your horse silhouetted against the sun are absolute no-nos
- take many different shots – for example, standing square, working on the flat, jumping, hacking and enjoying himself so you can choose the best selection
- choose clear, uncluttered backgrounds – most people will be viewing your advert on their phone so the image will be small, and the more there is going on in the shot the harder it’ll be for your horse to stand out
- miss including an action shot if you have it – but always check with a professional photographer before using one of their images in an advert, and expect to pay a small fee to do so
- include too many similar shots
- dress your horse in ‘weird’ kit. Things we’ve seen that are a definite no? Hot pink overreach boots (it’s all you can look at)
- dress badly – if you’re including ridden shots, the jockey should be in tidy riding kit. Avoid bright colours, logos or riding in wellies. Your aim is to draw the potential purchaser’s eye to your horse
Shoot a great video
Many potential purchasers will ask to see a video of your horse. Don’t be nervous about creating one – with some simple, free editing software (search your app store for those with good reviews) you can produce a helpful, short video to give people a better idea of how your horse moves.
Just like in photos, pick a day with good light, but ideally not too much low, bright sun, which will create lots of shadows and silhouette your horse from certain angles.
- show walk, trot, canter and jumping if relevant
- consider what else might be helpful – for example, if you’re selling your horse as excellent in traffic and can show this, then that’s great
- put a few short videos on your YouTube channel (this is simple and free to set up if you don’t already have one). You can then easily send the link to people who ask for one, or put it in your advert
- show hours of footage – although do film plenty so you can show your horse off in a good, but honest, light
- forget to edit what you show. There’s nothing wrong with showing his easiest canter strike-off or best rein to jump off
Ready for viewings
To prepare yourself and your horse for what’s to come, ask a few trusted friends to handle and ride him in the weeks before the viewings begin. This will help your horse to become accustomed to different people without over-reacting. Ask for their feedback – they might spot something in-hand or under saddle that you’ve overlooked but that can be retrained easily. For example, does he fall out towards the school gate, or fidget when having his feet picked out?
The first seconds of a viewing really count. Make sure your horse is not over-prepared, but tidy. A thorough bath, neatened mane and tail, good groom and tidy stable will all get things off on the best foot.
Most contact will probably come via message – either text or email. If your work/life arrangements mean you won’t be able to answer these quickly, consider an automatic reply to let people know you’ve received their message and will get back to them as soon as you can. Remember to give your county or rough area in the advert so people can work out if your horse falls within their search area.
Don’t waste your time – or theirs
Potential purchasers will probably ask a stream of questions before arranging a viewing. However it’s worth considering some of your own. For example, if you’re putting your horse on loan, do you have a limit on distance from home that you’re happy for him to move? If so, ask where they’re based. It’s not unreasonable to ask for some information about a viewer’s riding experience to make sure it sounds appropriate for your horse. For example, if he’s young or tricky, it may not be in anyone’s interest to set up a viewing with a buyer who is looking for their first horse and has relatively little experience.
Remember, you’re not obliged to arrange viewings in the order people call up. A maximum of two viewings per day is ideal, but consider staggering initial enquiries to allow you to fast-track a late caller who sounds like a good fit for your horse.
It might seem like the last thing on your mind, but making sure the right insurance cover is in place before letting someone get on your horse is important. Many equine policies provide some cover for injuries incurred while riding or handling your horse providing you, the owner, has given permission. Similarly, many yard policies will offer cover, providing criteria are met (for example, wearing an up-to-standard riding hat). However, consider checking with potential purchasers whether they hold a personal accident policy – this is essential to protect you in the event of an accident if they’re not covered by your horse’s or yard’s insurance.
You can advertise your horse for free on our website, upload your advert here.