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wrongly or rightly, that you are not serious or will be a royal pain. Owners selling for the first time are also quick to learn about time wasters. If you're pleasant and easy to work with, it may even open the door to your dream horse. Why? If it's a really good deal, the seller's phone will be ringing and e-mails will be coming in. For any seller, it's painful enough to part with his or her “baby,” so why deal with the extra misery of the difficult buyer? Be nice—it works!


 Be realistic about the market and your horse. Sure, it’s

been a great horse (or not) but is your horse in training and in top condition? Has it competed successfully at the level at which it is being represented? Do the pictures or any videos you've produced show the horse at its best?

 Look at your horse like a stranger would; try to see it for the first time and describe it

objectively. Do a search as a buyer and figure out what you would be willing to pay for a horse you don’t know with the abilities and training of the one you own.

 Be professional in your

marketing. You don't want to lose a buyer over an inaccurate description, awful pictures or poor videos.

 Be honest and upfront

about any issues you know of, or suspect. The buyer can

make up his or her own mind about whether it’s a big deal. Let’s say the horse has vices, it needs individual turn out, is not good alone on trails, needs a sensitive rider or is not suitable for a beginner. These aren’t mortal sins for the horse but could be for you if you’re wasting people’s time. Remember, for buyers, looking at horses is an expensive process in time and money. Many travel great distances to find the right horse and may be paying their professional for their time. Do the right thing if you know it is not a good fit.

 Be careful what you say or you may find yourself in

expensive litigation over something you innocently said or unintentionally misrepresented to a buyer. Today, many

states have disclosure requirements regarding sales of horses.

 Promptly respond to and accommodate serious

buyers. If your horse is correctly priced, it will sell; if it has “issues,” price accordingly. There are always buyers

who like to purchase do-it-yourself projects if the math between the purchase price and the time investment works out.

 Avoid “bully buyers” who want to beat up your horse,

take it to their farm and have their vet look at it to further beat up your horse and then pound you down on your price

in a weak moment. It’s not fun, and if you’re priced right, you don’t have to take it.

 Payment by wire transfer is now the norm. If you don’t

know your buyer and/or don’t understand the paperwork, get help with contracts and bills of sale.

 Before letting anyone near your horse make sure that

they have signed legally binding releases. You don’t want to

lose your house or farm.

 If you don’t have the time, facilities or knowledge to

create high quality videos, write concise advertisements, deal with professional trainers, show the horse at his best, navigate the pre-purchase exam and stay emotionally detached while hand holding prospective buyers through the their own emotional process, consider using a known professional equine marketing specialist.  You can expect to pay

Jeff and Susan of Impulsion Unlimited.

a commission of 10% to 20% and training board plus normal expenses like shoes. While

it might sound “expensive” at first glance, the truth is many sellers routinely end up with lower proceeds trying to market on their own. Professional representation often results in a higher selling price, a faster sale, and less money given up in

“negotiation,” but do your homework prior to placing your horse. Check references!

 Breeders may benefit by placing horses with a

professional capable of progressing training to increase value

faster than costs incurred. A gain-sharing approach may be an option in this type of situation provided the parties can minimize risks.


Jeff Johnson is a sales consultant and marketing professional specializing in dressage horses. Jeff and wife Susan Cooper, a USDF gold medalist and FEI trainer, own and operate Impulsion Unlimited Dressage Horse Sales and Representation in Huddleston, VA. Learn more at

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