Selling A Horse?


Whether this is your livelihood as a horse trader, or it’s circumstances that mean you need to let go of a close companion, selling a horse is not always easy. There is no right or wrong way to go about it, but there are a few things you can do to make the process smoother and more successful all round. The best way to approach it is from the buyer’s perspective. This means knowing your target market, setting a fair price, and presenting the type of horse your ideal buyer is looking for.


A glossy coat, tidy mane and tail, trimmed hooves, and top physical condition can go a long way to attracting the right person. Fetching your bedraggled specimen in from the paddock knee-deep in mud when an interested buyer arrives, is not going to impress much. You need to present your horse in a way that's reflective of the price you're trying to fetch. It sets the standard from the get go.

Say cheese!

Personally, I find this expression quite silly and irritating. Especially when I’m not in the mood for a picture and Mum wants me to smile like it’s Christmas. But I think the point here is to make someone look their best in front of the camera. Just as a smile can light up a person’s face and capture so much of their personality, so can the right shot of your horse. 

Since Covid and social distancing restrictions, this has never been more important. It's the first impression the buyer is going to get and possibly the only one if they can't travel or visit.

You want to get photos that show your horse’s ‘spark’ - what makes them special? Strive to get an attractive and expressive headshot (you’re aiming for alert, not terrified by your out-of-shot clown imitation). Get a good side body conformation shot (with the same alertness). Then, you’ll need some of your horse moving. Choose your horse’s best one or two images at each gait and some of it performing in its discipline. It doesn’t have to be ridden, for example, if it’s unbroken but bred for jumping, you can still get great action shots free-jumping to demonstrate talent, technique and potential. 

Hoofpick Classifieds and Live Auctions allow an unlimited number of images to show as much as you need (included in your free listing when you register).

Hit record

A photo will capture a buyer’s attention, but a video can often seal the deal for requesting a visit or making a virtual decision. There’s no better way to demonstrate your horse’s movement, training and even their temperament.

Avoid making the video too long - 10 minutes is more time than most of us care to spare! These can be videos at home, during competition or simply out and about. Or a compilation of all of these. As long as the quality is good, you will be able to show off your horse’s best features in a few minutes. Getting your horse camera ready is also important for shooting videos. A good groom and braided mane can add that touch of class. Including music and text can be helpful but don’t let this detract from the main spectacle (your horse!) 

If you upload your videos to YouTube you can also embed them in your Classifieds and Live Auctions under the dedicated ‘Videos’ tab.

Be accurate

Now supplement that imagery with an honest written description of your horse’s breeding, temperament, training, competition record (if any), and potential. Also make sure you have the little details correct, including age, height, and, where applicable, registration information. Don’t be shy to show your own enthusiasm and admiration for your horse in the description, but keep it realistic and professional (imagine you’re a teacher giving a written report of a child, rather than the child’s parent). It really helps to supplement the description with documentation such as any Vet Checks, X-rays, Pedigree Charts, etc. which can all be added through your Hoofpick Account.

Be fair

Be fair to the buyer and to your horse. Price too high, and you might lose credibility and buyer interest. Price too low, and you might lose money or attract the wrong buyer. Base your pricing on the whole package, taking into consideration: conformation, age, temperament, talent, breeding, training and soundness. 

Setting a good price doesn’t mean looking up comparable horses for sale. You would need to know what prices the horses actually brought, because a listing price and a negotiated final price aren’t necessarily the same. Buying and selling horses is also quite a private business and some horse traders prefer to have a price in mind and only discuss this on application. This is worth doing if you want to meet and speak with interested buyers to discuss aspects of the sale before giving a price.

Hoofpick Classifieds leave it entirely up to you whether you want to disclose the price in your description, or not. Whereas in a Live Auction you set a Price and Reserve Price which will need to be met for your sale to be successful.


Target your market

When we advertise horses for sale we are very cautious of who and what we’re aligning our horse with. For example, listing a Grand Prix dressage horse on Craigslist probably wouldn’t attract the ideal buyer. In the same vein, someone getting back into riding might not be well connected in the horse industry and prefer a large public platform to find their next horse. Hoofpick is designed to give you the option of listing your horse on the public platform (seen by everyone) or only on your private platforms (i.e. your Website, Facebook Page and Mobile App). So you decide how you would like to market your horse and to what audience.

You can synchronise your online platforms through your Hoofpick account, so when you edit or change your listing it will update across all your platforms simultaneously. 

Organize (or find) your horse’s paperwork

Even if you’ve gone to the effort of taking model photography, shooting cinematic videos and polishing every hair on your horse, you’ll still end up in a flap if a buyer asks to see the horse’s paperwork. Didn’t you have it in that drawer in the tack room? No, that was at the old barn… panic! Try and track down registration papers, DNA test results, show results, veterinary records, production records, breeding records and anything else you’ve got BEFORE the buyer puts you on the spot!

Capitalize on the debut

The first three months of marketing a horse is full of buyer interest. After that, the hype will die down as new prospects come along. Also, people might start wondering why the horse hasn’t sold yet. Is it overpriced? Difficult to handle? Did it not pass a vet check? That’s how rumours get started in the horse world and those rumours can scare off buyers.

Take advantage of your initial listing by integrating your Hoofpick account with your Website, Facebook Page and Mobile App.* This way, the word will spread a lot faster about your exciting new opportunity for someone to jump on. 

*Hoofpick Apps only.

Be responsive

Selling a horse takes time and energy, and a lot of that can be attributed to answering a number of questions buyers have before they see a horse in person. You have to take the time to respond to inquiries. Missed correspondence could mean a missed sale. 

Never miss a sale and keep all your correspondence in one place through your Hoofpick account. Hoofpick App users can also communicate in real-time through in-app direct messaging. 

Avoid returns

Legally, you’re obliged to share any information about the horse’s behaviour and physical condition with the buyer. To avoid anything coming back to bite you (i.e. your horse or something more metaphorical) you should always be open and honest. When in doubt, disclose it - and do it in writing. After you’ve disclosed everything you know about the horse, the onus is on the buyer to take that into consideration in making a purchase decision. This will protect you if the buyer is dissatisfied post-purchase because the horse is unsound (even if the horse is unsound because of a pre-existing condition).

Offer a test drive

If you’re selling a trained, riding-age horse, potential buyers will likely want to have a trial ride. To do so, you will need to provide a safe area or arena to ride in. If you don’t have an arena where you keep your horse, consider moving it to a boarding facility while for sale, or take them to a public arena for the trial ride.

Get it all in writing

Last but not least, once you’ve negotiated the sale, get your sales agreement in writing and have a clear plan for funds transfer and horse transport. If your horse is going via a horse transport company you should take pictures of it before loading in case of any accidents en route to its new owner. It’s also a good idea to keep all correspondence about the sale before and after the horse leaves your property (this will be stored in your Hoofpick account if they inquire through Hoofpick).