Write A Good Ad

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Frustrated sellers like to label horse shoppers “tire kickers,” or claim they aren’t “serious” about buying a horse. Frankly, looking for the right horse isn’t much more fun than car shopping, and it takes a lot longer. However, a little savvy on the seller’s part could save everyone headaches.

Every ad should include the horse’s age, height, sex, color, breed and/or type, discipline(s), and, above all, asking price. Anything less and the seller will end up wasting a lot of time just answering the phone.

The ad should also state the state/town the horse is in, especially if the ad’s in a national publication. A person in Pennsylvania with $3,000 to spend probably isn’t going to travel to Wisconsin to see a horse, let alone pay shipping charges to get the horse home. He or she’d be better off purchasing a pricier horse in Pennsylvania.

On the phone, additional information about the horse’s training can help avoid “lookers.” If the horse is strong, say so. You’ll save time — and possibly a liability suit — by avoiding timid riders.

If he’s jumping, stating that he goes over fences isn’t enough. Is he an adult-amateur hunter, or hopping the pasture fence to visit his pal down the road'

By all means, if the horse is quiet, say so. You won’t waste time on people who want a little more zing. The rest of us will beat a path to your door.

Of course, let’s not be ridiculous either. If you write an ad that says: “Thoroughbred gelding, large calcification in his left knee,” it will likely be ignored. But if you say, “16-hand Thoroughbred gelding, 9, quiet, good for trail riding and light work,” someone might call. When they do, tell them about the knee’s history before they make an appointment.

Experienced horsemen realize it makes the most sense to fully disclose any information that may affect the horse in the future, even if it isn’t brought up by the buyer. Obviously, a major unsoundness will likely be picked up in the pre-purchase veterinary exam anyway.

Of course, all this depends upon the seller’s ethics. And some horse dealers aren’t any less trustworthy than a one-horse seller. On the other hand, while it’s certainly still a buyer-beware world, it’s also becoming a “seller-beware” world. Misrepresenting that horse may come back to haunt you.

-Cynthia Foley