Sunday, May 10, 2015

How to (and how not to) sell a horse on Facebook

I have spent the last year listing thoroughbreds for sale on facebook for my friend (the lady I bought Scottie from) for free to try and network new homes for these horses.  We have been successful!  I think I am on about 25 horses, and I thought I would share some of the tips I have learned.

1.  ASK FOR REFERENCES!  Always, always, always, always ask for references. 
I ask for 2 equine references, one being a vet.  If they can't or won't provide them, they are immediately removed from consideration.  It's not that hard.  I literally have 20 horse references that I could give at a drop of a hat, depending on what kind of information you want.  Not only do I have CURRENT vet and farrier references, I have OLD vet and farrier references.  I have professional references, old trainers, current trainers, barn owners, ex-barn owners, friends....So, asking to provide 2 is not that big of a deal.  And if you are so sketchy that you can't provide two references, immediately, why would I give you a horse?

2.  ASK PEOPLE TO EMAIL YOU INSTEAD OF PM.  Because 95% of people "shopping" for horses on facebook are either one or all of the following: a) tirekickers, b) stupid, c) lazy, d) illiterate, e) stupid, f) crazy, g) crazy or h) crazy or i) a minor/under 18... someone who can follow instructions on an ad that says "email me at for more information" is immediately more serious (or at least can follow through).  It filters a lot of the riff-raff.  It's also easier to forward pictures.  It's also easier to hide what you are doing at work ;) (I kid, I kid)

Each ad should have the following if at all possible
- side picture (each side)
- front picture, showing face, chest, and legs
- picture from behind, showing butt and back legs
- head/face picture
- picture capturing horses personality
- pictures zooming in on potential injury area (large knee, etc)

OH AND BRUSH YOUR FREAKING HORSE!!! SERIOUSLY.  Put a halter on the creature, pull it out of the mudpit you keep it in, hose of its legs, comb its mane.  Include a tacked picture if a show horse.  Show the horse doing something useful, if it is trained (jumping a fence, barrels, going over a tarp).

I can't tell you how many ads I see that say "kid-safe paint gelding $1500" or "genital stud colt 3 years" (spelling intentional) or other such nonsense.

Include at a MINIMUM
- sex (mare, gelding, stallion)
- age
- height
- price
- location

Other useful information
- handling information (does she pick up her feet, is she mild mannered, does she load well,  any optional information that can provide information on the horse)
- soundness or problem areas (body or behavioral)
- if a TB, why retiring or selling (injury, done running, etc)
- bloodlines, jockey club name, race record

How often you bump your ad is dependent on how busy the group is.  In groups like OTTB Connect with 20,000 members, I will put a 'bump' or '.' every few hours.  In other groups, once a day is sufficient.

If I don't get a bunch of hits after 5-6 days, I delete my old ad, use the same information, but put a different picture up.  It grabs different people's attention.

You never know who is going to look at which sites - Post on breed specific pages, location specific pages, and discipline specific pages.  For example,  a young off the track filly can be posted in thoroughbred groups, broodmare groups, state for sale groups, and polo prospect groups (or hunter or whatever, etc).

Now lets talk a little bit about acceptable pictures.

These pictures are NOT acceptable.  Even if they are cute.  They do not provide any information or show the buyer what you are selling 

This picture is cute, but does not represent the horse for sale (note: mare not for sale :) )

This picture is too far away and at a bad angle

This is not a good photo.  No one is handling the filly, she is dirty and matted (although I've seen much much worse!!)

Again, just not a good photo for sale.

 Two many horses in the pic.  Which one is it?
Not bad, but not great pics
 Decent angle, but the barn is dark (this was winter, so not much to be done).  Try to get outside shots in good lighting

 This picture doesn't show her legs well enough (bad lighting), but it does show a cute side to the mare's personality so it could be used as an additional shot

 Side shot, but with head down, hard to see.

Now for some decent examples of sales pictures (especially for off-track TBs)

Clearly shows mare's conformation and cute face.

A bit dark, but shows conformation (and lovely tail).

Another decent conformation shot - shots entire body, plus hooves.  Why is this so hard to people?

Good shot from behind 

Cute head shot, showing face and personality

 Showing a cute face - can get a feel for this colt's personality

If selling a broodmare, showing an example of the offspring is a good idea.

And last but not least, show the horse doing something useful, if it can :)

 I'm probably going to keep this updated regularly.

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