If you own horses, it’s a safe bet that you’ll probably find yourself selling a horse sooner or later. Many people choose to market and prepare their own horses for sale, while others entrust the job to a trainer or reputable equine sales professional. There are pros and cons to both methods, but if you’re thinking about listing your horse for sale, it always pays to do your research first and figure out which method works best for you and your horse.
We sat down to chat with Mark Harrell, owner and manager of Mark Harrell Equine Marketing in Caseyville, Ill., to learn some of his best tips for promoting horses for sale. Harrell has been marketing and selling all-around horses for more than twenty years. In addition to selling horses, Harrell is an experienced horse trainer who has built a vast network of connections with equestrians in every corner of the horse show industry.
“We’ve been the Quarter Horse Congress highest-selling agent many times as well as the highest-selling consigner. We started out doing auctions, moving up from the smaller ones to the larger ones over time,” Harrell said. “Then the Internet came along and changed auctions forever. When that happened, we started selling horses at our home facility and that changed the dynamic a lot. It’s also helped us tremendously because we know how to make a good video of a sale horse. We also have a good following, so people know me all over the United States.”
In this blog, Harrell shares some of his professional insights into the best ways to market a horse for sale, whether you’re planning to do it yourself or want to hire a professional to do the heavy lifting for you. Ready to learn more? Read on!
If you plan to sell your horse yourself, be prepared to invest a fair amount of time up front in getting your horse ready to sell. According to Harrell, it’s crucial to get your horse into great shape and looking its best before you take sales photos.
“Number one is to get your horse fat and slick, because hair doesn't sell,” Harrell said. “A picture is worth a thousand words, and professional pictures are always nice to use. Most buyers like to see photos of the horse without the saddle as well as with the saddle so that the horse is dressed like a show horse. So many people say there’s no need to band the horse’s mane or put its show tail in, but it’s important. We often don’t even list horses until we can get them ready like that. You don’t go to a car lot to look at a dirty car.”
In addition to photos, it’s important to get great videos of your horse. If you’re selling your horse yourself, consider paying a professional equine photographer and videographer for their time and expertise.
“A three-minute video will sell the horse if you get the right three minutes,” Harrell advised. “A ten-minute video is too long. People may call you and want more video, but most of the time, those people aren’t serious. If a buyer can’t get in the three-minute mode and see the horse’s movements, they might be tire kickers. If they want to see more, they should come see the horse.”
A well-written ad is also crucial. In addition to communicating all the right information, a good ad paired with the right photos and videos can attract serious buyers from the get-go.
“The more information you put in the ad, the fewer questions you’ll end up answering,” Harrell said. “We always put the height, age and registered name of the horse into the ad, as well as the horse’s show record and location. We also put the highlights in there, like big wins and trophies. Give all the information you can in the fewest number of words you can, because people aren’t going to read a really long ad.”
Harrell also recommends that sellers be honest about a horse’s vices and limitations.
“I’ve found if you just tell the truth, it’s not a big deal. If your horse has a bad habit, most people can live with that if they know about it up front. People don’t like surprises. Just be honest about everything, and the horse will still sell well,” Harrell said.
GOING THE PROFESSIONAL ROUTE
If you plan to hire a professional salesperson to market your horse, it’s important to choose the right one. Ask your fellow equestrians for recommendations on who they trust, and when you get names, do your research. Scout out their websites and social media accounts to discover their audience and determine whether that audience fits your target market.
“Choose someone you trust,” Harrell said. “Check the seller’s past record. Are they selling horses? Are they marketing their current horses the way you’d want to market them? Do they have a nice, safe facility? Do they feed well? Do they have a good reputation in the horse industry?”
Audience is key. If you sell a horse yourself, chances are you’ll end up marketing it on Facebook and may only reach a few people outside your friend group. In contrast, Mark Harrell Equine Marketing has about 9,500 followers on Facebook, and the number is growing.
“As soon as we put a video up and a horse hits the market, we get shares, likes and people watching the videos,” Harrell said. “I have trainers call me from all over the United States looking to buy horses all the time.”
When you hire a professional to sell your horse, you’ll typically pay them a percentage of the horse’s sales price as commission. If you choose to board your horse with the seller until the horse sells, you’ll also pay a monthly boarding and training fee. Harrell has several trainers and professional riders on staff who help condition and train all sale horses. Harrell’s staff also ride the horses during sales videos.
“The standard commission for an equine sales professional or agency is about 10% of the purchase price,” Harrell said. “When you hire a realtor, you’re paying an agent for their knowledge and expertise in marketing your house. It’s the same way with hiring us to market your horse.”
When you’re preparing to sell your horse, there are many different aspects to consider. If you’re new to selling horses, we recommend you do your research and consider hiring a professional to help you find the best home for your horse. Hiring a professional is a financial investment, but the right professional will bring a wealth of knowledge and network connections to the table and may help you sell your horse more quickly.
You can learn more about Mark Harrell Equine Marketing by visiting https://www.markharrellequinemarketing.com/ online.