1. Be Honest
Be honest with yourself. Know the parameters of your horse search! Are you 6ft tall with legs for days? You probably don’t need to be looking at all of the sport ponies, regardless of exceeding cuteness level. No experience with green horses? Maybe that 3yo OTTB isn’t quite the horse for you!
Have a realistic budget! Looking at horses that are not on the horizon financially is torture not only for you but for the buyer as well. It is senseless to get everyone’s hopes up if the situation is not a reality.
Be honest about your horse. Your 6yo has run one training level event and you guys did a bit of ‘scraping around?’ Not a training level packer! Not being honest with yourself or the buyer about the horse’s experiences and/or potential is setting everyone up for a disaster!
Has your mount been there and done that, maybe a saint that requires a little bit of maintenance? Be upfront with the buyer! The right match will make itself.
2. Be On Time
Plan accordingly! Searching the universe for your next equine partner is time consuming. Schedule appropriately and allow an ample amount of time to look at each horse.
If you are running late or something comes up (which happens in the horse world), COMMUNICATE with the other parties. Shoot a quick text and be understanding. If a scheduling problem occurs for whatever reason, be flexible!
Have the noble steed presentable and readily available! Nothing is worse than arriving to look at a horse and waiting for half an hour while Mr. Ed is being retrieved from the back forty and doesn’t feel like being caught that particular afternoon.
Try to have all tack and supplies out and organized beforehand to avoid holding the buyer up unnecessarily while you seek out your long lost hairnet.
3. Be Professional
This seems like a no-brainer but professionalism is often disregarded in the equestrian world! Treat the horse shopping experience like the business transaction that it is. Be prepared, informed, courteous and above all else, respectful.
Although horse sales are business transactions, keep in mind that it can be emotional and overwhelming, especially for first time buyers! Try to be informative, up front, organized and above all else, respectful.
4. Respect the Horse
Don’t exhaust your perspective mount! Of course, push the limits to test the athletic potential and soundness of mind. But if you guys jump the 4ft oxer beautifully once or twice, there is no reason to belabor the point.
No matter how fun it may be to sit on something with a million buttons or unlimited athleticism, remember that they are a living creature and will eventually exhaust.
Trust your feel as a rider (and listen to your coach or agent!) Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole if this particular pony is not the right ride for you. You’ll know whether or not this could be a potential partner in crime!
Allow for a reasonable warm up. It’s not your everyday practice to jump right in the saddle and immediately ask for canter pirouettes, so don’t try to show off. Give your horse a fair shot at appropriately showing themselves! Walk and trot for a few minutes before you start getting fancy, jump the warm up fences before heading to that skinny!
On the flip side, try to keep in mind that the seller wants to sit on a moderately fresh horse. An exhausted sales horse can not accurately represent their mind and body.
Always, always remember that horses are living, breathing creatures. They have thoughts, feelings and opinions (even more true for my sassy little mares out there!)
5. Follow Through
Communicate with your agent or seller as to whether or not you are truly interested in moving forward. Dragging out or delaying the process is no good for anyone!
If you are interested, go ahead and schedule that second ride, set up that vetting or hook up your trailer! There is no sense in delaying the inevitability of your ever growing fur family.
If you are not interested, say so! Let the buyer and horse move on to greener pastures.
Communicate about pending showings, vettings or sales. We get it, there is more than one buyer in the market at a time so make sure to keep everyone aware and apprised of the full situation.
Be quick to respond to any further questions that buyers might have. Don’t wait a day or two to call back with your opinion or more information.
Provide documentation if requested; vet records, breeding information and competition records. The more the buyer knows, the higher the chance of a match made in horsey heaven.
Horses are such an investment; emotionally, financially and timewise. Horse sales are no different but that doesn’t mean that it has to be frustrating or hopeless for anyone. Remember, both buyers and sellers are human, be understanding and honest. First and foremost, try to meet your own expectations during the whole process and good luck!