Selling Your Horse
This section of Graemont.com has information and resources that could help you to sell your dressage horse. Please realize that the use of any of this
information should not be used in place of competent and independent
counsel when buying a horse.
The place to start is in understanding what type of home your horse needs. If he had zero talent for dressage and had a bad attitude about it, don't sell him into a life of humiliation and failure under another determined "half-halter." Find something that he's good at and chances are he'll have a happy life. It may mean discovering a jumping career, carring a young rider in the hunter ring, being a handicapped rider mount or perhaps a pretty pasture ornament. Keeping the horse's best interest in mind may help you find the right market for your horse, and that's where you need to start.
Next you need to understand what his price should be. This is where it gets tricky. Price searching through classifieds can get really confusing because you are looking at horses that haven't sold - and may never sell for those prices. These are not comparable sales, and that's exactly where you should be focusing to understand the fair market value of your horse.
Decide on a Price:
Assuming that you are selling to a dressage market, you have to take into account the entire profile of your horse, and not just price according to his strong points. For instance, you may have a nice 1st level horse, but he's 11 years old and you've been "training" him yourself for the last 7 years. This horse does NOT have a future in upper level dressage and will not be worth big bucks, no matter how nice you think he is or how much he cost when he was 4 years old.
A horse's value is based on supply and demand; but also on the "dream" factor. That's why horses that are right in their "career track" for their age are much more expensive than those that have aged without success and training. Buyers like to see a five year old very well started and schooling through a first level test or more for talented young horses. By the time the horse is seven, buyers like to see it well started in changes, showing talent for collection at least through 3rd level and showing talent for more to come. In Europe if the horse turns ten and hasn't done Prix St George, it's starting to be thought of as a schoolmaster. That understanding is starting to permeate throughout the educated riding community world-wide.
Make a decision whether or not you want to sell your horse in a professional network or find and entertain buyers directly. If you involve trainers, you should expect to sell at a wholesale value. This is commonly 10 to 25% less than retail value. A professional is often capable of getting a better price for the horse than an amateur because they are adding to the horse's value through their "endorsement." If you don't like the idea that another trainer or trainers may pocket your potential profits you dont' have to use a professional network. It's entirely your choice.
If you decide to use professionals to sell your horse, do not advertise a price - at least not your wholesale price. Most trainers in the dressage industry take their profit from the seller side (although anything can be negotiated). They may not feel comfortable quoting a higher price for your horse than their client just read in the classified you posted.
Get a Marketing Plan.
Nothing sells your horse like a great photo, except maybe a great video. But great videos that really sell a horse are rarely made, and only certain horses and circumstances make it possible to make a good video. Buyer expectations are that you have a wonderful video just ready to send them after they're done telling you all about their last horse. If the video doesn't make their heart beat faster, you've probably just put a nail in the coffin with that buyer - which is why some of the more experienced sellers simply refuse to send videos to anyone who asks. If you're a one horse seller and don't mind taking the huge amount of time it takes to capture good video footage and then edit it to being as perfect as it needs to be (to get through the pass around to all my expert friends and wanna be trainers) you are better off just saying you don't have a video.
In most cases dressage horses are sold in the USA to people within 250 miles from your home, so advertising in national magazines will bring you a higher percentage of callers (video collectors) that will never come to see your horse. You might do well to take your horse to some area professionals for a "lesson," to get them acquainted with your horse for sale. Placing a nice picture on your local tack shops bulletin board might bring you a surprise sale as will posting something at area dressage shows. Horses of national quality or Int'l quality may warrant a much broader network for selling and should probably be sold through professionals. Most buyers of horses like this insist on their own professional's endorsement, so you might as well prepare yourself for this.
Today more than ever when people want information, they go online. (That's probably what brought you to this article, right?) If you're working with a trainer to sell your horse, you may be better off to choose one that has joined the multi-list of dressage riders: dressageprofessionals.com. This will put your horse into a database that can be accessed by trainers worldwide when they're shopping. (how cool is that?) If you're selling your horse privately, you will probably get better results using a dressage specialty site like dressagenetwork.com rather than an all breed/ all discipline site like equine.com or dreamhorse.com, where your ad will tend to be more obscured and the surfing audience is less focused. A dressage site will also make it possible to give more "dressage related" information which the buyer is seeking.
Now this is going to sound like an advertisement but (here goes). Over the years we've gotten so incredibly many inquiries from sellers asking if they could put their horse on Graemont.com, that in 2006 we have decided to allow this to happen. We've created a unique page for people to post a dressage horse for sale. We are charging $40 to post the information for you and will allow it to stay on the site until it is sold. This does not make Graemont, Inc the agent for your horse. (We work for buyers, not sellers - sorry).