7 familiar stages owners will experience when they sell a horse

  • Most horse owners will, sadly, have to endure the sale of a horse at some point in their lives.

    Chances are, if you live the sort of financially restrictive life which only permits you to have one horse in keeping, or you don’t have access to acres of green pastures to keep those you’ve outgrown in retirement, you’ll probably have to part company with a few during your lifetime.

    Some sales are painful and sad, the end of happy eras with best friends. Others might be more welcome, perhaps if the horse in question wasn’t quite your cup of tea and they’d perhaps be better in another home.

    Nevertheless, whatever the reason here are 7 stages of horse selling we’re all (probably) familiar with…

    1. Writing the advert

    Everyone has a style of advert writing. There is the minimalist writer, who simply includes an age, height and a simple phrase such as ‘good to do, ideal prospect in any sphere’. Buyers can be tempted by the ambiguity, but be aware, such an advert accompanied with a half-decent picture, can prompt a million and one messages via text or Facebook messenger. The other seller writes an essay in keeping with the word count seen on a university dissertation. No like, dislike or achievement is left unnoted. Depending on your style, you’ll probably have deleted and retyped your advert a few times as you too and fro with the idea of actually selling your horse…

    2. The phone calls/messages

    Arguably the most painstaking part of the selling process. Trying to find the genuine buyers among the abundance of time wasters is like trying to find a needle in a hack stack. But it’s a numbers game. Most private messages will go straight in with ‘how much’ and you know your reply will soon circle around your relevant horsey circles like wildfire. Phone callers are usually more genuine. However, do be prepared for 21 quick fire questions followed by a monologue about their own equestrian journey and why they’d be the perfect buyer for your horse.

    3. The viewings

    Time to put your salesman skills to the test. This is usually the time when your perfect horse who has never, ever spooked at the cows turned out in the opposite field now decides he has a phobia of mooing. You grapple with him down the lane trying to gently coax him past, bellowing ‘he doesn’t normally do this’ to the bemused prospective buyer, who definitely thinks you’re lying. Again, viewings are a numbers game; the ideal home could arrive on the first or the 31st viewing, so hang in there.

    4. The haggling

    Everyone loves a deal, so you can expect for a keen buyer to make you an offer when they’ve decided your horse is ‘the one’. They could go in at price so eye-wateringly low you choke on your mid-morning brew. Hopefully, the right buyer will see the worth of your horse and you can come to an agreement which suits you both…

    5. The vetting

    The most terrifying part of the selling process. You get so anxious you actually start to convince yourself the horse is lame just before the vet arrives. You remember that time he coughed once two weeks ago during your jumping lesson and swear he must have a deadly virus. You wrap him in cotton wool until the day comes. It’s a lengthy process, but after 24 trot-ups and 37 fondles of his legs, the vet gives your horse a big green tick. You’re pretty impressed on your horsecare skills and realise all those Pony Club stable management rallies you endured as a child were actually pretty useful.

    6. The delivery

    The time has come for your mate to be packed up and waved off to start his new life with his new owners. Emotions are high. You’re a mess. You suddenly think back to all the good times you had, probably with a pair of rose tinted specs (he definitely didn’t mean to dump you at that water tray last summer). This horse has been your everything for a long time and now it’s time to say goodbye. He, on the other hand, couldn’t really care less as he’s loaded into his new lorry; as long as there’s hay to eat, he’s happy as Larry.

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    7. The mourning/moving on

    Some like to jump straight back on the horse (pun intended) and get on with the hunt for another four-legged friend to join the family, while others prefer to take a step back and revel in some time away from the yard and all that mucking out. Whatever you decide to do, horse hunting is an exciting time so make sure you enjoy the ride (pun also intended).

    For all the latest equestrian news and reports, don’t miss Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday

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