Honesty is the best policy – but not everyone agrees: 8 life lessons you learn when you sell a horse

  • Selling a horse is rarely easy – we all want to find the right home, particularly if the equine in question has been a much-loved family member, and attracting that buyer who will suit your horse down to the ground can be tricky.

    And of course there are certain inescapable truths about selling horses, from the perennial late-arriving buyer to the 100% sound horse who suddenly goes inexplicably lame.

    Here are eight of our favourite life lessons learnt from selling horses…

    1. Honesty is always the best policy

    If you aren’t entirely truthful about your horse, you may well be caught out, whether it’s at the vetting, through gossip passed on via a mutual friend or by the buyer checking your social media or the horse’s online record. The consequences are potentially very serious, so keep to the truth when describing the wares on offer.

    2. But not everyone will be honest with you

    Yes, it’s a good policy to stick to, but the reality is that not everyone will give you the same courtesy. Stories abound of potential buyers who have exaggerated their experience or knowledge and, unsurprisingly, find the horse is unsuitable for them. Which leads onto the next point…

    3. You have to be polite, even when sorely tested

    The customer is always right, and that means selling a horse is a good time to learn how to plaster a grin on your face and fake a polite tone in your voice, even if the viewer cancels after you’ve spent two hours polishing the pony, doesn’t turn up at all, arrives an hour late or, as it turns out, has ridden precisely twice (on the lead-rein) despite claiming to be a five-star eventing aficionado.

    4. It’s wise to be ready early

    You don’t want the buyer to turn up while you’re still scrubbing the mud off your beautiful grey or, worse still, trailing round the field trying to catch the little blighter (yes, you’ll have to be honest when asked if he’s good to catch, but somehow seeing it is worse). In horse selling, as in life in general, it pays to be ready in advance of the scheduled time.

    5. Sod’s Law

    Your horse has never taken a lame step in five years with you, but you can be sure he’ll have a little limp on the day the perfect-sounding buyer is arriving or when he’s due to be vetted to head off to what looks like the dream home…

    6. Sometimes a sad decision is the right decision

    Selling an equine friend is never easy, but if he’s not the mount for you – either because you just didn’t gel or because your abilities and expectations have changed after several wonderful years or, in the case of children’s ponies, because you’ve shot up six inches in a year – parting ways is the right thing to do. Your horse will be happier with a new owner and a new partner will be right for you. But of course there will still be tears.

    7. Trust your instincts

    You’ll probably know when the right buyer turns up and hopefully they will too. If something doesn’t feel quite right, probe around the situation a bit more – it’s perfectly legit to ask questions about where the horse might be going and what he’ll be doing. A genuine buyer will want the horse’s previous owner to care about him – it shows he’s worth caring about!

    8. Some things matter more than money

    Whether you can afford to take less than you wanted for the horse will depend on your individual circumstances, plus you have to weigh up whether he was over-priced to start with or whether someone will pay the asking price if you hold out. But remember that sometimes the right home is more important than the cash.

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