Selling and buying a horse is easier than ever with places like the Internet and Facebook. But all parties should follow common courtesies when in the horse sales market. (Don’t be a tire kicker!)

Confession—I like to shop. Sometimes I know exactly what I want, and sometimes I just browse. I wander around, looking for something that’s priced right that I didn’t even know I needed. Sometimes I leave a store with exactly what I want, sometimes my arms are full of plunder, and sometimes I leave with a full wallet and empty hands. And once in awhile, there’s that gratifying impulse purchase. 

a tire with a pony in it.

Horse shopping really isn’t too much different. Sometimes there’s a void that needs to be filled with specific criteria. There’s a budget and a plan, and the buyer finds what’s wanted and purchases it. Some shoppers take their time and weigh the decision over an extended period. And sometimes, the horse market is a place where folks simply mill around and browse.

In my modest opinion, swapping horses has become far too sensitive of an agreement. We’ve all gotten a little spoiled. Some sellers can be way too demanding of buyers, and some buyers can be way too casual, wasting both the seller’s time and efforts. The online effect—bringing immediate gratification and the willingness of a buyer to take a risk on an unseen horse— has made the whole process a different one than times before. 

Common courtesy and basic decency would ideally create an equine marketplace where prospective buyers don’t pepper the seller with information demands and then fall off the face of the earth. A simple “thank you but I’m going to pass” is both appreciated and welcomed when the buyer is no longer interested. Honesty—whether online or in person—is necessary on any horse transaction, but it isn’t always practiced. I know some people are a little sensitive, but I refuse to be insulted by “lowball” offers. Heck, I’ll do it sometimes to others! Shoot me a number and I can either consider it, counter it or just say no. I try not to take it as a personal attack on what someone may think my horse is worth, and I’m willing to sometimes consider negotiations to the right situation. 

Of course, we’ve got to address that dreaded tire kicker. The one who drags the seller’s energy and efforts out to great lengths, always wanting more photos, videos and information on the animal. They may come and ride once, twice, and bring a friend or two to do the same. They plead for shipping assistance and desire lifetime vaccination and shoeing records. They share stories about the horse they grew up with or recently lost and are trying to replace. And then, after pages upon virtual pages of the seller volunteering information, media and a five-panel blood test, the “buyer” either vanishes or replies curtly that they are no longer interested. 

But alas, the occasional tire kicker cannot be avoided. And, as sellers, we must have the basics down and be prepared to offer what most reasonable buyers desire. Folks are going to want photos, so before your horse is advertised, take some good ones. With long-distance purchases becoming fairly common, videos are pretty much standard procedure as well. And with some of the—er, shall I say—challenging livestock sales obstacles that sites such as Facebook have implemented, most people are going to have to ask for a price. None of these questions or needs from the buyer are a waste of time on the seller’s part. These are very reasonable requests, and at any time, the seller should be prepared for the buyer to either lose interest or want more information.

Because hey, buying a horse is a big decision. It’s a dream realized for many. It’s a new employee for some. It can be the start of a breeding program, a big investment, an asset for a competitive hobby or a partner for adventures to come. It might even be a life-changing addition of someone’s new best friend. 

So buyers, ask questions, do your research, but don’t kick tires. Sellers, have patience, be prepared and practice honesty. 

And (as my husband kindly reminds me) let’s try to keep those impulse purchases to a minimum.

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2 Comments

  1. You forgot the tire kickers that ask redundant questions that were already answered in the advertisement. I will not answer these. All they are doing is wasting my time.
    Current Sale Horse
    6yr old grade Arabian gelding 15.3 hands green broke with about 90 days. Up to date on shots, regular farrier, barefoot, easy keeper. Prefers to load into a stock type trailer.
    I am NOT exaggerating. These are just a few of the questions I’ve received about this horse since I listed him in June, it is currently Oct.
    “How old is it? Is it gelded? How tall? I have 15 minutes to ride if I come right now. Why didn’t you train it to get in a two horse? Is it registered? Can I take it to Tevis Cup next month?”
    You ask lazy redundant questions you are demonstrating your lack of equine knowledge and level of intelligence. Yes, I am judging you. Be professional and I mean read the damn ad! Ask some real questions before you demand a fourty minute riding video on a horse you’re not really interested in. This business is based on who you know, get to know your seller and you’re less likely to get ripped off. Rash, uneducated buyers deserve to get ripped off just on principle. Stop being lazy!

  2. Great article. I find both buying and selling horses a stressful buisiness. Although I have had horses all my life, it doesn’t get easier and in fact I believe social media has made it harder. My wife says I am just getting old and grumpy, but I think good manners go a long way too. In the not to distant past horses would be advertised in horse magazines or newspapers, and there would be a phone number so you could call and ask all the questions you wanted to. Not now though. Now sellers post ads on the likes of Facebook and make rude comments like ‘no tyre kickers or time wasters’. We might all think it, but why say it? Potential (non) buyers on the other hand delight in making comments such as ‘your dreaming’ in relation to price, or worse might make derogatory comments about the horses looks.

    I have found over many decades that todays tyre kicker or time waster might well become tomorrows buyer. Nobody deserves to be ripped off, or worse hurt or put off riding for life, so I do believe that as sellers we owe a duty of care to prospective buyers. I remember selling my daughters beautiful welsh pony Blaze, as she had grown out of him. He was stunning but needed a competent skilled young rider. My daughter always rode him beautifully and I gently turned a number of prospective buyers away as the match wasn’t right. One day on yet another trial I wondered what was going on as my daughter was riding Blaze badly and I wondered what was going on. I noticed a tear in the corner of her eye and realised she had already picked the match was right, and yes a sale was made.

    Our last five horses have all been purchased from the same Arabian breeder as weanlings. We have had the joy of youngsters without the stress of foaling. It might not be right for most people but by the time our weanlings are ready to be broken they have been well handled, know and trust us, and we know them. We sold a couple to people we knew well with the home being more important that the price. Fortunately horses are my love, not my business as I would go broke quickly. Only horse I ever sold for a good profit was Blaze, and I still haven’t been forgiven for selling him!!

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