Preparing A Horse for Sale

Good conformation
written by  Kate Jupp Bsc Hons AMCST 4*  Event rider, horse producer and Hilton Herbs Helpline Co-ordinator.

Preparing a horse for sale is no easy task. For many of us, it’s a hard decision to sell our horse or pony and the process of doing so can be a demanding one both emotionally, and physically. Not only this, but how well you advertise your horse or pony is a key element to a successful sale.

Here’s a selection of top tips on what to include in your listing and what you can do to prepare to make the selling process as easy, and stress-free as possible for everyone:

Word of Mouth (WOM)

WOM is a great way to find a new home for your horse or pony. A good starting point is a few phone calls to your Pony Club, Riding Club, Hunt and Instructor to help spread the word and to scout for potential interest. Talk to friends and ask them if they know of anyone suitable for the horse, this is often a good way to find a reliable, new home.

Market research 

Before you start with your listing, have a thorough look at other horses on the market by using equestrian classified websites such as Everything Horse Classifieds. This is a great way to work out where in the market your horse or pony may fit best. Be sure to check out our sister website, classifieds.everything horse, the home of free horse ads. It will also give you a good idea on what price similar horses are on sale for. However, be aware they may not actually sell at these prices.  There is no point running an advert if you price your horse way above – or below – the market value.


Ask your instructor, or a knowledgeable friend, for advice. All too often listings will fail to peak interest if they are under-priced, as people may think there is something wrong. Make sure your advert reflects the price. Be realistic about your horse‘s talents.  Plenty of people are looking for a solid all-round horse suitable for hacking, jumping up to 1m and having fun, not a world record beater.  If this is your horse, be proud and advertise him on this basis, not as a potential world-class horse.

Best foot, or hoof forward

Be mindful of writing a good advert and use the best pictures possible. This is your chance to showcase your horse. If you only have one ‘wow’ picture then use this and say others are available on request. Make sure all pictures are good quality once uploaded, and feature the horse in a good light.

Don’t make your advert too long, ideally about 150-250 words. Include age, height, gender, breeding information and notable accomplishments.

Don’t make your advert too long, ideally about 150-250 words. Include age, height, gender, breeding information and notable accomplishments.

Take the time to get some good quality images of your horse, and remember if you use pictures from competing, check that the photographer is happy for you to use their picture. It is worth having a few ‘conformation’ pictures ready: feet, front view, hind view and that all-important stood up square shot.

Thanks to Hilton Herbs, their lovely horse Zingiber and a quick (winter’s day) photo shoot here are some that would be acceptable to include in the listing, and those you would be better to avoid. To zoom in click on each image in the grid.

Images 1-6


Include a price, but be realistic, it saves a lot of time if someone can see straight away if the horse is in their price bracket. Also, by adding ono (or nearest offer) this identifies the price as negotiable, however understandably within limits.


Videos are great to use when selling your horse. Ideally, one in walk and trot to start, followed by riding on the flat and jumping.  If you compete have some ready of you both out competing. However, if they are poor quality consider taking a trip to a good venue and getting a video of schooling.  Make sure you have the video in the right format and length to enable you to send them on request or link to your advert.


Include significant competition results and links to any relevant websites. Good results can be a real selling point. Most buyers will be aware of this, so transparency is key. Results will have an impact on the horse‘s value, and again most people should be aware that perfect doesn’t exist so don’t worry if there are a few mistakes. Remember, be realistic … the horse is not likely to fetch a high value if it has not performed well, irrespective of natural talent.


Make sure he is likely to pass a vetting. A visit from your own Vet and a good physiotherapist should be able to help you determine this and will put him on the right track for a smooth sale. The RAMP register is a good place to look up therapists in your area if you don’t already use one.  They should watch him on the lunge and trot up as well as check him over.

Get other people to ride and handle your horse

If your horse is only used to you riding him he could be nervous having a new rider on board.  Couple this with a potentially nervous rider who may be trying your horse for the first time, the outcome may not be desirable.   Ask a capable friend, or your instructor, to pop on him a couple of times to run through some simple work before viewings start.  This should also give you great feedback about how your horse is going and what areas to work on in the lead up to selling him.

Consider the timing and where to place your advert

Advertise in places relevant for your horse. There are many people who will be constantly searching for their perfect horse, but the horse sales market definitely has its up and downs.   Many people will buy a horse for their child in the autumn but by December the market is often very slow, when only the real bargain hunters will be buying.

You don’t want to have to keep re-advertising, people do notice and may think there is a problem. Only run an advert once your happy the horse is going well and ready to sell! This way horses are often snapped up very quickly.  There is of course room for every horse on the market, as long as the advert and price reflect the stage of training and work the horse is currently in.

Make sure you are free for prospective buyers to try the horse within a few days of running the advert.  People will soon go elsewhere and you can lose the chance to sell your horse if you make them wait too long.

Take the time to talk to the prospective buyer

Be responsive to emails, phone calls and texts. Talk for a while to work out if you think the person enquiring would be a good match to your horse. Don’t be afraid to politely say no if you don’t think your horse would suit.  It saves your horse being tried by more people than necessary.

Disclose any Health or Training Issues

It is advisable to disclose any important information about previous injuries and training difficulties such as rearing, bucking and bolting.  When in doubt disclose and do so in writing.

Finally, a few pointers for the trial days:

  • Have somewhere safe ready for the trial, preferably enclosed.
  • Make sure he is up to date on shoeing, worming, vaccination and tidy his mane, tail, feathers.
  • Have all the relevant paperwork ready: Passport, some of his best dressage sheets, some pictures you have bought.
  • Have your horse in his normal stable in good time.
  • Present him to the best of your ability, clean and brushed with clear hoof oil.
  • Have smart clean tack
  • Leave him untacked until the buyer arrives
  • Ride him first and then depending on the horse you may wish to see them try him on the flat before you jump. This again depends on the horse and his best points. If you feel the jump sells him then get on and jump him. Communicate with the buyer.
  • Remember the buyer may well be nervous, so give them time to get used to the horse.
  • Have another horse or a bike ready to take them out for a short hack.
  • If you like the prospective buyer and feel they could be the right person, offer them the chance to try for a second time. It‘s a big decision and this can be a real deal breaker, making the day seem less pressured for both parties.

Think Horse

Lastly, go with your instincts and watch your horse‘s reactions, does he look confident and happy around the prospective buyer? If so it’s a great start. There is nothing more rewarding than selling a horse and seeing him go on to excel in a new home.

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