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Buying and Selling Horses – Guide to Different Options

Filed under: Current Articles |     

226 – August/September, 2013 (click here for complete digital article)

B­y Bailey Capri Smith

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When it comes time to sell your horse, the idea is usually met with dread and a hint of cynicism. It’s a difficult process that takes time and a dedication to getting the right pictures, videos, and sales pitch. Buying can be just as painful– the constant searching, questioning, and fact checking. And once it’s all over, there’s a “buyer beware” neon sign flashing in your mind, reminding you that not everyone is always honest.

Thankfully, there are people in this industry who know how you feel and have created ways to make this whole experience a tad more bearable. If you’re not interested in the games that surround buying and selling horses, you have options. There are the more traditional routes including horse trainers and auctions, or you can try something unconventional, maybe a horse realtor or online sales.

Brian Craig

The Horse Trainer

“I’ve trained for several years. I judge, and we do a lot of buying and selling of all types of horses, from 4-H horses to Top Ten earners at the Congress and the World,” says Brain Craig.

The 48 year-old is first and foremost a trainer and has a facility in Warsaw, Indiana, where he usually has about 20 horses in training at all times. Traditionally, when a horse comes up for sale in a training center, the trainer represents the horse and helps to sell the animal. Craig does this for his clients, but he doesn’t stop there. He has investors that will buy horses and then hire Craig to sell them for a profit. He will also work on consignment. “If you have a horse you cannot sell, you bring it to me, you tell me what you want, I charge you ten percent. You pay for board and any shoeing, chiropractor, anything like that. We take care of the ridgin and advertisement.” His services even include trade, something many people have stopped doing.

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“Mostly what happens is, you’re at a horse show and somebody’s not getting along with their horse and they want a new one,” says Craig of how he acquires buyers and sellers. “They say, ‘I want to trade this one off,’ or ‘I’m gonna send this home with you to sell.’ So I get a lot of this discussion at horse shows. I get a lot of kids going off to college, divorces, people who owe money for taxes, etc.”

Because Craig does represent so many horses, when a buyer comes to look at Craig’s place, they are met with variety. They usually have 10 to 12 horses, ranging in price and discipline, to look through in their one visit. Craig also makes sure to provide current show records, registration papers, the phone number of the past owner, and vet records to supply as much information as possible.

To create an environment of honesty for both the buyer and the seller, Craig offers test drives. “We let you take it to the horse show and show it,” he says matter-of-factly. “We let you take them home for a week, take it to a horse show, have your vet look at it, ride it, draw blood, whatever you want to do. If you do all that, it protects the buyer and the seller because you’re disclosing everything.” And once you’ve purchased your horse through Craig, you are presented with a bill of sale that allows you to either trade this horse for another or upgrade if you are not happy with the purchase at any time.

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Craig says the key to his business is word of mouth, which is only possible after years of honesty, building trust, and relationships. Because of his success in those three categories, Craig usually sells anywhere from 150 to 200 horses per year, spanning the globe.

If you’re interested in purchasing a horse from Craig, or would like to work with him to sell your current horse, give him a call at (574) 858-9836.

Professional Horse Services, LLC

The Auctioneer

Mike Jennings shows examples of do’s and don’t’s when marketing your horse. Don’t use an informal picture taken while the horse is grazing in the field.  Do make the effort to groom and present the horse at it’s best in all pictures.

Mike Jennings shows examples of do’s and don’t’s when marketing your horse. Don’t use an informal picture taken while the horse is grazing in the field.
Do make the effort to groom and present the horse at it’s best in all pictures.

“For thousands of years auctions have been an effective way to sell many products, including horses. As a seller, you can accelerate your marketing by putting a schedule or deadline on selling your horse,” says Professional Horse Services, LLC owner, Mike Jennings.

Jennings, of Round Hill, Virginia, has been an auctioneer since 1971, initially working for his parent’s auction company. Professional Auction Services, Inc. was formed in 1970 with his brother, Tim. They worked together for 34 years, managing 350 horse auctions with over 50,000 horses sold. His credentials include the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) World Championship Show Sale, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) National Hunter Pony Auction, the Quarter Horse Congress Super Sale, and the National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) Snaffle Bit Futurity Sale.

Mike & Stephanie Jennings Professional Horse Services, LLC

Mike & Stephanie Jennings
Professional Horse Services, LLC

In 2012, the 60 year-old became co-owner of Professional Horse Services, LLC with his wife, Stephanie. Within this new company, they focus on internet online auctions for the Quarter Horse, Paint, and Appaloosa industries as well as the Cutting, Reining, and Cow Horse disciplines. They will also manage the Congress Super Sale and custom live auctions.

The pair have an extensive background in showing, giving them full understanding of the horse market. In 1987, Mike was the National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) Reserve World Champion Limited Non-Pro Reiner, Congress Reserve Champion in the NRHA Novice Non-Pro Reining, has been an AQHA approved judge for 34 years. He has judged the AQHYA World Show three times. Stephanie was the NRHA World Champion Limited Non-Pro Reiner in 1987, Congress Champion in the Amateur Working Hunter three times, third at the AQHA World Show in Amateur Hunter Hack, and third in the Congress Non-Pro Hunter Under Saddle Futurity.

“A good sale manager will provide help on how to present your horse, provide a good place or forum for buyers to shop for the horse, and offer the system that will negotiate the sale price. The company will also handle the transaction and the paperwork,” Jennings says about the benefits of auctions. He also explains that if there is a dispute over the sale, the company’s Terms and Conditions provides answers to settle any disagreements.

If you decide to enter your horse in an auction, Jennings recommends you do your research. Make sure the sale management has sold your type of horse (breed, discipline, and price range) successfully. Once you find the right auction for your horse, make sure to read all the fine print and provide the auction company with pictures, videos, and as much information about the horse as possible.

Mike Jennings, Auctioneer

Jennings emphasizes that live auction day is more important than a horse show. You want to make sure you are doing everything you can to get the full value of your horse. This includes making sure your horse is rested and acclimated and your stall area is clean and ready for customers during the “pre-sale” period, where customers look at the horses that will be presented in the auction pen. Have plenty of pictures, videos, and an informative poster or advertisement. Providing coffee, candy, and other refreshments to customers is also a nice touch and a way to stand out.

“Buyers are not obligated to buy a horse. A seller has to make them want their horse,” Jennings reminds us. “Presentation is the key to successfully selling horses at auction, or in any way. Horses do not sell themselves. People have to make it happen. A seller has to expose their horse to as many of the right potential buyers as possible.” To make sure your horse is noticed, Jennings recommends finding an auction where your horse can be at the top end of the sale, or enter an online auction where your horse can be exposed to a large amount of potential buyers.

In 2011, the Jennings’ decided to enter the online market. “We are finding that we can expose a seller’s horse to more people through our online auctions than we could with the live auctions,” explains Jennings. “Most live auctions today measure the number of people attending in the hundreds. Our last few online auctions have logged between 30,000 to 50,000 page views.” Since December 2012, Professional Horse Services, LLC has sold 210 horses in their online auctions with gross sales of $640,250, posting an average price of $3,048.

If you have any questions about live or online auctions, visit the Professional Horse Services, LLC website at www.prohorseservices.com, give them a call at (855) 272- 3905, or email them at info@prohorseservices.com.

Ruth Ellen

The Horse Realtor

Ruth Ellen found Can’t Pass the Black  for Amy Aune's son, Tee Aune. He is pictured winning Circuit Champion Novice Youth.

Ruth Ellen found Can’t Pass the Black
for Amy Aune’s son, Tee Aune. He is pictured winning Circuit Champion Novice Youth.

“I had judged a horse show in Italy. I came back from that horse show, and through an interpreter some of the Italian exhibitors contacted me and asked me if I would come back to Italy for two months and coach their daughters,” says the self-proclaimed “horse source,” Ruth Ellen. “When I was ready to leave there, they asked if I could find a couple of horses for them. So, I came back and, literally, on my dining room table, spread out papers and started calling people.” Right here at Ellen’s kitchen table on a random day in 1993, The Horse Source, Inc. was born. It is an example of one of the more innovative ways to buy and sell horses.

Ellen, of Frisco, Texas, has been in love with horses since she was a little girl, saying she read every horse book she could get her hands on. Eventually, her mother allowed her to take riding lessons at the local barn in New Brunswick, New Jersey. She bought her first horse when she was in college for $50. A few years later, she sold “Mongrel” for $100, already understanding the importance of turning a profit. After years of admiring the horse, Ellen decided to make a hobby into a way of life and is now an AQHA-, APHA-, NRHA-, and NSBA-approved judge.

With The Horse Source, Inc., she acts as an intermediary for people trying to sell their horse, as well as for people trying to find one to buy. “I like to compare The Horse Source to real estate. People list horses with me, the same way you would list a house if you want to sell it, and people call me when they’re looking to see what I have listed,” explains Ellen. She represents horses at all levels and prices from all over the world.

To help ensure that everyone is honest, Ellen asks for full disclosure about the horse being listed with her. so she can provide as much information as possible to potential buyers. Once someone is interested, she, as an unbiased party, is the one getting all the appropriate information to and from the buyer and seller. “A lot of times I make appointments, manage video requests, or answer the mundane questions,” Ellen says. She’s also charged with the task of making sure that the buyer is aware of any ‘major glitches’ the horse may possess. “They need to know,” she says with all seriousness. “I think buyers are entitled to know everything.”

Because of her personal efforts, many times Ellen has the inside scoop on the high profile horses and when they are coming up for sale, “The sellers don’t want to advertise and they don’t want it to be a public conversation.”

Ellen is also able to minimize the time involved for both parties. Rather than searching through the internet, horse shows, sales, people, and barns, a buyer can just approach Ellen with what they’re looking for and she can look through her database to see if she knows someone with a prospect for sale.

There’s no charge to list a horse with her or load videos on her YouTube channel, thehorsesourceinc. “Only if I’m the one who comes to the table with the buyers, do I get paid,” says Ellen. She doesn’t do any written contracts and she doesn’t ask for an exclusive on the horse.

By eliminating all the nitpicky aspects of buying and selling, each party is reliant on trust and reputation. “A handshake and my word are what I’ve built my business on,” she says.

Visit Ruth Ellen’s website at www.iknowhorses.com to learn more about her, The Horse Source, Inc., and the horses she represents. You can also email her at ruth@iknowhorses.com or give her a call at (972) 839- 3600 for any questions about finding your future horse or listing with her.

DreamHorse.com

 Online Selling 

With the convenience of the internet, it’s no surprise that we have entered the age of selling anything and everything online, including horses. Many of us still remember the days when we would sit at computers for hours, advance searching and filtering for the perfect horse, our dream horse. Many of us were probably using DreamHorse.com, a search engine-style site designed to help people buy and sell horses with ease.

“DreamHorse connects the horse community both locally and nationwide, sometimes even worldwide,” explains the creator of DreamHorse.com, Janet Williamsen. “It widens the market for selling a horse and provides buyers with tools to narrow their search for horses that meet their criteria.”

Williamsen, 58, grew up in Oklahoma and spent many of her days out at her grandpa’s cattle and horse ranch. She was lucky enough to be the proud owner of a horse and pony, but gave them up before getting married and starting a family. This country girl eventually got her degree in computer programming and started working for companies like Coors Brewery and Sun Microsystems. Then, in the mid-’90s, during the rise of the dot-com bubble, Williamsen had an idea.

“I already had (and still have) a fairly popular site at the time called Cowgirls.com. It is geared more toward rodeo and western-style riding. I wanted to expand on that with a horse site that would appeal to all disciplines in the horse industry,” Williamsen explains. “I registered the domain name of ‘dreamhorse.com’ with the idea of creating a horse classifieds site and it took me a year or so to actually start developing the site. DreamHorse.com opened for business in January 1998.” Today, the site has anywhere from 40,000 to 50,000 horses listed at any given time.

These horses range in breed, discipline, price, and age. “The more the better! We wanted to have the widest possible variety, so anyone interested in horses would want to shop on Dream Horse Classifieds,” Williamsen says. She goes on to say they now have a powerful search engine that allows the customer to drill down and filter their search. Just plug in your criteria and get the results that qualify. You can even save searches and horses to your account, making it as easy as possible to buy and sell.

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Even with an advanced search engine, there is the concern that your horse will get lost in the equine ether. Williamsen has ways to help you maximize your selling potential. When going through the process of adding your horse to the site, you can pay a little extra to give your ad priority in the search results. DreamHorse also offers single photo ads, gallery ads, and spotlight ads, which can include videos.

Williamsen explains that the benefit of online selling is the versatility it offers. “We have the option of listing a horse ‘At Auction,’ and the seller can use the DreamHorse ad to do a little self-promotion of the horse and the auction date. If you have a trainer or other professional helping you sell your horse, you can put the ad online and provide that person’s contact information while staying in control of your ad, photos, and videos.” The ads are printer friendly, providing an easy way to create flyers to post at horse shows and tack shops.

If you’d like to create a sale advertisement on DreamHorse, or are interested in using their services to find your dream horse, go to www.dreamhorse.com and plug in your wish list. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter (@Dream_Horse) to get updates on some of their spotlight horses and success stories.

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