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Easy Tips For a Successful Sales Ad

Written by on April 4, 2018

There are lots of sale horses out there, and lots of buyers looking for that perfect match. There are several steps to a successful sales ad, like advertising in the right place (thanks!). But before you can share your ad, you need to make sure it’s perfect. The more people you draw in with your ad, the higher chance you have of people coming to try your horse so you can get people in the door and on your horse. We know they’ll fall in love with your horse, but they have to fall in love with the ad first. Here are some steps to get that done.

1. A picture is worth a thousand words

Lauren Blaha Photography

PC: Lauren Blaha Photography

Sales pictures are everything! Think about what catches your eye as a buyer, clean and pretty pictures. Your sales pictures should minimally include: conformation shots (standing square and relaxed on both sides), a headshot, and at the very least one action shot. It saves people time and effort of asking for more pictures and lets them know you’re serious about selling. If you have a horse with a high price tag, or you really want your ad to stand out, consider hiring a professional photographer to take some special shots. Professional photos will really enhance your ad and people appreciate the touch.

It seems like a no brainer, but be sure that your horse is spotless for his/her photo op! Give a bath, Showsheen that tail, pull that raggedy mane, get those socks blindingly white, and slap some hoof polish on those feet. Play up to your horse’s unique features like interesting markings or feminine builds. Be sure to shoot your conformation pictures against a clean background, and always take your shots in well-lit areas and out of shadows. Simple steps like these give your ad pictures a professional touch that people will gravitate towards.

Your horse should be turned out nicely with clean, well fitting tack, and the rider should be as well. Trade your tank top in for a polo, wash your breeches, put on a helmet, and shine your boots. It will give people confidence in you – which gives people more confidence in your horse.

Your action picture(s) should exemplify your horse doing the job you described. For example, if you are selling your horse as a 1.20 show jumper, but your featured picture is jumping an 18” crossrail, that’s going to raise an eyebrow from your perspective buyer. Your horse should be shown performing correctly in order for people to see his/her talent and/or potential. Exemplifying correct form over fences, or performing balanced dressage movements shows what your horse is capable of. It’s certainly encouraged to offer a range of pictures (ideally not all from the same day or show); but be certain to demonstrate what your horse does best!

A video is a requirement for many buyers, especially for those that are far away and/or are considering buying sight unseen. The video should highlight your horse’s skills and talents with clear filming (no pixelation/blur, shaky filming). The same elements apply to your video as they do to your pictures, including a well turned out horse and rider. Steer clear of loud, distracting background music and videos that are too long – no buyer wants to skim through a 10 minute video with 10 seconds of actual worth. Show your horse performing well, with a rider that has the ability to really showcase the horse. This will bring your ad to the next level and get you noticed.

*An online poll suggested that people are turned off by photos of riders standing on their horses, and with children sitting on horses with improper footwear/clothing and no helmet. Show your horses desensitizing and laid-back nature in another way (covered in a tarp, dragging something etc.)


1. A well written ad

TodHunter Photography

Good Picture Example. PC TodHunter Photography

Pictures may catch the eye, but your ad itself should seal the deal. The bare minimum of your ad should include: Location, price, contact info, breed, registration/papers, age, height, sex, training and professional training (your friend’s neighbor’s sister does not count), and show experience if applicable. Including health/soundness, personality, and a clean vet and farrier record can be a plus as well. Feel free to add anything that makes your horse special or you feel people should know, as long as it’s concise.

Be catchy, not citchy. What makes your horse stand out? Great work ethic? Super scope? Goofy personality? Use positive keywords, and stay away from phrases that make people roll their eyes like “Don’t know why he/she hasn’t sold yet”, or “Must be gone by this weekend!” It makes people question your honesty and integrity as a seller.

Your ad should be well thought out, simple and concise, while still containing all necessary information. Almost all buyers will pass over an ad with grammatical errors, run-on sentences, spelling mistakes etc! Be sure to proofread, and then proofread again. Try reading something aloud or backwards to help you catch errors in your writing.

Topline Imports

Good Picture Example. PC: Topline Imports

Be honest! There are people who want your quirky and hot OTTB mare, and there are people who want your slow as molasses steady Draft cross. Disclose all information, if your horse bucks – say so. If your horse had an injury years ago but is currently completely sound – say so. Misleading people is a quick way to upset buyers and ruin your reputation. Buyers appreciate honesty, it will help the right people find your horse and they’ll remember/recommend you for next time.

Good example: 16H registered 7yo Appendix gelding. Schooling 1.20 at home and a current show record at the 1.10, (USEF#), always in the ribbons. Brave to fences, requires a strong rider. Sound and clean x-rays. A pleasure to hack and have in the barn. Location. Price. Contact info.

This ad is simple and to the point, while still containing all necessary information.

CAF Equestrian

PC CAF Equestrian

Poor example: Appendix for sale! He loves to go for trail rides with all his best buddies gets along real good with other horses and he is a very good boy who likes to snuggle with me and eat treats all day long. He’s really good at jumping around and has a good show record to. He’s very brave but can get fast sometimes when jumps the bigger jumps. Good bloodlines and good confornation. I don’t know why he hasn’t sold yet lol! Need gone asap for $XXXX or best offer if gone by Saturday.

This ad is missing basic information, contains grammatical/spelling errors and turn off phrases, and is overall hard to read. This ad makes me question the seller, and therefore I would not consider this horse. (I hope it’s not a stallion!)

2. A fair price and knowing your market

We know you love your horse, but when selling horses it is imperative to be objective. Just because you spent a lot of money on vet bills doesn’t increase his/her value (Although many of us wish it did!). And although buyers appreciate that you care about your horse, what truly increases value is professional training, show experience, lovely breeding etc. So be fair and objective when pricing and people will be more likely to purchase.

Emily Pearson

Bad Picture Example. PC: Emily Pearson

Know your market. This is where your honesty will also come into play – be honest with yourself, your horse and their skills, and the market for your horse. There’s a market for almost every kind of horse, but they’re priced accordingly. Location is also an important factor to your pricing, the same pony that might average $10,000 in one area, could be averaging $5,000 in your area. If you’re unsure, do some simple and quick research to see what people are asking for similar horses in your area. You should also consider the market for your horses’ breed; for example, the market tends to be oversaturated with OTTBs – this does not mean your horse is automatically worth less, but it does mean you have to be smart and considerate about your pricing!

Your ad showcases your horse, and you should show your horse in the best light. All of the easy steps discussed highlight your horse and bring your ad to a professional level that draws people in. Getting people attached through your ad creates more interest, eliminates time wasters, gets more people in the saddle, and gives you more opportunity to sell. So fine tune your ad, make sure your pictures and videos are spot on, and advertise! Be sure to advertise in the right places – send your ad over to us at GoHorseShop, because matching buyers and sellers is what we do, and we’re happy to do it for you. We hope this information helps you with your sales, and finding that perfect match, now Go Horse Shop!

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