Experts share their suggestions for marketing horses and ensuring a smooth and legal transaction
In a perfect world we could keep all of our horses forever. But here in reality horses age, children outgrow their ponies, and riders advance their skills or change disciplines. Inevitably, as a horse owner, at some point you’ll find yourself as a horse seller. Here our sources share tips on marketing horses and negotiating sales.
1. Make the Horse Showroom Ready
Buying a horse is most certainly a logical decision, but it’s also an emotional one. And who can resist a pretty equine specimen? For Jennifer Schrader Williams, an equine broker and owner of Summervale Premier Dressage, in Roy, Washington, that means a glossy coat, a tidy mane and tail, new shoes, and top physical condition. That’s why all horses she consigns also go into full training. “I love making a horse ready for its new owner,” she says. What does this mean for selling your own horse? Clean him up and keep him in work, Williams recommends, so that the buyer gets to see him at his best.
2. Take Great Photos
Getting a standout photo is Williams’ top priority before marketing a horse. “You have just a split second to capture someone’s attention with a photo,” she explains. “I want to get photos that show that horse’s ‘spark.’ ” For that reason, Williams pays a professional equine photographer to capture sales images of horses she represents.
Working with her pro, Williams strives to get an attractive and expressive headshot, with the horse’s ears up and looking alert, as well as a side body conformation shot (again, with the horse looking alert). Then she rides the horse, with the photographer shooting up to 300 images of the horse at the trot and canter, Williams says. She and her photographer then select the horse’s best one or two images at each gait.
Of course, these days most of us have cameras in our pockets. However, a quick smartphone shot is likely lacking when it comes to showing a horse at his best. Even the most beautiful horses can end up looking, as Blood-Horse Publications’ visual’s director Anne Eberhardt Keogh, describes it, “distorted.” That means a horse with a lovely back could end up looking extra-long, or one with a pretty face could end up looking like a moose.
“A digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR, or the kind with removable lenses) with an 85 mm lens is ideal,” Keogh says, for photographing a horse at its best.
If you don’t have a DSLR available and do use a camera phone, Keogh offers the following advice: “Stand about 20 feet away from the horse to try and avoid as much distortion as possible. Make sure the camera is (held horizontally, or in landscape format) parallel with the horse, not pointed up or down (or with one side closer to the horse than the other)—again, to prevent distortion. You can then edit the photo and crop the image so the horse fills the frame.”
No matter what kind of camera you’re using, Keogh recommends shooting outside with the sun behind you to illuminate the horse. “Morning or evening light are best so you avoid shadows on the legs,” she adds, cast by trees, buildings, or even the photographer.
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