Buying a horse is exciting, no doubt about it, and even casual online horse shopping is a great deal of fun, even if you aren’t really in a place to add to your herd.
If you’re serious about buying a horse, though, there are some things you can do that will make you the kind of buyer that breeders and sellers can’t wait to work with. Things that, best case, might even end up saving you money!
First of all, most people who are raising horses have them because they love them. It’s almost impossible to raise a Miniature Horse from the day they’re born and not fall in love. While we can’t keep them all, good breeders want to do everything possible to place their horses in a happy, long term home.
This means that emails that consist solely of, “How much?”, “Will you take less?”, “Are you open trades?” or “What’s the least you’ll take for him?” are not going to make you an ideal buyer.
If my first contact with you is demanding how little money I’ll take to part with one of the horses that I’ve invested a lot of time, money and joy in? Yeah, I’m not selling to you.
Unlike lots of sellers, I’ve always welcomed all inquiries. Lots of people put “Serious Inquires Only!” but I figure no one knows if they’re serious or not until they’ve asked some questions. And even if they aren’t serious about buying my horse, the fact that they were interested enough to ask questions is a compliment and I am happy to respond. A little goodwill might mean that they buy a horse from me in the future, if not this one. Besides, chatting about the horse is going to be a great way for me to get to know the potential buyer, as much as it is for them to get to know about the horse. A whole bunch of questions about height and training and bloodlines and temperament and favourite treats? Bring em on.
“I’m looking for a mini horse.”
Yeah … that’s not really enough information. What do you want to do with it? How old, how tall, what sort of temperament, training? If you can’t answer these questions, and are looking for nothing more specific than “a mini horse” then you are not the buyer I want for my horse.
If the seller takes the time to get back to your inquiry, no matter what it is, respond. Even if you asked for a price and it was way out of your range, at least hit reply and say, “Thanks for your time!” or something. Otherwise, they don’t know if you got the email, if you’re still interested… you don’t have to say, “Holy crap that’s way more than I’ve got, I’m not interested anymore.” A simple “thank you” will suffice and make everyone happy.
We once had a nice breeding stallion for sale, and got one of those, “How much for the black stud.” emails with no additional info, not even a name to know who I was talking to. I was less cranky then, than I am now, and I responded. When I didn’t hear back I, of course, figured the price wasn’t what they had in mind and they weren’t interested.
Someone else contacted me about him a couple weeks later, and made plans to come out from Saskatchewan to see him and most likely take him home.
The day before they were to arrive, I got an email from the first email address, asking if we were negotiable on the price. I told them that the horse was spoken for, but I would let them know if the sale didn’t go through. Got a snarky email back that said, “Well, I asked about him weeks ago, but whatever.”
Not sure how I was supposed to know they were interested without a response! That was a good way to make sure they’d never get a chance to buy him, even if the sale HAD fallen through! (It didn’t.)
These days, I don’t really offer horses for sale. I might sell some (definitely should based on how many I have!) but I have no intention of selling to a stranger through an ad on the internet.
If someone sends me a nice email or Facebook message, introducing themselves properly and telling me all about what they want to do with their new Miniature Horse, and asking if I have something they feel will fit? Yeah, I might have a horse for them.
The strangers who stop in off the highway and ask, “Can we buy a pony?” and when I ask, “What are you looking for?” and they look at me like I’m dumb and say, “a pony” … yeah, no, you can’t.
The ones who stop in and say, “We drive past all the time and we love the ponies!” Well, that’s different – those people usually get a proper tour and often end up coming back for lessons, or in the spring to see the babies, or become Facebook friends!
Sellers appreciate common courtesy. Respond to messages, appreciate their time, and definitely be on time, or if you can’t be on time, communicate. I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve spent waiting for buyers to show up and look at horses … buyers who never did show up, buyers who showed up hours late without any apologies, buyers who spent all afternoon chatting, said they’d be in touch the next day after they’d talked it over, and we never heard from them again.
Want to set yourself apart with your favourite breeder? Be a knowledgeable home – or be obviously willing to learn. Have a goal in mind for the horse you are buying. And value their time – they have horses, they’re busy.
Anything I’ve missed? Share in the comments below!
And lest you think I’m picking on the buyer end of the spectrum, don’t miss out on Be A Good Seller.