In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to bring you business tips from top eventing riders and coaches. Do you have a business question you’d like to see addressed by an eventing professional? Email us at [email protected].
With the show season winding down, many training programs find themselves marketing their sales horses more fervently than ever. Winter can be a great time to make good sales videos, take those conformation shots, and write up fun and eye-catching ads. If you find yourself with a horse for sale this off-season and are looking for some tricks of the trade when it comes to marketing them, you’re not alone. We’ve enlisted Auburn Excell Brady of Excell Equestrian in San Juan Capistrano, California, to give us a list of “dos and don’ts” when it comes time to market your sales horses.
First impressions are important to Excell Brady when she’s looking at ads. “First things first, wear a helmet! Don’t send me video or pictures of you jumping a horse without proper safety gear on. It’s unprofessional and I won’t go any further at looking at a horse, regardless of how cool they may be.” Professionalism is important, no matter what level of horse you have for sale. Messy turnout and lack of appropriate attire might just be an oversight, but it’s a red flag that can really influence a potential buyer.
“Turn out is so important, but so are your choices in photos. Pick photos that highlight the best of the horse. Having a rider that’s practically falling off in a photo isn’t appealing. Find photos where the rider has decent equitation and the horse is jumping in good form. If those photos are hard to come by, stick with photos on the flat; something impressive that will catch a shoppers eye and leave them looking for video.” Excell Brady adds, “You have to have video. Even a quick 30-second video is better than nothing. Make it readily available in the ad and try not to make people work hard to see it.”
Video can be challenging, but for Excell Brady, the simpler the better. “Don’t fall into the trap where everything has to be over-produced. I want to see if your horse would be a good fit for me or my client, not what your computer skills might be.” To Excell Brady, leave the music (and the fancy transitions) out of it.
What should you include? “The best is competition footage, especially if you’re advertising them as a show horse. It’s better to see a horse go around the show jumping course and pull a rail, especially if it was clearly a rider error, than to see a video of them perfectly jumping a few fences at home.”
No competition footage of your young prospect? “Show me they can walk on a loose rein for five or so strides, then pick up a working trot. I don’t need to see you trotting around endlessly; half a lap in each direction is plenty. Does your horse have a gorgeous walk to canter transition? Show me! If not, trot into the canter and then show a change of lead (flying or simple depending on the horse’s ability) and then pop over a few fences in each direction. Leave me wanting a little more, not skipping through huge portions of the video because it’s twelve minutes long.”
Who you have on your horse can be just as telling as what the horse is doing in the video. “Think about who you’re marketing the horse to. If you’re advertising it as a bomb proof kids horse, have a kid ride it. I’ll often have my students also show my sales horses so they have a record at the level I’m marketing them for.”
Presenting the most accurate and honest representation of your horse is one of the most important aspects in creating good ads. “Assume that everyone who watches the video will make a long trip to see your horse and learn all of its idiosyncrasies anyway, so be up front about them. The people who don’t mind will still come see him, and the people who do will appreciate that you didn’t waste their time. Not all horses are amateur mounts, just like not all horses are upper level prospects. Just be honest in your description of the horse. You don’t want to irritate people, and not to mention that can be a huge waste of your valuable time.”
So you have the perfect ad, now where should you post it? With so many websites and Facebook groups dedicated solely to marketing the sport horse, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. “I personally love Dreamhorse for the less expensive, more all-around type horses. They ask good questions, there’s spots for plenty of photos and video and it’s not costly for the seller. For hunter/jumper or equitation prospects BigEq.com is wonderful.” Excell Brady says.
Taking in sales horses through the winter can be a great way to add income and help a business grow, especially if you follow Excell Brady’s excellent tips!
Auburn Excell Brady is the owner and trainer at Excell Equestrian is San Juan Capistrano, California. She operates the full-service training and lesson program with the help of several other team members. Excell Brady has quite a few talented horses for sale, you can check them out (and see examples of great sales videos and descriptions) on her website.