I have read the many posts written lately on the trials and tribulations of selling horses, and started giggling as I realized that most of these complaints (don’t fight price, don’t harass sellers after 9PM, etc) were the least of most of our worries.  And by our, I mean any one who has ever sold a horse. I am not a professional rider, nor do I have a team of working students or a website on which to advertise or field the crazy amounts of emails, messages, and phone calls that selling a horse entails.  But I LOVE riding young horses.  This has been a passion of mine since my time working at a ranch in Wyoming where I realized that I was actually good at instilling confidence in young horses, and has carried over to breaking some yearlings, retraining some random warmbloods and Appaloosas (because those OBVIOUSLY go together) and more recently, in the retraining and selling of thoroughbreds who are finished with their racing careers.  I have met some fabulous people through this journey, becoming a part of their lives, all the while getting to ride some pretty spectacular horses, making me a better rider along the way.  And with selling these horses, I have learned you usually have to wade through about 100 responses to find that “perfect fit” for your equine buddy.  Advertising is usually key, and with that being said, let me please offer some advice to all of those people who find these gorgeous horses on the World Wide Web and decide to contact the seller.

1 – Trades:

I do not get involved in these “quick flips” where someone tries to simply get a few hundred dollars for their horse.  I put time, money, sweat, and *sometimes* tears into these horses.  They are extremely well cared for, they are hauled around to shows and events, and in turn, I put a fair market price on them.  With that being said – when I have a sound, sane, gorgeous 4 year old TB for sale – do NOT contact me and ask if I would trade him for your 16 year old laminitic warmblood, implying that I am getting the better end of the deal simply because it is a warmblood.  In full Michelle Tanner voice, all I can say is: HOW RUDE.

2 – Completely Ludicrous Bargains:

Frank Masonjump

A horse worth a dollar vs a horse worth more than a dollar…see if you can pick which is which.”

This goes along the same path as trades.  Is bargaining a part of horse sales? Sure.  But please remember that most of these bargains take place AFTER you have ridden, or preferably vetted, the horse.  You might find something that will need a bit of chiropractic work, or injections, but willing to spend the extra money on maintenance and therefore ask for a bit of a discount – most sellers are negotiable to this.  But DO NOT contact someone who is selling a horse for $15,000 and as them how low they will go, or (my favorite) if they’ll take 15 HUNDRED.  You will be lucky if you even get a response.

3 – Questions that I can not answer:


Mak likes labs, but not Pekignese.”

This encompasses SO many things.  Like what the weather will be in 3 weeks when you want to come try him. Or how much it costs to ship him to Iowa.  Or when he got his first set of shoes.  Or if he likes Great Danes.  You might just catch me on a day I feel extremely snarky.  Or after a few glasses of wine.  But there’s two options – I DON’T respond, or I find that Great Dane and make an extremely cute Christmas Card – but either way I probably won’t sell my horse to you.

4 – Questions I can answer but am not sure why I am being asked them:


“Trick Pony Mason

This involved EVERYTHING that I have already posted in his ad. If I wrote he was 16hh, he’s 16hh.  If I wrote that he has been trained as an eventer, don’t ask me if he can pull a cart.  If I wrote that he was a 2010 model, don’t ask me how old he was.  And my ABSOLUTE favorite – don’t ask me if he’s snuggly. Or if he likes treats.  Or if he comes when he’s called.  I don’t even want to explain why these are slightly ridiculous unless you are buying him to a) be a seeing eye horse b) doing a research project on equine obesity, or are c) extremely lazy.

5 – Comments/Questions that do not pertain at all to my horse:

If you see a horse posted on a facebook page, an instagram account, or any other social media thingymabob that allows you to comment – that does not mean you HAVE to comment.  This goes back to the “my momma told me if I have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all” idea.  If I have a horse priced at $15,000 and you think he’s worth $15 – that’s fantastic, but not necessary to be commented.  If I have a horse that is bay but you only like grey’s – also fascinating, but yet again, not necessary.  If I have a horse that is 16hh and you’re 4’11 daughter can only rider 17hh or higher – well I hope you invest in a step stool and some nose bleeding apparatuses, but again, not essential for my knowledge.

Ainsley Skylar

I have sold quite a few horses in these past few years – and enjoy the process of training them and then following them on in their new lives quite immensely – but the sales process is always my least favorite aspect of it all. So please, in your next horse shopping endeavor – filter your questions, stay polite (saying Hello, Good morning, Please, and Thank you in email correspondings is appreciated), and foremost – think before you type/talk.  And to all of the amazing people I have interacted with these past few years, whether through trying a horse, selling a horse, or simply communicating – thank you for minding what your momma told you!

4 Comments on “Rules to Horse Shopping

  1. Loved your story on private sales- lol. My agency sells at auction (mostly Barretts in CA). Selling at auction is so much more fun. It has its levels of stress, but you are mostly selling to pros. Your basic consumer is a time suck, but I still sell OTTBs privately now & then. I’ve decided it’s a good service & practice and (you already know this), one can usually tell over the phone what type of buyer they’re dealing with. Keep up the good work!!

    • Agree Tat! I was a yearling manager at a commercial TB breeding farm for years and still work sales for other consignors!!!! Auction style is my favorite and I think the fairest assessment of value!

      • Yes- the auctions (especially in Kentucky & Florida) are a great way to get a pretty fair appraisal. Never underestimate the experience these shoppers have! No BS, decision made- horse legally changes ownership at drop of hammer. #undercontract

  2. You forgot “Questions that make me question your judgement and/or make me dislike you so much I won’t sell you my horse”. Example: “Can you take a picture of his papers so I can have his cowlick patterns analyzed?”. If you are basing your decision to buy my sound, gorgeous gelding on his swirls you do not deserve him.

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