The struggle has been real.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic, horse shows are getting cancelled or indefinitely postponed, and mayhem seems to surround us.
And yet, the one thing that seems to be getting us through 2020 is the same thing that we can rely on through any ordeal – our horses.
For those of us who compete, it was a moment in time to take a step back and fix problem spots. For those of us who utilize this as a hobby, it was a moment in time to look inwards at our horsemanship and attempt to improve it. And for those of us who sell, it was a moment to look outside of the box and find a way to better rehome, market, and place our equine companions.
I was like so many of you. In March, I had one of the nicest thoroughbreds that I had ever ridden sitting in my barn. He was fully retrained, ready to compete, and entered in his first recognized event at Beginner Novice– only to have our world crumble underneath us. And I watched as a pandemic chipped into my profit margin, all the while noticing that my options to advertise him became limited.
I stopped jumping due to the fear of ending up in the hospital. I stopped advertising due to the concern of having strangers get injured while trying my 4 year old. And I stopped trying to sell this horse, unsure if anyone was even shopping in this pandemic.
But I also watched as racetracks shut down, horses required homes, and trainers struggled to keep a roof over their heads. It was the cruelest of twists –
Right as we needed to rehome, sell, and market the most – our marketing scheme had turned against us.
In previous years, my go-to had always been the various sales pages offered on Facebook. Facebook groups like “OTTB Connect,” “Event Horses For Sale,” and “Area 8 Eventers” had always been an easy source of advertising for me, free to post on, and had a massive outreach in their hundreds of thousands of followers. And yet, when I went to upload the information about my carefully sourced, beautifully produced, and meticulously advertised horses – I found myself in “Facebook Jail.” Facebook had decided that animal sales were no longer allowed on their platform. A method to reduce animal trafficking, had actually led to a perilous place for the very people trying to keep these animals safe.
And with it, it created a punishment not only for me, but my reselling program Sewickley Stables, and specifically the horses within it.
And we all do this for simply that – the horses.
ENTER: OTTB United.
I logged onto social media the other morning and saw that all of my buddies within the aftercare world were posting, sharing, and applauding this new app that had been developed just for people like us.
- The people who do this for the love of the breed.
- The people laboring around the backside of racetracks, just trying to make certain that every horse got a fair shake.
- And the people who put countless hours, weeks, months, and years in producing these horses into the second careers that we know they can thrive in.
This Facebook lockdown had caused thoroughbred advocates to realize that their ability to advertise their horses could mean actual life or death for at-risk horses, not to mention financial ruin if the resellers could not sell. A horse rehomed/sold left a stall open for a horse at risk.
This app was not only developed by true thoroughbred enthusiasts to be used by actual thoroughbred enthusiasts, but also gives back to various thoroughbred aftercare organizations, including the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), After the Finish Line, and others.
So in knowing that I could trust the source, I quickly joined its ranks, and this is what I found:
For free, you can peruse all horse ads. You can evaluate each horse based on a variety of filters, including age, location, skill level, and height. And you can access race records, pedigrees, videos, and pictures of each horse of interest.
Additionally, You can also shop on the app for appropriate shippers, allowing for the east coast to meet the west. For free, you could find a horse, mediate the purchase of that horse, and then get him home.
And if you wanted to access even more information? For only $4.99/month, you could upgrade to Premium, which was an obvious necessity for me. This allowed me to post pictures, videos, and facts about each of the sales horses in my barn. And not only that, but you were then linked back to social media to share these listings – utilizing the loophole of a 3rd party website to advertise, market, and promote these amazing creatures in our care on the very social media platform that inhibited us. You can correspond with the various buyers to interact, allowing for a messenger board all of its own.
And for me? This was awesome. As someone who has just started her own facility (shout out Sewickley Stables) and selling three magnificent OTTBs (should out Judge Johnny, Flatten, and Panini), this was the missing link to my life. The whipped cream to my hot chocolate. The fried onions to my green bean casserole.
I can’t say enough good things about this app and was even more intrigued to discover that this is just the soft launch. With little to no quirks, and a powerful herd of OTTB enthusiasts behind it, I can only imagine what the actual launch will afford us.
An easy way to shop. An inexpensive way to market. And a superb way to connect.
If you, or someone you know, is looking for their next upper level mount, a horse to teach lessons on, or just a statuesque creature in the pasture behind your house – then look no further.
OTTB United is just that place.
So glad to see this new post! I know you have been quite busy recently, but I also missed reading your blog. OTTB United sounds very promising. I wonder if something similar will come about for rescue horses of differing breeds. It would be wonderful to have a comprehensive, centralizied website/app for horse rescues across the country to use. Congrats, by the way, on starting your own stable!