Wrangling the Web: The ins and outs of buying and selling horses online
By Megan Barber
What is the best way to successfully sell a horse? These days, it’s almost expected that owners will list for-sale horses online, and the opportunity to do so has become commonplace throughout the Web.
Listing a horse online is a great way to advertise, and the Saddlebred world is blessed with reputable sites such as Show Horse Marketplace and ExtendedTrot.com. However, when marketing a horse to a broader audience outside the show world, there are important considerations to take into account when selecting the sales website.
[private]According to Dan Swofford of Horsefinders.com, online listings offer the most exposure for the least money.
“It also gives you a chance to broaden your market,” Swofford said. “Buyers are looking for unique horses and will look nationally for specific bloodlines and specific types. Listing your horse online with sites such as Horsefinders.com will give you that exposure.”
Common features within these sites include the option to list a classified ad for free, a searchable classified listing, and a limit on how long the listing will be included on the site. At Equine.com, users have the option to place a free ad with a limited description for 90 days, pictures not included. However, there are several paid options available that include photos, video links and exposure on the main website.
2buyhorses.com offers a similar selection for their free classified postings, offering a free text ad, with limited description, for 90 days.
The best value out of all three sites may be Horsefinders.com. Included with a free ad at Horsefinders.com is an unlimited text description, a full page display ad with a photo, a preview listing within search results with a photo, up to a five-category description, a three-generation pedigree and a one year run on the site.
All three sites have options to upgrade from their preliminary free advertisements, for an additional price. Equine.com and 2buyhorses.com offer package upgrade deals that start from $9.50 and run up to $99. Horsefinders.com, however, starts upgrade options as low as .95 cents, which include, but are not limited to custom icons that show up within the search results as well as in your classified ad, along with the option to pay to have the ad showcased on the main page of Horsefinders.com. Another nice feature of the Horsefinders.com site is that it is dedicated entirely to the buying and selling of horses. Your ad is not stuck with classifieds that might include dogs, land, saddles or other items.
Judy Noyes of Bullock, North Carolina and proprietor of Heavens Gait Farm, a breeding and training facility specializing in Tennessee Walking Horses and other “easy-gaited” breeds realizes the full potential of online classifieds.
“Sites like Horsefinders.com are an important part of our advertising strategy,” she said. “Horsefinders.com always shows up in the top rankings when a potential customer Googles ‘horses for sale’ or ‘trail horses for sale’ and that is what led me there to start with. Once I logged into the site, I found it was simple to use and this site offered Heavens Gait Farm broad exposure for minimal to no cost.”
However, while online classifieds can be a great way to sell your horse and search for your next horse, users must always be aware of the possibility of fraudulent ads or buyer scams. In the most common type of scam, the buyer sends the seller a cashiers check or money order for more than the agreed upon asking price and then asks the seller to wire the extra amount back to them. The check or money order of course turns out to be a fake, and the seller is stuck paying back the amount to the bank, as well as losing the money they sent back to the fraudulent purchaser.
While this might be the most common scam around, there are many other kinds out there; be aware of people who claim to be “dealers” for large horse ranches outside of the United States in countries such as Nigeria and Tunisia.
Another common scam involves fraudulent sellers placing an ad for a horse online that proves “too good to be true.” Generally, the scam artists will find photos of a legitimate horse for sale online and use the photos in a posting on another site. The horse will then be listed at an extraordinarily or uncommonly low price. The scammer will ask you to pay for shipping costs or a veterinary appointment for the horse, before shipping it to you. The seller will also claim that he does not expect payment until after you have received the horse. Of course there is no horse, and any funds sent from you to the fraudulent seller are lost.
Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself. Horsefinders.com offers a “Flag as Inappropriate” button that allows users to tag listings they suspect to be fraudulent. The administrators of Horsefinders.com then investigate the listing, and if it does indeed prove to be suspicious or fraudulent, Horsefinders.com will remove the post. Features such as this help protect both buyers and sellers of horses; keep this in mind when choosing a site.
However, no matter what site you are using, make sure you are able to meet with the seller and physically see and inspect the horse before you finalize the purchase. Be aware of sellers that cannot answer questions about the horse they are selling and if you are a first time horse buyer, consider enlisting outside help from someone more knowledgeable.
“A first time horse buyer should be working with a trainer, not a horse-buying site,” said Dan Swofford of Horsefinders.com. “You need an expert to help find your first horse.”
However, for more experienced horse people, online classifieds can be a great way to broaden their market. With a little caution and research, using an online classified site is certainly the best way to get the exposure your horse deserves.[/private]