If you ever sell horses, you know what it’s like to try
convincing inexperienced riders or the non-horseman
parents of a youth rider to buy a well trained horse.
Unlike a car, a few years of age and miles on the
odometer are two great features. While those
features may cost more, paying a little more up front
is a less expensive
investment in the long run than buying a discounted
green broke or poorly trained horse.
How many times have you ever heard these reasons
for buying the wrong horse for the rider?
- “He is so cute. Things will be different with
me loving him.”
- “I am buying this young horse for my eleven
year old daughter so they can learn together.”
- “It doesn’t matter that he is green, I have
a friend who will help me with the training.”
- “I don’t need a competitive show horse.
With the limited free time that I have, I need a
horse I can ride on the trails on weekends.
There are probably over a hundred other reasons for
buying less of a horse than an owner should. It
doesn’t matter what the reason is, what matters is
Naïve buyers don’t understand the fact that the
horse is the cheap part of owning horses.
As experienced professional horsemen know,
a lifetime of costs follow the purchase of a horse.
The common costs:
- Veterinary care
- Professional training to attempt to “fix” the
Numbers 1., 2. and 3. are maintenance
costs of ownership. Number 4 is preventable
maintenance. While no horse carries a warranty
for being problem-free, bargain horses usually have a
reason for bargain prices.
Buying at the lowest possible price is good
practice for securing commodities like No. 2 - corn,
oil and pork bellies. But, lowest price
can be a disaster practice for buying
pacemaker batteries, parachutes and horses.
How do you make a convincing sales presentation
to a prospect to invest in a proven horse?
Tell a story about a wise man who was born
about two hundred years ago. His name was
John Ruskin and he probably never sold a
horse in his life. He did a lot of thinking and writing
and the following excerpt is a favorite of mine.
"It is unwise to pay too much but it's worse to pay
When you pay too much, you lose a little money,
that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes
lose everything, because the thing you bought is
incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying
a little and getting a lot - it cannot be done. If you
deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add
something for the risk you run. And if you do that,
you will have enough to pay for something better." --
John Ruskin, 1890
People were ignoring quality in pursuit of lower price
back in the 1800’s. I’d wager that even in the day of
B.C. comic strip character Crock, a square
two was sold as a discounted substitute for a round
Within the buyers’ circle of affordability, sell the
horse that is the best match and explain:
- The horse is the inexpensive part of the
transaction. (compared to maintenance costs)
- A good match between horse and rider is
- With a busy life, the importance of quality
recreational time with a horse is paramount.
- Safety trumps price; especially when the unsafe
bargain horse leads to an unplanned vacation in the
hospital to mend an injured and broken body.
Use your experience and wisdom from years of being
around horses to help the buyer avoid buying a horse
incapable of doing what it was bought to do.