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Creating An Effective Sales Horse Ad In Today’s Market

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Creating An Effective Sales Horse Ad In Today’s Market | Mane Street Market
Photo By Aly Rattazzi

The market has changed dramatically and is drastically different than a year ago when someone could post a horse on social media and people would line up to buy it. The horse market is still hot and horses are still selling but buyers are much more cautious and taking more time in making their purchasing decision. Sellers must be intentional about their ads which have to be impressing and effective right off the bat.

If you are a seller - think of your sales ad as a profile for an online dating app where your goal is to make a match – not just throw out random information. You have one chance to make a first impression, so your ad’s message and look is more important than ever. You want to provide as much information as possible in the most concise manner with photos that are eye-catching. People’s attention spans are super short these days due to the barrage of overwhelming content, so you want your ad to really pop and make an impression to get someone to read it and share it.

Communication is key – there seems to be an underlying animosity between buyers and sellers and I think it stems a lot from frustration. Buyers don’t think that sellers disclose enough information and sellers think that there are a lot of tire kickers – but tire kickers don’t know that they are tire kickers! They think they are genuinely just asking legitimate questions. The seller can mitigate a lot of back and forth with people by including everything possible in their ads or posts. If you put in the time up front in creating an effective ad, you will find the perfect match faster and limit the frustration of going back and forth with people who are asking questions that could be answered in the ad/post.

5 basic components to create an effective ad that will help you attract the right buyer:

1. Description: Include all the basic information – this sounds obvious but so many posts/ads do not include the basics, including the name of the horse. It’s frustrating to see posts and answers to In Search Of posts with information about the “17.2 Irish Sport Horse gelding…” but not the horse’s name. This creates confusion when someone is inquiring about the horse and results in more back and forth in private messages and texts. The seller is also missing the opportunity to inspire an emotional connection between the potential buyer and the horse. It’s not a car – he or she is a living animal and there’s a huge emotional component to purchasing a horse.

Very clearly in the first part of the ad put the basic information: Name, Breed, Height, Sex, Age, Discipline(s), Location. If possible – put the price or at least price range like high fives or low sixes. Putting this vital information first will filter out a great deal of potential “tire kickers.” The next step is to give applicable details on breeding, competition record, who the perfect buyer would be, what the horse’s ideal job is, turn out preferences, and any other information that might help someone connect their wish list to your horse. If the horse has any soundness issues or needs maintenance – it is important to include this in a way that is transparent but doesn’t deter the potential buyer.

For example – Upper level eventer and trainer Shannon Riley with Infinity Sport Horses does a great job in her sales horse’s ads. She promotes all the positives of the horse but will also state the “not so good” in her ads and posts. She’s honest about maintenance and gives enough background to help the potential buyer feel confident in how to manage it. This also establishes trust in her as the seller – it’s impossible that the sales horse is perfect so be up front about the possible issues to eliminate the prospective buyers who are going to waste your time. You can always say that the horse requires basic maintenance to do his job and that you would be happy to talk further about it to interested parties.

**The seller should never be in a position of convincing someone or defending the horse. If you as the seller are getting badgered about the horse – thank the potential buyer for contacting you and end the communication.

HSH Rare Diamond | Mane Street Market Horse Listing
HSH Rare Diamond | Mane Street Market Horse Listing

2. Photos – another important element that so many people don’t take the time to do effectively. A conformation photo is key to an effective sales horse ad. 5* Eventer and trainer Caroline Pamucku always includes a beautiful conformation photo in each sales horse ad, which she uses as her primary photo on her website and on Mane Street Market. It gives conformity to her website and her social media pages which is visibly pleasing to the potential buyer. A conformation photo is eye catching and it is something a potential buyer is most likely going to ask for anyway. You do not have to have professional photos; updated Smartphones take great photos. Make sure your photos are horizontal, so they show up well on social media and any ad links and provide photos of the disciplines you are including in your description. The basic photos that a potential buyer wants to see:

· Conformation

· Rear view and front view so hocks, knees and hooves are shown.

· Under saddle

· Discipline examples

If you are selling a dressage horse but it also loves to trail ride – show both examples. Show a fun photo, maybe of you patting him after a ride, a candid in the field or something that shows their personality if possible. Try to have “non-descript” backgrounds so that the horse is the focus of the photo. When the background is busy it detracts from the horse. You have one chance to make a first impression and the photos are going to be what draws in the perfect buyer. Do not – under any circumstances use screenshots of videos for your sales ads or posts.

3. Videos: This is your commercial for your sales horse! Create a video that really shows your horse’s best attributes. Splicing together cell phone video is perfectly acceptable – I like to use the Splice app or the iMovie app. Then upload it to You Tube (for free) which provides you a link to share on social and on advertising platforms. Mane Street Market only accepts You Tube videos because they are already censored and approved by You Tube which protects our users. You Tube allows you to put a title and description which is another great way for people to find and learn about your sales horse. When people post a sales horse on social media and puts “video coming soon” increases frustration for the potential buyer, delays time between communication and you run the risk of people just passing on the ad/post because they do not want to chase the seller down for basic video.

I strongly recommend the seller creates 2 videos – a short one to show the basics and create attention and then a longer one that shows more detail. Potential buyers will always ask for more video so get it done and then you can post/send both. The short video should be the attention grabber showing the horse jumping or exhibiting some fabulous dressage moves or even crossing water on the trail. You can also use these short videos for reels on social media which are great attention getters. Then the detailed video should show the rider mounting the horse, then walk, trot, canter on the flat in both directions. You don’t have to show an entire lap around the ring displaying all the gaits but show enough that the potential buyer can see each gait and transitions. Use this time to connect to the buyer – instead of music – you could do a voice over with an explanation of what is going on in the video. For example – with a young, green horse, explain that the horse is green and working on transitions or connection etc. This is such a fantastic way to be transparent and help the potential buyer understand where the horse is in his training. You can also include additional information in the description on the You Tube platform.

It is great to include action/competition/show clips – for example if you are selling an eventer, the video should show clips of dressage, show jumping and cross country. If it is a competition horse – potential buyers really love to see how the horse behaves at a show. You can also include videos of hacking out, walking back to the barn, rinsing off, any clips of the horse showing his personality are always good to add as well. Don’t worry about the video being too long – this is your “commercial” so make the most of it. Viewers can fast forward if they don’t want to watch all of it.

4. Language: It’s important to use 3rd person language in your ad/posts. Always think about how the ad/post will read if it is shared. So instead of saying, “This horse has been in my program for 3 years and he’s one of my favorites.” Say, “Jackson has been in a professional training program with upper level eventer and trainer Allison Springer for the past 3 years. He’s a barn favorite because of his willingness to learn and his incredible work ethic.” Now it can easily be shared, and the reader isn’t trying to figure out who’s speaking in the ad. Do not include dated information in your ad/post – “Jackson is heading to his first horse trial in 2 weeks” does not make any sense a month after the post/ad. So just put it on your calendar to update the website/ad/post after a significant milestone.

Clarity in the language is vital: We had a horse recently listed on MSM who’s ad said, “Video was taken after time off.” The first thing people asked was, “Why did the horse need time off – was it sick? Injured?” In actuality, the seller had been out of town and was trying to demonstrate that the horse was calm and cool even though it had not been ridden in 5 days. Her goal was to show that the horse was always the same and did not need to be in a 5-6 day a week training program. We edited the ad, and it ended up attracting the perfect buyer.

Positive language while being transparent is also especially important. As I shared earlier, Shannon Riley includes the good and the not so good in her ads – keeping it positive will help someone to keep reading. I’ll use her again for an example – Shannon had a horse listed on Mane Street Market (it’s sold!) that had String Halt. She stated it but then provided examples of how they managed it, and that it did not interfere with the horse’s daily performance. If the sales horse has limitations (they all do) be clear about them and how you manage them. Most (sane) people don’t mind maintenance – but they don’t like surprises, so be up front about it. This will also eliminate the people who are not a good match, and the seller won’t feel like they must defend the sales horse.

If the horse has limitations on its future success in a certain discipline – state that in a positive way. Instead of “Justin cannot do upper level dressage.” Say something like, “Justin has demonstrated that he would be happier with low level dressage instead of moving up through the levels towards Grand Prix which was previously the goal.” This shows that the seller is listening to the horse, cares about his welfare and is specific about the potential buyer and future home.

If the horse has been sitting for a while, some typical statements might be, “I don’t know why this horse is still in my barn” or “I can’t believe no one wants a cute lower level jumper?” or “I can’t believe Sammy hasn’t found his person yet!” or even, “This horse has to go – I need the stall.” The intention is most likely good, and maybe the seller is truly shocked that Sammy hasn’t sold yet and maybe they really do need the stall. However, desperation is not a good look, does not attract qualified buyers and it will only backfire or draw the wrong attention. Instead say, “Sammy is very special, and we are willing to wait for the absolute perfect fit before considering a sale.” Now you have made the potential buyer feel special and it easily explains that the horse has been sitting for a while.

5. Present a polished presentation by creating a link somewhere that you can share – either on your website, a marketing platform – we prefer you use Mane Street Market of course! This saves so much time and gives all the details for your sales horse. On MSM the sales price can be included, which will really help mitigate the tire kickers. The seller can use the link to answer an ISO post, to message a potential buyer, to share on social media etc. Using a link streamlines the process of sharing information, looks super polished, saves so much time in going back and forth on social media private messages or texts. Also providing a link gives someone else the ability to share the horse with a trainer, a friend, or a response to an ISO post.

Rebecca Tyler with Jubilee Equestrian does an excellent job with this – every post she makes about her horses she includes the MSM link that houses all the pertinent info. We have all seen the Facebook posts with answers to ISO posts with photos and cryptic info or even screenshots of posts in comments and it just creates frustration and confusion. You want to make it as simple as possible for the potential buyer to see the maximum amount of information, to contact you easily and to have the ability to share the ad with someone else like a trainer or a client. The seller wants to stand out among the other sellers/posters and having an ad that is a link streamlines the entire process and gives that sales horse a polished image that will impress potential buyers.

If you are too busy to put together a great ad you may want to consider hiring an expert to take this on so that it is done well. If you cannot afford to outsource this task to a professional, here are some ideas with the caveat you would have to oversee and approve the final sales ad:

· Ask a working student to do this as a part of their job. It’s an incredible experience to learn how to market sales horses as well as communicate with potential buyers.

· “Hire” a social media intern - there are many qualified college students looking for experience that might do this as an unpaid internship to boost or solidify experience on their resumes.

· Trade with a social media savvy client in exchange for lessons or training rides etc.

Get creative! There are lots of options. The bottom line is that if you want to have a sales program or even just have one or two horses for sale occasionally – you want your ads and your posts to reflect the professionalism of your brand.

If you have a large training and sales program, you may want to consider hiring a company like Athletux or Mythic Landing Enterprises to represent you and take on the task of creating, managing the ads and the marketing for your equestrian business. Both companies promote their clients’ horses on Mane Street Market as well.

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To wrap it up…. the seller’s goal is to get a qualified buyer to contact them after reading the ad. As the seller - before you post/publish it, go back and read it like you are in the market for that very horse. Ask these questions:

· Does it make sense to you?

· Is it compelling?

· Does it include all the necessary details that a buyer would want to know?

· Can it be easily shared?

If all the answers are “yes” then you are ready to post/publish! If you spend the time up front creating an effective ad, your chances are more likely that you will attract the right buyer and the horse will hopefully sell faster.

Please visit and/or download the free Mane Street Market app to see our available sales horses. Be sure and reach out to India at if you have questions about marketing your sales horse or equine service.

India Wilkinson | Mane Street Market
India Wilkinson

Article submitted by India Wilkinson

India Wilkinson is the creator of Mane Street Market which is an online marketplace (website and app) for sales horses and equine services in the U.S. and through recent expansion is now available in Canada, Ireland, and the U.K.



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