To Sell or Not to Sell: That is the Question

This article was written by

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Heather Ledbetter, Owner/therapist at Safe and Sound Equine Bodywork!


Many horse owners have been so frustrated or stressed financially that they’ve had the thought to sell their horse. In this article, I will address two of the most common reasons that make people think about selling- and some of the things to think about if you fall into one of these categories.

-Reason #1: The horse is difficult-

horse-rider-1335374291nYUPretty much every equestrian in the world has dealt with a difficult horse or two. When it comes to owning a horse that you consider difficult to work with, it can turn what was once a very enjoyable riding experience into a nightmare. Whether it’s a horse who runs you over and isn’t respectful on the ground, or a horse that turns every ride into a rodeo with rearing and/or bucking, it just sucks the enjoyment right out of horse ownership.

There are a couple of things to consider in this case before going straight to taking pictures and posting a “For Sale” ad to a horse forum:

  1. Have the horse checked out by your vet to eliminate pain, illness, or hormones as a factor in your horse’s behavior. There are many physical conditions and discomforts that can contribute to a horse becoming uncooperative.
  2. Discuss your horse’s issues with fellow equestrians. Not everyone can afford a trainer, but many horse owners have friends they consider to be an authority on horses. Find out what other people would try in your situation and see if those suggestions yield an improvement.
  3. If the horse is difficult under saddle, try spending some time with the horse off of it’s back and utilize the round pen to go over some of the basics. Look up videos on colt starting to find out what the “basics” are and go from there. Many problems a horse encounters under saddle can be fixed by consistently going over basic ground work.

Keep in mind that not every horse is a perfect match for every rider. This is why it’s so important to really take your time and make sure you two are a great match before making the decision to purchase or adopt a horse.

-Reason #2: Can’t afford the horse anymore-

Unfortunately for horse lovers, horses are not cheap. Though we try our best to come up with new and exciting ways to save money like fixing up old fly sheets with duct tape or moving to a self-care boarding facility, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Circumstances change, and not always for the better. When you find yourself in a tough spot financially, here are a couple of things to try first before selling:

  1. Leasing your horse. This can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how careful you are in choosing a lessee. There are plenty of good people out there looking for a horse to either do a full or partial lease on. The benefit of leasing out your horse is that you can basically have someone else pay all or some of your boarding/feed/vet/farrier costs until your financial situation improves. However, this means that you have to allow that person to have access to your horse in full or in part. This is why you must be selective about who leases your horse from you. Remember that you hold the power. Be sure to outline everything the lessee can and can not do with your horse in your lease agreement.
  2. If you are keeping your horse at a boarding facility, talk to the owner of the facility. They may be willing to temporarily cut you a deal on board, or let you work for them to cover a portion of your board cost. This will just depend on the owner of the facility.

If you have covered all your bases and still find yourself needing to sell, here are some tips for making the process of selling your horse as easy as possible:

-The Process of Selling your Horse-

To begin with, be sure to take good, clear pictures of your horse. Try to capture a front, back, left and right side viewwhite-horse-725x518 of the horse without any kind of tack on. It is also recommended to add pictures of the horse being ridden, showing, and/or out on the trail to give potential buyers a good idea of what the horse has had experience with. A video of the horse is also a big lure for potential buyers.

Stress the things that are positive about the horse. If the horse can cross a busy road without blinking an eye, will jump over anything, or is an easy keeper, potential buyers want to know that. You don’t have to write a novel about the horse’s life- just highlight the things that make your horse desirable.

If you are unsure of how to price your horse, just look online at ads for horses of similar age, experience, and ability to get an idea. There are many different places to search for or post an ad for a horse. These are some of the most common:

  • Facebook Equine Forums (There are several, including the CEC Sale Group)
  • Equinenow.com
  • Dreamhorse.com
  • Craigslist.com

Don’t be afraid to say no to the wrong buyer! It’s hard enough deciding to sell a horse without feeling guilty about selling it to the wrong person. If you don’t have a good feeling about a potential buyer, don’t sell the horse to them. Be honest with yourself and the buyer about whether the horse is a good fit for them or not.

At the end of the day, you have to do what’s best for you and your horse. Though it is often very difficult emotionally to sell a horse, it can sometimes be the best option for both of you.


Heather Ledbetter is the owner of Safe and Sound Equine Bodywork. She is certified as an equine massage therapist through the Rocky Mountain School of Animal Acupressure and Massage, and though she is based in Aurora, CO, she travels to areas such as Denver, Parker, and Littleton to do bodywork sessions. Not sure if she’ll come to your area? Just ask!

Each equine massage session is $45, with the length varying depending on your horse’s needs.

Contact Heather today to schedule a bodywork session!

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