Seller Tips

How To Make an Extra $1000 On Your Horse Sale Consignment

11 Ways To Make Your Horse Bring Extra Money

by Lisa Whinfrey

What if we told you that with a little bit of planning ahead and maybe a couple hours of work, you could make your horse worth more in the sale ring? We’re talking an extra $1000-$4500. You’d do it, right? Or do you hate extra money?

We talked to professional horse sale manager and sales consultant Jill Swanhorst about some tips for making sure your consignment brings top dollar.

1. Consign to the right sale

Evaluate the history of the horses sold on the sale you’re interested in. Your 1D barrel horse might stand out at a Western Pleasure sale, but probably not in a way that makes you money. Pick a sale that’s known for horses like yours. That way, you know your catalog fee is going towards advertising to the right kind of buyers!
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Never would've happened if we'd put this 14 hand mare on a ranch gelding sale!!

2. Help Bring in the Buyers

The sale company crew is working overtime getting catalogs out to their mailing list, designing gorgeous ads for big national magazines, and getting everything polished up for sale day.

You’ve taken a killer sale picture, written the finest description, your horse is consigned to the sale and riding just the way you want him to. Your work is done until sale day, right?

Related: 5 easy ways to write a perfect horse description.

It could be, but Jill has noticed that top sellers generally make an effort to market their own horse. You should advertise your horse online, take lots of video, and make sure to be available to answer questions from potential buyers.

Remember, the sale is doing lots of advertising, but rarely for specific horses. “It’s not fair for me to pick out my favorites from a catalog and put the marketing budget towards promoting them,” Jill says.

“People that are topping sales usually are working hard to promote their horse, just like I’m working hard to promote the sale. The two really go hand in hand.”

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Advertise your consignment on The Sale Horse ahead of time!

3. Decide Your Price

Jill recommends deciding well before the sale what your horse needs to bring. She reminds sellers that the auctioneer has to know how high the bidding needs to get.

“Your auctioneer is working for you,” she says. “Make sure you give him all the tools to do his job! Withholding information about your bottom dollar doesn’t help anyone out.”

If you’re not sure how much your horse is worth, start by doing a search online to see what similar horses are bringing.

Related: Learn where your catalog fee money really goes.

Jill suggests calling the sale office if you’re really stuck. “Even if I’m helping a new sale I’ve never worked with before, I have a pretty good idea about the market value on a horse,” she says. “I’m happy to talk with people and help them set a realistic goal.”

Remember that your sale team wants your horse to sell, so they’re going to be very well-informed–and realistic–about his real market value.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
A search for similar horses can be useful for deciding a reasonable price.

Once you’ve picked your price, stick to it. Just like horses, it’s easy for sellers to get over-excited by the noise and commotion in the sale ring!

Jill says it’s common for a seller to decide at the last minute that their horse is worth double their original bottom dollar, which generally winds up in disappointment–and a no-sale.

4. Don’t Burn Bridges

When narrowing down the picks for a sale, a committee is going to remember your history. A lot of no-sales is a good way to guarantee they won’t ask you back next year.

“If you’ve brought a horse to the same sale for the past five years, and you’ve no-sold every one of them, you’re probably not going to be invited back,” Jill says.

“I’m wondering if you’re bringing horses to sell or to appraise. If you’re bringing them to appraise, I don’t need them. I’m selling.”

Too many no-sales are a fast way to ruin a sale’s reputation. Most open consignment sales average around a 25% no-sale rate. In 14 years managing the Black Hills Stock Show Sale in Rapid City, SD, Jill’s no-sales stayed below 20%.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
This is not a good example of professional behavior.

It’s fine to no-sale your horse if bidding doesn’t get where it needs to. Just be sure to have done your homework ahead of time to have a realistic price in mind and an auctioneer that’s aware of your bottom dollar.

If everyone is on the same page, your decision to not sell your horse will be less likely to affect your relationship with the sale in the future.

5. Don’t Leave Money on the Table

“Your horse can never be too fit or too shiny for sale day,” Jill says.

“Say I’ve got two horses with the same papers, the same training, and the same experience. One of them is nicely groomed with his feet freshly trimmed and his whiskers clipped. The other is dull-coated and wearing a saddle that’s covered in dust and an old, dirty pad. That clean horse is going to bring $1000-$4500 more–just based on looks.”

That’s a lot of money!

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-No Effort vs. Elbow Grease
    After-No Effort vs. Elbow Grease
    BeforeNo Effort vs. Elbow GreaseAfter

Take the time to clip your horse’s whiskers and clean up his ears a little. Even if this is something you normally don’t do, it can make a huge difference. It demonstrates your attention to detail and shows that you’re taking pride in the work you’ve done on a nice horse.

Extra tip: A little baby oil around the eyes and muzzle before you ride in the ring can be a really nice finishing touch!

Related: See how baby oil can help you take a professional quality sale picture of your horse…using just your iPhone.

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-Chin Beard vs. Classy
    After-Chin Beard vs. Classy
    BeforeChin Beard vs. ClassyAfter

6. Make Him Shine (or at least flatten down the fluff)

Even without access to a lighted stall to keep your horse summer-slick all year, you can plan ahead so you’re not riding a fluffy horse through a winter or early spring sale. A sleazy is a lycra hood that will lay a horse’s coat down flat and help shine him up.

Try putting one on, then add a blanket over top for a few days before the sale to smooth even the most stubborn winter coat. Make sure the mane is all on the same side or you’ll regret it tomorrow.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
She looks really embarrassed, but it's totally worth it.

Does it look kinda silly, Mr. Cowboy? Your friends will stop laughing when your horse brings extra money.

Don’t believe us? Check out these results. We got a sweat on the pony, then threw a hood and a turnout sheet on her overnight. No brushing, no washing, just a big improvement.

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-Sweaty vs Slick
    After-Sweaty vs Slick
    BeforeSweaty vs SlickAfter

Extra tip: hairy horses are going to sweat in an indoor facility. A lot. If you have time, pull your saddle after the preview and curry your horse so the hair is all laying the same direction. Then, throw a fleece cooler blanket over top to help wick some of the moisture away.

We’ve even brought a couple fans to sales to help that sweat dry faster and keep our winter-acclimated horses a little more comfortable.

Related: Zane Davis’ tips for horse shopping at big-name sales.

7. Dress To Impress

“I can’t believe how many people go through tons of effort to make their horse look amazing, then show up with big chunks of mud stuck all over their boots and jeans,” Jill laughs.

“Pretend you’re going to a job interview and put yourself together a little.”

Wear something professional and applicable to your discipline, like a long-sleeve western shirt and clean, newer jeans.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
“Don’t forget to brush your hat!” Jill adds. “Even if you’re a cowboy that works on a ranch for a living, you don’t know who is going to be interested in your horse. Dress up for town and you may appeal to a broader audience.”
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money

8. Your Horse Should Wear His Sunday Best, Too!

Clean, or at least wipe down, your saddle and choose the nicest, newest pad you have. Wipe down all of your tack. If you choose to put boots on your horse for the preview, new ones look the sharpest. If new boots aren’t in the budget, warm water, a scrub brush, and a couple drops of dish soap go a long way.
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
It doesn't have to be perfect to look way better.

Choose a halter that fits nicely and is in good shape to show off the fancy job you did clipping your horse’s face.
Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
This halter is not adjusted properly, which is a safety hazard. Also: ugly.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
A clean, properly fitted halter will show off your horse's head.

9. Be Early

Take the time to get to the sale facility ahead of schedule. The night before is a great option. Ride your horse around where the preview will be held and even in the sale ring, if possible.

Even the most gentle, bombproof horse can feel a little overwhelmed by the lights, people, and loud sounds. Making a little extra effort to get your horse comfortable with the environment ahead of time is setting yourself up for success.

Related: Matt Koch shares tips on setting yourself up for success when showing your ranch horse.

Jill remembers a sale where the owners brought an older, gentle, kid’s horse that had mostly been used on the ranch. The horse wasn’t used to being in town, and the family hadn’t ridden him around the sale ring ahead of time.

“He was already bug-eyed and snorting in the ring,” she remembers. “For some reason, the adult got off and lifted the little kids onto the horse, who immediately bucked them off.”

Don’t be that guy.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
Fun for the rodeo, not so fun for the sale ring.

10. Bring Snacks

It may be obvious, but don’t forget to feed and water your horse!

It’s easy to get caught up talking to potential buyers and watching the other consignments, but bring a water bucket and a hay bag. Let your horse drink and have a few bites of hay while you’re talking to people or waiting for your turn in the sale ring.

It will help your consignment look and feel his best when you ride in.

Horse Sale Consignment - 11 tips to bring extra money
A hydrated horse with a full belly will look and feel better.

11. Honesty: Still the Best Policy

In all the years Jill has been professionally involved with horse sales, she has found that top sellers in all disciplines set themselves apart by following the same tips.

“The people that are selling horses for $20,000 or more year after year always have their horses fit, clean, and previewing well,” Jill says. “And, they’re always 100% honest. They know their good reputation depends on representing their horses as accurately as possible. This builds trust with both the sale company and buyers.”

Selling a horse you know bucks every morning to a grandma learning to get back in the saddle will not help your next one sell high–plus, it’s just plain wrong!

Don’t be afraid to tell someone it doesn’t sound like your horse is a good fit for their goals. It’s the decent thing to do, and your honesty will go a long way.

What sales are you excited about this fall?

You can post events and advertise consignments on The Sale Horse. 

We’d love to show them off!

About Jill Swanhorst

Jill’s passion is horse sales. Her experience includes a 14 year stint managing the Black Hills Stock Show Sale, where it grew from a regional ranch horse sale to a highly respected two-day event with top 15 sales averaging over $20,000. Jill now works as a freelance consultant and sale manager, assisting with the organization of such prestigious sales as the Fulton Quarter Horse Sale.

Get in touch with Jill:

– jswanhorst5278@gmail.com

– (605) 484-5788

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October 16, 2016 / by / in , , ,
What You Need to Know About Horse Sales (and Where Your Money Goes)

It’s fall horse sale season, and everyone’s excited…

by Lisa Whinfrey  //    by  Claire Buchanan

…but, have you ever wondered where that consignment fee goes? Do your sale catalog picks always bring way more than your budget (…or salary)? Let The Sale Horse help.

Professional horse sale manager and sales consultant Jill Swanhorst gave us all kinds of tips on How To Horse Sale. Read on for a behind-the-scenes look at how a horse sale is run. Plus: we found a little bit of top-secret advice about finding a bargain…

So, where IS my consignment fee going?

It’s not making the sale any money, if that’s what you’re wondering.

Advertising is, by far, the sale’s biggest expense. It is also a necessity for attracting buyers.

A digital ad campaign costs less than print, but “horse people like to see stuff in print,” Jill explains. “Running an ad in a big national magazine is going to cost as much as a couple thousand dollars per issue. A big sale’s advertising budget can be more than $100,000.”

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Your consignment fee covers the sale's upfront costs, such as advertising and facility rental.

Other major expenses include facility rental and catalog printing. Then there’s the cost of employees. A sale requires office workers, a vet, a brand inspector, ring men, the pedigree man, an auctioneer, set-up crew, and more.

Someone has to be available to unlock stalls for consigners as they arrive with their horses before the sale, office supplies need to be purchased, and countless other details must be managed.

Jill estimates it costs as much as $500-$1200 per horse to put on a sale. Catalog fees generally cover some, but not all, of these up-front costs. Sale companies make their profit on the commission, which is generally around 10% of the final bid.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
It costs the auction company, on average, $500-1200 to sell a single horse on a sale.

Why would I want to sell my horse on a sale?

Jill is quick to encourage would-be consigners to sell their horses privately if they’re able.

“If you’ve got a buyer that’s ready to give you full price for your horse today, sell!” she says. “You may or may not get that price at an auction. You’ll have the added expense of feeding the horse for several extra months.”

Add on consignment fees, travel to the sale, a couple more sets of shoes, and you may wind up wishing you’d sold ahead of time.

If you don’t have a buyer lined out, a sale may be great choice. The professional team that makes up an auction company is going to know the horse market better than anyone. They will also have access to a large network of buyers.

This team is the greatest benefit to consigning your horse. Jill prides herself on knowing the horse market inside and out. She knows bloodlines, the intricacies of each discipline, as well as years of history of prices.

You can call her up, describe your horse, and she can give you a pretty good estimate of what he’s going to bring and if he’s going to be a good fit on a particular sale.

This expertise is what you’re paying for when consigning a horse.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
If you have a buyer lined up to buy your horse privately, you should sell instead of consigning!

Sale companies usually can’t guarantee any information about specific horses consigned to their auctions. However, the sale’s reputation as a place to consistently find quality animals is what attracts buyers. As a consigner, you get access to a network of people that already trust the sale–something that’s hard for an individual to do.

Jill describes the relationship between a sale and a seller as a partnership. “We all are after the same goal,” she says. “We all want that horse to bring as much money as possible.”

Sales for Career Opportunities

If you’re a breeder, trainer, or other professional, a sale can be a great way to advertise your program and cement your reputation of making nice horses.

“I recommend picking your best horse and putting him on a sale,” Jill says. “You may take a little hit on price over selling privately, but you’re out there showing off the best thing to come out of your program. That’s something buyers remember and seek out year after year.”

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Trainers and breeders may benefit from showing off their top horses on a public sale.

How does a consignment sale pick their horses?

“I’ve missed out on a lot of Christmas card lists because of that,” laughs Jill, explaining that part of her job is having to tell people no. “A lot of nice horses don’t get accepted as consignments, and people take it really personally.”

A sale committee has to know ahead of time what their buyer market can support. Jill says, “For example, in most places, you can’t have 10 pro-rodeo caliber finished calf horses on one sale and have 10 sellers go home happy with the money their horse brought.”

These types of high-end horses require a very specific buyer with pretty deep pockets, and it’s unlikely most sales will have a whole room full of these people.

Because of this, Jill explains, a sale committee may have to reject an exceptionally nice horse from a well-qualified seller. She says, “I’d rather you be mad at me because your horse didn’t get in the catalog than because your horse didn’t bring enough on sale day!

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Don't take it personally if your horse doesn't get accepted to a consignment sale–the average sale can't support too many super nice horses!

Common Red Flags

If you’re not looking for a project horse, avoid catalog descriptions that say “can go all day” or “for experienced riders only.”

Jill says, “It’s not that these horses don’t have a place or won’t be great for someone. But, if you’re looking for a laid-back trail horse, don’t bid on those.”

Another warning sign is a writeup on a horse that only describes pedigree. This provides no information about what the individual animal has accomplished. Babies, however, are an exception to this rule.

The best policy is to call the consigner. That way, you don’t have to worry about trying to read between the lines and you’ll be able to ask questions directly. Even if the number isn’t listed, try asking the sale office for the seller’s contact information.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
If you're shopping, it's a good policy to always call the consigner ahead of time to ask questions about the horse you're intersted in.

How To Make Realistic Picks for Your Budget

Decide how much you’d like to spend first. Then, read through a sale catalog and do some online research on horses similar to your top choices. You should be able to begin to get a picture of what your kind of horse is worth.

Still not sure how much a horse may bring? Jill says, “auctions love showing off their results. Go on their website and look at what horses brought the previous year.” You can also call the sale office to get some insight. Many sellers are happy to tell you what they hope to get for their horse.

“Most purchases at horse sales are impulse buys,” Jill says. “I would say that more than half of the time, the high bidder didn’t wake up that morning planning to buy a horse.”

If you want to avoid these impulse buys and get a clear picture of how much horses will cost, you’ll need to start well ahead of time.

Finding A Bargain

“Sales–especially big name sales–have market value prices,” Jill says. “We’re talking retail, not wholesale.” People are becoming more and more willing to pay top dollar for a really nice horse on a reputable sale. This may make it harder to find a gem for an outlet mall price.

Jill suggests being observant at the preview. If there’s a horse you think is going to sneak through and not bring much money, but its owner is surrounded by people asking questions, you’re probably not the only one with that thought. Look for a seller that doesn’t seem to be getting much attention and ask them about their horse.

Horse Sales - What you need to know and how to find a bargain
Look for horses that aren't perfectly fitted for the sale–they can be just as broke, but may have less eye appeal and bring less money.

You can also look for horses that haven’t been groomed as perfectly as others. A horse that’s a little thin and has a giant chin beard and a long coat isn’t going to be as much of an eye-catcher in the ring, but may be as broke as anything else on the sale.

Horses that seem a little out of place can sometimes be a good buy. For example, on most ranch gelding sales, the ideal body type is a bigger-framed horse with good bone and foot. A finer-boned mare consigned to that kind of sale may be a great fit for your program and could potentially bring less than her market price.

What sales are you excited about this fall?

You can post events and advertise consignments on The Sale Horse. 

We’d love to show them off!

About Jill Swanhorst

Jill’s passion is horse sales. Her experience includes a 14 year stint managing the Black Hills Stock Show Sale, where it grew from a regional ranch horse sale to a highly respected two-day event with top 15 sales averaging over $20,000. Jill now works as a freelance consultant and sale manager, assisting with the organization of such prestigious sales as the Fulton Quarter Horse Sale.

Get in touch with Jill:

– jswanhorst5278@gmail.com

– (605) 484-5788

September 26, 2016 / 2 Comments / by / in , , ,
How To Take a Good Sale Horse Photo

The No Excuses Guide To Taking a Great Horse Photo

by Claire Buchanan  //   @hellofromclaire

Snapping a great sale horse photo can be tough and for good reason. Pretty sells and your photo is the eye candy that captures a buyer’s attention. Follow our 5-step process for transforming any horse from pasture pet to crush-worthy.

Before & After

Our model for this photoshoot was a 3 year old bay filly. Before her photoshoot she had been turned out to pasture. She is not a fancy show horse and doesn’t have perfect conformation. Our quick bath and a little brushing took her from dusty to dazzling in less than an hour.

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-Bad Photo vs. Good Photo
    After-Bad Photo vs. Good Photo
    BeforeBad Photo vs. Good PhotoAfter

What you need to succeed:

A Camera

You don’t even need a fancy one! All photos in this post were shot with an iPhone.

About 1 Hour

It took us about 1 hour to get our final shot, including prep time. Plan to take photos when the light is best.

A Clean Horse

A bath and Show Sheen is ideal. A good brushing and a damp rag on the dustiest spots can also work well.

Another Person

Ask a friend to hold your horse. It will really help you out. Bribe them if you have to!

1. Plan for the best lighting

The best time to take photos is about 2-3 hours before sunset or after sunrise. The light is most flattering at these Golden Hour times of day.

Be sure to position your horse so the sun is shining on the whole side you’re photographing. This will help you avoid any harsh shadows, which cause weird effects on necks and legs.

An example of bad lighting combined with poor positioning. 

Bad horse photo

2. Pretty sells. End of story.

It doesn’t matter if you are the ranchiest, cowboyest, most buckaroo, backcountry, too old school for cool horse owner. Get a brush, a comb, and make your horse look nice. Think of it like taking a shower before a date. It really does matter. You’ll be happy with the extra Benjamins your brushing brings you. 🙂

On mobile devices: tap either side of image to see comparison

  • Before-Dusty vs. Clean
    After-Dusty vs. Clean
    BeforeDusty vs. CleanAfter

3. The trick to taking one good photo is to take LOTS of bad ones

You know what horses are super good at? Being horses. You know what they are bad at? Standing still with their ears forward, eyes open, neck level, and their feet perfectly positioned to show off their body.

Be prepared to take LOTS of photos in order to get a few good images. It can be frustrating and tedious, but totally worth it!

To get our final photo, we took about 40 photos. Of the 40, about 4 were worth considering and only 1 made the cut.

the whole camera roll of a sale horse photo shoot

4. Ideal positioning

Getting your horse into position is the most annoying part of taking horse photos. It is also the most important. Here are a few basic components for helping your horse look her best.

Consider the location

Before you start, choose a location that will show off your horse. Avoid busy or cluttered backgrounds; they take attention away from your horse. Especially avoid poles, panels, fencing, or any type of junk piles.

Make sure you are on level ground. Use the side of a barn, or similar blank space, when a nice view or open pasture are not available.

An example of a bad sale horse photo — uneven ground, poor lighting, and a busy background.

choosing a background

Ears & Eyes

A bright, alert expression is especially important. Ears perked forward and open eyes will make your horse look intelligent and willing. Use an extra person off camera to get your horse’s attention. You can see the difference the ears and eyes make in these four photos.

How to take a good sale horse photo
The ears and eyes help convey a sense of intelligence.


A natural neck position will help balance your horse and complement her top line. In the top example, the neck is too low. A low neck makes her look dopey and downhill. The middle example is too high, making her look scrawny and high-strung.

The last image is just right! It shows off her nice withers and conveys a calm attitude.

How to take a good sale horse photo
The top one is too low. The middle is too high. The bottom is just right!

Legs & Feet

Staggering the feet like the 4th image makes the hip and shoulders look best. Position the hind leg nearest the camera back towards the tail just a little bit. This will elongate the horse’s hip. The stifle will appear stronger and the whole hind end will look more muscular.

Avoid too much space between the front feet, as in the second example. It makes the horse look long and awkward. In the third example the legs are awkwardly hidden behind each other. Don’t do that either.

How to take a good sale horse photo
Leg positions to avoid (1-3). The 4th example is pretty ideal.

5. Edit your photo

Cropping your photo and adjusting the lighting will make your photo look professional and polished.

You don’t need photography experience to make a horse photo look extra awesome! It’s easy and you can do it on any smart phone or photo viewing program on your computer. Here’s how:

Before and After sale horse photo with iPhone

Editing on an iPhone

Select the Edit button in the top right hand side of any photograph on your iPhone. For other smart phone users, check this tutorial out.
editing sale horse pictures on iPhone
How to take a good sale horse photo

Crop & Straighten

Select the crop tool  and position your horse in the center. You can drag the corners of the bounding box to get the perfect crop.

Don’t cut off your horses ears or feet! Do crop out your friend’s hand, your shadow, your dog, or any other distracting elements.

Consider straightening the image so the horse’s back or background is level. To straighten, move your finger up or down over the number wheel to the right of the bounding box.

adjust lighting on horse photo

Brighten & Illuminate

Adjust lighting and saturation (color) to help brighten your image. In this example, I chose Light > Shadows to create a richer image. This simple change also made her shade of bay look more accurate.

Keep it simple when editing lighting and color. We recommend avoiding filters or extremes in shadows and highlights. The ideal photo is natural and beautiful.

All Together Now!

Here is the Before & After photo again with all our techniques implemented.

Good luck horse owners! May the photo be with you.

How to take a good sale horse photo
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August 13, 2016 / 1 Comment / by / in , ,
Buying A Futurity Prospect with Jake Telford

Buying a yearling can feel like a gamble.

by Lisa Whinfrey

The stakes get higher when you add the extra variable of hoping that colt out playing in the pasture will turn into a winner in the show pen.

Million Dollar Rider Jake Telford gave The Sale Horse some tips to help take some of the mystery out of purchasing a performance horse that isn’t yet broke to ride.

How to buy a futurity colt
Jake Telford riding Starlight Kisses (owned by Holy Cow Performance Horses) at the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Finals. Photo by Primo Morales

Jake says: “if I’m looking for a prospect, the first thing I’m going to look at, even before conformation, is pedigree.

When looking for a prospect that can win in the cowhorse, or the cutting, or the barrel racing, you need to read that black type and look for something that’s by a proven stud and out of a producing mare. Do your homework to increase your odds of that prospect panning out.”

A great way to start is with a sale catalog or online. Take some time at home and read through the black type to help narrow down the colts you are interested in.

What if a colt by a big name sire just isn’t in the budget?

“That’s ok.” says Jake. “There’s a lot of what I call junior sires out there that have a great show record but are early in their breeding career and haven’t produced much yet.”

Colts by a sire with little to no production history can be a great option. Pick stallions with a successful show career over similar horses with good breeding and no winning history.

Jake mentioned Nabisco Roan as a great example of a junior sire. He’s a two-time world champion and has won almost $100,000 in the NRCHA. His offspring are likely to be winners, too, but since he just retired to stud this year he hasn’t produced much yet.

Colts by a stud like him are likely to be a little more affordable than something by a horse that’s already a household name as a performer and producer.

How to buy a futurity prospect
Nabisco Roan, owned by Holy Cow Performance Horses. Photo by Big Daddy Photography.

Pay attention to the bottom side, too.

The mare may have an impressive show record but is young enough she hasn’t had many foals. Research and see what her mother has produced or if she has any producing siblings.

The second step in narrowing down the search is conformation.

Jake looks for a nice, balanced horse. That balance will show even when they’re young and small. He looks for a good headset, a nice slope to the shoulder, and hocks that are low to the ground—all hallmarks of a performance horse and a quality prospect.

Eye appeal is important too. A horse with a big hammer head may just not have the right look for success. “Pretty counts for a lot. It’s there when they’re babies, and it’s there as they grow up.”

How to buy a futurity prospect
A nice yearling by WR This Cats Smart. Picture courtesy Telford Training.

Evaluating round pen movement is useful.

Bigger sales, such as the NRCHA Snaffle Bit Futurity Sale, have round pens set up so buyers can watch the colts get worked.

Jake looks for a smooth traveler without a lot of high knee action. He likes a horse that carries its head fairly level. Often these youngsters will be fresh and playing. This can make it hard to gauge headset until they settle down.

A horse that will easily pick up the lope in a small pen and move through its gaits smoothly is preferable.

When the person on the ground steps in front and asks the horse to change direction, notice if he uses his hocks or bounces around on his front end. Pay attention to headset—does she lower her head as she turns into the fence or fling it up in the air?

Even a colt without much training will give an idea of how he’ll move once he gets a rider on his back.

What if it’s not even halter broke yet?

There’s plenty of prospects outside of a sale type situation. You might be interested in one that isn’t halter broke yet.

“That’s tough,” says Telford. “But rely on that pedigree. That owner should have papers and information on the colt’s background if I’m going to spend my time to go out and look at a horse.”

Try to walk around the colt and assess his conformation if he’s turned out in the pasture. Spook him a little and watch how he moves away from you. Jake adds, “it’s definitely easier to evaluate something that’s been handled in the round pen a little. There’s a reason these production sales usually hire someone to get the colts groundworked.”

How to buy a futurity prosect
Oneson Of A Triscuit, a son of Jake's junior sire pick, Nabisco Roan. Owned by Holy Cow Performance Horses, LLC. Photo by Big Daddy Photography.

Trust your professional contacts.

Telford says he really recommends bringing a professional along if you’re an owner looking to put a horse in training or a non-pro hoping to show your new prospect. A trainer is going to have ridden a lot more colts and seen a lot more yearlings than even an experienced rider and it’s definitely better to have a more educated set of eyes with you.

It’s best to not try to go it alone, especially if you’re new to buying performance horse prospects.

“Trust your own judgment and your trainer’s opinion more than what you hear from the person selling the horse. Form your own opinion from watching and don’t put much value in someone telling you ‘she stops harder than any filly out in the pasture.’”

Learn another Million Dollar Rider’s insight on shopping at big sales here!

Jake suggests not skipping the vet check.

The big sales usually require x-rays, and it’s well worth the expense of having the onsite vet evaluate them for you. Have a pre-purchase exam done if it’s a private sale.

Finding an issue before you commit to buying can save on expenses and training problems down the road. Some problems may not be a deal breaker, but can require special management. Work with your vet and trainer to make sure you know what you’re buying. There’s a lot of nice colts out there!

courtesy Telford Training and Holy Cow Performance Horses. Taken by Primo Morales, Big Daddy Photography, and Jessie Telford.

How to buy a futurity prospect with Jake Telford

About Jake Telford

Jake Telford and his wife Jessie live and train in Caldwell, ID with their daughters Shawnee and Sierra. Jake is a National Reined Cowhorse Association Million Dollar rider and the 2015 Snaffle Bit Futurity Champion.

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SHOPPING FOR FUTURITY COLTS: Million Dollar Rider Jake Telford gives some tips to help take some of the mystery out of shopping for prospects. Tips brought to you by TheSaleHorse.com
July 5, 2016 / 1 Comment / by / in , , , ,