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

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 , , ,

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