First Impressions When Selling A Horse

What’s that old saying? “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”?

Guess what?  It applies to horses as well!

When you’re showing your horse to a potential buyer, be sure to properly introduce them.  You don’t want to just throw the stall or paddock door open and say to the buyer “have at ‘er”!  Either go in with them or bring the horse out to meet them.  This way, it gives the buyer the opportunity to see how you interact with the horse and, more importantly, how the horse responds to you.

Take the time to talk to the potential purchaser about your horse.  Let them pet the horse’s face a bit and see you work with the horse.  If you haven’t already, this would be the time to discuss any of your horse’s idiosyncrasies.  For example, when showing my horse to a potential leaser, I always tell them that he’s finicky about his hind feet.  When you pick them up to clean them he sometimes swings his leg back and forth.  I have no idea why he does it and in the 13 years I’ve had him he’s never stopped!  It’s just one of those things I guess.

You may have to inform buyers of your horse’s less than savoury characteristics, but that’s not to say you can’t present them in a positive light!  Also, being upfront like this helps to build trust and establish a relationship.  One of the things I’ve learned from the business courses I’ve taken is that people typically buy from people they like.   With that in mind, don’t forget the other saying “first impressions last a lifetime”!

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Posted by on November 16, 2011 in General


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Ground Manners by Cynthia D’Errico

Ground Manners

A Novel

By Cynthia D’Errico

Soft Cover, 2011, $19.99
Hard Cover, 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 978-1-4568-2394-8
Available at: or on Amazon

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

Learning that horses were butchered for meat left many people feeling raw and lied to, like suddenly finding out that your neighbour had barbecued your retriever or microwaved your cat. Like so many others, Yanne was clearly unaware that, whether for meat or other reasons, horses were slaughtered at all. ~ Part Three, Chapter Four, p. 116

Ground Manners. A Novel is an innovative synthesis of adventure, romance and animal advocacy. Cynthia D’Errico has produced a compelling tale based on true stories about Canada’s horse slaughter industry, the dangers of continuing to ignore coastline erosion, and which features an especially intriguing thread on how le Canadien became both Quebec’s heritage breed and the National Horse of Canada.

Through the thoughts of Ausencia, a slaughter-bound polo horse, the opening pages introduce us to the horse refuge run by animal communicator Skye Spahro and her daughter on Isle-Saint-Jean- Baptiste. The Institute of Nature Communications, like many horse rescues across the country,  is dedicated to the care and rehoming of abused horses, including the rescue of those slated for slaughter.

The horses narrate a good part of the story as D’Errico performs skillful shifts from the human to the animal point of view. These shifts are reminiscent of those in other classics like Babe and Black Beauty, with that same brilliant seamlessness that keeps the reader fully engaged.  The character of each horse is carefully delineated so that when Ulric, the eternally calm Belgian draft says: “I don’t like the look of things, Tessa,” his ominous tone ushers the reader into the darkness of the book’s last half.

The themes in this book require the reader to confront the moral dilemmas often present in horse ownership and attempt to expand the reader’s vision of horses.  Yet the darkness is never overdone.

The storyline is simultaneously about love, heroes and hope for lasting change in our treatment of animals and the planet – indeed of the very ground we walk on. D’Errico’s writing style intimately involves readers in the lives of her characters, human and animal, in such a way that their world becomes difficult to leave as the book nears its gripping finale.

Ground Manners is the tale that horse lovers have waited for, but also essential reading for anyone intent on creating a more harmonious relationship with our planet. It will definitely raise public consciousness and is sure to spark debate.

A former ESL teacher and business editor, Cynthia has always felt a special empathy toward horses with whom she was raised. She continues to promote animals’ rights to live in whatever is left of their natural environments free of human interference. Visit Cynthia at


Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Book Reviews


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Increasing Your Social Media Interactions

Do you incorporate a blog in your social media marketing strategy?  Don’t just publish a post and forget about it, ask your followers if they have any questions!  This accomplishes several things at once.

  • It increases fan engagement by encouraging them to comment and participate
  • Fan participation increases your edgerank score, which increases the chances/frequency of your post being featured in facebook’s top news section
  • Since it’s a separate post from the original one announcing the newly published post, you’ll want to re-link to the post – thus reminding people about your article and giving it a second chance for even more people to see it

Now that you’ve asked for people to submit questions, don’t just ignore them!  Responding to questions builds a relationship with individuals that social media unfortunately doesn’t necessarily encourage (social media allows you to build a following of faceless individuals, but how often do you really get to know and interact with people one-on-one?).  The beauty of using Facebook or Twitter to answer questions and build that one-on-one relationship is that it’s 100% public – anyone can see it, and others will see it!  They’ll see that you’re a caring and knowledgeable company and that information will stick with them.

If a more in depth response is required and you want to email someone instead, make sure you comment on the thread anyways, even if just to say that you emailed them your response.  Remember, this is 100% transparent communication and if you move away from it to a more private forum, other people who are watching or waiting to read your response will not know that you’ve moved to email and will assume you’re ignoring the thread.  A better idea may be to comment on the thread with a summarized version of your response and post your contact information in case anyone else wants further information.

Chances are, for every one person that asks a question there are several others out there who wanted to ask the same question.  If you receive a question via email or some other private forum, post the question to your social media accounts and give others the chance to view the question and your answer.  If you get a few questions, you may even want to turn it into another blog post – or you may want to consider revising the content of the first post 😉


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Selling your horse? Are you sure?

So you’ve decided to sell your horse. 

Are you sure?

Maybe you just want to put out some feelers and see what kind of response you get.

Don’t.  This may work for a well connected instructor or trainer (or other industry professional) but isn’t the best way to go for amateur owners.

Buying and selling horses is a risky business.  Buyers take a huge chance when buying the horse.  They’re betting that the horse hasn’t been drugged in some way to make it perform or act differently than what it normally would.  They’re betting that the person they’re buying from has disclosed all relevant information, including medical history (for example, whether the horse is prone to colic).  They’re betting their new horse will behave in the same way at its new home as it did at its old.  Let’s be honest, horses are sensitive creatures and even the slightest change can throw them off.  It’s a gamble.

Put yourself in the buyers place.  If you’re going to look at a horse and the owner appears to be at all hesitant or unsure, how are you going to interpret that?  You’re likely going to assume the seller isn’t telling you everything and you’re going to move on to the next horse.  Because as much as the purchaser is buying the horse, their connection with (and trust in) the seller does play a part in the process.  Keep in mind that in these tough economic times there are a lot of horses for sale – this is very much a buyer’s market.  Why would a purchaser take a risk with a hesitant owner when they have several other options?

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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in General


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The Bone Trail by Nell Walton

The Bone Trail

Nell Walton
Soft Cover, 2010, $13.95 U.S.
ISBN: 978-1-45649-90799
Available from Amazon

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton:

On the afternoon of the last day of Lindy Abraham’s life, she stood leaning against an old Jeep Cherokee, once red, now faded to kind of a dusky umber, rapping her heel impatiently against a tire. She waited in the Nevada desert in the middle of June; it was hot, and her peach colored cotton tank top stuck unpleasantly in the hollow between her narrow shoulders. ~ Nell Walton

In The Bone Trail, Nell Walton hooks the reader from the very start.  We can feel the unrelenting heat and isolation of the desert, and the vulnerability of those who venture there. I was immediately drawn into this exciting story about the disappearance of two wild horse advocates – mystery, thriller and romance all rolled into one.

Walton’s book is inspired by the true-life events with which many horse lovers are familiar – the brutal helicopter roundups of wild mustangs off U.S. public lands, hearing of them being run to exhaustion into long-term warehousing facilities, where many face illness and death. But, there is more to this story, something far worse, and investigative journalist Kate Wyndham is determined to the discover the truth, even at great personal risk.

Every single character in this novel is lively and engaging – from the cold-blooded mining security staff to the Shoshone Reservation inhabitants to the stonewalling local police. Before we know it, we are following Kate’s terrifying trail, gripped with fear and sickened by the possible outcome.

This is one of those books the reader hopes will never end. Rumor has it that Walton is working on a sequel and there is no doubt readers will be lined up to get their hands on it.

Nell Walton is a journalist and the founder of the online equestrian news magazine, The AllHorses Post ( She lives with her husband and four horses (including two mustangs) in East Tennessee.

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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Book Reviews


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Turn Out For Sale Day

I am probably the last person who should be talking about dressing well to make a good first impression.  No joke, I am the queen of the workout look.  That’s not to say I work out a lot (or at all), but I like the clothes!   That being said, first impressions do make a difference!  While it’s not imperative you show up in your show clothes, your horse should certainly look their best to meet any prospective purchasers.

For your horse, this can mean detangling, brushing, trimming and possibly pulling their mane and tail.  When I say “pulling” I don’t mean you have to pull their mane and tail – you can cheat and trim with scissors or a razor comb – just make sure it still looks good!  The goal here is to show off your horse in the best possible light.  Your horse should also have a nice, neat bridle path.

Some people insist on a trimmed muzzle which, personally, I am against.  Horses use those whiskers as feelers; they serve a purpose.  If you’re torn on this I would suggest going with what your buyer would expect.  For example, if you’re selling a young horse as a competitive hunter jumper prospect, the buyer will probably expect to see a clean shaven nose.  But, if you’re selling an 18 year old draft cross as a trail mount for a retiree, they’re most likely fine with a bit of fuzz.  The same goes for clipping a horse.  Neither are major issues though, as in, if your horse is suitable for the potential purchaser a few extra hairs are not going to waylay the sale.

The next items of concern are mud and dirt.  It doesn’t seem to matter what the season is, I know my horse is going to be dirty every time I go down to the barn!  If your horse is like that you may want to get a little proactive and arrive early to clean your horse up.  You may even want to consider giving them a bath a day or two before their big debut!  A horse with a shiny, healthy looking coat is going to catch the eye of a buyer over a dull coat 99% of the time.

Last, but certainly not least: the feet.  If your horse is due for a visit from the farrier, do not schedule an appointment for the day after a showing, schedule it for a few days before hand.   This goes with the theme of putting your best foot forward – although in this case I mean it more literally!  You don’t want to present a horse with long toes, it shows poor horsemanship and may cause your horse to trip or misstep more than he or she normally would.  Another reason to schedule a few days before is that if anything is nicked your horse has some time to heal.

All of these things contribute to a healthy looking horse and shows that you care for him or her.  This may not seem like such an important factor strictly in terms of selling, but it can subconsciously affect a purchaser’s opinion towards you and your horse.  Given the choice between two similarly trained and bred horses, which would you pick?  The well cared for one or the one with burrs in its tail?

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Posted by on November 2, 2011 in General


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Ride From the Heart (DVD)

Ride from the Heart DVD
The Art of Communication
By Jenny Rolfe
Cracking Media

50 minutes – $37.00

To purchase on-line, go to:

Also available on Amazon

Reviewed by Carol M. Upton

Training is about connection with our horse with love, harmony and respect. The more we understand the ways of the horse, the more we understand our own feelings. As a result we can live in more harmony – not only with our horse – but with ourselves. ~ Jenny Rolfe

U.K. riding instructor Jenny Rolfe teaches innovative techniques of core breathing to connect with the horse and help the rider to find harmony in body, mind and spirit. Now these techniques are available in progressive and well-organized detail on the DVD Ride from the Heart.

Rolfe’s principles are based in dressage, but applicable to all forms of riding.  She demonstrates with her Iberian stallions using liberty work, not only as a training aid, but also as a warm-up, re-establishing connection on the ground prior to riding. The object is calm, assertive leadership, and total empathy between horse and handler.

The DVD includes common training tips such as not pulling on a horse’s head when leading. There are also excellent demonstrations of Rolfe’s exercise system to improve the rider’s body awareness. Exercises, loosely based on Tai Chi, are done in standing positions. The rider is then soft and relaxed when mounted, and thus the horse is as well. Most athletes already use such techniques prior to competition, but not much has been offered on DVD for the equestrian.

Instructors will value this DVD as a teaching tool for all levels, but it additionally offers fresh perspectives on position and groundwork. It is really for anyone who wants to help their horse become a more confident athlete and simply create a better ride.

Jenny Rolfe’s clients come from all over the world and include those professionally involved with horses, among them BHS trainers, physiotherapists and natural horsemanship instructors. She is also an artist and author of the book Ride from the Heart.

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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Book Reviews


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