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?