Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Horse For Sale: No Tire-Kickers!"

I'm seeing a lot of horse-for-sale Craigslist ads lately that scream, "No tire-kickers!" I thought this was weird to see in a horse ad. I imagine a really sleazy used car salesman screaming this at people.

"You want the mileage? I'll give you mileage. Get the hell outta here!"

A tire-kicker is apparently someone who isn't really interested in buying whatever you're selling. They show up, ask a ton of questions, maybe take a test drive (ride) but never make an offer.

I understand how that can be frustrating. No one wants to waste their time. I've posted a solution below*. However, I have three objections to seeing this statement in an ad.

1) How do you know the difference between a "tire kicker" and someone who is truly trying to find the best horse to suit their needs? Personally, when I buy a horse I ask roughly 72,000 questions and try to spend as much time as possible with the animal. Buying a horse is only slightly less life-changing than adoption-- and as expensive. If the animal turns out to be a bad fit, you are going to be the one responsible for re-selling it to a good home, re-training it or continuing to board and feed your mistake. Hasty decisions are not a good idea. If you the seller are trying to push a horse on a buyer without having a fair idea of whether they will be a good match, you are irresponsible-- the horse or owner could wind up injured.

"Kids? I'm sure Sugar would be great with 'em. Ground manners? She's ok. Take her home!"

2) As a person selling something, isn't it sort of your job to answer questions and let people look at your stuff? Are you really expecting someone to show up and immediately say, "Oh yeah, that one looks pretty, we'll take it!"

3) Even if your "buyer" is an actual idiot when it comes to horses, isn't it worth a few minutes of your time to try to educate them a little, in the hopes that they will be less likely to harm themselves or a horse in the future? I once sold a young, hot, half-Arabian gelding. In my ad, I specifically mentioned that he was hot, spooky and not a horse for children. One caller was a father of two girls, aged 11 and 12, who was looking to buy his first horse ever-- for the whole family to ride. He liked mine a lot. He wanted to know what a "Coggins" was. I spent twenty minutes on the phone with him explaining some basic facts of the equine world, and directing him towards a local horse rescue that I knew wouldn't try to screw him. At worst, I wasted a whole twenty minutes of my time. At best, I may have saved Dad or his young daughters from a nasty fall, and a horse (mine or another) from a potentially bad situation. Totally worth it.

P.S.: This blog post was inspired by an idiotic Craigslist ad you can read here. The seller spends 99% of the ad whining about how she can't fathom why no one wants her horses. "No tire-kickers!" she screams. She then gives precisely zero details about the horses besides price, height and age, saying, "I'm sure you have seen their previous ads so not going to bore you with details- email with any questions." Um, what?! I managed to track down her other ads here. If you want to spend $1,800 on an average (admittedly calm) Appaloosa mare whose only skill is trail riding, please let me know-- I can find you two horses of the same quality for half the price!

LOL look- she "walks through water!" Totally worth $1,800.

*The Solution to Time-Wasters:

I've heard of, but never experienced, horse "buyers" who just want to come out, pet a horse and ride it for free. The solution to this is simple; explain that because you want to ensure that both horse and buyer are a good fit for each other, you have a "two visit minimum." The buyer needs to visit the horse on two different days before purchase, and test-rides only happen on the second visit. Use words like, "safety," "don't want you to rush," "give you time to think," "really get to know the horse" etc. Not only is that responsibly ensuring that horse and buyer will be a good fit, it discourages time-wasters who just want a free ride on their first visit.

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