Presentation! Presentation! Presentation! These three cardinal rules ensure success if you are a draft horseman or horsewoman.
How often do we see horsemen leave a sale ring unhappy with the price paid for a horse they just sold? While many excuses will be offered, consignors seldom ask the question, "What did I do wrong?"
A horse must be structurally correct, completely sound and in good condition to command attention. His feet must exhibit care, if they are not properly shod. His mane and tail should be trimmed and combed, better yet tied and decorated. He should have a coat of hair that is full of life, washed and properly groomed. His head and ears should be neatly trimmed, to sharpen his appearance. While clippers can be used to trim the legs, personally I like some feather on the fetlock and feet. The feather should be clean and well brushed.
The horse should enter the sale ring looking his very best. He should exhibit manners if presented on halter, yet be both alert and ready to travel, when called upon to move. If the horse enters the ring in harness, he must respond to each and every command. Horses out of control turn novice horsemen off, as do horses felt to be too high strung for their liking. If you know your horse, and know your bidders, then you can handle your horse accordingly. Ensure that your horse is well mannered!
Is he a hitch horse? If so, have him up and on the bit. If suited for parades, field work or work about the farm, etc., potential buyers want a horse responsive to each and every command. If you know the type of horse you have catalogued, you can better present your horse to those buyers searching for the kind of horse held in hand.
If the horse you are selling is a registered purebred, ensure the pedigree of your animal is available to interested buyers. There is little future in selling stallion prospects, in particular, if every second stallion prospect catalogued is a half-brother to your horse. Unless the colt in question is a barn burner, your interests would be better served if you marketed your stallion prospect elsewhere. Search for a location where there is a need for horses of a different bloodline. This is not as important when marketing females, although it may be a problem on occasion.
Belgian stallions should be JEB non-carriers, mature Percheron stallions DNA fingerprinted; while all Shires registered should have their DNA fingerprint on file. Catalogue this information with the pedigree of each horse consigned. Footnotes should be informative. Keep the information relevant but concise. If you consign to a sale where the horses are not catalogued, ensure you have this information in hand. Have your homework done, if potential buyers question you.
Don’t forget to promote the horses you consign to a public auction. Don’t expect the sale committee and/or auctioneer to capture a top price for your horse, if you fail to promote your consigned horse with the buying public. If you have a consignment catalogued, don’t make the serious mistake of selling them before the sale is held. You should not expect the Sale Committee to advertise your product and then fail to show up. You will ruin your reputation with sale management and hurt next year’s market for your horses. Buyers who came to bid on your horses will be soured. Likewise, ensure your horses come to a public auction to sell, not to be evaluated. This, too, turns prospective buyers off.
If the horses you consign to a public auction are your poorest, don’t expect a top price. If you consign your better horses, your expectations can increase. However, be realistic. Remember, buyers know what they want. Buyers will be attracted to the best horses presented, from the short list of horses that meet their requirements. While you may question their logic on occasion, buyers are not dumb!
To achieve a top price at a public auction, consign a horse that is in demand. Stallion or female prospect, hitch horse, parade horse, or work horse, be real in your expectation. Different sales often attract different groups of buyers. If the horse you consign to an auction numbers among the poorest you have to sell, don’t expect the top price. You will be disappointed before you return home. And remember to attract clients, you must have a quality product, that is well bred of pedigreed seed stock.
Presentation is important, so very important. As least this is how I see it.