If you ever sell horses, you know what it's like to try convincing inexperienced riders or the non-horseman parents of a youth rider to buy a well trained horse. Unlike a car, a few years of age and miles on the odometer are two great features. While those features may cost more, paying a little more up front is a less expensive investment in the long run than buying a discounted green broke or poorly trained horse.
How many times have you ever heard these reasons for buying the wrong horse for the rider?
- "He is so cute.
- Things will be different with me loving him."
- "I am buying this young horse for my eleven year old daughter so they can learn together."
- "It doesn't matter that he is green, I have a friend who will help me with the training."
- "I don't need a finished horse. With the limited free time that I have, I need a horse I can ride on the trails on weekends.
There are probably over a hundred other reasons for buying less of a horse than an owner should. It doesn't matter what the reason is, what matters is buyer ignorance.
Na´ve buyers don't understand the fact that the horse is the cheap part of owning horses.
As experienced professional horsemen know, a lifetime of costs follow the purchase of a horse.
The common costs:
- Veterinary care
- Professional training to attempt to "fix" the bargain horse.
Numbers 1., 2. and 3. are maintenance costs of ownership. Number 4 is preventable maintenance.
While no horse carries a warranty for being problem-free, bargain horses usually have a reason for bargain prices.
Buying at the lowest possible price is good practice for securing commodities like No. 2 - corn, fuel oil and pork bellies. But, lowest price can be a disaster practice for buying pacemaker batteries, parachutes and horses.
How do you make a convincing sales presentation to a prospect to invest in a proven horse?
Tell a story about a wise man who was born about two hundred years ago. His name was John Ruskin and he probably never sold a horse in his life. He did a lot of thinking and writing and the following excerpt is a favorite of mine.
"It is unwise to pay too much but it's worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that's all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought is incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it cannot be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better."
-- John Ruskin, 1890
People were ignoring quality in pursuit of lower price back in the 1800's. I'd wager that even in the day of B.C. comic strip character Crock, a square wheel or two was sold as a discounted substitute for a round wheel.
Within the buyers' circle of affordability, sell the horse that is the best match and explain: The horse is the inexpensive part of the transaction. (compared to maintenance costs)
A good match between horse and rider is priceless. With a busy life, the importance of quality recreational time with a horse is paramount. Safety trumps price, especially when the unsafe bargain horse leads to an unplanned vacation in the hospital to mend an injured and broken body.
Use your experience and wisdom from years of being around horses to help the buyer avoid buying a horse incapable of doing what it was bought to do.