Are you in the market for a new horse? If so, ensure you conduct at least a two-stage, if not a five-stage, vetting process to make sure your chosen horse is healthy and happy. Once you’ve found the horse that matches your needs, it could be time to discuss price.

If you have ever used negotiation skills as part of your job or taken one of the best negotiating classes, you can use these skills to secure a great horse for the best price. Some recommended tips for horse buyers include:

Understand the Local Horse Market

Before making an offer on a horse, it’s important to know the local market. How much is a reasonable price for that type of horse, at that age, in that area? Compare prices of different sellers.

Understand that price is not necessarily a measure of the quality of breed or care. Every seller has their pricing policies and different markups. Having price comparisons handy can give you the upper hand in price negotiations.

Don’t Lose Your Cool

A lot of people become giddy when buying their first horse. For many horse lovers, that feeling still happens even when buying their second, third, or fiftieth horse. Welcoming a new member of the family is an exciting time.

Yet, buying a horse is a serious financial undertaking. It pays to be rational when assessing your horse before committing. Even when you’re buying for a child, don’t be swayed by pleas of how beautiful the horse is or how much the child loves the horse.

While family members having a personal connection with the horse is important, base your buying decision on logic rather than sentiment. Some sellers may even hike the price when they sense there is an emotional attachment to a horse.

Ask Questions

According to expert trainers in negotiating classes, curiosity is one of your best weapons. Questions make for informed decisions. A horse can be a long-term commitment, so you really need to know all the pertinent information before buying.

What are your needs? Depending on your requirements, you may need a particular type of horse. Here is a sample list of questions you may want to consider asking the seller, according to your needs:

  • How old is the horse?
  • What is the horse’s health history?
  • Is the horse good around children?
  • Is the horse used to traffic?
  • How many owners has the horse had?
  • What are the reasons for selling?
  • Does the horse have any particular preferences?
  • Is it a thoroughbred, quarter horse, or something else?
  • What’s the horse’s energy level and riding schedule?
  • Is the horse suitable for western pleasure competitions?
  • Has the horse participated in any barrel racing?

Questions prepare you for the care and use of the horse. Also, some details revealed during questioning may influence pricing in your favor.

For example, the seller’s answers may reveal prolonged inactivity for the horse. If the horse has been idle too long, you may incur additional costs for retraining, treating digestive issues, and countering impaction colic. The risk of additional costs can provide price negotiation points in the buyer’s favor.

Consider Immediate Costs

By attending a negotiation class, owners can learn the value of adding the buying price to immediate costs. Initial costs impact what you spend getting a new horse. When assessing total purchase costs, consider the care provided by the seller to that point. What is the condition of the horse? What are the immediate costs you will incur after purchase? Make sure to check if the seller has:

  • Vaccinated against tetanus
  • Microchipped the horse
  • Registered the horse
  • Registered a passport
  • Been up to date with farrier care (feet checkup and horseshoe installation)
  • Dental checked the horse
  • Broken in the horse

If the horse’s tests and regulatory care isn’t up to date, negotiate to pay a lower price to cover the costs.

Don’t Accept the First Offer

A key negotiation class lesson is to plan to make a counteroffer when the seller names a price. Use your prior assessment to justify your counter. Refer to the questions you asked and the seller’s answers when making a case for a lower price.

Most sellers will consider a well-reasoned price adjustment. In most cases, the worst that can happen is the seller will reject your counteroffer and stick to their initial offer. You can then decide whether to request some concessions or to not proceed further.

Be Prepared to Walk Away

You may receive an offer that is out of your price range. If negotiating down to an affordable price seems out of the question, be ready to walk away. The seller has no obligation to accept your lower price.

Negotiating classes teach what is known as the best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA. Before meeting the seller, it’s worth picking out an alternative horse in case your first option falls through. When you meet with the first-choice horse’s seller, you know you have another option if the sale doesn’t go ahead.

Keep in mind that there are many other sellers and many other horses for sale. You may just need to search a little more for the horse that’s perfect for you and at the right price point.

Written by

Simon Beaufort 

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