FAQ Horse Care

How to Sell a Beloved Horse Without Breaking Your Heart

Quarterhorse sale pic
Written by Natalie Gasper

If you love them, sometimes it’s best to let them go

Whether financial difficulties, a health problem, going off to school, or a long-distance move is the cause, deciding to sell a horse you love is never easy.

First, make sure selling your beloved horse is the only solution. If the issue is financial, consider leasing the horse out for a while instead. Second, once you’re sure selling is the way to go, take the time to represent your horse well with good pictures, videos, and information. Ask lots of questions to the new potential owners, and ask for references. Decide which method of selling will work best for you.

And remember, it’s OK to be sad after you sell your horse—it’s a tough decision!

Why People Sell Horses

There are lots of reasons to sell a horse. Sometimes, circumstances make keeping one impossible.

Other times, you’ve realized you and the horse are no longer a good fit.

Some people buy young or green horses to train them up and sell them again.

How to Know When to Sell Your Horse

The biggest reason is safety. If you no longer feel safe around your horse or if you can’t control him, it’s time to part ways.

Common Reasons to Sell a Horse

There are a few common reasons to sell a horse:

  • If the financial burden is too great
  • If you’re going off to school for several years
  • If your health has declined
  • If your new job involves too much travel
  • If your riding goals have changed
  • If you and your horse are no longer well-matched
Hip number on a horse

Photo Cred: Canva

Put Your Horse’s Needs First

Your horse deserves someone who can maintain him and his training. Even if you love him, it’s not fair if you’re only getting out to the barn once a week (or once a month).

He needs someone who can give him regular care and exercise. It’s OK if that person is no longer you.

What Is the Best Way to Sell a Horse?

Fortunately, there are many ways you can go about selling your horse. Certain methods work better for various situations, geographies, and targeted potential buyers.

Common Sale Methods

Let’s talk about some of the most common sale methods so you can see which is right for you:

Private Treaty – A private treaty sale happens directly between a seller and a buyer, with no middleman. You invite someone out to your farm, show them the horse, and make the sale to them directly.

Online – Many people love the convenience, and wide reach, of listing a horse for sale online. There are free websites for this, like dreamhorse.com or equinenow.com, plus numerous regional and discipline-specific Facebook groups.

Word of Mouth – If you’ve got a large circle of horse friends or live in a horse-friendly community, simply putting the word out that you have a horse for sale can garner lots of interest.

Training Barn – If you can afford it, sending your horse to a training barn, or putting him in a consignment program, is a great way to sell him. He gets a tune-up from a seasoned trainer and professional representation (photos, videos, ads, etc.).

Auction – Auctions are growing in popularity for horse owners. Auctions offer a larger audience and the potential for a higher final price thanks to the bidding process.

There are even themed auctions, like those for broodmares, Warmbloods, or registered Quarter horses.

How do you sell a horse fast?

The method you choose matters less than presentation and communication. Get your horse clean and take some nice, professional-looking photos from all sides.

Take some videos showing all three gaits and transitions, both on the flat and under saddle.

If your horse jumps or does trail rides, include a video showing these skills, too. Include ALL info in the ad (age, height, breed, discipline, any quirks, etc.). Be responsive to inquiries and have an open schedule for showings.

Pinto sale pic

Photo Cred: Canva

Want to learn more about how to best market your horse? Check out this video:

Logistics of Selling

Here are a few things to keep in mind when listing a horse for sale.

What is the best time of year to sell a horse?

There is no “one best time,” but there are patterns. If you live somewhere with winter, many sales slow down in late fall and pick up again in spring.

In warmer climates, sales tend to happen a couple of months before and a month after show season. Good all-around, kid-safe, or trail horses sell year-round.

How do you determine how much to sell a horse for?

Check out the current market. Find listings for horses similar to yours across different websites, auctions, and Facebook groups. If you’re not in a rush, you can price your horse a bit higher and wait.

If you need a quick sale, you may need to bite the bullet and offer the horse for less. For example, a 12-yr-old Warmblood can go for $25,000, but will sell almost overnight if listed for $10,000.

Legal Requirements When Selling a Horse

Each state has different rules about horse sales, including what needs to be included in the Bill of Sale. Most will require:

  • The full name, address, and signature of the Buyer and Seller
  • The name of the horse and a description
  • The terms of the sale
  • The agreed-upon price

The Equine Legal Solutions website has some great information on the legal aspects of horse sales.

Horse Bill of Sale

Photo Cred: Canva

Tax Repercussions of Selling a Horse

From a tax standpoint, selling a horse is treated differently if you are an individual or a business. If you deposit more than $10,000 into your bank account (cash or check), the bank is required to report that transaction to the IRS.

As an individual, you would need to report the sale on that year’s taxes. As a business, you could deduct the expenses it took to sell that horse, so you are only paying taxes on the realized gain of the horse.

Always check with a tax accountant with specific questions! They’ll be most up-to-date on current tax laws and can advise you on how to handle any specifics.

Arabian sale pic

Photo Cred: Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do horses miss their owners when sold?

If the horse had a strong bond with his previous owner, he may seem sad for a few weeks. Eventually, he’ll adjust to his new routine and owner and perk back up.

Q: Do horses get sad when you sell them?

It depends. If the horse has been bounced around a lot or didn’t spend a lot of time with his most recent owner, probably not. If he was with the same person for ten years, he may appear to be sad when he is sold.

Q: I feel bad about selling my horse. What should I do?

It’s OK to feel bad when selling a horse. Trust in your initial reasons for selling them (health, finances, unsuitable, etc.).

Put in the effort to represent your horse well and find him a good, loving home. You’ll feel better knowing he’s found a new person who will care for and love him.

Parting Thoughts

Selling a horse you love is never an easy decision. Regardless, if you take the time to represent them well and find a good owner, everyone will come out of the sale happy.

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About the author


Natalie Gasper

Nancy loves retraining off the track Thoroughbreds and working with her dogs!