Best Practices When Selling Your Horse

Many people contact SAFE when they can no longer keep their horse or horses, but in most cases, their horse does not need to be “rescued”…it needs to be safely rehomed. Taking responsibility for finding a new home is part of horse ownership, and while it does require effort, it is something that most horse owners can do themselves. Because SAFE has experience placing horses into good homes, we have some advice and suggestions to share with people looking to sell or rehome their horse.

First step: please read Safe Options for Rehoming Your Horse on the SAFE website. This article discusses many different options available to horse owners who are struggle to keep their horses, besides selling. But if selling your horse is still the best option for your situation, please read on…


  1. Conduct a phone interview. Make sure the prospective new owner understands the horse’s limitations before you meet in person. Are they knowledgeable horse owners? Do they have trainers to help if needed? Do they sound like someone you would want to own your horse?
  2. Observe the potential new owner with your horse. Require that the potential new owner visit the horse with you at its current location for at least one interaction with the horse. Observe how the potential new owner handles/rides the horse. Multiple visits are encouraged to get to know the horse before taking the horse. They must interact with the horse. Do NOT let someone take your horse without you seeing them handle the horse.
  3. Check references. Obtain 3 personal references, one current vet reference, and one farrier reference. CLICK FOR FORM
  4. Conduct a site visit, in person if possible, to inspect the potential new home. CLICK FOR FORM
  5. Never let the horse leave on the first visit. The potential owner should leave the horse’s current location and return on another day to pick up. This gives both parties time to think and make sure this is the right choice for both horse and person. This also give you time to do the reference and site checks before agreeing to sell them the horse. Anyone who is in a rush to buy is generally not making a thoughtful decision. They are taking on a huge new responsibility: making sure it is the right choice should be their number one concern.
  6. Allow for a 30–90-day trial period (Fee returned if it does not work out). You may also ask for annual checks on the horse, by phone or in person.
  7. Require first right of refusal. If, in the future, they plan to sell the horse they must contact you and give you the option to buy the horse back from them. CLICK FOR FORM

If you follow these practices, you will more successfully weed out the wrong type of buyers. The in-person visits are very important. Trust your gut and watch carefully how they handle your horse and how the horse responds. If they can’t handle the horse, or if the horse is visibly upset by them, they are not a good match. Sometimes that is hard for a prospective buyer to understand, but the bottom line is that you are your horse’s advocate. You need to feel very confident that the new owner will care for the horse and make good decisions on behalf of the horse.


If you are placing an ad to sell your horse, here are our suggestions on what information you should include in your ad:

  1. Your contact information, including email address, phone number, and if you can receive texts
  2. Horse’s current location (city)
  3. Horse’s age, breed (registered?), sex, color, and height (in hands)
  4. Is the horse suitable for riding, or as a companion only? 
    • If a riding horse, when was it last ridden? Does it have any particular training or experience?
    • If companion only, why? (Try to be transparent so you get better, more serious leads.)
  5. Horse’s temperament: Is a novice/beginner, intermediate, or advanced handler needed? For example, SAFE uses the following guide for describing temperament levels.
  • Novice/Beginner: quiet disposition; easy to handle on the ground and in the saddle; friendly, predictable, and reliable; a “been there, done that” horse
  • Intermediate: potentially reactive and an independent thinker; easy to handle on the ground and more challenging in the saddle; a willing-to-go-forward horse that will likely want to negotiate direction or the task at times; may require additional training.
  • Advanced: may be either highly trained or very green; horse is sometimes unpredictable in its behaviors and can be over reactive; requires previous experience with training horses
  1. Current Photos. Clear shots of the head, full body (both sides), and if a riding horse, a photo of the horse being ridden. Please, no grazing photos! No old photos, buyers want to see what the horse looks like today.
  2. Current Videos. Video is especially helpful for riding horses. Preferably walk and trot (straight line and circle both ways). Cute clips that show your horse’s personality are fun, too.
  3. Any medical or behavioral issues? Will the horse stand quietly for the vet and farrier? How does it do with trailering? How does it behave with other horses in turnout?
  4. Can you assist in trailering the horse to its new home? If yes, how far?
  5. Are you charging a rehoming fee? If you’re not sure, we suggest noting a “nominal rehoming fee” which you can finalize with the adopter later. This helps weed out tire kickers or unqualified adopters. As an example, SAFE’s minimum adoption fee for a companion horse is $300.

Here are several forms we’ve prepared that can help you with the selling process: