Most horse owners have at least one saddle. Many have 2 or 3 and some even more. One often needs to sell a dressage saddle when a young horse begins to fill out or a new horse is purchased or a horse is sold. Since most of us typically do not make it a habit of trading in saddles or tack so we might not be familiar with all of the options available when selling a dressage saddle or what buyers look for when they buy a new or used dressage saddle.
The following information will help you sell or even buy items online by giving you some idea of what to expect and how to determine fair market value for a used dressage saddle when you are ready to buy or sell.
They charge anywhere from 20% to 30% commission. On a $2,000 saddle, that amounts to $600! Some shops even charge you to clean it. Often, saddles for sale sit in tack shops for months if they ever sell at all. Saddle buyers are also in the mood to negotiate those shop prices too, so you even make less money than you thought after waiting for months for it to sell.
I have spoken to several tack shop owners who tell me that second hand saddle sales are now online for the most part. “Ebay has killed the used saddle business for tack shops.” I was told by one saddle fitter. It is true that some shops have embraced Ebay and the Internet, but many have not. I am not sure if a shop that markets your saddle online will pass the savings on, but I suspect they do not.
If you are busy it may be much easier to turn over your saddle to someone else to sell for you. If you want to save a lot of money, you can do it yourself. It is really not that bad if you take a little time to understand the process. In fact, the skills you learn to sell your next saddle are also useful for selling anything else or even buying your next dressage saddle. Buying and selling online can be fun too.
What things should you think about to have the best result selling your saddle? What is your dressage saddle really worth? Where do you sell dressage saddles anyway? How much will it cost to sell it and how long will it take? How safe is selling your saddle on the Internet? Should you allow trials? Who pays for saddle shipping and insurance?
The most important thing to consider when selling your used dressage saddle and to get the best price is to think like a buyer. Buyers typically need a lot of information before making a saddle purchase. Imagine if you were trying to buy a saddle from the comfort of your home computer. If you are shopping online, it’s harder than shopping in a tack store because you do not have as good an understanding of the saddle's condition, size, and fit for either horse or rider. You as the saddle seller have to bridge that gap in information for the buyer.
You should provide all of the details that you can about a saddle. For example, dressage saddle buyers want to know the saddle's age, tree size, condition, model, saddle maker’s name, seat size, flap length, and several other things.
Collect all of your saddles details. Start with the saddle brand and model name. Be sure to spell everything correctly so that when people search for it your saddle shows up in the search results. Also be sure that you are completely accurate with you measurements if you make any.
If your saddle has a serial number, sometimes you can email the saddle maker and they will give you all of the saddle’s details, including model, special features, age, seat and tree sizes in cm as well as other saddle details. Look for your serial number under the flap.
Measure everything that you can. You can measure the seat size and flap length but you cannot measure the tree size. Measure the flap length on a dressage saddle from the bottom of the stirrup bar to the bottom of the flap. Measure the seat size from the middle of the maker’s button to the top of the cantle. The tree size cannot be measured but you can contact the saddle maker or a shop that deals in your brand of saddle to find out what the tree size is and in general how to decipher the serial number. Many saddles will have N W XW M to delineate Normal or Narrow, Wide, Extra Wide, and Medium depending on the maker. Incidentally, each maker has different actual measurements for the tree even if they are both a “Medium”. Also consider that two saddles with the same tree measurement in centimeters manufactured by different makers can fit a horse differently due to saddle style, flocking, etc.
Clean your saddle and inspect it carefully. Note any cuts, scrapes, or other damage. Be sure when you list your saddle for sale online that you make note of any blemishes and their severity. Disclose everything and offer no warrantees. Take a photo of any damage if necessary.
Take really good photos. After you clean up your saddle, take several really good photos of every angle. Take your photos with a nice neutral background. Try to take them in diffused even light, not in the harsh sunlight. Even lighting will give buyers a better feeling for the leather’s condition.
Take a profile photo from each side, top, front, back, underneath and possibly under the flaps. You may want to take a photo of the saddle maker’s stamp in the leather to show model or serial number. Somehow try to show the billet strap condition on one of your photos.
Possible sample photo angles- make them large for detail viewing online or in email.
After you take your photos, take them back to your computer and edit them. Crop them tightly, adjust color and contract as needed to show the leather and color correctly. Decide how big you want to make them. I typically make my images about 300-400 pixels wide at 72 dpi for a good relatively large view for the buyer.
Now that you have your saddle’s details, and photos, it’s time to put it all together into an ad. You will likely have to edit it for different web sites. Generally, give all of the information you have collected and flaws that you noted. Be positive in your description but be accurate and clear. Don’t use overly promotional language. Consider which photos you will use for your ad. DO add at least one photo if the site allows you to. Photos are very important! If you are placing your ad on a site like >Ebay, you have some other optional things to consider. You can make an HTML ad with nice layout and you can host some of your photos on another external site to save few pennies. If this is your first time with ebay you do not have to do any thing special.
There are numerous places to sell your dressage saddle. You can of course sell it online. You can also start with your local tack shop or feed store bulletin board as well if it is a lower priced or more commonly sought after saddle type. It often depends on how quickly you want to sell your saddle and at what price. How quickly can sometimes be related to time of year, price, and type or brand of your dressage saddle, but not always. Spring is a good time to sell and the dead of winter perhaps is not as good.
If you are in no hurry, you can place your saddle on several of the free classified ad sites. You will likely have mixed results. This is can be very time consuming and take a long time and may increase your email box’s spam content a bit.
I have sold several saddles in the last year. I have sold all of them on >Ebay and even purchased one there as well. The saddles I have sold have ranged in price from $850 to $3500. While I am not a dealer, I have been successful by following the tips outlined in this article.
I have advertised my saddles and my client’s on my sites, and I have listed them on other free sites. Incidentally, most sites horse classified sales web sites offer free saddle and tack ads. You should not need to pay for a saddle ad online. I have had a moderate amount of interest in the saddles from these online ads but emails and calls often came after my saddle had sold on Ebay. At that point I could say “Sorry, it has sold!”
The Internet is a rich source of information on saddle prices. You could start by checking your local tack shop to see if there are any saddles for sale that are similar to yours. You can also visit the online tack shops to find used saddle prices. Most inforamtion can be found by searching Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Often clubs or USDF chapters will have sites with classifieds.
Keep in mind that saddles that are currently for sale in many cases will be overpriced. Most people price their saddles too high to see what happens. They may eventually come down but often they just do not sell.
One good way to get an idea of an accurate sales price for a saddle is to search Ebay. You can do an advanced search by checking the box for “Completed listings only”. Completed listings include the saddles that did not sell as well as those that do. You can see history back 15 days. You will need to join Ebay and login to use this feature.
Another feature that is good for both buyers and sellers using Ebay is their tool for automated email notifications. You can actually specify a search that watches for keywords. Ebay emails you when something comes up. For example, if you are looking to buy (or sell) a used "Albion SLK Ultima dressage saddle", you could create a search for it. There may not be a matching dressage saddle for sale right now but when one that matches your search becomes available, you will receive an email about it.
How does one sell on Ebay?
First of all, if you have never used Ebay, check it out. Browse through the saddles for sale. It only takes about an hour to list your first item for sale from registering to having a live listing.
You can use the traditional auction format to sell your saddle or you can use the newer Fixed Price Format. I had an Ebay employee call me up a few weeks ago to promote the Fixed Price format. Basically I told her that I used only the auction format. I typically choose a 10-day listing to catch the most eyeballs. Ten-day listings cost more but its 3 days more than the typical 7-day listing to catch buyer’s attention. She asked a bit incredulously if that worked for me. I said, “Sure it does.” I had just sold a very expensive saddle that way, but I did end up re-listing it once because it did not sell the first time.
Incidentally, I like to keep the fees to a minimum. I will usually not do a reserve price (which costs more). Sometimes I add a Buy It Now option, which is a little more cost. I provide as many photos that I can for free then use my own web site to host the remaining photos. I use HTML formatting to display those photos but you can just as easily use plain text for your text and add the photos to the Ebay server. Extra photos are really not that expensive (I think about 10 cents). Typically, I can list even the most expensive saddle for $4.50-$6.00 depending on what options I choose. When the saddle sells there is another final sale fee, which is a percentage of the sale amount. I sold an $850 saddle with a listing fee of about $4.00 and my final selling fee was $31.03. That is a whole lot better than what you will pay a tack shop!
The fixed price format: Incidentally, the saddle I mentioned above was my first use of the fixed price format. I initially listed the saddle for sale with the traditional auction format at around $700 with no reserve price. No reserve means that even if one person bits on it, it is sold, so be prepared to sell at your starting price with no reserve auction listings. I had around 12 watchers watching my saddle and a few questions from interested saddle buyers. The listing ran out and my saddle did not sell. I adjusted my copy and re-listed it as a fixed price format. The fixed price format has no bidding. There is just one “buy it now” price. If they buyer wants it they pay that amount. I listed the saddle at $849 and it sold in two days. If your listing does expire, don’t worry; it is very easy to re-list it. All the work is already done, you just adjust anything you want to and re-list. You will pay another listing fee but is really not very much money especially compared to any traditional sales costs like your local newspaper.
A note about trials.
People may ask you will send a saddle out on trial. I never do this. Dealers do it but usually take a fee for it and you pay all shipping for both directions as well as insurance. This is something you will have to think about. Dealers can authorized your credit card for the full amount if it’s lost, stolen or damaged. This is too much risk for me and too much hassle.
Payment, Packing, & Shipping Your Saddle Once Sold:
The seller pays all shipping and insurance. Using Ebay is nice because of their ownership of Pay Pal. I only accept Pay Pal payments. I allow shipping to be auto calculated based on estimated weight and box size. I recently started requiring insurance. I also started adding $10 to cover packing costs. These are all choices you can make as you go through the process. I can get a free shipping box from the local tack shop and wrap well. This $10 handling fee covers the costs of tape, bubble wrap, and any slight variations in the shipping fees when it is finally calculated. If the shipping is a little off in the buyers favor I just absorb it myself.
Hopefully I have helped you understand the important points to selling your saddle, tack, riding clothes, horse trailer and other things online. Price it well, describe it accurately, take plenty of good well-sized photos and have fun with all that saved money!
Disclaimer: You should not rely on anything written in this article for accuracy. Check with the web site you are using to sell your items if you have questions. I am an experienced casual seller but I read all of the web site documentation myself for each site to determine fees, policies, and procedures. I do not make any promises or warrantees.