Pet Photos: Make Your Own Captions - Part I

Internet Pitch Offers False Hope for Less Expensive Pets
By Diane C. Lade - Sun Sentinel / Washington Times

The American Veterinary Medical Association has issued an advisory warning consumers about Internet ploys that offer purebred puppies and exotic pets at discount prices.

How to avoid online pet scams:

• Never respond to any unsolicited e-mail invitation to buy something.

• Never wire money for purchases.

• Consider buying pets only from recommended breeders with facilities you can visit to see how the animals are raised.

• If you think you have been a victim of Internet fraud, call your state attorney general. To file a complaint with the Washington State Office of the Attorney General, go to and click on "consumer complaint."
The ploy is an old one: You get an unsolicited e-mail or letter from someone offering you cash or prizes. But some schemers now are dangling an enticement aimed straight at the heart: the chance to buy or adopt an adorable puppy.

The American Veterinary Medical Association issued an advisory this month, warning would-be pet owners about Internet ploys that offer popular purebred puppies and exotic pets at discount prices. The scheme operators first ask customers to wire several hundred dollars, usually to Africa or somewhere else overseas, for the animals, then later request more money for insurance or transportation costs.

The victims usually don't realize they have been taken in until months later, when their pets never arrive. Some even have shown federal regulators photos they had received of "their puppy," which proved to be stock pictures pirated from Web sites.

"This is something that has happened before, but it sounds like it's flaring up again," said AVMA spokesman Michael San Filippo, whose organization is the nation's leading voice for companion animal health. "It's a reminder about the do's and don'ts of selecting a pet."

Animal advocacy organizations advise customers to be very cautious when shopping for pets online. The Humane Society of the United States suggests buying dogs and cats only when you can visit the breeder to see how the puppy is raised.

The pet scheme, which FBI spokesman Brian Hale said the agency has been seeing for several years, is a new twist on what law enforcement calls the "Nigerian letter" ploy — so named because the first solicitations emerged as Nigeria's economy crumbled in the 1980s.

Typically, those using this method say they represent royalty looking to move cash out of their country, or say they are lottery officials from another country holding unclaimed prizes.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center, a partnership between the FBI and other agencies, logged about 3,250 complaints in Florida alone in 2007 of ordered merchandise not being delivered — the category the pet schemes are filed under — Hale said. The average loss was $500.

A report from veterinarian association member Dr. Walter Woolf prompted the organization's warning about the pet solicitations. Woolf, a Tampa, Fla., veterinarian, has operated Air Animal Pet Movers for 32 years. He's received calls from more than 50 people over the past year who received the pet solicitations or saw advertisements online.

The offers falsely claimed Air Animal would handle the transport, Woolf said. In some cases, the offers included the company's logo and material in their promotions without authorization — a practice called "spoofing."

Woolf reported false offers to the Federal Trade Commission and paid to have his Web site material protected. "People need to know if something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is," he said.

Pet Air, a Kansas City, Mo., company that arranges animal transportation, had a similar experience. It logged more than 100 calls from people believing Pet Air was handling their pets. Pet Air now has a warning posted on its Web site.

Yorkies, Maltese and English bulldogs are the breeds offered most, but the scheme also has included Capuchin monkeys and exotic parrots. Prices offered usually are well below average, Woolf said.

In some cases, the e-mailers play on people's sympathies, said Pet Air owner John McGee said. "The majority of those taken in think they are getting something for nothing, but some people just have big hearts and want to help," he said.

Want to Avoid Sharing Germs With Your Dog? Wash Your Hands (But It's OK to Let Him Sleep in Your Bed)
by Lindsey Barnett - Los Angeles Times

Touchy-feely dog owners -- those who share food with their pets and allow them to sleep in their beds and lick their faces -- can rest easy knowing the findings of a recent study by Kansas State University veterinarian Kate Stenske.

Stenske looked at the incidence of the E. coli bacteria in both dogs and their owners. Studies show that more than half of dog owners fell into the face-licking camp, she says -- and, fortunately for them, they were no more likely to harbor the bacteria than those who employed, as our colleague Shari Roan at the Booster Shots blog put it, "stricter human-pet hygiene practices." From Roan's story:

"There is such a strong bond between dogs and their owners. If you look at one study, 84% of people say their dog is like a child to them," Stenske said in a news release. "We also know diseases can be shared between dogs and people. About 75% of emerging diseases are zoonotic, meaning they are transferable between humans and other animals."

E. coli can cause serious health problems when it acquires genes that make it resistant to antibiotics. Stenske found that 10% of the dog-human pairs shared the same E. coli strains and that the strains had more antibiotic resistance than was expected. The owners had more multiple-drug resistant strains than their pets, which means it's more likely owners spread such strains to their pets than pets spread to their owners. While bed-sharing and face-licking didn't increase the prevalence of E. coli, owners who didn't wash their hands after petting their dogs or before cooking meals did have more antibiotic-resistant E. coli. The study is scheduled to appear in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research.

So far, Stenske's research has been limited to the human-dog bond, but she says future research might focus on the relationship between cat ownership and shared E. coli.

Device Allows Owners To Track Pet Activity
DALLAS (CBS 11 News)

Ever wonder what your dog does when you're not home, or if they're getting enough exercise during the day? There's a new device that will actually track your pet's every move.

Jim and Shannon Henderson of Frisco love their pets. Their family includes two dogs and two cats. "They're pretty important to us," Jim said of his animals. "They're part of the family. Everyone calls it the Henderson Herd."

When mom and dad are gone, their herd roams the house. That has Jim and Shannon wondering what happens when no one's around. Jim said, "Sometimes we have a CSI scene here because we'll come home and there'll be something in the middle of the floor."

That's where a new device called the SNIF Tag comes in. When clipped to your dog's collar, the tag monitors their every move using motion-sensing technology. The tag radios the information to a base unit which is connected to your computer modem, and then it's all uploaded to the SNIF Tag website. There, pet owners can track exactly what your pet is doing.

The website also comes equipped with profiles for both owners and pets, which makes it a sort of social networking site for pet owners. When your pet comes in contact with another pet outfitted with a SNIF Tag, you'll have direct access to its profile as well.

The Henderson's tried out the SNIF Tag on their miniature Australian Sheppard, Maggie, and after a week they learned their dogs aren't as active as they thought. "It seems like most of the time they just slept," Shannon explained. "It was good to know because that became a motivating factor for taking them out for walks because I was like, wow, we need to get them out."

When little Maggie had an accident overnight, the Henderson's were able to track her activity and see that she was up and walking around at 3am, which is when they suspect she had her accident.

As an exercise monitor, the Henderson's say the device worked great, but both felt the device could do more. "I think they've got a good start of the product, but I think it's just scratching the surface of what it could really do for a pet owner," Jim said.

The Henderson's suggested adding a pedometer or heart rate monitor to offer more information about a pet's exercise level. They also thought it might a good idea to add a web-cam, so owners could see what their pet is up to.

The creators of the SNIF Tag said, "Future versions of the SNIF Tag might include a microphone and video camera to take monitoring to a new level. We are also working on alerts that will notify owners when their pets have hit or missed their pre-set exercise goals."

The Dark Side of Pet Cloning
By Emily Singer - Technology Review

What does it take to make one cute puppy?

You've probably seen pictures on the news of Lancelot Encore, an endearing Golden Lab puppy that was cloned using frozen DNA from his deceased predecessor, Sir Lancelot. Sir Lancelot's Florida family paid $150,000 to a South Korean pet-cloning company to re-create him in the form of a fluffy new puppy.

What is not reflected in the happy photos of the new puppy are the mistakes that might have come before him. Cloning mammals, especially dogs, is difficult. Scientists have to create and implant many embryos to birth a healthy one. (During the cloning process, DNA from the adult donor must be reprogrammed back to its embryonic state; that process can sometimes, perhaps most of the time, be incomplete.) RNL Bio, the commercial pet-cloning company, hasn't given a lot of details on the cloning process or posted figures on the number of embryos that it took to generate Lancelot Encore. But according to an article by the BBC, the success rate using the current method is in the single digits. In a recent experiment testing a new approach, two puppies were born from 84 embryos implanted into five surrogate mothers.

What of the other 90 percent? Some of those likely fail to implant, or spontaneously abort early on, but some may survive much longer and be stricken with serious or fatal health issues perinatally. I asked Robert Lanza, cloner extraordinaire and chief scientific officer at Advanced Cell Technology, about the downsides of cloning. (Lanza has cloned several endangered animal species, both successfully and unsuccessfully.)

Anyone who wants to have their pet cloned should ask themselves if they are willing to have one or two defective copies of "Fluffy" or "Spot" put down in order to get their pet back. Of course, cloning is associated with lots of abnormalities and genetic defects--and a significant percent of newborn animals die in the first few days or weeks of life.

Anyone who thinks they might be able to get Spot or Fluffy back is mistaken. Cloned animals have distinct personalities, just like identical twins. We cloned a herd of cattle several years ago--they were all cloned from a single individual. Yet they developed a social-dominance hierarchy just like a herd of ordinary dairy cows. The cloned animals exhibit the full spectrum of behavioral traits, from curious and inquisitive to timid and shy. There's no doubt about it: each cloned animal has its own unique, individual personality.

Note: The situation described above is distinct from human therapeutic cloning. The purpose of the former is to create an animal, while the purpose of the latter is to create stem cells for therapies or research. In human therapeutic cloning, which has yet to be accomplished, scientists would remove stem-cell precursors from the embryo early on, and embryos would never be implanted or allowed to develop past that early stage.

Cat Returns Home After Being Away for More Than a Year
By HEATHER HACKING - Contra Costa Times

PARADISE -- There's a lot to be said about being at the right place at the right time.
Claude and Sandra Blodget lost their cat Max in November 2006 from their home off Buschman Road in Paradise.

"Every day he would check out over the back of the fence and then come home about 3 p.m. That day he never came home," Claude Blodget said.

Like any pet owner would do, they mourned the loss of their cat, couldn't help but wonder what might have happened to him and hoped for the best.

The retired couple makes a point of donating pet food to the Paradise Animal Shelter several times a year. They usually drop off a bag of dog and cat food around the holiday, but didn't make it until after the new year.

Claude Blodget said he was waiting to donate the food, when he saw a woman with a cat carrier standing in line as well.

He looked at the cat in the cage and then looked again. His cat Max was 2 when he disappeared, and is half-Bengal. Bengals are very large cats, with distinct stripes and spots. Max also has an unusually long tail.

The woman said the cat had been around her house in Paradise near Butte Canyon for about six days, and had been very hungry. She fed him for several days before bringing him into the shelter.

When Claude got to the front of the line, he told the shelter worker to check and see if the Bengal-mix was indeed Max. The worker checked Max's microchip, which the couple had had inserted at their veterinarian, and confirmed it was the same

Max wasn't in the best of shape. He was so flea-ridden that the couple immediately brought him to the vet, who gave him a flea-dip.

Claude said Max was cool to him at first, but once they got home he proved "he just loves me to death. He won't stay off my lap."

The vet noted that Max had only lost two ounces over the past many months. Also, his shots were still up-to-date.

Sandra Blodget said when the cat got home he ate like he had been starving.

Also, he looks like he might have had some trouble on the road.

Before, the pads of his feet were black, but now they look gray and are worn with lines in them, she said.

He also has splits on his ears that he did not have before his mysterious adventures.

"I wish they could tell you what they've been through," she said.

The only difference she's noted is that the cat seems to act skittish when he hears sliding doors on trucks that deliver medicine supplies in her neighborhood.

The cat is fine when garbage trucks and pickup trucks drive by.

But one day the cat was sound asleep and heard the doors shut on a van delivering oxygen.

"When he slammed those doors Max was off my lap, his face was so frightened, and he hid under the couch."

Sandra thinks maybe Max was an accidental stow-away one day.

"The moral would be to get a chip in your pet," Claude said.

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Make-Up Your Own Captions - Part I

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Pet Birds For Children - 3 Birds That Make Great Pets For Children
By Debbie Davis

Birds are fascinating creatures for adults to watch, but even more so for some children. Choosing a bird that will not only match your lifestyle but will match the level of care that your child is able to provide will allow your child to take an active and important part in the bird's care. A positive experience with a pet bird will increase your child's sense of responsibility and foster the importance of caring for other than self. The bird will benefit from being provided with all that it needs to live a long, happy and healthy life. Here are 3 birds that make great pets for children.

The 3 birds below are chosen because they are relatively inexpensive, do not need as much human interaction as some larger parrots, are readily available in a wide array of colors in most places, eat a pretty standard diet, and are relatively quiet making them great choices not only in free standing homes but for apartments, condos and townhouses as well. The birds below are by no means the only 3 that make good pets, but they are certainly a good place to start your search. And even though the bird may be billed as your child's pet, parents should take ultimate responsibility for the care of the bird, and gauge the care that your child provides based on their maturity and ability.

Finches come in an amazing variety of colors and sizes. They are active and cheerful little birds (usually 3- to 8 inches) that chirp quietly, and need a cage that allows them to fly from place to place. They will do best if paired with another finch that is compatible. Pairing them means they can interact with each other rather than depending on their humans. The cage needs to be at least 18 inches square and bigger if possible especially when housing 2 birds, and needs to contain perches at several levels. Depending on your child's age their responsibility could include providing daily water, food, and changing the paper on the bottom of the cage. A cage with a pull out tray at the bottom makes this an easy task that does not require handling the bird or risk the bird's possible escape from the cage. Note that Finches born in the United States are illegal to have as pets.

Parakeets or Budgies are relatively easy to care for, and having 2 will insure that they can provide the social interaction for each other that they need to stay physically, and emotionally healthy. Of the birds discussed here, they have the longest lifespan, living 10 to 15 years. Give careful thought before adopting this bird as it means a long term commitment that may continue even after your child moves away from home. Available in all colors and sizes, the hardest part will probably be in choosing from such a huge selection.

Canaries have been man's feathered friends through the ages and vary in size from about 5 to 8 inches. Many think of this bird as canary yellow, and while that continues to be a popular color, they are also available in varying shades of red and orange. Their wonderful songs provide many hours of pleasure with the male tending to sing better than the female. These birds are pretty hardy with females living 5 to 6 years and the male sometimes up to 10 years with good care. It is essential to have a large cage that will allow your bird to exercise his wings by being able to fly inside the cage-long being better than tall. Avoid placing the cage in a drafty area as this will kill your bird without warning. Be sure to keep room temperature between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. These birds, as all birds, have very sensitive respiratory systems, and at one time were taken into mines to detect poor air quality. When the Canary died it was an indication that the air was no longer safe. Remember to keep your bird away from the kitchen as many fumes produced there are deadly to your bird (smoke from a burning Teflon pan for one).

An excellent way to keep the air quality high in your home and keep your child's pet bird healthy is to remove airborne bird feathers, dust, and dander from the air with a high efficiency particle arresting (HEPA) air purifier-- the Bird Dander Purifier offered by at

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Introduction to Tarantulas
By David J Ross

Based on what we have read, seen and experienced firsthand, it is common for us to stereotype persons who own tarantula spiders as weird, bizarre or having a "dark side". Yes, it is a fact that most pet lovers prefer the more subdued, predictable and personable animals to become part of the family. Animals like dogs, cats, birds and hamsters fall into the category of "normal" animals to have as pets, and human nature dictates our preference to remain in the comfort zone of what is normal and familiar to us. Becoming an owner of a tarantula spider will be the perfect lesson in thinking outside the box and feeling accomplished for taking that chance.

Getting to know you

As with any prospective pet/owner relationship, it is only apt to start by introducing you to your future pet. You will be learning a little bit about the anatomy, personality and natural characteristics of the tarantula, which should help you appreciate its behavior, understand why it needs the care it does, and adjust its new living environment accordingly.

These creatures deserve to be understood! Many a bad thing has been said about tarantulas, and many of them quite unfair and unfounded. No wonder they bite...wouldn't you?

What are you...really?

Tarantula spiders are large, hairy, eight-legged insects that make up an interesting part of the arachnid class of nature's creatures. This interest lies in the fact that there are over 900 species of tarantula that live in countries across the world with tropical climates. All species are vibrantly colored and patterned, which makes them a beauty to behold.

The name tarantula comes from a town in southern Italy called Taranto. Research indicates that Taranto was the very first location where tarantula bites were ever recorded, many centuries ago. Who knew these arachnids had such widespread reach and influence?

Tarantulas come from the Theraphosidae family, and are either terrestrial or arboreal. Terrestrial tarantulas dwell and hunt mainly on land, while the arboreal strain makes its home in trees. This bit of information should come in handy when preparing a naturalistic environment for your new pet. Tarantula housing is discussed further in Chapter 3.

Both types emit silk, like most arachnids do. Arboreal tarantulas use this skill to construct their homes into tube-shaped silken webs, which are normally in trees. Terrestrials dwell in burrows or lairs made by digging up soil, and line the space with the same silken web they emit, making it virtually impossible for any unassuming prey to escape once they trespass.

By prey, we refer to insects like flies and crickets, as well as other arthropods. Those creatures are the favorites of tarantulas. If you guessed that these wonders of the world are insectivores, you guessed right. However, creatures other than insects can fall prey to larger tarantulas. They remain true to the predatory nature of arachnids and use those skills to capture and kill even bigger creatures like birds, lizards and mice.

Arboreal tarantulas have better vision than terrestrials, but neither type relies greatly on the eyes to locate prey. They have an extremely keen sense of touch, which helps them locate their prey, along with their ability to sense vibrations given off by the movement of other creatures.

For great tips and information on tarantula species please visit:

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10 Rules For Buying Horses
By Laura Jane Thompson

Buying a new horse is never an easy task, partly because there are always myriad options from which to choose. You might have narrowed your specifics considerably, but there will always be more horses on the market than you have time to see.

Strategy is important, whether you're buying horses for competition or pleasure. You'll have different criteria if you're looking for a child versus an adult, just like the experience and abilities of the rider will make an enormous difference. So what is the right strategy for buying horses?

1- Never Buy the First Horse You See

I know all about love at first sight. It happened to me when I was a senior in high school, and the horse's name was Bella. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen: perfect combination, wide-set eyes, a gently-sloping forehead. Riding her was like sitting on a cloud, and I knew I had to have her.

It worked out all right with Bella, but this isn't always the case. If you're in the market for buying horses, make sure you see as many of them as possible. You can always go back and see if that first horse is still available, and most horses don't leave the market that quickly anyway.

I always tell my clients to look at ten horses or more before making a decision. This will give you an idea for what the market has to offer and will delay your decision until you can think it over. You might discover that the horse you really want has some obscure problem that you won't want to deal with.

2- Shop Locally

If you're buying horses that currently live halfway across the world, you have quite a bit of traveling in your future. It is never a good idea to buy horses sight-unseen, and most of us don't have time to go traipsing from city to city in search of the perfect animal.

Unless you have very specific criteria for an Olympic-level horse, you can find a suitable animal practically in your own backyard. Depending on where you live, you might be able to limit your search to a 100-mile radius with no problem.

You'll also find that buying horses locally means there is less chance of running into a scam. People are far more wary of ripping off customers who live right around the corner.

3- Order a Drug Test

You might be the most honest person in the world, but everyone is not so scrupulous. Some horse breeders will drug their horses before showing them so they are calm and pliable. This means a serious shock when you take the horse home and wind up in the dirt. Run a drug test and have the horse vetted by a qualified veterinarian before you write that check.

4- Take the Horse Home

Buying horses, as mentioned above, can be a nasty business. If you really want to protect yourself, insist on a trial run with the horse before your purchase is solidified. Pay for the horse and take him home for a week with the option to sell him back if he doesn't work out. This gives you a chance to try him out on your home turf with no pressure.

This is particularly useful when buying school horses for a lesson program. Since school horses must possess a very specific set of qualities, a trial run reduces the chances of buying a dud. Just make sure you are clear in the paperwork that you have the option for a full refund if the horse isn't what you thought.

5- Grow Slowly

If you run a horse business, you'll be buying horses left and right. Just don't get too far ahead of yourself. Your equine inventory is your biggest asset as a horse business owner. Whether you're breeding horses or teaching lessons, a great portion of your income rests in the hands of those animals. Making quick purchases all at once is a mistake.

The same is true if you are a serious competitor hoping to amass a stable of performance horses. Your biggest asset in the show ring is diversity in your animals. Buying several horses all at once doesn't give you a chance to learn each horse's personality before choosing the next one.

6- Order X-rays

Depending on where you live, a typical vet check for buying horses might not include thorough X-rays. An X-ray of the horse's navicular bone, for example, will illustrate whether or not the horse has experienced significant navicular changes that might result in future lameness.

In addition to the X-rays and the aforementioned drug screen, your veterinarian should examine the horse's:

Overall health
Medical history
Teeth and gums
Coat, mane and tail
Dietary health

When buying horses, your veterinarian's recommendation is only a jumping-off point. You might realize that you can live with your horse's poor dietary habits or his navicular changes, but at least you know about them. And health discoveries can become a bargaining chip in the purchase of a horse.

7- Ride the Horse

You would think this would be a given, but I can't tell you how many times I hear of someone buying horses without actually riding them first. This is a huge mistake, not only because you won't know what you are getting.

All horses move differently and respond to different commands. You won't know if the horse is compatible with your training, experience and abilities unless you actually sit on his back. Riding horses before buying them should be a priority, no matter what the owner says.

8- Ride the Horse in Your Discipline

Let's say that you are a three-day eventer. Before buying horses, you need to try them out in dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country before writing that check. Failing to try the horse out in your specific discipline might cause you to make a mistake. Maybe he's great in the dressage ring, but refuses every jump you point him at.

9- Buy From Someone You Trust

Why do you have to resort to buying horses over the Internet? Or through classified ads in Canada? You don't realize how many people you know until you start going through their names-your friend knows someone who knows someone who owns a barn, and they have hundreds of horses for sale.

It's that simple. You might want to think about buying horses at the farm where you take riding lessons or from someone your trainer has done business with in the past. Buying from someone you know (or someone you've met through a personal grapevine) is the safest way to go about buying horses.

10- Bring a Trainer

Unless you are a professional horseman yourself, you shouldn't even think of buying horses without a trainer present. He or she will look out for your best interests and will be able to spot obscure details that you never would have noticed. Regardless of how independent you are, a trainer is essential through this process.

People will always making mistakes when buying horses, but you can eliminate the majority of them by having a plan before you start looking. Write out your criteria and decide exactly what you want before you start calling numbers from the classified ads.

Laura Thompson is a horse business consultant and the owner of EquiManagement. She has worked with horses all her life and is a certified riding instructor. Her areas of expertise include program development, equine acquisitions, stable management, marketing and safety. She has also worked as a horse trainer and barn manager in the past, and she frequently writes about her experience with horses and the horse business.

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10 Rules For Selling Horses
By Laura Jane Thompson

When you are selling horses, your goal is probably to make a profit. Perhaps you purchased a horse and subsequently trained him so you can sell him for twice what you paid, or maybe your current competition horse is no longer sufficient for your abilities. Whatever the case, you should keep profits in mind when selling horses.

That said, etiquette is important in the horse industry, and you can easily make enemies if you aren't careful about how you handle potential buyers. Just like with buying horses, you need to have a level head and a strategy to make the sale.

1- Groom Your Horses

Selling horses is a lot like selling real estate: first impressions matter, and the beauty on the inside is secondary. When people come to look at your horses for sale, you want them to see the most beautiful animal possible, so make sure you groom your horses on a daily basis while they are on the market.

You should also pay attention to those annoying grooming rituals that you might normally forego. Bathing and clipping, for example, are good habits when selling horses. Just bathe once a week while your horses are on the market, and make sure ears, fetlocks, muzzles and bridle paths are trimmed regularly.

2- Return Phone Calls

Or e-mails, or faxes, or any medium through which potential buyers might try to get in touch with you. The horse business moves quickly, and if you wait 24 or 48 hours to get back to buyers, they might already have found other horses that meet their needs. My advice is to try to return phone calls and e-mails within 6 hours of receipt.

Of course, the manner in which you return communication is also important in selling horses. Are you friendly on the phone? Do you invite questions? Do you make time to give the buyer details about your inventory? Think like a salesperson when selling horses, and you can't go wrong.

3- Prepare Media

The more materials you have when selling horses, the better your chances. I advise, in addition to a text ad in appropriate publications, both videos and pictures to showcase the horses you intend to sell.

A text ad for selling horses should be well-written, with proper grammar and appropriate details for the market your horses are in. Be completely honest about your horses' personalities and abilities; don't "pad" your text ad with information that isn't true. The buyer will find out.

As for videos, it is better to not make one at all than to make a poor one. Use a good-quality camera and hold it steady as you shoot the video. Try to showcase the horses' most impressive attributes, such as jumping or dressage. You'll also want to get a close-up of horses standing and walking.

Photographs have the same rules as videos when selling horses, but they aren't as flexible. Since you can't show motion, just make sure the pictures are in focus and as clear as possible.

4- Ride the Horse First

This is a simple manner of etiquette, but an important one. When selling horses, it is customary for the owner to ride the horse for the buyer before allowing the buyer to try him out. This demonstrates that you are comfortable with the horse, and gives the buyer a chance to see the horse in action.

The only exception is when selling horses you aren't comfortable with. In this case, make it clear to buyers that you aren't sufficiently skilled to handle the horse, but that you are willing to let them ride him if they wish. Make sure they sign a liability waiver before you let them mount up.

5- Provide Written Records

The best way to convince buyers that you are an ideal seller when selling horses is to show them how organized you are. Prepare a notebook or binder with all of your horses' records, from veterinary documents to farrier receipts and Coggins tests. Order everything chronologically and include a physical description of your horse, his pedigree and any other pertinent information.

In this vein, selling horses is a lot like selling cars. Buyers want to know when the horse had his last "tune-up" and how often you've practiced good maintenance. This will reassure the buyer that the horse is in excellent health.

6- Limit Riding Time

You have a responsibility to the buyer when selling horses, but you also have a responsibility to your horse. For example, if you're showing your horse in the dead of summer, you won't want a buyer to ride your horse for two hours while he "gets the feel" of him. You are perfectly within your rights to say, "I think he's had enough."

If the buyer has a problem with limited riding time, invite him to come out another day to try him again. A good buyer will want to do that anyway, so try to accommodate without putting your horse at risk.

7- Be Honest About Temperament

Some horses just shouldn't be ridden by children, and if you have one of them, let all buyers know this. The ethical way to go about selling horses is to be up-front and honest about your horse's temperament. If he needs an advanced rider, say so.

8- Clue the Buyer In

Every horse is different, so try to give the buyer a hand when selling horses. Tell him that your horse takes a short rein or not much leg or lots of verbal encouragement. This will help the buyer to have a positive first ride and will limit frustrations.

This is especially true when it comes to safety issues. For example, I once had a horse that would flip out if you got anywhere near him with a bat or crop. The same went for spurs. If your horse is sensitive to certain artificial aids or if he'll buck with too much leg, make sure the buyer knows before he climbs aboard.

9- Price High

Negotiation is expected when selling horses, so don't list your horse at the lowest price you'll possibly accept. Increase the price about $500 or $600 over what you are willing to take, then let the buyer negotiate you down. He'll feel as though he's gotten a great deal and you won't feel tempted to accept a low-ball offer.

That said, don't gouge the buyer. Appropriate horse prices are difficult to gauge, so start listening to buyer feedback. If ten buyers scoff at your entry price, take it down a notch or two. Your horse might not be worth as much as you originally thought.

10- Shut Up

When selling horses, many people have the tendency to talk constantly as the buyer looks over the horse and takes him for a test drive. This is a big mistake. Even if you are just nervous, the buyer is going to think you are trying to distract him from something that is wrong with the animal.

Conduct a brief introduction of the horse, explain anything the buyer needs to know, then let the horse do the talking. You should of course answer any questions the buyer might have, but resist the urge to go on and on.

Selling horses can be a frustrating process, but eventually you will find a buyer. Just continue to advertise your horse and market in places where interested buyers are likely to take notice.

Laura Thompson is a horse business consultant and the owner of EquiManagement. She has worked with horses all her life and is a certified riding instructor. Her areas of expertise include program development, equine acquisitions, stable management, marketing and safety. She has also worked as a horse trainer and barn manager in the past, and she frequently writes about her experience with horses and the horse business.

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