Ahh, yes, it's that time of year. tentative gets all depressed over not having a pony and so searches the local ads for something she can afford. This is leads to much annoyance, much fustration and much amusment. See, people are very stupid when they attempt to sell their horse. They spell things wrong, put in ugly photos, etcetera. (Worst of all they make them too expensive, but that's mostly an issue because I am Poor.)
So, here's some simple and logical tips on how to make your ad friendly for tentative to read, and so earn her undying gratitude.
Spelling and Grammar
"Expereinced Horse Person" "Queit horse" What do these all have in common? I won't read the rest of the ad, that's what! Spelling and grammar are important. There are some for-sale ads I simply will not read, which includes any written "liek dis" or in all caps.
Do put a photo in. I'm more likely to look at an ad with a photo. But, don't put a bad photo in. I'm likely to laugh at a bad photo.
display a photo which includes children under the horse, near the horse or doing anything other than riding the horse, but if a child is riding the horse they must be wearing correct attire, and be riding a pony. If it is a large thoroughbred being advertised as needing an experienced rider only, don't put your five year old kid on it. Get husband or sister or person next door to take a photo of you on the horse.
put a crappy photo in and then say that it does not do the horse justice. Take another photo. You probably have a digital camera, so I know that you can do it. If the horse isn't cooperating get some food involved or take a photo tomorrow!
submit a photo of your horse rearing or of you standing on it
put a photo of many horses, especially if your horse is the same color as another in the photo.
take a photo of a horse that is underweight, unless it is a rescue horse. I don't care if it is old, I don't care if it is nursing, I don't care if it is thoroughbred. If I can see its ribs or hips, spend a week fattening him up and take another photo
show me a photo of pony's butt unless it is from directly behind him to show off conformation.
The only photo I want to see of your horse is his profile conformation, head to tail, and a photo of him at a show doing what he does best: dressage, jumping, lead classes, etc. If he is a child's pony have a child on the pony. If he is a foal, have a photo of him standing with a human holding him. If he hasn't been weaned yet, have him next to mummy but be very clear that you are selling the foal not the mare.
The Actual Ad
Understandably, this is the most important part. If you are advertising in a newspaper or some other medium where photos or large amounts of description cannot happen, this section is the only section you have. There are many things people get wrong. Don't go on about the same thing over and over again. If you say once he's quiet you don't need to repeat yourself. I got you, and if I'm interested in the horse chances are I'll read it fifty times anyway. Be brief, be succinct, be honest.
start off with height, gender, breed, color and purpose (ie, show jumping, reining, pleasure)
indicate how much riding he has had in the last 6 months, and his training level
say if pony needs an experienced rider
mention that he has severe medical issues which could affect his being ridden or bred.
mention scars and whether they will affect his work: "many years ago he hurt his near fore leg and has a big scar from the stitches" is an indication that his legs are a bit messy, so the buyer shan't be surprised when they come to see pony
mention his breeding
mention placings in competitions
be 100% honest in your ad about any faults the horse has, or at least indicate his faults. When a person comes to look at the horse, then mention anything that could prove to be an issue, including a history of lameness, bucking, genetic defaults or if she has been with a stallion recently.
say that pony is for a beginner rider when he is not
say pony is broken in when pony has not seen a saddle
mention his color or coat unless he is a color breed (ie an Appaloosa or a Curly Bashkir) , or if he has recently had a disease which has affected the appearance of his coat
mention that he is for sale for not fault of his own, or that it is a regretful sale, or that you will be sad to see him go. I, as the buyer, do not care how much pony meant to you, only if you are actually telling the truth in the rest of the ad.
yabber on for several sentences about silly things that don't really matter. "Beautiful head with big dreamy eyes, small tippy ears & a refined muzzle" could be shortened to "he's an Arab". You're not trying to sell me a dish in a restaurant. You're selling me a horse. I want to know how long he has been broken in, if she would suit as a broodmare, if he is good with kids or if he is a well-rounded competition horse. I do not care about the way you feel when you see him galloping across a paddock.
put stupid phrases in: "Excellent brakes installed by mum" is not a good way to say that he stops well and that you broke him in.
say pony has excellent conformation when his legs are clearly messed up, or his shoulders have a slope that indicates his trot would be the worst thing since un-sliced bread.
Now go forth, and sell your pony for a very cheap price to yours truly, or at least stop being the cause of my afternoon cackle.