How to Host a Tack Swap

Turn horse clutter into cash by hosting a tack swap.

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Saddles at a tack swap

All horse people have it: piles of tack, blankets and other equine gear they don’t use, but aren’t quite sure what to do with for fear of needing it years (and horses!) down the road. It’s time to take a deep breath and let go.

Kick your spring cleaning into high gear and encourage other horse lovers to do the same by hosting a tack swap. You can make money and gain a bit more space in your barn or basement—a win-win situation.

One of the best ways to get rid of tack, gear and apparel you aren’t using is to host a tack swap, where people come to a central location to sell their horse-related items. In addition to being a great way to get rid of some gear, you’ll meet new people, as well.

Traditionally, spring swaps seem to be better attended than fall swaps, since people are gearing up for good-weather riding. To ensure your event is successful, here are a few things to take into account.

The Event

There are some important details to determine before you ever send out a swap invite. Do you want to charge for others to come sell their goods at your swap and, if so, how do you want to charge?

There are two main options for charging vendors: charge per table/area or charge per item sold. It’s important to note that charging per item sold can get tedious very quickly and is almost unmanageable without additional helpers. The easiest way to host a swap is to either simply provide a space for people to come and sell their tack or to charge a nominal fee (like $20/table).

As the responses start rolling in, you’ll need to know how many tables, racks for hanging clothes and/or saddle racks (if any) you’ll have for vendors to use. If you don’t own any, don’t fret; just be sure to tell your vendors they will need to provide their own.

Location, Location, Location

A huge key to a successful swap is ensuring that you have a strong equine community to support the event; if you don’t, consider moving your swap to an area that has more equine engagement.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the nature of the equestrian community where you reside. Having your heart set on a predominantly English tack swap when you live in the middle of ranch-horse country may be a bit of a stretch. However, you may get some really good deals on farm supplies and trailering items, so don’t think a swap is not in the cards just because of where you’re located.

Consider holding your swap in conjunction with an already-established event, whether that’s a rodeo, horse show, clinic or other equine endeavor. While you don’t necessarily have to host it at the same location (though that scenario is ideal), if your farm or barn is close by, people may make a jaunt over in the hopes of finding some interesting things.

If you’ve determined that hosting the event at your farm is the perfect situation, take a walk around the property and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have enough parking?
  • Where will you set up the seller area?
  • Are vendors allowed to bring tents to avoid the sun?
  • Do you have electricity available for sellers who need it?
  • What will you do if it rains?
  • Where will people try on apparel?

If you’re hosting your swap in a barn, consider having a (clean!) horse on hand to try on blankets.

Invite Sellers

While you may have loads of things to sell, swaps are more fun with more sellers. Additional people to invite include:

  • Local barns
  • Boarders
  • Equine clubs and organizations
  • Equine companies
  • Local tack shops (they sometimes have inventory they can’t move that they’re looking to sell)

Be sure to have an exact time when vendors can set up; some may want to come in the day before to set up if possible.

Get the Word Out

The only way a swap can be successful is if people know about it. Thankfully, the power of social media is vast, so the majority of your advertising will be free. Additional avenues to tout your swap can include:

  • Creating a press release for local papers
  • Contacting local breed and discipline clubs for inclusion in email blasts and newsletters
  • Emailing local 4-H and FFA groups to get on their calendar of events

You might also consider partnering with a local humane society or other equine organization, which will allow you to leverage their followers as well. Another option might include allowing them to offer food at your event (with the organization keeping the profits), which would drive additional foot traffic to your venue.

Once your tack swap has been a smashing success, you can further endear yourself to your sellers if you offer a plan for their unwanted and unsold goods. Contacting a local equine charity before your event takes place to see if they accept donations can take a load off your vendors as well as help that organization.

Selling Tack Online

If you don’t have the time or the inclination to sell at a tack swap, online sales may be the way to go. Consider listing your tack and equine gear on Facebook groups, Craigslist, eBay, Tacktrader.com, or other horse-specific sites online. Some local stack stores may also offer online listings.

  • Tips for getting your gear sold:
  • Take clear, uncluttered images that show the item from multiple angles.
  • Research similar items to determine a fair price.
  • Be prepared to determine shipping costs to various locations.
  • Package your items well to ensure they arrive in good condition, and track all packages.

This article originally appeared in the April 2018 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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