Friday, November 26, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Free advertising - you simply can't lose out!

It's not uncommon to hear people comment on the price of advertising horses.  Current prices are sky high and when you're selling a low value horse advertising can take a large chunk of your profits.  The theory behind paying more is that you are paying for a premium space where your ads are displayed to a maximum audience.  That's one business model.  Now look at it from another angle.  Here at Equishopping we let you advertise everything from horseboxes through to grade A jumpers's. For free.  So what's the idea behind it? It's not because no one would pay to advertise with us it's because we think we're far better off letting you advertise for free and you seeing what else we offer.  We're confident that's the best way forward because you'll like what you find.  The bottom line is - you simply can't lose! It's free and will take you about 3 minutes to do.  

One problem with a lot of free advertising sites is that they have a huge number of lower value horses without much balance.  At equishopping we like to keep the balance between high and low value.  That way we have buyers with the money coming our way but we keep our traffic up as we've something for everyone.  Simple really.  So, yes, we offer free advertising for the right reasons - no catches.  We hope you'll agree...

But how on earth do you write an advert.  Not just an average one but one that'll have the phone ringing all day long for the right reasons.  The first step is no be truthful in your description.  There's very little point trying to lure buyers in with over exaggerated claims that they'll soon see aren't true.  However, just because we don't exaggerate doesn't mean we can't make ads stand out.  The trouble is with exagerating is that everyone does it - how many times do you read "stunning" in an advert title - the reality could be somewhat dimmer.... Play to your strong points.  Every horse under the sun has some plus points even the most difficult of beasts.  

Video and photos are the best way to show off those strong points.  I mean decent photos though, in good lighting, taken on a good quality camera or you're wasting your time as no one can see what their potential purchase is.... The other point with videos is that unless horses haven't been backed or you've got lots of photos in the ad don't use a picture of the horse being held or of its head.  Go for the action shot that actually shows the horse working.  

It's also very important to have all the details in your advert.  There's nothing more annoying than having to call about a horse just to find out how big it is! Plus, most people just won't bother and move on... Furthermore, when you give contact details make it very clear when you'll be available or if people should leave a message for example.  If you don't get back to people or they can't get hold of you they'll very quickly lose interest... 

Go for it! If you use Equishopping you just can't lose.  What's stopping you?

Oli's Diary.

In the dim and distant past some of you may remember my first appearance on the Equishopping scene.  I originally did a blog to introduce myself which you can read here but things have come a long way since then so we thought it was time I started putting some of my diary onto the equishopping blog.  Of course all the past diaries are available on my own website.  However, while you're doing your christmas shopping (on equishopping!) spend a minute to check up on me because it'll make you smile.  Smiling's what keeps us all sane.  

We join the story at the end of the 2010 eventing season....

"My last blog told the tales of the build up to Aldon and what an event it was! The biggest plus was definitely our dressage which did us proud and even I thought was good - it's not often I think that! I also managed to finish bang on the optimum time XC which the commentator heralded as a feat of skill...I'm keeping quiet about the luck element there!! The video of Aldon and a few other bits and bobs from the end of the season can be found here.  As usual everything's so much better when there's a good party and friends about.  In traditional Aldon style there was no disappointment on that front! 

However, it's now the season of constant rain and the veil of eternal darkness descends... Don't I paint such a cheerie picture! At the moment I'm not fussed though as it's great just being able to go hunting and jumping under much less pressure and be a bit more human... the suggestion that I'll ever be totally normal would get laughed at so I won't go there!

I'm quite accustomed now to being brought down to earth with a clunk but as university interviews loom the world gets that bit more serious.  You definitely notice the difference in people at the moment when things begin to bite.  That said, anyone who has horses learns to have a sense of humour no matter the circumstances!  How else would we survive??!

On the jumping front, things are really going quite well.  Totem, the blank canvas, is proving to be surprisingly colourful and jumps quite phenomenally - my secret weapon! The only down side is that he steals all the compliments! Gray is also getting out and about as well and  is truely determined not to be overshadowed.  Meanwhile Dell's supposedly on holiday but has only recently come round to the idea of chilling out.  Until now he's been most offended that he hasn't been taken out.

For now that's it.  Although, I fear the next installment of comedy and eventfullness is just around the corner...."


Friday, November 19, 2010

Making your own hay steamer.

Now it would seem slightly controversial for a site that's trying to sell you a product to then tell you how to DIY it and avoid spending the money...but you'll see where this is going.  

We're talking hay steamers.  Yes, it is possible to make your own which will work reasonably well.  The details on how to do this are below.

Why use hay steamers?  The idea with hay steamers are that you don't get the nutrients washed out of the hay and don't get heavy water logged haynets everywhere.  Plus, the dust in the hay is stuck to the hay so doesn't affect the horses lungs... The traditional way of doing this is to get a kettle of boiling water and pour it into a bin bag with your hay in and close the neck of the bag.  However you can do much larger amounts successfully with you own design.  

Why buy a 'proper' hay steamer? A home made contraption is fairly bulky if your travelling so you end up going down the 'proper route' in order to fit it in your lorry.  Secondly, a home made version won't do anywhere near as good a job as a proper steamer so you need a proper one if your horse suffers form COPD.  Plus, when you're spending vast amounts of money keeping horses on the road isn't it better to spend a bit more to get the best? 

On a separate front, if you're a professional yard or are based at any commercial operation building your own isn't really an option because if it were to go wrong then the legal aspects get a bit tricky.  

How to make your own hay steamer. If the above doesn't apply to you building your own hay steamer is easy.  Take a wheelie bin or other large container and drill a small hole in the bottom of it.  Go to HomeBase and buy a wallpaper remover which pumps out steam.  The idea is to fit the nozzle of the wallpaper remover into the hole in the bottom of the container.  The hay then goes inside the container and is securely shut.  The wallpaper remover is plugged into a timer so you get the correct timing and can forget about your hay for the time being.  Very roughly you need about 10min per slice of hay.  Its also worth remembering that you might have to top up the water tank on the wallpaper remover as it won't keep producing steam for long enough.  

So there you have it, simples, but is it really right for you? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The eventing top 100 are out - a few thoughts...

It's that time of year again when BE publish the final point based standings for the season.  Check them out here.  You'll notice fairly promptly that Andrew Nicholson (the leader) has well over 2000 points whereas down in 70th you're looking at about 150 points.  That's a gargantuan difference in points- I'm thinking like...super human?!

Another interesting point is the difference and in some cases similarities between the grassroots riders foundation points table and the overall riders table for foundation points.   BE created a separate Grassroots table to give amateurs a chance against the 'pro's'... The thing is though, the so called amateurs really aren't that far behind the "pro's", give or take 20 points.  Bear in mind 20 points is only 2 PN wins.  So was it really worth splitting everything up? 

Someone said to me that they simply didn't stand a chance against the "pro's" for want of a better word.  Is that really the case? The tables don't suggest it or if they do it's a matter of a few wins either side.  When you're talking about 100 points plus that's not much of a difference.  Perhaps the real reasoning behind the so called gap is quality of horses or standard of riding - should we have BE100rich and BE100poor now? 

Looking at both sides of the argument - to split or not to split it seems both sides of the argument have strong points but the difficult task is to distinguish the factors that can't make this decision - you can't have BErich and poor based on how much a horse cost someone.  Whatsmore, there's so much more to producing horses.  It's also worth remembering that horses are the best levellers in the world - they really don't care whether they sleep in brand new luxury stables or in a converted cow shed.  As long as they're fed, warm and dry etc they're happy so perhaps the pro - am gap is less of a big deal.  Plus, if you keep thinking that any psychologist will tell you you're on the right tracks.  

Lets look higher up the levels to the likes of * and **.  Forgive me for not including **** in that but the number of amateurs competing at that level is quite low (sorry guys).  Perhaps the definition of amateur needs changing?  "Grassroots" only goes up to PN so once you're above that everyone's in the same boat.  The trouble in splitting amateurs off at the higher levels is that it's terribly difficult to define an 'amateur' and a 'professional'. Plus, there's also evidence that the higher up the levels you go the less desire there is for a split.  Personally I think a split would take something away from eventing.  Knowing where you stand in terms of the entire sport is no bad thing although I can't stand it when people say "oh, I've beaten so and so who went round Badminton last month".  Nooo! You're allowed to think that but it makes you sound so silly! 

So for now I think we've got it right.  A split lower down gives people a chance and higher up you're put in your place.  Plus, does it not mean so much more to come 10th in a proper Novice than come 5th in a protected amateurs Novice should it ever exist.  

Strangely enough the publication of the top 100 usually signals the time when most stores unleash the Christmas Demon of  tinsle adorned doors and elves in the fruit aisle a few weeks prematurely.  Equishopping's holding on until December but if you're after an early bargain check out our bargain page. Can you imagine having your christmas shopping done before the mad rush in the week before christmas? Sounds good...