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We've all be there. Perusing YouTube late at night checking out sales videos of dressage horses for our friends or clients. Shaky pictures, 9 minutes of walk, a random dog chasing a cat running through the frame, some lady screaming instructions at the rider that blows your speakers; you can't take it anymore so you shut down the video before you even get the chance to evaluate the horse's true potential. Maybe the horse in the video is the next Valegro, but without a good sales video, they're greatly impacting the likelihood of that horse ever selling. As someone who buys and sells horses, I've looked at thousands of sales videos of horses from all over the world. I'm going to teach you how to make a video that doesn't suck.
First off, the initial sales video is to entice. It isn't necessarily trying to "sell" the horse. It's trying to showcase the horse in a way that garners attention and inquiries into more details surrounding the horse. You almost want to think of the initial sales video as "lead generation". With lead generation, you create interest in your horse and then through conversation subsequently qualify potential buyers, seeing if they are the right match for your horse. If they are, follow-up videos are usually sent showcasing the entirety of your horse's education.  
The initial sales video is the most important as it's the one everybody sees first. In this industry, first impressions matter so you want it to be a good one! 
Here are some things to keep in mind:
  1. If you can't keep your camera steady, use a tripod. You can get them for under $20 bucks on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2rGiA77). Spend the money, its worth it.
  2. You want your horse to take up 60% of the screen and keep the zoom slow and smooth. Fast, abrupt zooms make people close your video. Don't do it.
  3. Keep your initial sales video under 2 minutes. Shorter is definitely sweeter.
  4. Try to film the trot and canter clips down one long side of your arena. I like the video clips to start as they are 3/4 of the way through the short side, all the way down the long side, and I end the clip as they are 1/4 of the way into the short side. Trust me, you don't need to film 7 minutes of trot around and around the ring. The long sides are plenty of time to make an evaluation of the quality of the horse's gaits.
  5. Always begin your video with the horses best gait. Remember, first impressions matter! There doesn't have to be a logical sequence to the gaits. Whichever gait is the strongest is the one I showcase first. For example, if your horse's trot is the strongest gait, I will show an entire long side of trot to the right, and an entire long side of trot to the left. 
  6. Make sure you show two long sides of trot and canter. One going left, and one going right. 
  7. To showcase the walk I prefer to see it on the long side. You don't need more than 7 seconds of walk and you can show the walk in one direction only. Please, for the love of dressage, do not showcase the walk for any longer than 10 seconds! Every time someone films their horse walking for more than 10 seconds an angel loses its wings. 
  8. If your horse isn't advanced, showing the walk in free walk on a looser rein is ideal. If your horse is advanced, showing a collected walk is appreciated. 
  9. If your horse does something amazing, I may put a couple of short clips of that particular movement after the 3 gaits have been shown. 
  10. After you demonstrate all 3 gaits, I'll generally end the video with one direction of its strongest gait to end on a good impression.
  11. Remove all audio and overlay music with a softer instrumental. You want the focus to be on the horse, not on the music. 
  12. Don't be afraid to play with brightness, contrast and saturation levels on your video while you are editing. You want your images to pop! Experiment! 

I think great examples of initial sales videos are the Hanoverian Auction videos. They always just showcase the gaits in one direction which isn't satisfactory for a normal sales video, but it gives you a good idea of how "less is more" when it comes to editing your final video. 

A sales video should be like eating a properly portioned piece of exquisite cake. With the very last bite, you want more!. That's the same idea you want to create with your sales video. Follow these guidelines and you'll be sure to have a winning video that gets watched from beginning to end and leaves them wanting more!

Happy Riding! 

 


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