Monday, June 16, 2008

Does The Price Of A Horse..............

Constitute the quality of this horse? Well? Let's see here. A recent post by Victoria Cummings at Teachings of the Horse, got me to thinking and inspired this post. I think it depends on the prospective rider, trainer, their skills and what the horse is to be used for. For example, my needs or desires are different from many others. I don't compete, just trail ride on rare occasion and pleasure ride in my arena and enjoy caring for and the company of my horses, but for those of you who compete, How far would you go? How much would you spend? Would you spend $20,000 on a young horse sight unseen, except for pictures, only to have it arrive and find it is seriously comformationally challenged? Would you spend $100,000 on a horse suggested to you by a trainer because of your desire to compete at a higher level, take out a loan to do so, only to find out that you and said horse, do not mesh well and lose 2/3rds of that money at resale? Would you give up the horses in your care to pay for this new horse? I'm curious out there, what your opinion is? I've owned five and sold three. I recently found out that my first horse, Dakota, is happy in his new home and doing what he loves to do, run. And winning and that is something I was unable to accommodate him with. The best horse I have for me, cost me $700 at purchase and she will be here forever. The second best horse for me cost me a bit more, $3,200, and she too will stay with me forever. What is a reasonable cost for your discipline? The second horse I sold was a small three year old filly, it was time for her to move on as I do not have the skills to break and train a young horse properly. The third, a gelding I had only one month and after a bucking rampage and a trip to the hospital, I knew in my heart of hearts that I would never get back on that horse and I was completely intimidated. Many lessons learned throughout the years of horse ownership.


kdwhorses said...

Great post! I would say it depends what you are using the horse for. For us if we were to buy a finished roping horse the good ones start at $5 G and go up from there. Hubby's retired roping horse cost him $800 and won him tons of $ and he did everything on him. My mare we paid $3,500 for and she was worth every penny. I do everything on her, she is just awesome! She will not leave. She is papered awesome, so we could use her as a breed mare. The next horse we bought for a deal ($1,650) and the plan was to put 60 more days on him and resale to make a profit. Well, that didn't happen. He is a great sorting horse and day working horse. He is hubby's backup horse. We then bought "Roo" the roan horse he was what hubby was looking for as far as a day working horse. He has been a gem as well. He has come along way since he has been here. I think the best thing for people to do is to educate themselves and find reputable breeders/owners to buy from. There are a few people that we would buy a horse sight unseen, because of there knowledge and friendship, etc. Very few though! We encourage alot of people who are looking to buy to go and look, ride, ask tons of questions about the horse, go watch it perform/run and then make a decision. The horse may be what you want, but if you and the horse do not get along, well you are back to square one again. As for us we have been very blessed to have horses that have fit us and what we use them for. That is the key! Great post Callie! I look forward to reading what everyone else says! Have a great day!!

Callie said...

Thanks, KDW, sounds like you got some great deals on some great horses too! I think that's great advice, to try it out first and ask tons of questions. I didn't do that with Misty, but I bought her from people I trust, however, I did try out Kola first and ask the questions and we're building our relationship. It works all around.

Twisted Oaks Quarter Horses said...

One of the Key things that Callie brought up is that if you can get along with the horse. So many people end up with a horse they just do not get along with. Gerald just sold one that did not fit into our program, but the ladies that bought him are getting along great for trail riding. He did not like to work in an arena where we do most of our riding. There are too many good horses out there to mess with one that isn't for you.

Jackie said...

I'm not much of a trail rider myself, but I do love to compete. We never had that much money for fancy horses, so we rode less expensive mounts with some potential. They were often difficult, but it was a good challenge.

I do want to compete again someday, but I don't care if it's upper level stuff. I fully intend to get a thoroughbred off the track at a lower price and give him/her a new life. I'll go for an unproven horse because I like the training aspect, plus it fits within my budget. I don't think I'd pay over $5,000.

Like others have said, it's most important to find a horse with whom you are compatible in personality and skill level. That's what I'll look for!

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

As I become more experienced in the horse buying-selling-trading world, I'm discovering that the price of a horse is very subjective. I've found some low cost horses with great bloodlines and confirmation as well as high cost horses with many flaws. You have to educate yourself if you are into either breeding or showing. Otherwise, choose a horse that needs a home that clicks with you.

My first horse was affordable, but the price went up as soon as I showed an interest. My second horse required payments. My third horse was out of my price range, but I was in love, so I bought her on credit. In my case, I don't regret spending beyond my means, because I am sure that the horses that were within my price range would not have worked out. I would never buy a horse without spending a lot of time with it first. In all cases, I visited with the horse multiple times.

Jupiter said...

Oh, definitely not. In mid-January I bought an 18 year old Thoroughbred mare for the wee sum of $400.
Here she is now (this was in March, so she still had some winter fuzzies)

We were hoping to do some flatwork with her. Maybe do the occasional crossrail.

She has ended up being the best horse you could ask for. Jumps 2'5"+ without hesitating. Swings around barrels without even telling her. Wins gymkhana stake races at the ripe old age of 18.

We get a lot of, "Wow...I bet she was expensive!" and "Whoa...what is she, a Danish Warmblood or something?"

Earlier that year she had been up for $2800, but because of financial restraint she had to go THEN. And for $400 we couldn't turn her down.

I've stuck 4 year olds who have never been on a horse on her. Couldn't get enough; walked and trotted for at least an hour.

I've stuck a mentally challenged boy on her, let them do walk/trot/canter in musical cones. They won.

I figure that if you just wait, a good horse will come to you. We definitely got lucky with her, but it just goes to show that price really doesn't mean a good or bad horse.

Heck, she's won in jumper shows against the $10,000+ specially-trained jumpers at our stable. She embarrasses them.

On the other hand, I've ridden many $10,000+ horses. And I wanted to get right back on my $400 one. =3 Sure, they can jump like antelopes, but my horse can jump like an antelope and still have the brains and focus and reasoning to be sensible through it all.

So, in my opinion, price does not neccessarily consitute the quality of the horse. In some cases, possibly. But I've seen fact, hardly halter-broken...foals go for a LOT more than mine did! =3

Mrs Mom said...

Great post Callie, and I cant really add much. But I do have one thought for you- the best horses I have ever been with have been given to me free and clear.

They have been "rescues", all in various stages of decay and illness, and we were able to bring them back to health and happiness... and they all found homes along the way.

Maybe thats my calling? < shrug >

But sometimes, just sometimes, you cant put a price on things ;)

Hugs to you guys... hope the weather calms down already for you...

cdncowgirl said...

"One of the Key things that Callie brought up is that if you can get along with the horse."

Which is why I'm selling my gelding. He was exactly what I was looking for, unfortunately he seems to have a problem with women. Now trying to find a good home for him with a man.

As far as cost of buying. There is this girl who sometimes barrel races with us in our little club. (We'll call her "Alice")
Alice is trying to go pro. Problem is it took her about 3 times as long to fill her pro card as it takes most people.
She spends a LOT of money on horses and when they don't work out for her she sells them at a reduced price. Example, Alice bought a cute little mare for $60 grand. Couldn't get things working with the mare. Sold her for $40 grand. New owner happens to barrel race with us as well, and is winning almost everything.
This is a pattern with her. Alice's most recent horse was priced at almost $140 grand ($136500). Wonder how much she'll sell him for?

For myself, I don't have a huge budget. I save what I can and if I sell a horse that money goes toward the next horse that comes along.

Portraits de chevaux said...

I think you have acted wisely.

Transylvanian horseman said...

An interesting post. A horse is "worth" whatever someone will pay, if they are viewed as commodities. Perhaps people who buy expensive ready-trained horses view them as just that, commodities to give them a leg-up beyond their level? I can think of someone who paid $25,000 for a trained warmblood so that she can compete and do well, though she has little time to ride or train the horse. However it is well cared for.

Meanwhile I ride a $1,500 horse who is sensible and safe. I have no idea whether he can jump, however he can keep going all day on the trail. I had him on a week's trial before buying him. It seems to me that, if a dealer is willing to give a trial period and take the horse back if unsuitable, they have some confidence that the horse is a good one. The main thing, as several people have said, is to be able to get on with the horse. Different people get on with different types. I especially like draught horse geldings (and occasionally stallions). Out of fifty or so horses that passed through the riding centre, all my favourites were geldings except for one stallion. The mares and the sport horse types I did not really get on with, their temperaments and mine just didn't click. However many visitors loved them and rode very well on them. Some horses seemed to prefer male riders, some female. It's an interesting subject. Matching guests to horses was interesting and challenging, though usually we got it approximately right.

Callie said...

The concesus seems that the most important thing to do is match the horse to the rider in personality as well as discipline reguardless of price.

Grey Horse Matters said...

It's a good post Callie, and interesting questions arise. I've seen so many people over mounted with a horse that was way too much for them to handle. Partly it was the trainers fault for wanting to make a buck and also the rider's ego that made for bad match ups. If you are honest with yourself there is no reason you cannot find the horse that is suitable for your riding skills and the discipline you want to do. A lot of riders think they are more knowledgeable and better riders than they are, and this is how unsuitable horses become disasters for unskilled riders.

We have some horses at the barn now that I have never ridden and never intend to ride, Nate(17.3 hand Dutch Warmblood) he is my daughters horse and he is perfect for her, not for me. Mellon (16.2,Trahkehner) is also her retired jumper, I would never get on him, again its her perfect horse. I will ride Dusty and Blue (quarter horses), and of course no one can ride Donnie until he gets over his abuse & girthing issues. On the other hand I never had any problem riding my guy Erik(17.2 Dutch Warmblood) who had the sweetest personality of them all. So the point I guess is to find a horse that you are compatible with, not the one who costs the most or the one you think you should have.

Callie said...

Excellent point Arlene. I had to "ditto" your comment to Victoria's post.

photogchic said...

Great post. My ponies, $5, $40, and free. My claimed track quarter horse $500. Maddy $6000---who has given me the most trouble....Maddy of course. I vowed to never spend more the $2000 on a horse if I ever buy another one. Too many good ones out there...I like the diamonds in the rough anyway. Maddy was beautiful and I was caught up in that and shelled out the big bucks. You live and learn. I think she is worth what I paid for her now...but that is two years of training and tears.

Midlife Mom said...

What can I add to all of this good advice? They've pretty much summed it all up. I will say that I have bought a couple of ponies from just pictures but they were from people that I totally trusted and they were exactly what they said they were so we are happy with them.

Victoria Cummings said...

Callie - I'm glad I inspired you to write this excellent continuation of the discussion - This is what makes blogging so interesting - I really agree with what everyone has said here - especially Mrs. Mom - Some of the best horses (and animals) are the free ones who have been rescued. I leased Silk for a month before I bought her, and I always recommend trying to do that to see if the horse is compatible with you before you commit to the huge responsibility of caring for this animal for the rest of its life.

Callie said...

I think that's the difference, Victoria, for the rest of their lives. Commitment.

fssunnysd said...

Thought-provoking. It's sort of like those credit card commercials, isn't it -- what is "priceless" to you....

I know I wouldn't part with my gelding for any amount offered, but if the time came that I couldn't keep him fed, safe, sound and healthy with me, I'd part with him for his benefit even though it would hurt. I (over)paid $500 for him as a long-yearling, and at 6 he's more than repaid me. My first pony was a carefully selected $400 purchase that taught me lessons I'll keep with me always. He was definitely a forever horse.

IMO it's possible to set a price, but true value is intrinsic and separate from dollars exchanged.

BrownEyed Cowgirls said...

Excellent discussion Callie!!
Obviously, we raise most of ours but I used to "trade" some and let me tell you--$500 horses seemed to be magic for me. I would just go to auctions and walk through the loose pens. Whatever horse(s) "talked" to me was the one(s) I bid on. Out of all of them, there was only one that I couldn't turn around or fix. But he was useful in his own way because I traded him for my daughter's Paint. The rank horse sold for more than my friend wanted for the Paint and he ended up having to write ME a check for the difference. The Paint has become irreplaceable to my daughter and is not for sale at any price. Boy it has been hard to turn down some of the offers for him too :o.
The others that I picked up, fixed up and resold all made me money and went to good homes. But, I have to say that I don't think of it as "saving" or rescuing them from slaughter. I trusted my instincts and with good feed, good handling and time almost all of them make great horses. It's not a quick turnaround either-I think the quickest I ever resold one was eight months-some have taken up to 2 years. The rank horse stayed for 3 years before I finally gave up-its not worth getting seriously injured over.

Picking up other people's rejects has taught me some valuable lessons about training horses:
1) Horse's are very forgiving creatures.
2) A good equine chiropractor is INVALUABLE!! Almost as invaluable as a good equine dentist.
3) Time heals wounds-physical and MENTAL.
4) You may have to try a lot of different things to find something that a horse is good at-but they are all good at something.
5) Never underestimate the importance of the basics-ie; catching, leading, feet, tying, bathing. A well mannered horse is an easy horse to sell. All of the horse's I handle learn Showmanship and get shown in it. It doesn't matter how bad their conformation flaws-Showmanship is all about manners and handling.

Now if anyone knows of people willing to pay $10,000 for a horse-send them my way-I have a couple I would part with for that kind of money-LOL.

Pony Girl said...

I leased my gelding for almost 6 months before he was purchased for me (I knew I wanted him, it was just a surprise.) Somewhere along the way the opportunity came up for me to purchase him.
Leasing really helped me to get to know him, and solidify that I wanted him. However, there was a point where I wondered if there was a better horse out there? But I realized there is no perfect horse, and I knew my gelding so well,all of his positives and negatives, that it was better to stick with him! ;) We make a great partnership. He was going to be sold for $3500, but when all was said and done, I got him for quite a bit less than that.

Kathy C said...

Excellant post.

We have admittedly gone through a lot of horses, one given to us, and the rest bought. When looking for a new horse I have always stayed within a budget. The most expensive horse we ever bought was $2800. She was a looker that's for sure! That's when I found out you can't ride color. Well you can, but you shouldn't be sold on color. How interesting that all our current horses are sorrel.

Our first horse was free, and taught us tons. The other great deal we got was my mare who just foaled. I paid $850 for her and another mare. At 18 she won almost every class she carried Nicole into. She's now my trail horse and will live here until she crosses the rainbow bridge.

horse stalls said...

Great post! I travel all over the US delivering horse stalls to ranches and so forth. I see how the prices really vary depending where you are. Most areas start off at $6000 and go up from there. It just depends on where you are.

Doug Stewart said...

Except at the high end, I think that the cost of buying the horse isn't so important as the cost of keeping the horse. There are a lot of decent trained horses out there for $3000 (due to current economic climate, many going at auction for far less), but many owners at paying this much or more each year just for upkeep. Many owners paying 2 or 3 times this (see

Of course, if you already have the stables and lots of fenced in grassland, and do all the work yourself, keeping a horse is far cheaper in dollar terms. However, there is still the investment you make in time, which I would argue is more than the purchase price for most people.

My point is, for most people it makes more sense to ask 'How much would you pay to keep a horse?' than 'How much would you pay to buy a horse?'.