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What is a horse worth? Potential Buyer Perspective

Topic_Info: buying a horse Website_Info: Through google
Location: Michigan
Date: March 16, 2011


I am going to purchase a 9 year old APHA registered sorrel tobiano paint mare. she is trained (not professionally trained) in western specializing in trail and pleasure, also English pleasure and dressage and has also been jumped 2'3". She has never been shown. No health problems what-so-ever. Perfectly sound. No kick, bite, rear, spook, or buck. How much is she worth?


Hi there. My answer is based on factors to consider when pricing a horse from a potential buyer's perspective. There tend to be two common types of buying- rational and emotional. There are people who will justify a price depending on several different factors- some rationally based and some emotionally motivated.

The most obvious way to price a horse is to base it on the horse's "proven" background (show record, breeding, racing, etc.)

The next could be based on the horse's blue sky potential (the future possibility of what the horse might do someday in the arena, breeding, etc.)

You'll have to also HONESTLY decide what YOUR goal for buying the horse is. Is the horse currently at an education/training level that is appropriate for your abilities and intentions or will you have to invest money is training, show exposure, etc. to get the horse up to par for your needs/ability. If all you want is a trail horse, but are looking at one with a lot of show experience, there is no "real" value to you- other than for future potential re-sale value.

Physical soundness of the horse can greatly affect the price. Again depending on your goals will affect the soundness of the horse. Are you basing soundness on the horse's physical history, x-rays (if so how in depth), etc.? Even if a horse has something show up on an x-ray, it might not matter or affect your goals for the horse. The appearance of a potential physical issue can affect price.

Also to consider is if you are buying the horse from a private party or from a "show barn" type facility. The private party will usually always offer a lower sale price than a barn that perhaps bases their prices depending on the reputation of other sale horses from their barn or has a high turnover of horses. There are certain barns that specialize in "sales prep" and solely focus on tuning up a horse for the sale market, rather than having a long history associated with the horse.

The current economy (or lack of) is a huge factor in today's horse market. Horses have depreciated due to our current financial crises and the now flooded horse market that has been affected by both the removal of slaughter laws and the "quick sale" or "free" horses offered by owners who no longer can afford to keep their horses.

Next is location, location, location. Horses that used to be worth $5000 are now advertised at $1500. The problem is, even if the sale price has been dropped, you need to watch what horses have been actually SOLD. You can have the same horse listed for sale in New England, Florida and Arizona and get three very different "values." If you take some time and look at local horse publications and skim the classifieds section you'll start to get an idea of how much horses are being offered at according to their age, experience, education, etc.

Then there's the emotional side of buying a horse. Many people wind up owning a horse because they "fell in love" with the horse or the idea of the horse they are trying out. This isn't always a practical decision with many people winding up with "too much horse" because they were "hopeful" the horse would eventually become something suitable for their needs, goals, etc. Someone who is emotionally basing their desires can usually justify spending more money on a horse than someone rationally deciding.

So you'll need to evaluate your priorities, goals, and current ability to decide what value you can put to this particular horse you are trying out and then decide FOR your needs what you can justify. Remember, as the buyer, you can ALWAYS walk away, and there are ALWAYS more horses out there.

The owner typically is emotionally basing their price on their horse- they're past efforts, training, showing, initial buying price, etc. and that is how they come up with the value they are offering their horse for sale. Even if you offer the owner a price that is rejected, leave your contact info and in many cases they'll contact you and sell the horse at a price closer to what you have the horse valued at in your mind.

Good Luck,

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