Saturday, February 20, 2010

Economics of Training

by Grainne Dhu

Comments were made on this blog that small trainers and dealers are
being squeezed out of the low end of the horse market by rescues. That
there is no profit in training a horse for pleasure/trail riding. Is
this true? And if it is true, is it a good or bad thing? Would a
change of recommendations away from "rescue a horse in danger" serve
any good purpose?

Cost and market value are often two different numbers. It may cost
more to produce a certain item than the market will pay for it, the
two numbers may be similar or it may cost markedly less to produce the
item than the market will pay. If you want examples of items in the
third category, walk into a Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is full of stuff that
costs much less to produce than the market value of the item. Is horse
training like that?

Well, let's see. Let's start with Jane Rider, who has the skills to
train a horse from untouchable to being a safe and steady ride on the
trail. The standard working week in the US is 40 hours, usually worked
in increments of 8 hours over 5 out of 7 days. Since horses need care
7 days a week, Jane's working hours should be no more than 5.7 hours a
day. Looks to me like Jane could work 6 horses a day (slightly less
than one hour per horse) if someone else does the grooming and cooling
out but that person doesn't work for free either! To keep this simple,
let's say that Jane does all care for the horses, so that means she
probably only has time to work 4 horses a day.

How much should Jane get paid for that? Well, someone who in engaged
in physical activity needs to eat more than a package of ramen a day.
They need health insurance because everyone needs health insurance and
because injuries are a predictable part of handling horses. She should
also have disability insurance, again because horses and injuries tend
to go together. She needs to be able to afford a vehicle because most
horses live in places without public transportation. She also needs to
be able to afford a place to live and enough money to live on
reasonably comfortably.

So, here's my (conservative) guesstimates as to the cost of all these
things. Nutritious food for one person for one month at $500. Health
insurance at $400. Disability insurance at $120. Vehicle payment,
$250. Rent or house payment on a one bedroom, $600. Utilities,
clothing, recreational expenses, $500. Sub total, $2,370 per month.
Taxes on all of that would run around 35%, so add $830 for a total of
$3200 per month.

Now, the horses also have expenses. They have to eat, they need to
have their hooves done, they need vet care. I'm arbitrarily going to
decide that stall board with part day turn out is $150 (feed
included), hooves $60 per farrier visit but since that is once every 8
weeks, the one month total is $30. Vet care, say one yearly visit for
routine care and one yearly visit to fix whatever stupid thing the
horse did for a total of $500 per year; divided into 12 months, that
is $40/month. Horse total is $220 per month.

Jane plus horse expenses total $3420 per month. Divided between the
four horses she can care for, that is $855 per horse.

Remember that goal of turning out a horse that is stable and safe to
trail ride? How long would it take Jane, who is a gifted rider, to
train a horse to do that?

Assuming that the horse comes to Jane halter trained and with adequate
ground manners but has never had a saddle on, has never been bridled
and has only a very vague idea of what "ho" means (he thinks it means
slow down slightly). I'll guesstimate that it takes Jane a week of
ground work to get this horse comfortable being saddled, bridled and
taught that "ho" means stop moving every single hoof. By the end of
the second week, Jane has taught him that weight on his back, having a
human swing around in different positions near and on top of him is
okay and that he really and truly will not fall over if he has to take
a step with a human weight on his back.

By the end of the third week, Jane has him walking under a rider with
the rudiments of turning and stopping. By the end of the fourth week,
Jane has him beginning to balance himself at a walk and through big

That's $855.

By the end of the fifth week, Jane has him trotting under saddle,
walking with good balance and able to do serpentines at a walk without
falling into the turns. By the end of the sixth week, Jane has him
cantering under saddle in big circles in both directions, trotting
with balance through serpentines and has done some riding with him at
a walk outside the arena, in a familiar area.

By the end of the seventh week, Jane has him working at w/t/c in both
directions and able to balance himself through turns. By the end of
the eighth week, Jane has him able to do a reasonably balanced halt
from a walk, a trot or a canter, able to do medium and large circles
at the trot and able to trot around outside the arena in a familiar

That's $1710.

In the ninth week, Jane focuses on working outside the arena. She
walks him in new places, but trots and canters only in familiar areas.
In the tenth week, Jane starts riding him in the company of other
horses and seeks out simple obstacles like shallow creeks or a steep
slope to help him figure out how to navigate.

In the eleventh and twelfth weeks, Jane seeks out new situations and
sets up simple challenges like walking across a tarp on the ground,
stepping across rails on the ground, etc.

That's $2565.

Now, let's say that Jane started out with a four year old, low end
grade horse that may have had one grandparent that was a registered
QH. Hard to say from looking at him. His head is a little coarse, his
neck is adequate, he could use more shoulder angle, he's a whisper
high in the rear. Legs clean all around. But he does have a cute
little diamond shaped snip on his nose and he's got a naturally calm
disposition, such that even when really startled, his most extreme
reaction is to raise his head and stop moving until he can see what is
going on. Before Jane put three months into him, he was worth maybe
$500 at auction (people can't resist the cute little snip).

Horse and cost of training, $3,065.

So what is this horse's market worth? Anyone want to venture a guess?

I suspect that the market value of training is not nearly as much as
the cost of it. The hypothetical horse above could, I believe, be
fairly described as green broke, suitable for an intermediate rider.
He needs more hours under saddle and lots more experience to be
appropriate for beginner riders, although he does naturally have the
right sort of temperament.

Now say there's someone, Sally Trailrider, who has $3000 to spend on a
new horse. She's heard that if she goes to auction, she can get a
Quarter horse, Thoroughbred or Arab, complete with papers, minimal
training but a nice prospect. Or she could go to Jane Rider and get
the hypothetical horse who may have been worth $500 at auction before
he got all that training.

Does Sally have the skills to put the training into an auction rescue?
Maybe but looking at horse prices, I suspect not. Unridden horses are
worth less than horses that can be ridden through the ring.
Unfortunately, the difference is only a couple hundred dollars. Over
and over, when people talk about what they want in a horse, they
describe a horse that is, above all, bombproof.

Maybe Sally will be lucky and the auction horse turns out to be a well
trained horse that slipped through the cracks for some reason. The
auction horse will almost certainly fill the eye better than the
hypothetical low end grade horse, cute snip or not.

Does Sally really need a horse with good conformation? She rides 3
times a week, rarely more than an hour at a time and does very little
trotting or cantering. What she really enjoys is walking along out in
nature enjoying time away from the rest of her life with her horse.
She's highly unlikely to ever do anything high impact, so the
hypothetical horse's lack of shoulder angulation and whisper high rear
are not likely to impede his soundness.

Are people looking for the wrong qualities in their horses?


  1. The photo is of a grey Percheron for the draft fans.

  2. Here, here, Grainne Dhu! If you continue out your projections, a bombproof, dead-broke horse would cost more than Sally could afford because putting time into a horse takes just that: time. Excellent post!

  3. great post, GD! I will go now and re-read it. So much to take in. Thank you for sharing this.
    btw, I thought this was a Perch/Andy cross, bhm.
    Stunning guy.

  4. Coles Notes version.
    Good Horses are bleedin' expensive.

    Beautiful beastie!

    Great Post, GD!

  5. Oh, I just saw this, and thanks, but..
    "you will be rewarded for your kind heart.".

    yeah, well, tell that to my bank account.
    Horses kept putting me deeper into the poor. I still have animals that make vets widen their eyes in surprise, but they are dogs, the vet bill doesn't kill me.

    This will sound horrible, but here goes. Neighbours of mine, now moved away, had a several daughters who were horse crazy. They knew nothing about horses, I mean zero. Not much about animals, except how to tease them. They had cats and rabbits and chickens..(coyotes/'coons had a field day) anyway...

    They were all surprised when I strongly recommended that they NOT get a horse. They wanted to keep it in their back yard of five acres. Why isn't basic zoology taught in schools?
    Horses are a HERD animal.
    Anyway, years later, and I read on another forum, with sadness, girl brought her horse home (to her back-yard) and was all surprised when the horse broke out and hurt itself. (It had been kept with 20 other horses before!)
    Surprise, surprise?? jeeeesh.

    That's what scares me the most, the romance of buying/owning one, and the harsh reality of keeping one, are two entirely different things.
    Just how many buy with not another thought than the thrill of the rescue?
    and end up getting hurt...

  6. The sad thing is that you can never be paid back for time, training, grooming, feeding, vet, etc. In this day and age, you sell the horse for what you can, not what you should be paid.

  7. Great post GD. Can you do my budget? (Okay, maybe not, I think I don't want to know...).
    I am one of those folks singularly unimpressed by a "show record." A show record often indicates to me crazy, unsound, prima donna, injure itself if you look at them cross-wised sorta horse. A good trail horse is worth their weight in gold, even if their conformation isn't to die for.
    Although I do want the Percheron!

  8. Paddy,
    It's a Percheron with it's mane grown out.

  9. Prairie Farmer, here's another hand raised to a sensible trail horse!
    There area few WBs and OTTBs at the local barn where I ride and they are not taken on the nearby trails. Their owners admit they will go nutso if they try, and a few have had injuries to prove it. Their time under saddle is now within the confines of the arena fence/wall.
    I spent most of my youth riding my horse on quiet section roads and wooded trails with friends, for hours on end, with an occasional schooling in the outdoor arena. To this day, even though I enjoy my lessons on a friend's horse, I get restless, and yearn for a ride in open space. I treat myself to a trail ride in the mountains at an outfitter's east of Seattle once in awhile. I love riding through the small canyons, across streams and wondering if we'll sight a cougar or a black bear, for the horse's scent masks the human's and we can see wildlife up close. The reward is getting to the top of the mountain, from which you can see for miles around.

  10. Well said GD, the truth of the matter is the "ugly ducklings" of the industry ,if sound and sensible ,should be worth their weight in gold . Pretty doesn't always equal smart ,nice when it does but...
    And a Safe trail horse is a safe anywhere horse,what would I rather ride, a spanky show horse who has never seen the outside of an arena ,or a settled thinking pony who is comfortable with sudden noises and wildlife?
    In a perfect world I could have both in one ,but what would that be worth in today's market?

  11. PF,
    In this area it's large boarding barns full of WBs and TBs. I know one or two TBs that can handle a trail of some sort, but most can't handle the outside of an arena. It is why I love drafts, you can do disciplines with them and they make great trail horses.

  12. I agree with GD. I think most people are taught to want a sports horse and to tolerate nuttiness from horses. In reality, what they need is a good trail horse that can also do sports.

  13. Hmmm. Maybe that's exactly what I need to build my confidence level up with, a good level headed percheron. All I want to do is trail ride anyway. LoL


  14. bhm, that Percheron picture made my heart skip! What a gorgeous horse.

    I grew up riding OTTBs. There was no question in our minds, our horses went on the trails with us and we showed. We were a fairly successful stable at shows, too.

    I do know now, though, that there is no way that barn owner could have stayed in business without the horse mad teenage girls who schooled his horses for free. He typically bought them for just over the KB's price, then had us girls put 6-12 months of training into them. Since we worked for free, he only had the actual horse expenses as overhead.

  15. I grew up riding TBs on trails (and am still doing it now) so gotta put a good word in for OTTBs. My prejuidice, I know, but I tend to think horses that are only schooled round, and round, and round in an arena and then put in a small stall or paddock tend to go nuts. Some more than others.
    OTTBs can be great on trails, they just tend to get you where ya going a bit faster than some other breeds! LOL!
    My grandfather also used to pack into the mountains using OTTBs as well.

  16. I've met some OTTBs that made great trail horses and beginner horses. You have to put the time into them to get them there.

    I did the free training went I was a teen too.

  17. Waaay back when in the 1960's and early '70's I knew a few OTTB's who where in training to become 3 day eventers. The first step was to turn them out in the round or run down barn (a great big inclosed round shed.) The horses would run like mad for the first few weeks. After about six weeks of hand walking and being given a daily run in the round barn, the horse would be introduced to the outside would in the form of turn out time. Yes, ground manners would be worked on at this time, but no riding or lungeing. The idea was to get the horse fat dumb and happy. After at least 6 months of the turn out/ ground manners treatment, (By now you generally have had the horse 9 months) you could start out as if you had an unbroken horse. You would pretend the horse had never had a saddle or bridle on, had never been backed, because in a very real sense, the horse had never had these things done to them. All the hoping to get a good event horse. Of course most of the OTTB's were not from rescues, claiming races or auctions. Their owner and trainer made the decision that the horse wasn't going to be the next stakes winner and knew of people who were looking for a good eventer. The horse was sound with no vices and a good mind.
    I don't see anyone talking about that kind of retraining for most of the OTTBS I've heard of.

  18. bhm said...
    You can ride drafts saddle seat. Also, ask CCC about here grey Percheron, Buck. He's adorable.

    You raised a good point about Fugs not understanding disciplines like saddle seat. I tried to address this by writing about saddle seat. Of course, it's from a layman's perspective so I'd appreciate your input. If you want to contribute by writing about saddle seat I would greatly appreciate it. Feel free to correct my errors.

    FEBRUARY 20, 2010 8:13 AM
    CharlesCityCat said...

    I love my big ole draftie Buck. He is a full Perch grey gelding. I call him Big Un. He is very smart and so loveable but quite lazy.

    He was in a bit of a precarious situation about 2.5 years ago but through fate, he was given to me. He is mainly a pasture mate to my old show hunter Spunky who is 28 now, and they are the bestest of buds. It is too funny watching them groom each other, Buck is 17.2 and goes about 1800-1900 lbs and Spunky is 15.3 and is about 1100 lbs, it is one of the cutest things ever.

    He has done many things, including low level eventing. Even though he is really large, he is very easy to work with because he knows I mean what I say, but, I could see that he could be pushy with someone he doesn't respect.

    He is quite fun to ride, even though it is a long way down, he is so wide, that it would take alot for me to fall off. LOL!

    **Drafties and Hounddogs RULE**

    FEBRUARY 20, 2010 11:59 AM

  19. Fug's has featured an anonymous blog. Interesting, as it is bitter and full of hate, things that go right up her ally. Not only are they hateful and really need to stop working with newbies if they can't stand them, they're also someone who thinks only good tack should cost lots of money. Maybe fugs can mooch off them next time?

  20. Maybe half the OTTBs the barn owner bought were lame. The other half were just not fast enough to be worth hauling to the next meet. He did pick up one stallion cheap because the stallion had learned to go through the rail to get rid of riders.

    The ones that were sound, we started riding the day after they arrived. There's a reason I loved my Stubben (should have an umlaut over the "u") saddle for "schooling" greenies! I preferred my Passier for feel but nothing beat that Stubben for getting on the back of a newly ex-racehorse.

    Within three months, we had a good idea as to whether they would be useful over fences or not.

    We didn't longe before we rode or turn them out to run, either. The barn owner had a theory that if you get a horse used to being longed or turned out before riding, you will always have to do it. I think he was right but there were sure some "interesting" times in those first few weeks with a new horse!

    Nowadays, I don't think a barn owner could get away with the level of risks we were exposed to. Liability is much more of an issue these days. But I cannot deny that it taught us to stick like burrs!

  21. Does anyone know fugs were abouts? The police and our attorney want to know. Thanks!

  22. Her horse Hercules is at Crystal's barn so Crystal should be able to give you an address.

  23. Sorry, not Hercules but BYC is at Crystal's. Crystal's website is somewhere in the past comments.

  24. My grandfather had an OTTB gelding he had picked up from the track because he refused to take a bit. Gramps rode him in a hackmore and used him as all-around ranch horse (like all his horses) but also would bring him out at the posse meetings for the "horse race" event. This horse was famous for walking up to the starting line, standing like he was asleep, taking off at the bell, winning, and then calmly transitioning right back to a walk.
    As my Dad said when my mare was rather "high" when I first got her, "Well, you need to RIDE that horse." Unfortunately, most of us, myself included, don't have the time the horses could really use - as in every day for a goodly part of it!

  25. Thanks GD lots to think about as I have found a trainer for my OTTB. I gave her 2 years to detox just trail rides and we went beach camping last summer Now she will learn the basics of dressage just to be a better forever horse.

    shatormar do tell.... Is she finally going to get a taste of the real world and how she cant be the queen beotch??

  26. Paddy - what outfitter do you ride with? I ride with Dalton Sharpes/Stillwater out of Sultan whenever I've just got to have a "sane" trailhorse ride.

  27. Cedar Hill Training Center: 14425 123rd Ave. SE Yelm, WA 98597 shatormar check her twitter I think she is here this weekend and good luck

  28. Whoa... I'm getting a 403 forbidden error when I click on fugs blog, anyone else having trouble going on there?

  29. BHM, I've been down a couple of days with a mild flare up of lupus. Which is one reason I'm interested in drafties.I'd like to learn how to drive them. I figure I can drive even when my knees are to swollen and stiff to ride or when I start getting to cautious to balance on a horse.

    I also just think that drafties are some of the most beautiful creatures on this ol' earth. I'm lucky my lupus flare ups are few and far between and mostly confined to stiff joints for a few days.

    I got the same forbidden error when I clicked on Fugs blog. I don't believe that she has singled out writers on this blog. As I said you might get an IP addres that lists you as Perdue University, or even as Perdue University Department of Physics computer lab, but not to a specific computer or to a specific user. Every time we restart our modem we get a new IP address. So our IP address is fixed so long as we don't restart our modem. Ain't information science grand? Last year, I was PAID to see if I could get computers to recognize jokes.

  30. shatormar- have them contact Horse Illustrated
    and leave her a message!!!!!

  31. Computer literate I am not, but the explanation on 403 Forbidden, it's likely fugly was working on something and messed up the IPS code. I think I remember it happening once before.

  32. I checked with technical support, and they said it was most likely because the web site was taken down. Now who took it down is a matter of speculation. Fugs herself could have done it. Or someone digging could have cut the cable. Or the IP provider decided to take it down for a variety of non hostile reasons, a domain name dispute for instance. But the website itself is down.

  33. various 403.- codes
    403 Substatus Error Codes for IIS

    * 403.1 - Execute access forbidden.
    * 403.2 - Read access forbidden.
    * 403.3 - Write access forbidden.
    * 403.4 - SSL required.
    * 403.5 - SSL 128 required.
    * 403.6 - IP address rejected.
    * 403.7 - Client certificate required.
    * 403.8 - Site access denied.
    * 403.9 - Too many users.
    * 403.10 - Invalid configuration.
    * 403.11 - Password change.
    * 403.12 - Mapper denied access.
    * 403.13 - Client certificate revoked.
    * 403.14 - Directory listing denied.
    * 403.15 - Client Access Licenses exceeded.
    * 403.16 - Client certificate is untrusted or invalid.
    * 403.17 - Client certificate has expired or is not yet valid.


  34. It appears she has a 403.2 Hmmmmmm, curiouser and curiouser. Anyone checked her twitter? I wonder what's going on.

  35. OK, off-topic, but kind of on-topic since it relates to the conversation about the worth of a heart-of-gold, not-perfect horse.

    I rode today, and it was great. My so not-perfect, so big-hearted horse made the experience awesome. He was bending and coming onto the bit nicely, and he is starting to get more sensitive to leg pressure as we work on the concept on the ground and then try to translate it into the saddle. He did some beautiful leg yields (for him!). He was pretty dead-sided after a few years in a lesson program, so that's a major step forward for us.

    Everyone else in the arena was cheering because we even cantered, something I became afraid of doing after dealing with my previous trainwreck of a horse. What a great ride! Afterward, I untacked him and let him roll, and he got up and threw a big buck and farted. Literally. I think this is the first time he has really felt awesome after one of our rides, because of some ongoing mild lameness issues. I just about cried to see him going to town like that.

    I paid under $1,000 for my cow-hocked, not-perfect-to-look-at gelding, but his worth to me is priceless, as cliche as that sounds. I would take him over a conformationally perfect horse any day.

    OK, back to our regularly scheduled program: what the heck happened to Fugly's blog?!? :-)

  36. Doesn't look like her Twitter page has been updated since Feb, 18th.

  37. That's wonderful news, HLS!

  38. hls , Yay for you!!! your "cow-hocked, not-perfect-to-look-at gelding"
    Sounds perfect to me what a good boy!(sounds like he knows it too)

  39. Local eventer, Amy Tyron, bought her TB eventer, Poggio II, during his trail horse days. She got him as a five year old when he'd been used under western saddle in the mountains.

  40. Darcy Jayne, I've ridden with Gary at Tiger Mountain Outfitters, just east of Issaquah. He takes you up to Poo Poo Point the bald spot on the mountain where the hang gliders take off. Gary was the wrangler for the tv show Northern Exposure. He's also an ex-bull rider. He has some really nice horses.
    I'll have to check out this Sultan place! maybe we should ride together some day!

  41. hls, he sounds like a gem! He reminds me of beloved little bay gelding who did't have anywhere- near-perfect confo either, but he had a huge heart and never had a lame day in all the years I had him. He had the endurance for all day trail rides, jumped bravely over anything, pulled a person on skis, and rode both western and h/j. To this day, I don't t hink I'll ever meet another horse like him. What a sweet, plucky little soul he was. I miss him so much.

  42. Dang, her blog's back up. *Sighs*

  43. PrairieFarmer wrote: Unfortunately, most of us, myself included, don't have the time the horses could really use - as in every day for a goodly part of it!

    And that is exactly why I have reservations about the whole advocating rescuing horses from auction thing.

    I don't think you are unique in not really having a lot of time for your horses every single day. Or for, perhaps, having a little less bounceback than you had when you were 16.

    I think it would make a lot more sense to encourage most people to look for training first rather than conformation or potential. Don't look to be rescuing the diamond in the rough from an auction that "just" needs another six months under saddle to be stellar, unless you have that time and skills to give them that six months.

    Really, considering most people's needs, there should be more advocacy of "save a horse trainer, buy a trained horse!"

  44. Paddy - Dalton runs almost all gaited horses and takes you up into the foothills above Sultan. Two or three hours, with a stop for lunch (which they provide).

  45. GD - Totally agree with you. When I first "came back" to horses about a year ago now after about 15 years away and started looking for a horse I could ride, I was originally being sucked in by one of the "going on the truck in 12 hours!" rescues. It was hard not to sign up for one of those. It was actually how I found FHOTD, I googled about the rescue (it was CBER!) and found all her stuff. Then I looked at some more reputable rescues. But, to be honest, I just was too nervous about taking on an "unknown." I knew I couldn't deal with any major issues. With the amount of years I had been away AND the fact that I knew I would have little my girls running around (even when I told them to not be!) and would like to ride with them as well. Just couldn't take the chance.
    The mare I ended up with, while she has her issues, has been very good in the fact that she is VERY safe and sane in regards to ground manners and all that. She doesn't buck, kick, bite, bolt, she "spooks in place", she doesn't do anything real bad except get "high" when I trail ride her by herself and we head home (we are working on this!). I trust her around my kids (within reason of course) to not flip out at some little thing.
    BTW, my "ultimate" goal would be to ride 3x a week. Right now I've been at a pretty steady 1x a week. Amazingly enough, just that little amount is really helping to bring her into better shape (and me too!) and it is amazing how much improvement on little issues I see from week to week in both of us. More would be great, but... But another reason I got her, was with her age (20) and former bow, the vet actually said that a life of leisurely 1 or 2x rides a week would be just perfect for her. So far she has been totally sound so I think we are doing a-okay.

  46. ""save a horse trainer, buy a trained horse!"".

    Now THAT's a bumper sticker.

  47. I used to love to buy horses out of loose sales, spend time on them and resell them. I only ever paid a few hundred dollars for those horses and almost always had them resold within 12 months for between $3,000-$3,500.

    Although I believe that I purchased nice enough horses conformationally and always made sure they had just enough chrome or color to catch people's eye, my number one priority was always finding those individuals who were ultimately going to be nice, steady family type horses.

    I preferred horses who were already started, but since I was buying them loose, determining that was a gamble. I was totally wrong one time but because he was a good looking Appy with a full mane and tale, he still proved to be a useful trade horse. That is how I ended up with my daughter's little roan/overo show horse. He was supposed to be a re-sale horse too, but once he and the kiddo clicked...

    I gave up trying to resell horses right before the economy tanked. The last one I bought was a good looking TB. He was an exceptionally nice horse, but ended up growing to be 17HH and people who like a nice all-around, trail riding horse just don't want them that tall. He's the only one I think I can ever say I lost money on. I ended up reducing his price to $2,000 because a little 4-H girl who rode english was interested in him. He got a fabulous home, but it was obvious the market was changing.

    People would come to look at what I had for sale, but they spent more time telling me how they could buy a nice "prospect" for $1,500. Well good...go buy it. I invested time and care into my horses and if people could not recognize that...they didn't deserve to own one of my horses. Every one of my horses was easy to catch, had good ground manners, tied nicely, was good to trim or shoe, rode out without needing lunged and you could take them anywhere. They had all participated in at least a few horse shows and/or playdays. And they were all horses in their prime-5-8yrs old.

    I'm pretty sure that when I bought them all for those few hundred dollars, that at some point they had already been someone else's $1,500 "prospect"-LOL.

    So at the risk of sounding a bit bitter, it certainly hasn't been for a shortage of decent horses out there that could very easily become super, duper safe family horses...there sure is a shortage of people willing to pay for the right to own one. I certainly don't think $3000-$3500 is an exhorbanant price to pay for a good steady horse, but I sure got tired of getting beat up by the buyers.

  48. I certainly don't think 3000-3500 is an exhorbanant price to pay for a good steady horse, but I sure got tired of getting beat up by the buyers.

    Yet, from the buyers viewpoint, that's still asking a lot of money for the horse. You can find well broke horses for way less than that, and when I was looking to buy, I would easily pass over ads asking that much. Add to the cost of the tack you've got to buy to match the horse, price really does factor in what people are willing to pay compared to what they just cannot afford to pay. That also is something that gets newbies injured as well, because they are far more willing to spend sensible money on a horse that's been misrepresented than one that costs out the rear.

  49. Something I learned outside of horses: going cheap on equipment always costs more in the long run. For this discussion, a horse counts as equipment. Sure, there are bargains out there, but unless you're very lucky, you take a huge risk when you go with a bargain.

    I'm as close today as I've ever been to owning a horse - I have a 1/2 lease on a TWH. His owner paid $2000 for him a couple of years ago as a "trained trail horse". Yeah, right. He's barn sour, clumsy, and spooks at wind and water. But, seven months after I started with him, he's getting better. I'm green, so I'm having to feel my way through things; and we had frequent setbacks because he needed shoes but his owner was hesitant to shoe him (that's just been resolved - he has shoes).

    Given my experience with him, if I decide to go looking for a horse to buy I'll start by saving up the local going rate for a horse like BEC described: grown-up, thoroughly trained and known to be suitable for what I want to do.

  50. Thanks for the well wishes, guys. It was a great day, and I needed to share it with people who understand that thrill you get when the ride is really clicking.

    Anyway, you can get lucky, like I did, and find a horse that's really, really cheap and really, really broke. It happens. It took a while, but I found my guy. I did it with the help of my trainer/instructor. She's a gem, and she was absolutely militant about what we were looking for--a horse that was quiet with a good mind and a great work ethic. We're retraining my gelding from a different discipline, but the basics are there, as is the mind. And that's what my trainer stressed first was the mind and the trustworthiness.

    If you cheap out, you're going to get what you pay for, and that's not going to be much fun. As a former trainer of mine once said, the cheapest part of owning a horse is buying it. Everything that comes after is going to cost a heck of a lot more, and if you don't spend the money up front when you buy, you're going to spend it later in either lessons/additional training or in buying a second horse that's more suitable for what you need.

    The problem is, I think a lot of beginners have a hard time figuring out who to trust, so they try to go it alone. I know two women at the barn where I'm currently boarding who are unhappy with their horses--and it's not the "darn it, we're having a bad day" kind of unhappy. It's the long-term "this horse is the wrong one for me" kind of unhappy. Both are thinking of selling and getting something different, but neither of them are working with a good instructor or looking to others for help! It makes me worry for them because that's how they ended up where they are now.

    Getting competent, trustworthy help is essential, I think, when you're an adult re-rider who's buying. A good instructor/trainer will see the value in a well-trained, quiet horse, and they will advocate you buy the one that fits best for you.

    So that's the other side of this equation: beginners and adult re-riders need to have a way to connect with the best teachers. USEF affiliations, Pony Club experience/affiliations, and the like are good starts in this realm, although I do wish there was a meaningful and less expensive certification program in this country, one that came with strong code of ethics that was enforced through sanctions and other disciplinary action. That would help riders find and choose the best help they can afford. And it would have the added benefit of supporting the best trainers, no matter their discipline or their chosen breed.

  51. BEC said "I certainly don't think $3000-$3500 is an exhorbanant price to pay for a good steady horse" neither do I. One fall can cost way more than $3000.00.
    A girl new to the stable I ride at (I just met her on Saturday) had a fall from a horse that resulted in two broken ankles and a broken wrist. She is trying to get her courage up. The horse she had been riding previously was a beautiful ex show horse saddlebred. Hadn't been out of the show ring all that often, recently "demoted" to an academy horse. the girl's trainer was trying to kill two birds with one stone. Get the new horse out of the ring and give the girl a challenge. Horse saw a flock of quail start under her feet and whirled and ran for home. Some where along the line the new girl fell off breaking both ankles and her wrist. Now she is terrified. She is full of courage and trying. But everytime our old school master flicks an ear, she gets tense.
    I know the new girls injuries cost way more than $3000.00. And starting over riding to build confidence is a good thing, but it too is a cost.

  52. It's true that there are massive number of very nice horses available at this time for super cheap prices and there isn't much that can be done about it...the economic situation coupled with the over-abundance of's just going to take time for that to rectify itself.

    Like phraeda said earlier, it's unlikely that a person will ever make back on a horse all of the time invested in them, but not everyone has the time or knowledge these days to turn out nice, dependable horses so if that is what someone wants, there is a need to make it somewhat worth that person's while.

    It was never my intention to make a living turning horses, it was a hobby...more like a passion. I love my horses too much to make a business out of them. Been there, tried wasn't for me. I was an early washout in the professional field. But I always figured that it was worth it to reinvest what I could and had the time to do back into a deserving horse here and there.

    My daughter wants to be a horse trainer. I'm okay with that. She is a good and knowledgeable little rider. I do expect her to do a 2yr equestrian program(mostly for the classroom education) and then we will fix her up with a repuatable trainer in whatever area she thinks she wants to focus on. There is absolutely no harm in it and if she decides a few years down the road that she wants to do something else for a living and still keep the horses...that's fine too.

  53. ARRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHH!!! I just realised I made a simple error of addition.

    Each horse costs $220/month to house, feed and care for. So each horse's total is $800 in training costs plus $220 in care for a total of $1.020.

    For three months, that would be a total of $3,060.

  54. Brown Eyed Cowgirl wrote: I only ever paid a few hundred dollars for those horses and almost always had them resold within 12 months for between $3,000-$3,500.

    How much did you value your time at, BEC? Because at $3500, that works out to $300 a month which would include both your time as trainer plus feed, housing, farrier and vet.

    I suspect that you were "not losing money" because you were doing it for love. You didn't put $3500 of cash into that horse but you didn't value your time or overhead costs, either.

    A different example from my own life: I am a hand knitter and I make hand knitted socks as presents. They're pretty and they are almost invariably the most comfy socks the recipients have ever worn. People often tell me "you could make money at this!" without stopping to think that no one is going to be willing to spend $220+ for a single pair of socks (ankle high, not knee high or higher!).

    And yet, if I were to start making socks, that is what it would cost me. I can only knit so fast and I can only knit so many hours a day. People who do make money hand knitting are willing to price their labour at literally pennies per hour and are willing to live without things like health or disability insurance. Considering that knitters are at high risk for repetitive stress injuries, that's not the smartest decision a person could make.

    I'm willing to make socks as an act of love for the people I give them to. But believe me, they could not afford to pay me to make them socks.

    In your case, I'm guessing that you love to ride, you love to work with horses and this was a way for you to keep a steady flow of new challenges coming. I strongly doubt you were relying on horse sales to make your living because the numbers just don't work out.

  55. That is truly the way it goes GD, fabulous post! A prospect doesn't do you much good if you don't have the skills to train them, and an auction prospect can have some horrendous problems to undo. I've noticed a lot of trainers are quitting the business because they are not getting a nice green horse to start, they're getting a nut case that may never really become trustworthy, and trying to train the owner to the point that they'll survive! It can be disheartening...

  56. I think the problem lies in most people don't realize that they want an easy going, safe horse. I think that there needs to be more articles on this in horse magazines.

    $3600.00 is very inexpensive for a horse.

  57. "$3600.00 is very inexpensive for a horse"

    That's easy for people to say when they're the ones selling them for that, then turning around and stating that it's just a hobby, they aren't making a career out of it. I feel sorry for people who are new to horses having to spend way far more than they should for a safe dependable mount.

  58. Anon,
    I mean from a buyer's perspective $3600.00 isn't expensive.

  59. $3600 is a lot of money, or not, depending! One thing I don't like, however, is the idea that a person has to be "independently wealthy" to own horses. I don't think that is the case. You need to be secure, for sure, BUT...I think somebody who has plenty of good pasture space and a rudimentary shelter, combined with adequate farrier and vet care can provide just as wonderful a home to a horse (or two) as somebody with a fancy barn, white board fenced paddocks, lots of pretty new blankets and all the gadgets. My personal opinion is that a lot of horse owners seem to get all caught up in the "bling" of horse ownership and tend to forget the #1 thing that would ensure a healthy horse - PLENTY OF PASTURE!
    On the money thing, however, as a small local farmer, I'm always preaching about "you get what you pay for" with food and that our cheap food prices don't reflect the other costs to our society. Kinda the same thing with horses isn't it? (Hangs head in shame, got my mare for $500...).

  60. GD & Anon-See this is where things can start going round and round and specifically why a lot of people have lost their ass in the horse "business"...trying to boil it down to dollars and cents. And I mean absolutely no offense by that. But, in will NEVER, EVER recoupe every hour invested.

    Horses are a hobby for some, a side-line income for others, a business for others. They are like a highly volatile stock option...and they are a lousy investment.

    Every so often people need reminded of that and this is one of those times.

    The nuts and bolts of the entire equestrian industry is that at some point every horse will end up with someone who is not seeking to profit from him, but will rather reinvest their disposable income into the industry with no thought of ever recouping those costs.

  61. "Anon, I mean from a buyer's perspective, $3600.00 isn't expensive."

    Uh, yes it is. I'm a buyer currently, have been since before the market crashed, and the reason I am still looking is because either people misrepresent what they have, asking insane amounts of money for the animal, or, they are asking insane amounts of money for an animal. I have the money for their care, I have my own place, good fence, a barn. I have the money to buy a reasonable priced horse, if I wanted to spend 3600, I'd buy a used car.

  62. Brown Eyed Cowgirl wrote: GD & Anon-See this is where things can start going round and round and specifically why a lot of people have lost their ass in the horse "business"...trying to boil it down to dollars and cents. And I mean absolutely no offense by that. But, in will NEVER, EVER recoupe every hour invested.

    The real question to me is this: what percentage of the population of riders are those who have the skills to train a horse to a reasonable standard of safety?

    Right now, the way that horses are priced suggests that a high percentage of the population of riders has those skills. The horse itself is generally worth more than the training that goes into them.

    But does this reflect reality? I honestly don't think so. Look at the number of people who would never dream of starting their own horse. Look at the number of people who say things like "i am still trying to get my confidence back after a fall X years ago."

    I also question that there are huge numbers of well broke horses available via auction. For every person who picks up a sound packer of a horse under 20 years of age, there are a whole bunch who thought that is what they were buying and when they got it home, surprise! It turns out not to be sound, not to be a packer or not to be under 20 years of age.

    I'm trying to suggest that a wise investment of money on the part of the vast majority of buyers would be to go to a trainer and pay for less horse that is better trained than they could get at auction.

    And that by doing so, they are likely to enjoy riding, build a bond with the horse and not contribute to the market in dumped horses.

  63. Anonymous wrote: I have the money to buy a reasonable priced horse, if I wanted to spend 3600, I'd buy a used car.

    Anonymous, if you feel a horse is fungible with a used car, I'm very serious: buy the used car. You are likely to be happier in the long run with your purchase.

    I don't mean that to sound as snotty as it came out--I just don't know how to say it in a more tactful manner.

    Wanting a well trained horse without being willing to pay for it means you are looking for someone who is willing to subsidise you, just as BEC was subsidising her buyers for the pleasure of the job itself. You may well be able to find such a seller or such a horse.

    But the big drawbacks on a market sized scale to relying on such subsidies of labour is that it depends on large numbers of people having the resources available to contribute. When the economy takes a nosedive, when free time becomes less available, when prices go up due to drought or whatever, then the number of people willing to volunteer their labour falls.

  64. I just making the point that if I was going to spend that much money, I'd spend it on something where the 3600 was actually worth it. Just like in breeding, you're never going to recoup your costs on the horse. Just because you're training the horse, is that the only reason you're feeding it? No. Then there's no point in trying to recoup that feed. Same for board, if you own the place you're training at, then why put the price of the horses board into the price when you sell it?

  65. Anon,,
    I don't get the "spend that much money" comment. $3600.00 is an extremely low price.

  66. Anon...I'm not sure what point you are trying to make either?

    For someone to say that they already have the set up and actually want a horse in this market and can't find one?

    What are you looking for?

    Just a couple of months ago, I watched Youth World Champion/Congress Champion halter gelding barely eek out a $1,000 bid. An absolutely stunning 3y/o-well started filly with tons of potential and immediate family members to prove it couldn't even get to $700. A smashing, bred in the royal paint BS filly, with the neatest blaze, flaxen mane and tail and 4 stocking legs brought $50. About a dozen seasoned mountain trail/pack horses sold-the highest priced one was $300.

    I myself almost had an NFR quality barrel horse bought for $5,000. He sold a few years ago for $40,000. At the last minute the owner decided she could not part with him, but if she changes her mind again, I got first dibs. She wants me to have him back because we raised him.

    If stock horses aren't you thing, I bet people on here could give you just as extensive a list of multiple other breeds and horses suited for other disciplines.

    It really isn't that difficult to find a suitable horse if you are actually looking...and you would probably still have enough left over for that used car.

  67. I meant...
    ...trying to say either?

    Not trying to make?

    De fingers...not working so good-LOL

  68. bhm. No. It is not a low price. 3600 bucks is a considerable price to pay, if I was going to spend that, I'd spend it on something bigger than a horse.

    browneyedcowgirls I'm looking for something that I can trail ride with that has a good mind and heart. I am sick and damn tired of people asking insane amounts of money for their well broke horse that turns out to be a pyscho. I'm sick and tired of seeing my friends handed over perfectly broke horses for free and hearing them brag on it. I'm just sick of the whole mess. I don't do barrels, I don't show, I don't do anything but trail ride, and my one horse that I can ride is getting up in age. And I didn't pay 3600 for her nearly 20 years ago, and she's a great horse.

  69. Honest buyers and honest sellers are few and far between. What I mean is ,how often do we as a seller hear ,"oh green broke Is all I need " when we see the person ride it is a bloddy trainwreck!,And there are sellers that are willing to dump a batshit crazy lunatard on the unsuspecting public for cheap ,and or not so cheap .It is I believe those types that cloud the industry and help tank the market .To me A $ is a good investment if it is what I need it to be .Just like a $3600 used car is possibly(around here likely) a heap of crap and not dependable, as a $500.00 horse can be as well .You get what you pay for.Yes there are the "deal of the century "horses out there ,but they are rare.
    no idea if I made any sense there but...

  70. Well someone hand me 3600, I need a horse! LMAO KIDDING! :)

    I paid twenty five hundred bucks for a paint gelding that was supposed to be a been there/done that type of horse. He had been to Christian children's camp, rode the blind on trails for a neighboring B&B, just a steady eddie confidence builder. Plus the fact, he was big boned, perfect for me because I'm a big girl. Well, this dead broke, been there/done that was crazier than a shithouse rat on payday. Man, oh man. He reared up and struck my best friend in the belly when all she was trying to do was lunge him. After two years of having him up for sale, I finally got him sold for eight hundred dollars and boy was I glad to be rid of him.

    THEN, A friend of mine said she had the perfect horse for me, but he was too big for her. I won't go into details, but long story short, I bought a little guy for her, we traded and that horse was just horrible. I was sick with disappointment and thankfully, the woman and I shared a mutal friend, so that horse went to the mutual friend, and she is now looking for me something. I've had to shoot down many horses she's shown me (She's going in the price range of the little horse that I bought, instead of the value of the horse I gave her) because they were too thin, too fine boned and what not.

    I want a horse to build my confidence on, I got hurt bad, but I think I am finally at the point where I throw in the towel. I already have two horses I can't ride. (The one who hurt me, who is now tickling thirty, and her daughter, who is greenbroke at best). I'm not a trainer, but I sure wish I was. Oh to have that confidence and knowledge.

    Long story short, sorry if this is confusing, and very long, but I love you guys who know what you're doing and if you have a horse you can ride, please, take a good long ride for me if you can.


  71. fernvalley01 wrote: Honest buyers and honest sellers are few and far between. What I mean is ,how often do we as a seller hear ,"oh green broke Is all I need " when we see the person ride it is a bloddy trainwreck!,And there are sellers that are willing to dump a batshit crazy lunatard on the unsuspecting public for cheap ,and or not so cheap .It is I believe those types that cloud the industry and help tank the market.

    fernvalley, exactly!

    I believe that for the vast majority of riders, conformation beyond what is good enough to stay sound with light work should be less of a priority than an honestly well trained horse that won't hurt them.

    And yet, when I look at the market, what I see is that a really well trained fugly is worth less than a flashy green broke horse with good conformation.

    While it always nice to luck into a bargain, in something like a horse that can carry a nontrivial amount of risk, I think it is shortsighted to hope to find a horse from someone who trained for the love of it and does not expect to receive a fair price for their labour.

    At the very least, if you find a seller like that, don't hassle them over the price!

  72. Retraining a horse from one discipline to another can be an economical way to find that been-there, done-that horse; but again, you save at the outset (initial cost of horse) and end up spending the same amount with lessons or training.

    That's what I'm doing with my wonderful gelding. He was in a jumping lesson program, and he was not holding up sound under the workload. The seller was looking for a flat-only situation for him. I enjoy dressage and trail riding, so he was a great fit for me. He's had a lot of riding hours, and he knows enough to make the retraining easy enough that I can do it myself, under the direction and care of my trainer/instructor.

    Either way, though, I'm spending that $3,600. It's just a matter of when and how I spend it. I'm actually glad to put the money into my trainer's pocket, so this situation work for me.

  73. An additional thought: It seems to me that I run into a lot of people who complain about having to take lessons at all. They get a horse, and they expect that they'll be able to ride this horse without any assistance whatsoever. So they bumble along, and the horse starts to develop some resistances and maybe some ugly behavior, etc. Slowly riding becomes less and less fun.

    I guess when I got back into horses, I realized that it's a dangerous enough sport that I would always figure the cost of lessons--either regular or occasional--into my budget. I'm not saying I'm some paragon of virtue, either, but just that I'm realistic about my relationship to my horse(s). I'm only able to ride three-four times a week, not every day. I'm not a great rider, although I try hard. So it stands to reason that I'm going to need someone to help me with my habits and skills.

    Plus, I'll be honest, I love the one-on-one attention from my trainer! My lessons are a wonderful highlight in my routine, but that's just me. Does that make me an attention whore? ;-)

    I've known a lot of people who didn't take lessons, not because they couldn't afford them (which I totally understand) but because they felt that now that they had the horse, why did they need the lessons? I don't understand that thinking at all, and I think it contributes to a lot of misery and a lot of people "flunking out" of riding after a short time.

  74. Anon,

    That is really sad that you have run into that type of deceit. There ARE people who sell horses that are exactly as represented. Unfortunately, these times are really tough so there are alot of desperate people out there.

    This is my suggestion, given the market is a buyers market, maybe you could have an arrangement with the owner of any horse you are interested in, such as a 30 day trial, this of course is done in writing. Thirty days at your place should be plenty of time to figure if the horse works for you or not. I am thinking, that with the market the way it is, if an owner is really being honest, this shouldn't be an issue, if it is an issue, walk away, there is probably something going on.

    I would also suggest not looking for a bargain basement horse, because that is what you will most likely get. Move up a bit in price and ask for the trial, even if it is only 2 weeks. You can tell alot by getting the horse away from its home, like if they have drugged it or it is just plain psycho away from what it is familiar with.

    I just hate to hear you having such poor luck in your search. You should be able to find something that works for you.

  75. I keep looking at the pic of the Perch on this thread. Poor Buck, he is the same exact color but not near as spectacular. Well, I guess I will have to remedy that situation. I am so jealous, notice I said I am jealous, Buck isn't.

    He does have a huge, wonderful tail which is great because he has a huge butt!! LOL!

  76. Anon,
    Very sorry to read about your troubles.

    Also, if you do a test trail and arena ride on the horse you should get a good idea about the horse. Combine this with a one month period where you get the horse vet checked.

  77. CCC,
    Buck is the poster boy for cute!

  78. BHM, yes he is cute, but, damn that Perch in the pic on this thread is Spectacular. Must work on that. He loves the attention, so it won't be an issue. I just have to find my step ladder, LOL!

  79. Oh, I have meant to mention, I am not sure what his registered name is, but before I got him, he was called Zeus.

  80. Thanks everyone for the kind words. Fact is on the paint horse, I did have my trainer (best friend) with me and we both rode him. He was laid back and fine. At home. *Frowns* I forgot to mention that part. Now, it's up to my friend, who is looking to find a horse to replace the one I gave her. It's in that long book I posted above. LoL! So, I have been picky, and I know I've been a you-know-what, but I know what I'm looking for, and she's showing me things that are just too thin and reedy.


  81. >>Anonymous said...
    bhm. No. It is not a low price. 3600 bucks is a considerable price to pay, if I was going to spend that, I'd spend it on something bigger than a horse.<<

    Different Anon here,

    $3600 is a differentiating price depending on what your financial status is. If you have $10K to spend on a horse, $3,600 is not much. If your budget allows for $1000, then $3600 is considerably more. The substantial difference fluctuates.

    GD- Good post, but there are a few things to be considered or otherwise clarified.

    Farrier and veterinary costs are the responsibility of the horse owner, not the trainer. Some barns are all inclusive, but most are not. Board and training are generally all the trainer gets. But that is dependant on if they own their place or lease the barn. If they are 'at' a barn and the barn offers their services, the barn may get board, the trainer only gets training fees.

    Not only does their assistant need to be paid, but if the trainer owns their property- someone to clean stalls and manage the grounds is also needed. They are the ones fixing the pipes, overseeing the landscaping, spraying the weeds, trimming the hedges and picking up trash. All of this leaves the trainer free to train the horses.

    There are a few variables in there, but it is still one of the most thankless jobs out there to be found.

  82. Hi Different Anon (LOL at the silliness of it all)--

    You're right, I should have made my scenario more clear.

    I was assuming the scenario of someone who wants to make a living training horses rather than instructing riders. She buys horses cheap, puts in time training them and then re-sells them for more money.

    I decided not to get into the whole barn ownership thing because then it gets way complicated. For instance, if the barn owner raises hay, you don't just count the actual cost of the hay for the horse care division, you count the price of that hay on the market. Breaking down the various economic divisions of a farm, billing and crediting them, etc, really needs a serious investment in paper and pencil, more than I was willing to do for one blog post.

    I was attempting to tease out what the actual costs of training are and only the costs of training. So I have Julie Rider, young, gifted rider, who pays board at a local barn and is basically a low level horse dealer as well as a trainer. Is she likely to be able to make a living that way?

  83. Anon,
    I understand your comment about financial status. I'm just saying what the market is like. Yes, you can find deals and go to auctions, but there's usually additional work involved. If you don't intend on doing it yourself then this costs bucks.

    For example, a hunter/jumper with training and good record starts around $5,000.00 and can easily go into the teens. A yearling Shire with good show potential can start at $7,000.00 to $12,000.00. Add to this the training and showing costs.

    I do know people who make a living from training horses. They produce trained and shown sports horses. None of their horses come cheap.

    Anon, once again, just commenting on the market.

  84. I agree with BHM on the matter of additional work being involved if you find a horse that's a bargain, particularly if you're a re-rider or a beginner or if you get a horse with some issues (which will likely happen if you shop at an auction or a rescue). In either case, you will, most likely, need help from a trainer at some point.

    Extra work and extra help cost money. So, even if you luck out as I did and find a wonderful horse for under $1,000, you will be putting another $1,000 or more into said horse for retraining costs. I have learned the hard way that there are no free lunches in the horse world. Your pound of flesh will be extracted, and you will pay for the privilege of riding a safe, reliable horse. It's just a matter of how you choose to do it.

    That said, I wouldn't trade my horse for anything. He makes me so happy, even when we have our issues. :-)

  85. GD- If you are talking a young person thinking to take on the task of buying cheap, training the horse and reselling to make a profit, then it may be possible on some level, but not all.

    If she is boarding the horse- she has to pay for hoofcare and vet work on her own. Board covers feed, cleaning and the right to use the facility- round pens, arenas and such. Depending on the area, board costs fluctuate.

    If she is a property owner or leasing a barn, then the costs change a bit, but so does the time she can allott to work with each horse.

    The horses she picks up can be anywhere on the scale of purchase price- freebies to high dollar, but each still requires a certain amount of time to bring them along to a point where the market may consider them useable.

    What others are willing to pay for the horse is where the price comes into question. If someone wants a well bred, well trained horse- they can find one in all price ranges if they are willing to look and wait until the right one comes along. And they do come along in every price range- free up to however much you want to spend. I have seen and been a part of transactions on well bred horses worth quite the money, passed around for free. Passed around for a number of varying reasons, but often not because of a lack of training or health issues.

    Which kinda leads to what bhm is saying too. While there are trainers doing well with their horses and selling them for a price which is reasonable considering the horses accomplishments, there are still others who fall on hard times and offer up their stock, just to get out from under the costs involved and willing to take whatever they can get for them. I know of a man who is trying to offload 6 horses right now, reasonably bred and decent conformation for $5000. But who needs, wants or can take on 6 horses right now? Not many people. Which is why he still has them and why he is continually contacting me and offering them for a bit less as the days go by. He is offering them because of his employment situation. So for the same $5K I can have his 6 or your one (as you posted as an example in your comment).

    Cost wise- which is the better deal?

    Whichever one you want, can afford to support and is your discipline of choosing.

    But as hls said if you are a re-rider or beginner, you are likely going to need help at some point to improve you. Then it doesn't matter what you spent on the horse. You are paying to improve you. The horse will also improve as a result.

    I do agree though, that little money spent on a cheap horse- most of the time the rest goes into spending it on training to make it more stable and solid under saddle. Its a decision the buyers have to make, based on what it is all worth to them. The market has a bit of influence on the listing prices, but the actual sale prices are sometimes an entirely different matter.

    Anon <3