Question: I am in love with this QH palomino mare, but she is unregistered with no ability to get papers. I would still purchase her, but her owner, who is a beginner rider, says she has pro training on her, and that she wants to get the money back from that. Her price is $2600. What determines the price of a horse? In this economy, I can find a registered horse for less than that, with similar training. The owner wants her costs back from the horse. Is this reasonable?
Answer from April Reeves: The price of a horse is whatever someone will pay. Nothing else comes into the equation. I have seen $120,000 horses sold for $5000 and less during hard times. In the past I watched certain Arabian breeders fall when no one bought into their expensive program anymore. If no one buys into your program, you don’t have one.
I traded consulting work for a mare that sold at the age of 3 for $125,000. Her value was negligible to the owner at the time. I saw a new market emerging and bred this beautiful Arabian to Selle Francais’ and sold the foals to the US market when the Arabian world first caught on to Arabian sport horses. That single foal each year paid the expenses on the farm for the year. How do you place a value on a mare like that? In my eyes she was priceless.
This unregistered QH mare is considered a ‘grade’ horse, and will not even have any ability to breed for papers (other that half-registries). For you the question is what you intend to do with her? If you are looking for a horse that will function as a partner in recreational riding and open shows then she is a good buy, granted that she vets out. If you are looking for a horse for breed classes you will not have that opportunity. Remember that there are many great horses that have no lineage or papers and can compete and beat those that have pedigrees.
Why do people continue to breed ‘grade’ horses? In the economy we live in right now, those horses will continue to sell for next to nothing in auctions unless you are talented enough to train the grade horse you breed. Most good trainers don’t put time into grade horses so the two rarely get together. Although I have trained and shown some quality grade horses, I found them accidentally (or they found me) and saw a purpose for them. But I have never struck out to purposely breed a horse where I had no idea what I was going to get. Grade foals rarely return any profit.
Many owners get it in their heads that they need to recover costs, but horses usually don’t deliver this promise. Consider your horse purchase a hobby that, much like other hobbies, costs money that is not recoverable. The joy of ownership should outweigh the price of your horse and it’s upkeep costs. If this is not the case, go do something else.