How Much is a Horse Worth?

by Nicole Livermore for

Value of a horse is always on a seller or buyers mind, especially for those that earn a living in the horse industry. It's no news that the economy has sent some regions into a tailspin for marketing, buying and selling our equines. So the big question of "How much is a horse worth?" still remains.

The most obvious answer is that a horse is worth whatever someone is willing to pay. But the harder part is, where do you start with asking price? Or what kind of offer do you make a seller?

horse-faceThe variables to buying and selling a horse come in all shades of gray. Age, color, size, conformation, bloodlines/breeding, level of training for a particular discipline, ground manners, temperament, soundness, train-ability and suitability for the expectations of his new home.

Does the horse have vices, behaviors or habits that might lower his value? Some buyers are unwilling or unable to deal with a cribber, biter, weaver, spook, stopper or rearing horse; likewise, for a lesser price these things might be overlooked by a very experienced horseman that has the ability to deal with the issues, habits or green experience of the animal.

What is his level of training, future train-ability and suitability? Though there are exceptions and special cases to every rule, green horses don’t always match well with green riders. An older, been-there-done-that type is usually better for beginners or riders that want a steady, easy ride.

Older horses sometimes come with some soundness issues but their suitability to the riders safety is more important. Knowing that an older horse might need special shoeing or supplements to keep them comfortable might reduce their value for the long term.

Sometimes breeding/bloodlines has considerable indication to what a buyer or seller sees as valuable. Success in competition and marketing is very often what makes a particular bloodline within a breed popular and more expensive.

Likewise, if that bloodline carries a gene pool known for bad behavior or equine disease it will likely not be sold at a high price. Specific breeds also pass along particular conformation characteristics that may or may not be desirable.

Don’t let “Old Wives Tales” or myths about horses hinder the value. A good common sense approach is more likely to develop into an accepted offer with both sides of it very happy.

As a seller, keep in mind that a buyer will have no personal attachment to the horse. Sellers sometimes consider the horse part of the family and it makes it very hard to determine value when the idea of selling pulls the heart strings. Over-pricing a horse because you “love” him is not a fair situation.

As the buyer, ask lots of questions to be absolutely sure this horse is right for his new home. Dont be offended if a seller does not accept your (reasonable) offer at first, with good communication and reasoning you might come to an agreement.