Did you ever wonder what exactly makes a horse cheap or expensive? If you’re a horse connoisseur, then you must know one or two things about it. Multiple factors influence whether a horse will sell for scrap money or caviar money.
Most of these elements are mostly intuitive if you think about it, while some aren’t common to think of. Either way, my job is to explain what makes a horse expensive.
In this article, I’ll go over 10 factors that influence the price of horses. Keep reading!
1. Horse Breed
Bloodlines and breed are the first things you’ll think of. Some breeds are simply more expensive than others because people like them more.
Quarter Horses are especially popular among connoisseurs, but their selling price is nowhere near as high as that of a Thoroughbred. Mustangs also tend to be a bit pricier than other breeds, simply because of their unique bloodline.
Breed makes the hard money when it comes to horses. True, bloodline isn’t the most important selling point but it’s one of the top three. A mediocre-trained Thoroughbred may be more expensive than a top-trained Paint sometimes. That’s simply because Thoroughbreds have the superior bloodline.
Horse breeds are just like dog breeds, in that some are naturally more expensive than others. Although you may not notice the difference between horse breeds, a connoisseur can easily tell a Thoroughbred from a common Mustang just based on its chest and back, or the way it walks.
Think of pedigree as a nobility marker. A horse with a pedigree comes from a long line of healthy, strong, and competitive horses. Pedigrees accurately represent the great genetic makeup of a horse, as well as its ancestry.
When a breeder mates two horses, he needs to account for the physical characteristics of both parents. After the foal is born, it’ll have a combination of the traits of both parents. Whether there’s an improvement or not is a matter of skill from the breeder.
A pedigree shows that a breeder has been skillful enough to consistently plan each generation of horses accordingly. The results he obtained were all the top of the ranks, with measurable statistics in contests and equine tournaments. A Thoroughbred with a pedigree costs a few million dollars easily.
For a better understanding, the pedigree of a horse indicates its latent potential. You know that a particular horse comes from a long line of genetically superior horses. So, it has the same particularities as its ancestors.
3. Horse Gender
Even in the horse world, the battle of the sexes is on full blast. Are males more expensive than females? Well, statistically so, that’s right. Males tend to be a bit more expensive than females, but that doesn’t account for pedigree, breed, or training. There is double the number of male horses active in the sports world compared to females. Naturally, more male horses will win events.
So, males will tend to fetch a higher price on the market. Another reason why male horses may be more expensive than females is their heavier stature. Males tend to be taller and heavier than females, which makes them more endurant and a bit faster.
But this isn’t an ironclad rule in the equine sporting world. There have been plenty of fillies (female horses) that have won competitions against males.
There are clear commercial stereotypes against female horses, though. Many times, owners of female horses couldn’t get a good price simply because theirs wasn’t a male horse.
When it comes to horse pricing, appearance takes the front row as one of the most important selling points. If a horse looks good and has a glorious color, what more could you want? Although a dotted Knabstrupper or a pure-black Marwari look good, how do they compare to a pure-silver Arabian horse? It’s not only the breed but also the color that dictates the selling price of a horse.
The Akhal-Teke is considered one of the most beautiful horses in the world for its golden coat. The exotic-looking coat is both sleek and shiny, which led the Turkmenistanis to name it the “Golden Horse.” And you may not believe it but full colors are not necessarily the prettiest or the most sought-after by buyers.
Among the most beautiful horses in the world, we have the Appaloosa, the Gypsy, the Knabstrupper, and Pinto. Their coats are spotted, with patches of color in various patterns. But full colors are quite popular among horse enthusiasts. The Arabian horse, for instance, is more expensive simply because this horse breed has some of the best colors all-around. And it has an athletic build!
Age is hugely relevant for horses if you want to fetch a good price. Older horses tend to cost less for obvious reasons – they’re less enduring, less healthy, and less agile.
Owners who want to participate in equine events will want a healthy and young stallion that’s in the prime of its life. Naturally, this type of horse will cost more because it has more potential compared to older horses.
With horses, as well as other living animals, youth is equal to better health, a fitter body, more beauty, and better overall performance. Though, to be perfectly honest, age-related performance depends on the horse. Some horses retire at 25 while others are still strong at 30+ years. Various breeds will have predispositions for diseases, while others are more resilient.
Similarly, some horse breeds just aren’t up to snuff after a set period and activity. This limit is a bit different from breed to breed. Either way, age is a great contributor to horse pricing!
This one is a no-brainer. Better-trained horses will always be more expensive than untrained ones. That’s because more money has gone in training a horse. Plus, once trained, the horse can do stuff that the untrained horse can’t do. That’s an organic spike in value just because the horse has received formal training. And I’m not talking about domestication because all horses for sale are domesticated.
I’m referring to professional training related to equine racing events and other contests. If you plan on enrolling your horse in such activities, chances are you want to make big money. Professional trainers know that most buyers don’t have time to actually train their own horses, only to maintain them. So, they train them before selling the horses to willing buyers.
Training produces winners among horses, that much is clear for everyone. So, the better trained a horse is, the higher price it’ll fetch.
7. Show Performance
Show performance comes hand in hand with training. The better-trained horse will always produce more spectacular results in the arena. In competitive sports, horses with more winning streaks will cost more, if the owner wants to sell. But why would you sell the golden goose? Show performance is like an unofficial pedigree in the equine world.
Taking a look at the horse’s record track is only normal for a buyer. You want to know what performance the horse has before buying it, right? Wins and losses, starting times, endurance, speed, all of these count as show performance, and they’re all important when it comes to horse prices.
Usually, a more expensive horse will have a better record, and the most expensive ones have a spotless track record.
8. Health Condition
A horse with a known health condition will fetch less than a healthy horse for clear reasons. The healthier horse will take more punishment on the running track and will likely even win the competition. Its speed and endurance will be better, and it’ll be able to compete for a longer time. A horse with known health conditions may be slower or have less energy because of its illness.
Similarly, horses with previous injuries may have a drop in performance due to those injuries. It’s the same idea – they’ll fetch a lower price because their competitive skills are lower. Usually, younger horses are healthier than older horses, and that’s why age matters a lot when buying or selling horses.
9. Planned Use
What do you want to use the horse for? Why is the buyer selling it? Racing horses are more expensive than horses used for farming. If you need a competition horse, you should be ready to dish out tens of thousands of dollars and even hundreds of thousands.
Some horses go over the million-dollar mark just because they can do stuff better than other horses. Regarding horse pricing, what you want to use it for means everything.
10. Registry Status
A registry status for horses refers to identification papers, pedigrees, and performance records. These are all in one place, free for everyone to check. So, if a horse has a registry status with all its performance and linage stats, then it’ll cost more. You’re buying a better horse, so it’s only normal to pay more.
When a horse is placed in an official registry, it’s recognized as a descendant of a known lineage. Its genetic makeup is validated, which increases the selling price by a lot. There’s a world of difference between selling a would-be Thoroughbred that no one knows anything about, and selling a horse with a pedigree, a track record, and a registry status.
11. Bonus: Supply and Demand
This one is the big kicker – the fewer horses there are, the more expensive they’ll be. If demand is crazy-high yet the supply is at its lowest, then the prices will naturally go higher. This also applies to the demand for professionally-trained horses that can win competitions. Honestly, there are a lot of contest-winning horses on the market. But then again, there are way more potential buyers.
Demand is always greater than the supply. Sellers take advantage of this and place a sky-high price tag on their horses. When you account for everything else we talked about, then the price of a horse can be substantial, to say the least. You’ll need solid financial backing to buy some of the top-tier horses.
Many things can influence horse pricing. I’ve talked about each of them, hoping to give you a better view of the world of horses. From my personal experience, horses professionally bred for the competition are more expensive, even though there are selling points within that category. Age, training, breeding, track record, all of these are essential to establishing a fair (or unfair) price.
Let me know if there’s anything else you want to know!Horse Facts