Buyer coat color phobia real?

I am starting the search for my next horse. Might be my forever horse might end up being a project that gets sold on. Is the hang up on a chestnut mare still a real thing? I am looking at a young cute “off” breed mare but she is chestnut on top of being an off breed. She would have little appeal to breed purist as she doesn’t look the main show ring type so she would have to prove herself to be marketable outside of the breed sphere. Am I going to be shooting myself in the foot buying a 15 hand chestnut mare if I don’t fall in love with her and want to see her face daily for the next 30 years? I feel like realistically a gelding that is 16.2ish that is bay with some white would be best bet as to appealing to the masses of buyers but I am a mare person and don’t mind a smaller ride. I am not looking for an earth shattering horse just something safe and sane to play with at the lower levels of eventing. The market is crazy right now and this mare is priced very well and has been available for a long while. Is the color really likely scaring many buyers off? And no I know of nor do not think there is anything else wrong with her to be keeping the buyers away.




I am a mare person.

Mares are harder to push around and have hormonal swings. Many competitors prefer geldings. Bay is a safe color choice for a resale project. Breed can be a predictor of success in any given discipline, which is why TB and WB are over represented in sport horse disciplines and QH are predominant in Western disciplines. But obviously talent wins out, if you can make this horse into a great competitor. I feel with the size you might be aiming at a junior rider, if the horse has the mind for that.

I am not an expert, but I think there are more people who “don’t want a small horse” (unless it is suitable for a timid rider) or “don’t want a mare” than people who “don’t want a chestnut”.

Personally I prefer small mares, but I am an outlier.


Honestly the majority of people, at least in my experience, won’t say no to the perfect horse because of coat color. The horse doesn’t even have to be perfect. I ended up with a little liver chestnut mare and at every barn we’ve been at, she’s one of the favorites by barn staff since she’s so easy to handle.
I originally wanted a big grey gelding that was more finished than green so she’s the opposite of what I was looking for but she’s the ideal horse IMO!


If she is safe and sensible enough for a junior or amateur, there will be a market. The problem horses are the ones that aren’t talented or brave enough for a professional but aren’t quiet and honest enough for anyone else. Being small and chestnut and a mare may lower her price a bit but it won’t make her impossible to sell either (unless the economy totally collapses again, then all bets are off!) I actually love smallish horses in general and chestnut mares in particular so it definitely wouldn’t put me off.


16.2hh bay gelding will appeal to the widest and more higher priced market. Do find hunters are more hung up on the chestnut mare thing, but the 15hh will be the bigger issue. I wouldn’t buy short and red for a resale prospect personally as I like to have multiple options of who to market too. But if she has a stellar personality than she’ll have a market as a low level eventer/pony club type horse.


I think if she’s actually sensible and safe, then you wouldn’t have a problem reselling her as a low-level eventer. The color and size might be putting people off her as a prospect, but once she has some experience I think it will be less of an issue. When I was horse shopping a few years ago, I would have loved some small horse options with low-level eventing experience. It seems like everything was either a pony or over 16 hands.


The stigma is real for unproven. Once the horse is proven it is usually a non-issue.

That being said I don’t think it’s a fluke that the major resellers near me have every breed, color, and gender combination out there except for chestnut AND mare (and TB)… They really don’t sell as well.


Phobia? No, I wouldn’t call it a phobia. “Chestnut Mare Beware” is a saying because many people joke their chestnut mares are spicy shedevils, but there are PLENTY of people who don’t care and know that each horse is an individual. If you are just looking to have fun and enjoy your horse then who cares. Can you go meet this mare and see if she is suitable? If a resale project I think the trifecta here is chesnut, mare, plus a smaller size. Some smaller adults or kids may find this little mare to be a great partner, but it is a smaller market you are looking at. If she has a good brain and has a cute personality people aren’t going to focus on the chestnut and mare aspect so much.

People will sort out mares the same way they sort out greys the same way they sort out [insert breed here] and just bypass based on prior experience. It doesn’t matter if this is the most perfect mare ever, if they have had bad experiences with mares being hormonal and temperamental you aren’t going to convince them that mares will work their butts off for you once you click with them. If their experience with OTTB is injury after injury and hot tempered they may say never again will I OTTB no matter how perfect an OTTB is for them that has a great temperament and has never had an unsound step. People have preferences. Some can look past them, but many are pretty set in their ways.


And most owners have limited personal experience to draw on. Most ammies don’t own very many horses over a lifetime, and once they get past beginner lessons on school strings, don’t get a chance to ride many different horses. Buying a new horse is overwhelming so folks limit their search criteria in various ways, some of which are smart (sound, price, size) and some of which are idiosyncratic (color, markings, gender). Obviously every discipline has its preferred breed and type, because on average the horse is more likely to be competent at that job.


I love smaller horses (15h is my sweet spot, height-wise), but just to echo what others are saying–what people want as buyers isn’t necessarily “fair,” but if, as a future seller, you’re primarily thinking of the resale value of the horse, you have to be aware of buyer preferences. I really haven’t seen much anti-chestnut sentiment in a very serious way, but I do think it’s harder to sell mares.

On (where else), Facebook groups, I occasionally see ISO posts for geldings, as in “quiet, older gelding for timid older adult” and people selling mares will get into arguments with the original poster, demanding that would-be buyer come to look at a mare that isn’t “mare-ish,” or complaining that no one will come and look at all their mares for sale. When people are looking for a horse, they want what they want, and you can’t exactly force them to look at a horse has a characteristic they don’t find desirable (however unfairly or fairly).

I also agree with @rockonxox that we all know that one person who had the OTTB or mare who WAS the stereotype, and if their experience is, er, expensive enough in terms of vet or training bills, it can, even subconsciously, linger in the mind.

But a lot of this isn’t logical. I wouldn’t reject a grey, but I have known several to die from melanoma, and I hate cleaning…and yet, I rarely see people say “no greys” on sale ads.

My favorite color is chestnut. My least favorite color is bay. Small (under 15H) and mare would be deterrents, to some extent. But I’m not your market.

I would think that breed bias would hinder you more, I assume it’s an arab or a saddlebred? I also question what’s wrong with the horse if she hasn’t sold for the main ring or if nobody has marketed her for a sport horse discipline. I saw a nice chestnut arabian mare being marketed for eventing/sport horse but she was priced high for being as green as she was for her age and ridden in draw reins in the videos to help control the spicy. She’s further along now but even more expensive.

I have an arab and he had zero value outside of the arab/endurance world until I started placing well with him at shows the last 2 years and I still think that his breed would affect his sales price as people always go “he does well in eventing…for an arab” despite his many instances of packing my sorry middle aged butt around. He’s got a list of people wanting to buy him, but I don’t think I’d get as much as if he were a something else. I have a much greener non arab mare (same size, but not chestnut) who is a more difficult ride but she’s worth twice what he is and has been to one show.

There are trainers out there who refuse to purchase and resale bay TB geldings, for good reason as the market is saturated with them and they don’t have anything “unique” to attract buyers so you’re competing against all the other bay TB geldings.


I would not buy a grey, for those exact reasons. I didn’t state it in my ISO ad, but I would not inquire further on them. Just say “not a match, thanks!”


Interestingly I went to a cutting horse show and there were tons of chestnuts, but in english riding the majority are bay.
I’ve had chestnut mares before. I have a chestnut gelding now. I can’t seem to get away from them :grinning: :upside_down_face:

Quarter horses produce a large population of chestnut or “sorrel” horses, which is also the base for palomino. Indeed “sorrel” might be the most common QH color. It also apparently expresses Overo pinto the most, though I have to say I mostly see black Tobiano patterns.

I think bay is the most common TB color, with chestnut and grey as the other options. This would condition our expectations of sport horses even after the move to WB, which are half TB in ancestry anyhow.

So on our little cloudy isle, we sat watching grey after grey after grey, ooh look a chestnut, after grey after yet another grey at a BE 100 competition. Which is curious because WB are not commonly grey and neither are TB. Though there are far more jump-bred grey TB than flat ones. Grey is hugely popular as a colour in the UK.

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Coronet Oblensky is a very prevalent sire. I have been surprised at the number of grey WBs at the moment myself.

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That’s so true! I’ve noticed that even in my social media feed. And, of course, many Welsh ponies hailing from the UK are grey. That’s quite interesting about the sire @endlessclimb.

I’ve known many wonderful grey horses, just also known many who struggled with very nasty forms of cancer. I do find it a bit funny when people prefer greys “because they are so pretty,” though, because while blacks, bays, and even chestnuts look fine with the dust knocked off them, you really have to use elbow grease to make a grey look show ring ready!