Horse prices - buy or wait?

Hi all,

I know there was a recent thread talking about disbelief in horse prices, and I am here to express that but also to ask for some advice. I just lost my heart horse and am heart broken about it – this is the horse that raised me and taught me basically everything. However, despite this fresh wound, we have another horse who is now alone so I am on the hunt for his new buddy.

When we bought that first horse some ten odd years ago, she was $1500. She hadn’t been used in several months, but came papered and was so good minded and tried so hard that her sitting had no impact and she was a really great horse. Even when we bought our gelding in 2017, we only paid $5000 for a young hunter packer, and that was only to end a bidding war since we offered below asking price initially.

Now I feel like there are grade trail horses aged 16+ going anywhere from $3500 to $10000 in the Midwest. And these aren’t even well made go anywhere do anything dead heads; rather, it seems like as long as the horse doesn’t constantly try to buck you off, it automatically gets a $4k price tag. Have I just been out of the horse buying game for too long and this is the way the world is going now? I’ve heard whisperings that hay prices will go up and force it into more of a buyer’s market as the winter progresses, but I really haven’t heard much personally.

I know this might be as easy as predicting the changes of the stock market, but should I look for a temporary companion for my guy and wait for those winter prices to get a forever partner or should I start thinking about pulling the trigger on some more expensive horses?

I think it really depends on what you’re looking to buy and who you are looking to buy from. A horse at home belonging to a family with 8 horses may end up a good bit cheaper if hay goes sky high. Conversely, a similarly priced horse boarded by someone with a comfortable amount of disposable income may not have any difference in price when their board jumps $50/month.

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That’s a great point about who to buy from! Fortunately (or maybe not) there aren’t many fancy barns in my state and most horses are kept at home on the farm. I feel like what I’m looking for isn’t a huge ask (although it seems everyone wants the same thing at the moment) – really just a good mind, above 15 hh, papers would be ideal just because I like them but not necessary. It would be my dad’s and he can ride and handle a more difficult horse, but I’d really like to get him a horse he can enjoy after he’s supported my riding throughout the years. I’m not even opposed to an older horse, but I’ll have to give it some time after this most recent loss… we had her ten great years and it still didn’t feel like near enough, sigh :,)

When my kids were young we found several good horses through local " word of mouth" horse community. If you know enough people in your area you can get the word out about what you are looking for and someone may have just that horse in their pasture.

Tell your vets, farrier etc … What you are looking for and they may have an idea. If you are ready to move on I wouldn’t wait. Prices may not drop at all.


Historically, what goes up, must come down. While horses are high right now, I’ve seen hay prices up too. My own opinion is that people will buy horses now --then find that hay prices/boarding are more than expected —AND the time they thought they’d have to use the horse (or the kid to use the horse) will not justify the cost —I think COVID has given folks (and kids) a sense of “lots of time at home” that will not continue once the businesses and schools reopen fully.

Other horse stuff has become high priced and hard to find. It is difficult if not impossible to buy a horse trailer for that new horse right now.

I’d suggest waiting until January and seeing if the horse prices don’t come down as people realize they are not going to get 100K for the kid’s 4-H horse and will have to feed it for another six months.

And sadly --breeders, seeing the sky high prices, will breed more horses. That may glut the market in a few years . . .but that’s a long time to wait.

You don’t have to BUY right now --but you can look. You may stumble on something that is what you want at the price you can afford – good luck!


I am in a similar position Cornfed. I have been looking for almost a year and decided to lease instead. Shopping for a horse feels like shopping for a house in my area. You have to move fast, spend more than you want, be more willing to accept issues, and then make a decision within hours or a few days. I would rather wait for things to calm down. As far as prices go, nobody knows what will happen with the economy and the fundamentals are far from “normal” right now.


sadly if they have had that horse for a few years I suspect they have invested a great amount more than what they even asking

Finding “the” horse has always been a challenge. When we bought our kids’ first horse 35 years ago we looked high and low far and wide seeing at least 400 head… not finding what we wanted at any price point. But did see a very young horse that showed promise which we did buy. After two more years we had the kids horse we wanted (well sort of as we were looking for an English Pleasure horse and the young horse we bought developed into an outstanding Western Pleasure horse …so the horse taught us that we needed to be flexible)


I just wanted to second this. I’ve made the mistake of having the “I have to buy a horse” mentality and it makes horse shopping more stressful than it needs to be. Relax, go look at horses, and the right one will show up at some point.


This is a great place. I can tell you that they will not give you a bad one. Not only are they UTD on all health needs, they make sure you are a good match and that you have the skills( both riding and handling) before you can take a horse home.

Worth investigating @cornfed

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I’m hoping hay prices come down. I’m in Arizona, not far from where hay is grown, and just paid $18.95 for a bale of alfalfa. At this rate I won’t be surprised if my board bill goes up. :slightly_frowning_face:

The high price of feed alone has to affect people who have that extra horse (or two or three) and may soon help reduce the price of nice, mid-range recreational riding horses.

So as others have suggested, don’t be in a big hurry to find a horse. Keep looking. Put the word out in your community and among horsey friends. Inquire at legitimate rescue and adoption sites. The right horse is out there at the right price.


Super cute mare and a great site I will look into! Unfortunately we probably wouldn’t be the perfect fit for the OTTB as she wouldn’t be in a show home, but they have a big selection and I saw a few horses that would work perfectly as a pasture pet or trail companion. Thank you for the suggestion!


Which one do you like?

No doubt the mare won’t last even at that adoption price.

Good luck @cornfed. I got a yearling from them 1 1/2 years ago and have never regretted it. He has the best mind and we are saddle training right now :slight_smile:

Oh, i cancelled that appointment.

I can’t " like" that but I understand :wink:

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