How Are You Feeling About Buying A Horse Right Now?

By some black magic, a second sparkly unicorn has fallen into our laps, less than a month after the first (which didn’t vet). It is a lovely horse, well-schooled & very easy-going. Teen loooooved him & my trainer (the competent one) thought they went great together.

Still, I’m feeling…uneasy, I guess. I don’t think I’m cut out to be the kind of " buy it the same day you see it" kind of horse buyer that one needs to be in this market. Part of it is feeling like we must look at several, because, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? I grew up riding whatever was offered due to economics & as a result am very relaxed about horses. If it can do what I need it to do, I’m not picky about personality. I can always find something(s) about each animal that I enjoy. And daughter apparently inherited that easy-going attitude, dang it!

The other part is uncertainty about what the winter will bring. I’m worried about hay prices. About Delta variant. Will the horse market bubble burst next month, leaving me kicking myself because horses would be hanging around longer & giving us more time to compare? At this point I’m half-expecting to encounter John Snow in the barn aisle: “Winter is coming!!!” :confounded:

Anyone else feel like this?


If a horse is right, unicorn value, you pay what you have to pay and happily, as such horses are rare and priceless.

If a horse is one more, there will be others, maybe some better ones, then listen to your little voice and sit back to see how things develop.


I am a breeder/seller of an uncommon breed. The demand is so strong for a trained horse that every horse sells within days for full asking price. This is happening to everyone nationwide. Foals are being sold like this, too. I literally get a line of buyers and I go through them in serial order. If you have doubts, I’m really okay with it because I am going to move on.

And if you have doubts about spending the money, possibly overpaying, not getting the best fit, etc. then it is simple, Do not shop because buying right now makes you uncomfortable. Wait and purchase when you are feeling more positive for the future. I promise you that I will not be put out. I am just going to move on because the horse will sell to someone else.

It is really a weird market. Just sit it out for a while. It is fine to feel that way.


It’s 3’-3’6" packer. So, hard to find. Not impossible. But hard. Extra nice because he is into energy conservation & takes a little leg to get him going, yet he can be depended upon to actually jump. And 3 nice gaits.

I have no doubts the horse will sell. That’s what makes it nerve wracking for me. We have to move on it now as there are 3 other people lined up to try it. The market for horses at this price/ability bracket will likely never cool off in our area. Shopping for one will always be a bring your checkbook proposition. I guess I’m trying to work through whether this is me needing to acknowledge & work through that being 100% comfortable shopping is somewhat non-realistic or if it’s something other people are legit worried about at the moment (economic uncertainty, $13 bales of hay, etc). We board our horses now so sourcing hay & other commodities aren’t a direct worry. However, I ran cattle for years, kept a few field boarders at our old place, etc. I’ve never felt close to this spooked about hay supplies, for example.


Even a unicorn can become a liability in no time flat.
All Horses’ Motto:
:poop: Happens.

Your 3’6 Packer can take a bad step, colic or otherwise succumb to something that will render him useless for the intended job.
My vet just posted her latest Horror Story:
Trailriding kid comes up from a creek crossing, horse somehow steps on a sizeable branch - from her pic a good 2’ long & 1" thick - that impales him close to his rectum. Miraculously, no organs pierced.
Survived the surgery to remove it, but now the Wait for Possible Infection…

Buy only if you are comfortable supporting the horse forever, or taking a loss reselling.


I think the market for cheap horses will cool off (or plummet) this winter as hay prices rise.

But to my mind, a lot of the market craziness is because COVID gave the typical upper middle class equestrian demographic the time and money to get more invested in riding or get back into riding. Nowhere to go but the barn, nowhere to spend money but on horses. With the Delta variant, I think that trend will continue through fall/winter.

When a majority of white collar professionals are back in the office and traveling regularly, things might level out. That’s sort of looking like spring to me, but then it’s show season.

There’s always tons of demand for a nice 3’ or 3’6 packer and I think the very, very high current demand for that type of horse, or a niche/rare breed, has another year of momentum.


No need to shop around, to make direct comparison between this particular horse and others because actually you have been looking at and comparing horses all your life. The question is how often do unicorns appear in real life? Would you kick yourself if the unicorn vanished?


Teen loooooved him

Well every teen loves all horses, so I do not hold much to that

I don’t think I’m cut out to be the kind of " buy it the same day you see it"

If I remember correctly all of the horses we bought were bought either sight unseen or on the day. Started out from buying the first horse after looking at a few hundred head then seeing one in stall as we kept walking by her stall…oh she is not what you are looking for as she is just a long yearling we just brought in to start her… to me she was what we want, a very pretty well built nice sized horse… but left without going any farther… drove away and got about ten miles down the road, turned to wife and told we are going back to buy that filly … which we did. And she turned out to be more than anything we could have ever expected.

Both my wife and I had worked with top rated Saddlehorses so we had some idea how the good ones acted and an eye for what is correct.

The good ones when you see them just have an air of confidence about them that makes them stand out


At the end of the market you’re dealing with (I’m going to guess mid-five figures on up), you don’t often see the volatility or economic uncertainty that you would for lesser-priced horses, bar the economic crisis of 2009—and like @173north said, the Delta variant would only serve to further strengthen the horse market, since I really doubt we’ll see horse shows grind to a halt like we did in spring 2020.

I am a more impulsive buyer (as evidenced by my growing collection of horses bought and imported off video, LOL) with an eye towards resale and don’t foresee the market softening any time soon.


I had to chuckle a bit. I wish I could get quality hay for $13 / bale. Timothy runs $15 - $17 for a two string bale here all the time. Orchard about the same. Alfalfa a few bucks more.

I can get Bermuda/Bahaia cheaper (under $10 usually) but I don’t feed that much. I may put up a small quantity of it to pad my supply some.

Overall economic uncertainty? Life is uncertain. Horses are particularly uncertain!

I’ve agreed to take every horse I’ve ever acquired within the first day or two of trying it. It’s worked out ok for me so far.


That’s true. We do know what we’re looking at which makes it easier.

As to the last question, well, that’s the thing. If you’d asked me that a month ago, my answer would’ve been “less chance than me winning $1k on a Scratcher”. However, now having had two very suitable horses appear with minimal searching in less than a month? My answer is that maybe I overestimated the difficulty of finding a horse with the qualifications we need? Idk!


OP, don’t torture yourself. If you like the horse, buy him and be happy. If you’re not feeling it, freely admit you’re not feeling it and be happy.

If a horse is going to get impaled by a branch or take a bad step off the trailer, it’s going to happen and it’s never going to be something we can control. If we were rational, cautious, completely risk-averse people, we would not be in horses. I mean, really. What kind of rational person gets back on a horse after even seeing a youtube video of a rotational fall, never mind experiencing one? :smile:

I am going to go see if there is a pet-rock forum, on the Internet. I bet there is…


Many years ago I was looking to get back into horses after a two year break. I got a lead on a gelding that sounded appealing. I tried him, really liked him, but everyone knows “you don’t ever buy the first horse you look at”. I passed, and they shipped him out of state to his owner’s place. I tried 12 other horses, but couldn’t get over that first one. I ended up buying him, which was a pain because I had to get him by driving many hours away instead of 20 minutes.

To this day, and several horses later, he’s still my favorite horse I’ve ever owned. It would have been so much easier if I’d just followed my gut feeling.


You guys are super funny (as I sob over $23/bale timothy, and only going to go up).


So, it sounds like you have looked at several, right? At least this one plus the one that didn’t vet. And I’m sure you have looked at plenty of ads for ones that weren’t even worth going to see. You aren’t deciding this in a vacuum. As someone else said, you are drawing on a lifetime of experience and comparisons, and so is your trainer.

I personally wouldn’t stress about not having looked at / sat on / whatever multiple horses before choosing one. Thinking back on my last few horse purchases, I only tried one to a handful of horses each time. Some of those trials were multiple at one farm, so the bar for sitting on the horse was pretty low (though it is higher now since my freak rotational fall on a sales horse that I wasn’t even very interested in but tried because I was there…and yes the video is on YouTube :rofl:). You can rule a lot out by video, show record, seller reputation, etc and those are totally legitimate rule-outs!

That said, I completely understand your hesitation and unease. I just posted yesterday on another thread that I’m feeling conflicted about shopping for a dressage prospect because I’m really content with my two current boys and unsure I want to take on more expenses (especially going into winter, since I do keep mine at home). Another part of that is thinking that if I wait until next year prices and inventory will be more reasonable.

So, I get where you’re coming from. But if the horse feels right to everyone involved and passes the vet, I don’t think you will end up regretting it even if prices drop a little in a few months. I agree that a nice 3’6" packer in the mid-Atlantic is always likely to be in demand. If prices don’t drop, will you just stay in a holding pattern indefinitely waiting for them to? This sounds like one you would regret missing out on.


I am useless. I now have 6 after acquiring a filly from a retirement sale a breeder was having. Nope, did not need her, period. Still, I adore her and she makes me happy. Sweet, smart, sensible with the bonus of eye-popping color (Appy).

No, I do not need 6 horses or all those cats and dogs either. Again = Happiness. Of the 6, one is unrideable with DSLD; 2 I ride; 3 youngsters - 2 yrlgs (including filly) and a 2yr old - are wait and sees. None would be hard to place should I ever have to do so or choose to. Well, except for the DSLD guy who is on borrowed time as it is unfortunately. Just keeping him around as long as he is comfortable.

Life is short, Buy The Horse!


I went with the “life is short, buy the horse” motto myself this past month…and now have a lovely, sweet 2 yo filly in my barn! Of course…I had bought 2 others from the breeder in the past and currently have a close cousin to the filly. The breeder sent me videos to share with a friend who was looking (I was not really looking, though I was planning to buy another youngster at some point). Needless to say, I didn’t pass the one set of videos to the friend! LOL I just liked the filly and thought why not? Didn’t even see her…though I did talk to one trainer who handled her and did a proper vetting. I am thrilled with her and excited to see how she grows up. Could I have window shopped and compared her to other 2yos on the market…sure I could have. But I liked her and her breeding and the risks are there no matter what I did.

Moral of the story…if you like the horse, the kid likes the horse, the trainer likes the horse…and the horse is relatively in your $ range and vets to an acceptable level for your situation…then just buy the horse! LOL

I’ve never made a bad horse purchase when I’ve gone with my gut…every time I’ve been extra careful and analytical it backfires.


You win the high hay price award.

This thread prompted me to call the local hay guy I prefer. He’s planning to bale his first crop of horse quality squares (Alicia Bermuda) on Sunday. Price out of field is $6.50. I’m gonna go grab 50 or so of them. Weather depending, we can bale through October, but farmer is positive he’ll sell out of grass hay pretty fast.


Yep, I just paid $23 a bale for teff hay two weeks ago. They’re 3-string bales and it’s beautiful hay but, ugh.


How big is a 3 string bale? I only see 2 string ones in my area (40 to 50 pounds), and typically they are 9 to 10 dollars for grass at the co-op, but could go up.

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