Is A Recession Coming? What About The Horse Market?

I am seriously considering buying a new horse, and have been looking at FB, Dreamhorse, etc. for a few months. What’s noticeable is a lack of good horses under $15,000. Not even a decent OTTB. If you want a friesian cross, now is the time to buy, there’s plenty. The horse market has a lot of overpriced dressage horses right now. My question: Do you think a strong recession is coming that will affect the horse market? If you were me, would you wait 6 months and see how things shake out?

Secondly, having always been a dressage rider, I am curious about western dressage. Has anyone tried it? I don’t know how to even take the first step. What do you look for in a western dressage horse? Last summer, at a dressage show, I stabled next to 3 gals who rode in the western dressage classes, and the regular classes. They placed high in the western classes, and their scores were in the mid-60’s in regular dressage classes (training-first). They were great fun to hang with and were versatile in their riding. Besides ring riding, they did trail riding. This has a lot of appeal to me right now.

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If you’re looking for something broke but not fancy, maybe green but not true UL potential, I’d say wait it out. The highest quality and potential horses aren’t going to get any cheaper, but the mid/low end will. The winter hay bills and economic uncertainty is going to hit the “average” horse and horse owner first and hardest and people who panic bought overpriced horses and houses are feeling the squeeze already. In addition, a lot of barn owners are hitting retirement age and selling/closing up shop, which is going to put people’s second/ third/fourth string horses on the market. All in all, I’d wait it out.

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Recession is a high probability for 2023, if you don’t currently “think” we are in one.

I’ve been looking for another older horse that needs a step down/semi-retired for my kids, I’m waiting to see what the market does. Thankfully I keep horses at home and have a fairly stable job.

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Trying to time the market is kind of a crap shoot. If you can afford what you want now go for it. If it will be a financial struggle then wait. I would agree with the above that winter can bring lower prices (show season is done, hay prices go up, all sorts of changes) so might be good to keep an eye out for the next few months.

As for western dressage you are going to look at the same kinds of things you do for your english dressage horses. Our dressage series we have the same judge judging both divisions. We have some riders who do both divisions. My friend does western dressage and eventing on her Morgan and does VERY well (we actually have quite a few dressage morgans doing both and they are just so versatile). We have quarter horses, paints, arabian crosses, warmbloods, and everything else you can think of including a clydesdale who compete in the western dressage divisions.

You want a horse that is relaxed, accepting of aids, jog should should the horse naturally swinging through the back at a pace within their scope (so no western pleasure crawling). Have you looked at the western dressage tests on WDAA? You’ll find they are written just like english dressage and if you look at the notes by each movement it will give you a better idea of what the judge is looking for. Honestly, almost any horse can do the lower levels. I’d look for one that is balanced and moves well with a good brain, everything else can be trained. Here are the tests: https://www.westerndressageassociation.org/wdaa-tests

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There is some info about western dressage in some of the Dressage radio podcast episodes. Heres one;https://dressageradio.horseradionetwork.com/2020/03/28/559-rhythm-vs-tempo-lynn-palm-gaited-horses-western-dressage/

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I’m seeing a lot of decent backyard and ranch horses being offered right now. I’d say if you aren’t set on a breed, and want a fun, lower-level horse that can do anything, now is a good time to be checking the ads for those types. Many are saddle broke, and are used to being in chaotic conditions.

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I’m in CA and our hay/gas prices are absolutely brutal so we might be a few months ahead of the rest of the country, but I’d say it’s a good time to buy in that price range. Buyers are pulling back because of inflation/economy worries, sellers are trying to reduce horses on their bills and are motivated to sell for the same reasons.

I’d also ask around instead of looking solely online - there’s plenty of folks who are considering reducing numbers and would sell to the right situation but aren’t actively marketing the horse.

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For OTTBs specifically I’d say you need to start looking at either people who network with trainers to sell right off the track (there are good ones out there) or start looking at places like New Vocations. There are definitely OTTBs available for under $15k but you’re not gonna get a dead-broke schoolmaster of an OTTB with show results for under $15k necessarily (or any other breed).

New Vocations and the like do periodically get a previously adopted horse with further training, etc. on it back and they’re usually not as high as $15k but it’s not super-common that they get those, in my casual observation as someone who just follows these places on social media.

EDIT: OP, what exactly are you looking for? I don’t even know when I last saw a horse with, say, a show record, solid training, etc. for anything less than 5 figures and I’m not even in the market I just know enough horse people to see what’s posted, etc. for sale.

EDIT 2: Like, okay, you can probably find a casual trail horse type for less than $15k but it’s not maybe going to be your preferred breed if you want a more popular sporthorse breed.

I would start looking and be very, very picky. What do you actually want? As @173north says, there are people out there who aren’t actively selling., but if the right person and the right price showed up they might well consider it.
Honestly, I probably would. Now, because the horse I would consider selling is a) extremely rare breed, b) not the popular color/markings, c) full blooded draft!, and d) not registered; I don’t think anyone is about to ask. But, if someone came up with what is a fair price for that breed/age/training level? I might consider it. I would not have a year ago.

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My barometer for the horse market is usually the thoroughbred sales— when they tank, usually within a few months you start seeing the trend in the rest of the horse world.

I wouldn’t say they have tanked yet, but we’re certainly seeing the warning signs. RNAs are up, the lower end of the market is having trouble selling, etc. But the top of the market is still smashing records, so on paper, it doesn’t look bad yet.

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God if this isn’t the truth. I was really hoping we were over the Friesian craze from the late 2000s for good. I’m seeing more and more horses for cheaper on the market, IMO, but mostly “cheap” horses that I now think are being priced more appropriately. The nice-ish horses are still overpriced, top horses probably priced appropriately.

For the western horse side - Sales have had lots of buyers previously then a few weeks ago there was a bigger sale at a show and suddenly there were some 2 years olds not getting enough bids so they did not sell.

Previous years there were not enough horses for the number of buyers. Not sure if this was a fluke or a sign of things to come.

I really enjoyed western dressage. I got into it by joining a local dressage club that hosted competitions and clinics. Western dressage classes were always integrated into all the shows. I was actually surprised at how many club members rode western dressage. My horse was a very good competitor (he really seemed to enjoy all the transitions and “what’s next?”) but he was also the most awesome trail horse I’ve ever had.

Good gaits, a slightly uphill build (can be challenging in traditional stock horse breeds but they are out there), good disposition… all the usual stuff. Horses that “flunk out” or don’t naturally have the jog or lope desired for western competition are often sold at a modest price as 3-year-olds. At least that’s been my experience. An added benefit is that they generally haven’t yet been taught to travel with their haunches canted to the inside of the arena. While this can be corrected with time and patience, it’s nice if you can avoid it.

I’ve dedicated a year to showing my current young Paint at breed shows. He’s definitely not a traditional western pleasure horse due to his rounder movement and his uphill build, but he has “the look” and he’s a great all-around horse. Eventually I plan on going back to western dressage with him. That’s how I plan on spending my sunset years. :cowboy_hat_face:

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Paint_Party, we are both on the same track :wink: The horse I’m looking for will most likely be my last horse. I usually retire all my horses. This time I want a more versatile horse. For the last 10 years, it’s been weekly lessons, clinics, and competitions. It’s time for a change. If anyone knows of any quarter horse websites, let me know. I’m unfamiliar with AQHA.

Regarding the recession and the horse market, I want to be smart with my checkbook, and realistic about my limitations. It’s not my goal to buy a high-dollar totally trained horse. Lets be honest, how many amateurs can ride a big moving dressage horse. I have boarded with gals who purchased the promising fancy training level horse with every intention to climb the dressage ladder, and 5 years later they’re stuck at first-second level. Collection becomes tough, it requires extra dedication, and for whatever reason they never seem to progress.

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Using the low/ medium end North Alabama auction index I would say the lower end horse prices are down. In February the high seller was a draft/QH cross that sold for $31. Nothing special but it did WTC. Quite a few priced over 10K. In March prices were still high. Last month in October high price was $7,600. Somebody hauled in 50, yes 50 decently bred QH weanlings. Most sold for under $2k. I am not sure how you can raise them and sell for those prices. I guess the owner decided he didn’t want to feed them over the winter. Craigslist prices for QH’s are still higher but they are not getting sold.

Warmbloods for sale - the higher priced ones are still selling but not like hotcakes. It seems the lower priced bargains are moving faster than the higher priced ones.

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@Calhoun No great advice on the markets, but if you’re looking to move away from traditional dressage, google Working Equitation if you aren’t familiar with it already. It’s got the best of everything in my opinion!

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Yes, working equitation-- which I dabbled in briefly-- is fascinating, and does a great job of blending dressage with skills needed to be a wonderful trail and all-around riding horse. The only issue I’ve found is being in a place where it’s popular enough for clinics and competitions.

Edit to add: A popular facebook site for AQHA and Paints, from youngsters to solid show horses (including all-around types) is Serious Inquiries Only Equine. There are several other groups, too. Of course the prices are always elusive but you can browse.

Yeah that is the kicker, especially if you want to show.

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Well , I believe the recession is already here. I have no doubt if things don’t improve it will drastically affect the horse and housing markets and much, much more.

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I don’t know if there’s Quarter Horse websites per se but I live in a small midwest town where most folks ride western and mooooost of the horses are prob QH or QH cross.

Well with that, I have no advice on where TO find a horse but I’m thinking you can find something for under $15k, just have to keep looking.

Sorry don’t have a lot of advice I’m not in the market and the two horses I’ve owned in my entire life, I wound up with via the barn I was at back then and the second one I didn’t really want and kinda got stuck with (long story will not go into it past, “sketchy barn, 0/10 do not recommend” lol).