Making a profit off of training/selling horses? Is it possible?

Start by listening to meupatdoes. Great info and advice.

I’d want to know what greenish 2’6 horses are really selling for in your area. The Pre-green champion for the year in my area sold a couple of years ago for $6500.

Be sure that anything you buy will pass a vet and has a good brain. Don’t pass up a good offer. (A former trainer of mine passed on and offer on a nice gelding who was struggling with one lead change. Swap may have a physical source and a year later had a local reputation as not having a swap.) Try to minimize the time you have the horse. Cash flow is the name of the game in re-selling.

If you are in an area where prices are fairly low, do you have any friends who might help you market a prospect in a more pricey area? (I’m in the Albany NY area and prices are fairly low for local horses. Many local trainers like to try to sell at HITS in Saugerties because our prices look cheap to buyers from Westchester or CT or No. Jersey.)

As mentioned above, be sure that your new employer is on board with your decision to bring on a project. Know up front that there may be the expectation of a commission of some sort because you will be trading on her reputation and barn name and discount in board etc.

I do it with a business partner. We have made a couple grand a piece after expenses on each so far. Key is not keeping them for long. I only buy $2000 and under horses and am super picky about what I take. I use the same track trainer for all of them. I can tell in about 1 minute from a confo shot and a 15 second jog video if they are my type or not. I do not take cribbers or hot horses. Any color, between 15.3 and 17 hands, generally 4-7 years old. They are marketed for $6000+ as soon as they set foot on our property. We sell in under 60 days to all markets (eventers, HJ, and dressage). My business partner has a pipeline of people, and we use Facebook heavily. I am also getting a reputation for picking nice types. Ours all live outside 24/7 and only have front shoes unless they really need hinds. Board is $275 a month. I do keep a supply of ulcer meds (Abler) and pentosan on hand to use if they are in rough shape coming off the track. I have one being marketed for $20k that I have had for a year, and he’s the only one I will lose money on because he has been around for so long (by choice so she could compete him)

I realize I take on a significant amount of monetary risk. The horses are insured under her business insurance, and I am ok with eating the purchase price and a month of expenses if I have to. I can just buy another to make up for it :slight_smile: I am a corporate professional and make low six figures, so not a ton of money, but enough to already be comfortable. The buying and selling pays for my 3 competition horses that my business partner and I compete. And it’s super fun! I love getting them off the truck and seeing what we got. I have a 3 year old coming next week who I am giddy like a school girl about.

$1000 mare (who turned out to be a keeper but we had offers for $8k before we even put her in her stall):

$20k gelding (who’s my partner’s current competition horse that I got for $800):

Bought for $1200 and sold for $8k 1.5 months after we got him:

Well crap. Now you all know my trade secrets :wink:

Meup and F8 both gave great advice and a lot of the same info that I would have. I will add one more caveat - the times I made money on flipping a project horse were ALWAYS when I was in a situation where I could put the necessary mileage on them cheaply, IE, busy lesson barns or programs where the horse could be ridden by a working student occasionally, fill an empty spot on the trailer, be exposed to a lot of activity or shown locally easily. The times I broke even or lost money were when I leased a lovely, very private small barn. Paradise in some respects, but I had to haul the horses offsite to do anything much with them - expensive, and the process took much longer.

So think through your training process and what it will cost you to get it done.


In regards to my earlier remark about price points and barriers, I took a quick look at some ads for local show horses in my general area. On average they run 5 to 8k for flat and itty bitty " fences" or poles with average results. A few are listed at 10k but are perpetually listed so not selling with owners who obviously are not trying too hard to sell.

If they have good records jumping 2’6" Hunters they price up to 15ish. Locals here don’t fill well at anything over 2’6". If riders want to regularly do 3’ they have to include A shows in their plans and a horse with a decent 3’ record at unrateds with some ribbons at As would price from 15k up to ?

If selling a Hunter prospect with few or no show miles, you can lower that price point considerably.

I didn’t mention Jumpers here as they tend to be less then comparable Hunters in that mostly sub 3’ local market. Plus have a reputation, deserved or not, of being sort of a dumping ground for those unsuitable for anything else…you would need a proven record at 1m/3’3" or consistent tri colors and year end high points in the sub 3’ divisions to get much.

So, OP, you need to research your area and see where your price points and barriers are. Lived in 4 states, on both coasts in in the middle, and 10k is a pretty solid barrier trying to sell a green prospect with low or no show mileage into a local, mostly sub 3’ market. In some areas, it could be 7500 or even 5k.

Know your market before you make big plans assuming you can sell. Only buy what sells and never buy for more then 25 or 30% of what your market says it will sell for in 6 months as a still green prospect. And buy BRAINS, not some knot head, sensitive, quirky thing that may have talent 3 years down the road for just the right rider.

BTW, back around 1980 when I did a little flipping in the Western world, I bought ranch broke 4 year old geldings with papers cheap, cleaned them up, taught them to go round in circles real nice and sold on in 6 months or less for a modest profit. I bought a little color and recognizable bloodline because that was my market and what sold. They lived outside on a small ranch so real low costs, barefoot or front shoes only. Plus that, hubby at the time had a good job so didn’t have to live off of it. Burned out pretty quick, went back to Ammy and stuck to just owning one show horse.

And I kicked a hundred back to the property owner. To keep the peace.

Be ready to take loss/break even on your first few, and not be disappointed if that happens. It is not easy. I would suggest as well that you already have x-rays of feet, hocks and stifles available for your clients. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of advertising, vet, farrier, board, etc.
Are you going to allow off-property trials? Do you have thick skin? =) Do you have knowledge in various disciplines (EG: you might have an eventer or dressage person come look at your H/J/EQ prospect.) The buying/selling game plays with your emotions and it is stressful, but if you get a nice end result, and a happy client who loves the horse, it is a great feeling (and hopefully you came out with some profit! =)

Overall it’s a pretty difficult thing to do. There is a lot of risk. I have taken many horses off the track, retrained and sold them, and sometimes it works out really well and sometimes it doesn’t. You have to have all your bases covered–sound, attractive, athletic, quiet prospects available at a cheap price, a place to keep the horse/s where board is reasonable but you have adequate facilities to train, good salesmanship, and most importantly, a plan for how you are going to handle a horse that doesn’t work out, whether it has a soundness issue, a temperament/rideability issue. You could easily buy your first prospect and have it go lame or be injured and you could be stuck with that horse for a long period of time plus vet bills. Of course this can happen to any horse, but if you are retraining horses as a business you have to pay attention to these risks more closely.

If you are looking to make money, you can’t take horses that need to be rested or let down and you need to have a very short resale period. This is tough–there are plenty of OTTBs out there, but not all of them are going to be ready for an ammie ride after just a few months. And yes, most people who answer sales ads are ammies. Once you start investing in more than a few months board and especially if you start showing you are going to need to get a significant amount of money out of that horse to actually pay you back for what you have invested, including your time and energy. I think that TBs still tend to resell for much less than warmbloods and WB crosses, and I think that there are sometimes some ugly surprises out there for sellers with reasonably talented/successful horses that just aren’t a popular breed or color.

Yes, I have a successful second business (on top of a regular job) reselling Tb’s. My criteria works very similar to catchmeifucan. I only buy geldings who are 16+ h, 3-6yr, sound with no vices and super good looking. I am super selective about the horses that I buy and the trainers that I deal with. I keep my purchase price under $3500 and I don’t vet because it adds to the cost. It is risky but I have been doing it a very long time and I have many contacts in the thoroughbred world and in the sport horse world who know to call me for nice young horses. Sometimes it doesn’t turn out but I am comfortable making the hard decisions for horses if it doesn’t go my way.

I also own my own farm which allows me to keep costs down. A quick turn around is absolutely the way that you make profit in this business. I am trying to find the horses who can be bought at a price that is going to allow me to make a few thousand profit but I am not out to hold the horse and made a HUGE profit.

I think what makes it work is that I have a really good eye and am a good judge of what a horse will want to do in a 2nd career. I market on facebook and take good pictures and video. I can put a really good initial base on the horses. My buyers are very diverse ranging from upper level riders to trail riders and you have to know which horse are going to work for the specific groups. You get the reputation of being a good matchmaker and you don’t have to do much to make a lot of sales.

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HUH?!? How is a pregreen horse that’s winning selling for 6500???

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HUH?!? How is a pregreen horse that’s winning selling for 6500???[/QUOTE]

If it’s only done local, unrated shows in a low cost area lucky to get more horses then ribbons in 3’ anything, cannot pack a child or Ammy and/or is lacking in AA level talent and quality? It’s very possible they listed at 10 or something and finally sold for 6500.

Theres a whole community of horses that are never going to step into the AA rings and they are priced accordingly. Whole lot of local buyers too that won’t go anywhere near 10 for anything. The whole world is not the AA world.


F8 is correct. The local “pre-” AKA “Hopeful Hunters” is a starting point for youngsters, often OTTB’s and the gelding in question is a nice horse but not fancy enough to be an A show horse. He’s done well in the interim with a junior, solidified his swaps etc but he’s now probably a $10k horse, 2 years later. I heard that they were asking $8500 but took less to keep him in the barn when he was sold to a kid moving off a lesson lease.

In reselling, speed is the name of the game. Get them started, and begin promoting them as for sale immediately. The “bird in the hand” adage applies. Don’t turn down a reasonable offer. (Everyone knows someone who did and had the horse go wrong the next day.) Don’t think in terms of “I’ll get him through the show year…” or “Until he gets that lead change…” I’m in cold climate and very few people are shopping in January. Here, if you own him in December, he’s yours until at least April. Be willing to take a smaller offer today.

For an under $10k horse, don’t be afraid to get him out doing other things like some outside the arena work, trails or some small dressage stuff. You might expand your buyer base to people looking for a young “all rounder.”

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If you have to board, I think it is near impossible to make any money buying and selling.

I make money doing it, but I own my own place and do not consider the basica operating costs to be associated with the cost of owning a sale horse (these are costs I would have regardless of whether I had the horse or not - mortgage, insurance, etc).

I board a couple of horses to pay the expenses of my horses - it is minimal extra work and it generates enough income to feed, shoe, show, and vet my own horse/horses.

I buy only horses priced FAR below what they are worth on the open market. I find these word-of-mouth and usually they are in need-to-get-rid-of-this-horse-yesterday type of situations.

Do NOT buy a TB for resale. Just don’t. Nice horses, but unless you have a TRULY special one, they are not marketable against more “fashionable” breeds.

People say not to buy mares, but honestly I have had just as much success selling mares as geldings. In fact, I think they have been easier to sell (but I had some VERY nice mares).

You CAN sell small horses. Eventers are more willing to look at the under 16 hand horses. For hunters or dressage, 16h is a minimum, do NOT buy a re-sale under 16 hands unless it is TRULY a top notch horse and can be had for a steal.

I have a very good eye for a horse’s potential and I have a good feel for judging temperament/willingness to learn in a horse. Because of how I buy my resales, I don’t alwas get to ride them or see them do much of anything before I buy. It is risky but I do have a natural ability to evaluate conformation, movement, and trainability well. If MUST be able to pick a good horse out amongst a sea of OK horses. The nicest looking one isn’t necessarily the best re-sale. Soundness and temperament are absolutely the most important features of a re-sale.

I don’t spend more than around $2k for a re-sale, and sell them in the $8-15k range mostly. I make a decent profit off it. I can’t live off it, but it pays for capital improvements on the farm.


The whole world is not the AA world.[/QUOTE]

Oh it’s not?!?!?!?! :eek::eek::eek::eek:

I do believe you can potentially (maybe) make a profit but since horses are SO unpredictable and they could get injured etc. you may end up paying more than you thought. It’s important to make sure you’re buying the right horse so be very careful because you may end up buying something that is going to be one problem after the next. I have never tried making a profit on a horse but I don’t think it will be as cheap as people think is, you also have to consider the cost of shows if you’re you making it a competition horse or you want it to get out and be seen by people. But I think it would be a great experience and you’d learn so much.
Hope this helps,

I have done quite a bit of buying and selling… Made a fair profit but also have lost some. I really enjoy the market, good people with lots of advice and help. I’ve done most of my own training and I’m the western cowboy world. I’m thinking of hiring a trainer to flip some horses for me because I’ve been having foot surgeries . Do any of you know trainers with a good track record or what their track records are? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Figure in that project horse may not have the good brain you thought and the soundness you need to flip quickly, even though your extensive homework made you feel good about the purchase.

Zombie thread.

Dang it. I just read the whole thing.

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I woyld say not. Carl Hester said they need to teach to stay afloat. I would say they are selling high end horses.

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In short, IME, it’s possible. Is it easy? No. Will you more than likely have to break even at best, especially as you’re creating a name for yourself? Most certainly.

If you feel competent enough to flip a horse from 2k to 15k, in a matter of months where board, farrier services, a basic PPE prior to purchase, any vet bills (including vacc), worming, and the cost of showing through a level above what you’re marketing-- then do it. There’s no way to find out until you do to see if this is something you’ll enjoy or something you end up resenting.

I wonder if the OP could give an update, 4 years later of how they got on
Id love to know