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Pricing question

I’m an adult amateur working with a trainer I could not be happier with, and I am currently leasing a great 11 year old Andalusian who is pretty perfect but still coming up in his training (has showed Prix St Georges with my trainer, I’m not sure what he scored, and has not showed Grand Prix but that is certainly the goal). He went to Wellington for three months and made good progress per my trainer, but he still needs some development, particularly on his tempi changes. I have only shown at the level 3 test and we haven’t done well, but I am positive that is due to my inexperience; I’m still learning how to get our contact to come together under stress!

His owner is looking to sell him and is asking for $250k - a year ago when I heard that I nearly fainted, but after leasing him for 8 months of course now I completely love him and want to find a way to make it work. However his training is $2k/month on top of his boarding which is $1.5k, so this is quickly becoming a commitment that will absorb every bit of my income and require loans for a few years to absorb his price tag! I am just wondering if anyone has any comments on that price ask - he is completely wonderful in terms of his temperament and I trust him so much, but I have seen Grand Prix-proven horses with asking prices in the 150-175k range and I’m wondering if it would be insulting (to my trainer, to his owner, etc) to ask about the price expectation. Is it a foregone conclusion that if he can do the Prix St Georges that he will also make it to the full Grand Prix? Does he need a more experienced rider to get him there, to be fair to his potential etc?

I would really appreciate any comments or advice, and thank you!!!

Do you have family or friends that you can talk to about this…people who know you better?

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Yes definitely, but I am the only “horse person” in my family/friend circle so I was just hoping to get impressions from folks who are more knowledgeable. I am pretty sure that this is an opportunity of a lifetime and I should jump on it, but there are so few ways to actually look at prices for any kind of comparison!

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Please don’t do this. Remember all it takes is one bad injury and they are (monetarily) worthless. This horse may seem priceless but there are always other horses.

I’ll let others guide you on what an FEI horse “should” cost, this advice is just coming from a place of financial sanity for you.

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Unless 250k is pocket change for you, I wouldn’t consider the purchase. Be glad you got the opportunity to sit on such a nice horse and move on.

No horse is worth putting yourself in extreme debt to afford. All it takes is one emergency and you are screwed.

For that level of horse and ammy friendly doesn’t seem out of the ordinary for me. Someone will pay it, especially if horse vets well. JMHO.

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I agree with the advice to not stretch yourself so thin for a horse. I’ve seen some good families get into terrible financial situations by financing expensive horses even when the horse doesn’t go lame or come down with some sort of limitation. Paying off a horse over a six month period might be fine in an otherwise stable situation, but so much can happen in “years.”

It is not a forgone conclusion that a PSG horse can do GP. I’m not able to speak to whether he would need a more experienced rider (knowing nothing about your riding, OP, the training you have access to, or the horse).

He sounds like a lovely horse though and how cool that you’ve been able to learn on him! Has he been for sale the entire time you’ve been leasing him? Maybe you can continue to lease him and he will take another 8 months to sell.

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There is no guarantee he can get to Grand Prix. IMO he’s being priced as a GP horse without the experience.

Unless you can pay cash for him you can’t afford him and it’s not worth it.

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Yes it is insulting.

If the owner has indicated they valued him at $250,000 a year ago and have put an additional year of training plus three months in Wellington I’d expect they may be asking closer to $300 now. Whether that is a fair asking price for that specific horse gets very nuanced and realistically exceeds the lived experience of most of us. I’ve known people who picked up an older Grand Prix schoolmaster that might squeak out a 60 on a good day for well under $100,000 and a friend purchased a three year old unstarted for $250,000. Price is dependent on breeding, training, potential, health, what barn they are in, the geographic area, priorities of the seller, and even who is the buyer. To imply that the horse should be valued at 30% less than asking price because you’ve found horses online for less will not be received well.

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Yeah but…so what? Maybe the owner would blanch, but if this person’s trainer is pushing 6 figure horses onto them, the trainer should be open to breaking down pricing (AND the agent fees!) and also showing them a range of options. Not just pushing this one horse onto them. Major red flag.

I had not one but two connections of mine offer to fly with me to Ireland and Germany to shop, and tell me it would be cheaper to take a vacation and get a horse than buy in my market.

This OP sounds like another victim of unscrupulous people pushing an unaffordable horse.

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how much has the lease been? 10k per month?

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I truly believe how one asks about a lower price is the key here. “I really love him but can only afford $x …is that a possibility?” is not insulting, at least to me.

OP, a loan for a horse at interest rates today may not be wise. A loan for a horse period may not be wise as others have stated. You will certainly need to insure this horse; you should investigate those costs and see if he’s even insurable for that purchase price.

I would also wonder why he hasn’t sold in the time you’ve been leasing him…

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I think he’s overpriced, unless he’s placing at the small tour in CDIs. I would expect at that price a horse has international-quality gaits or is already proven at GP.

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Agreed…especially since OP now loves him.

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I totally agree. Unless he’s a world class prospect with proven success at CDIs, that seems really, really high, even in today’s inflation-riddled world.

Many horses are successful at PSG, but can’t master the one tempis, or struggle in the piaffe/passage, etc. The gap between PSG and GP is BIG.

There are lots of cheaper schoolmasters, which sounds more aligned with what you need.

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The price is hard to say. It’s not UN reasonable, from the market point of view, for an amateur friendly horse with good PSG scores and GP potential, that passes the vet. At this price point, it’s all about the right person coming along with the right wallet, and about specific details for the horse that we can’t evaluate in text.

However. When you are mentioning with some dismay your monthly $3500 boarding and training bill, that says to me that this horse is financially out of reach, regardless of the market value. At minimum a loan would add a few more thousand, plus if you want to show you probably need to add another $2k to your monthly budget.

Unlike an asset like a house, it’s unlikely you’d get your money back out. This is tuition money, not an investment, and you have to assume it’s gone forever once you hand over the cashier’s check.

So. How to proceed?

First, enjoy that you’ve had the opportunity to lease - such a privilege. Think about your budget and what you can realistically absorb, if this horse were not in front of you. Talk to your trainer very honestly about what your budget is, not just for purchase, but for training and showing, and develop a plan.

(This is also the right way to negotiate around the price, potentially, because the trainer-agent can look at what budget you’ve put out there and decide what is best for the other client, a quick sale for less vs continuing on the market.)

As you are at third level, when this horse sells, you can probably find a very nice horse for yourself well below 100k that will allow you to move forward in your riding goals. It won’t be this horse and not with the same potential, but if you are like most riders, you don’t need that level of potential just yet. If you have the time and money and perseverance to ride and compete to get to GP, it may still be one or two horses away. If you are finally ready for GP when the horse is 17 that might not be as ideal as buying a horse like this in 5-6 years.

To answer your other question, there are lots of horses that are successful at PSG that don’t make it to GP. There are even quite a few that make it to I2 that can’t handle the extra demands that appear at GP. Sometimes that’s because of the rider, sometimes that’s because of money, and sometimes that’s because the horse just doesn’t have that last bit. Usually it’s a mix of all three, but even the very top riders who have brought along many GP horses have some that don’t go all the way.

Maintain the lease with every bit of honor and thanks you can until the horse is sold.

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Just adding that he’s not a warmblood and, as an Andalusian, probably not tall and maybe the gaits are not super. Even if (big IF) he reaches GP, he may not be competitive at the International level because of these things.

How long has this horse been on the market? Perhaps the owner has not really tested the market and his price is unrealistic?

If I were you, I’d wait to see if his price comes down. Or just enjoy the ride. There are many, many nice horses at that price.

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No. There is a saying that PSG is half way to GP. Most PSG horses do not make it to GP.

These are just random thoughts from buying horses at this level over the years:

If you have already shown this horse and not scored well, take that seriously. Yes, you will learn to ride better over time, but there may also be something about the horse, or about the match with you, that impacts fundamentals (i.e. every score you receive in the test). That gets discouraging.

Look at the score sheets and scores from when the trainer showed him. I’m happy to help you locate them if you want to PM me. Those will tell you a ton about where the horse’s strengths and weaknesses are, and how those will translate as he tries to move up the levels.

Also, if you are just getting started at third level, you may not need this horse to be the one that goes to GP. That horse may be a few more learning experiences down the road for you yet.

As to the price, only you can decide. Do not buy a horse that you can’t comfortably afford.
Higher prices have been paid for horses with less training because they were able to get high scores while ridden by riders with little experience, and give those riders a good, safe experience. Lower prices have been paid for confirmed GP horses, but in most cases those were not GP horses that could get high scores when ridden be inexperienced riders. Those are horses with a spook, or horses that are tricky rides, older horses with maintenance needs or limited years left at the level, and horses whose gaits suggest their maximum score at the level might be quite limited.

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Fair pont. I think if OP wants the horse more than the relationships then there is absolutely no harm in asking. I think he OP should be prepared that if an offer comes in significantly below asking price, it is not unheard of for the relationship as a whole to sour and could cause a premature end to the lease. People aren’t always rational or reasonable.

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Just to add, after rereading the OP, if the horse has been for sale for a year at that price, and has been marketed while he was at Wellington, it’s too high. Prices were higher last year if anything.

I love Andalusians and think they’re wonderful for dressage, but the number that have been internationally competitive can be counted on one hand. I’m assuming the market for this horse is as an amateur mount and not an international-class prospect, which is not to say such horses are inexpensive.

Take stock in your realistic finances, have the heart to heart with your trainer, maybe gut-check it with someone else in your barn or riding circles. If the top of your budget and the horse’s owner’s desire to sell intersect, they know where to find you; the trainer will surely let you know.

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I think if the OP has a good relationship with the trainer, there is no reason not to have the conversation.

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