Spin-off: “off” breeds for h/j and where to find them

Much discussion recently on the skyrocketing horse prices; many people are feeling priced out including myself. For those of us with a low 5s budget-which no longer allows for a decent riding-age WB in many markets-what are some of out of the box breeds/types to look for and where the heck do you find them?! I’m not talking about anything super fancy, just types that could hold their own at local A/B level shows.

I’m thinking sport-bred TBs, sport/over-fences bred appendix, lighter draft crosses….what else? And where to look?

The classic choice is a nice OTTB. Cheap athletic beautiful and everyone’s first choice before WBs became popular. Still big in eventing.

You’d need to just look up breeders near you to see who is successfully making TB x draft. They can be quite nice or a disaster conformationally so I’d only buy an adult. Ditto Appendix. People do mix crap QH and TB and get some horses with short necks and tiny feet. A good one is fantastic. I wouldn’t call either off breed because they are all over lower level shows.


There an Arab at my barn that cleans up in hunters, and can jump like nobody’s business. He’s got an incredible step, makes long spots look planned and is very sweet.

He could pass as a Selle Francais, or Trakehner.


Yes and Anglo Arabs are nice.


Totally agree and I’ve had a few! I’m not ruling them out-just trying to come up with other options.

In my immediate area there is a big, pretty TB mare for sale; last raced 12/21, listed on CANTER in March for $6,500, now listed by re-seller for $15,000. Just so much higher than what I’m used to. I’ve only had young TBs and QHs over the last 10 years and they were all under $5k. Crazy how the market changes.


I’m the one with the other thread feeling this way and if I wasn’t so dang tall there’s an ArabxSaddlebred in my barn that could actually do very well locally - cute mover and a generous step actually. Maxes out at 3’ but would work for many people realistically. That’s definitely an “off” breed, and I think a unique individual.

Had an Arab/Hanoverian in the barn that would’ve done well but was VERY green and pushed too hard I think - I’m wondering if the right Arab crosses might be a goldmine. But I would want to see the adult horse for sure.

1 Like

Sport saddlebreds


Still hard to beat a TB, whether OTTB, or unraced. Far more affordable, often sounder, big work ethic. I’ve never paid more than $3000 for any horse, ever, and have enjoyed adequate success with both racing and h/j. I ride TB, and TBX, by choice. If you are not rich, you have to make your own luck, choose well, and train your own. The next editions of Jet Run, Touch of Class, etc are standing at your local racetrack, just waiting for you to come and identify them, and take a chance with making the purchase. They should do the job just fine for you. But your coach won’t get the big commission on a big ticket purchase from Europe, thus folks get told how “difficult” this is. It’s not difficult, it just takes some skill, some experience, and some luck. Welcome to horse ownership… it’s always that way. Wager as much money as you feel comfortable with, and roll the dice.


QH and APHA. A lot of those ‘unknown breeding warmbloods’ you see at the AA shows are actually QH’s. Some are full blooded, others are a mix. The ones with reining or cutting lines tend to be excellent jumpers.

Draft crosses are always popular, but they can have high price tags because people will claim them to be warmbloods.

Standardbred/Saddlebreds (the non gaited ones) can be fun choices, though a lot of them just will not have the movement for hunters no matter what you do. There are exceptions of course; I know one that everyone thinks is a fancy warmblood breed of some sort, but he’s a standardbred who is built like a tank.


I’ve got a friend who breeds QHs for HUS and they’d make many hunter/jumper riders swoon. I’ve never seen any of them jump, but they’re all tall, lean and elegant - not words usually used to describe QHs. A handful of them end up with some cute color as well!

The QH market seems to be less crazy than H/J, and I’ve thought on more than one occasion that I’d consider buying one as a prospect.


In regards to the OTTB, I agree that they’re an attractive price if you’ve got the skill (though seemingly sound ones with decent conformation are coming off the track for $4k+ these days). I disagree that they are sounder though, as a rule.

I’m one of a growing number of my connections that have a soft spot for a TB but have had seemingly endless soundness issues as our horses get “older” - 9, 10, 12 years old. Specifically spine and neuro issues. Not all of them, obviously, but enough.

Which makes me want a full PPE from a non-track vet when buying for myself - narrowing my options to mostly horses from resellers. Which are going for low fives in my area with just a few weeks of groceries and a mane pull. Fair enough - but at that price I’d like to think I could find something of the same quality but without the baggage of track style farrier work and racing.

Edited to add: don’t get me wrong I love a good TB and I do think there are plenty of sound ones out there. I just don’t have the risk tolerance PERSONALLY to take one on as my next horse without doing a ton of homework


I’d love that info for her if she sells to the public. I’ll be in the market in the next year or so.

I’d also be interested in contact info if she sells to the general public. I’ll be looking in a few years!

I live in a part of the country with a huge Hispanic population. Friesian/QH crosses, or Andalusian crosses are the preferred horses and are bred all over the place. There are some really nice ones at the barn where I keep my retiree, and three others where I keep my hunter. Some are more dressage-y in movement, some more earthbound, all have nice temperaments. One sale horse had two trainers come see him jump and were ready to write a check that day, but the seller balked and leased him out to a dressage rider instead. He really had a lovely jump despite his feathers.

These types would be green to jumping, but are usually well broke and trail-ridden. They are out there on Craigslist, usually.


I’m strongly team Appendix but I feel like they’re kind of hard to find? I suspect the nicer ones just magically become WBs of unrecorded breeding.

I am in the same area as @Bristol_Bay and agree we have some interesting Friesian/Iberian crosses which would be very cute for lower level HJ but just aren’t marketed that way.

1 Like

There are some very nice appendix AQHA horses out there. A friend shows hers with great success at both AQHA shows and USEF shows. So hers are definitely not turning into WB of unrecorded breeding. The trick might be to search amongst the AQHA crowd unless those horses are priced as crazily as WBs. I’m currently riding one that’s a bit spooky, but I think the spookiness is related mostly to how his eyes are set wide apart—I’ve ridden a few WB with similar head conformation who were also a bit looky.

The best horse my mom ever had was a saddlebred-Arab cross. Athletic, brave, nice mover. I got decent ribbons on him in HUGE under saddle classes back in the the day when the LAHJA was LAHSA and mostly western with two English flat classes. Years later I had horses at a barn shared by a trainer who did Arab shows and had some very quality Arab-saddlebred crosses that did hunt seat flat classes and dressage. I suspect some would have been lovely over fences.

1 Like

Another vote for team Appendix here. I had one as a junior that won EVERYTHING at usef shows. Mistaken for a WB all the time! If you can find a younger one with good conformation, it could be a good solution to the crazy-priced WB market.


Honestly I would love an appendix and my trainer likes that idea also–neither one of us have experience or connections in that world so having a hard time finding them. I tried a really, really nice 3 yr old paint/TB over the weekend–checked all the boxes except conformation suitable for jumping, which wasn’t as evident in video as it was in person.

@Mander if you would be willing to PM your friend’s contact info, I would appreciate it!

A Cleveland Bay x TB has always been one of my favorites since the first time I rode one. Not too thick, but sturdy, not too hot, but still brave. If/when I get another horse, that would be very high on my list to get.


There’s a group similar to CANTER in Texas (LOPE, maybe?) that used to place a lot of Appendix horses off the tracks down there. Depending on where you’re located, that might be an option.

1 Like