What should I expect to pay for this type?

TL;DR: what would a chunky 16.1-17.3 2yo+ mare or gelding that could get a piece of the local A hack cost these days? No OTTBs, why is below.

Okay, so theoretically shopping here. I’m still dumping money into my chronic NQR gelding, but his KS may spell retirement in some fashion. So I’m starting to think about my next horse. Problem is, I have NO idea what this horse might cost! I am fine with green or even unbacked, but I don’t think I’m ready to take on a weanling. I’ll be paying board and have access to great training (as well as great barn owner), and I really enjoy the process and having fun vs competitive success. However, I do want to be competitive at the B/C rated level.

Needs: SOUND. Like I know things happen, but I want the structural integrity. Mostly sane as well, but I can handle baby horse silliness as well as a BIT of spook. Solid bone and bigger barreled. Would prefer a mare, but I’ve had 3 geldings so that’s fine too. A good brain to go trail ride and maybe tadpole Eventing or camping. I can train for whatever but I need a horse who is “game” to try new things.

Wants: Big. I’ll take a chunky 16.1 but would love up to 17.3. Push ride, though I can handle more. Would love to get a piece of the hack at the smaller As, though jumping form and an uphill build are more important. Flashy is cool, but my favorite is a gorgeous built chestnut, with or without chrome!

Do NOT want: OTTB. I know I know but I’ve had such trouble with soundness on this one and know plenty of people also with issues. Sport bred TB is fine. I also do not want spicy/prep to death to do the hunters. I can 1000% handle it, but would prefer a push ride or something that just needs a “balance” ride.

What do y’all think this is going for these days? Does it even exist? Should I just buy a mountain bike?

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A friend of mine bought a 3yo mare meeting this description from a very large reputable breeder in KY 3 years ago for $35K. With the crazy prices recently not sure what that would be today. She’s not the hack winner but competitive locally.


Whenever you’ve found this, please let me know so I may bid 5k higher. I’ve been looking for the same unicorn as you. This must be the description of many horse buyers right now.


I’m selling the 4-year-old 17.3 hand gelding version of this right now for… well, high five figures. :grimacing: Probably not the exact answer you wanted and granted, this one has world-beater potential and is in a very desirable color “configuration,” so take that price and work your way down. It is a tough market.

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I expect that’s the rub - used to be my criteria would’ve been considered wide open, and the fact that I’d take a 2yo or something unbacked and don’t even want to be dabble in the bigger A’s would open up so many options. In this market I’m scared that there isn’t anything out there - and what it will cost if it does exist!

You’re looking for the horse every ammy wants, just a bit younger than most folks are open to, so even unbacked I’d say solid mid fives. A sport bred TB would likely be less but I feel there’s so few out there, especially ones bred for the hunter ring.

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I agree mid-fives at least. I just wanted to chime in to remind you that the bigger ones are harder to keep sound.


I’m well aware of the issues with size. I’ll take something smaller with good bone but I’m legitimately tall and can look a tad unbalanced on something slab sided.

I was expecting at least mid fives. Which seems insane considering ITS A HORSE but this market is crazy. I remember as a kid $20k and a little luck could’ve gotten what I wanted, but those days have passed I think!

Let’s say I’m open to gambling on a weanling or yearling (yes I’m well aware of the time and skills it takes to bring one up, as well as the risk it might not be exactly what I want). What are these babies going for these days? I have been VERY casually scrolling Facebook groups but it seems no one posts prices even on their websites (or I just don’t know where to look).

I’d also consider a QH or Appendix, but that puts me solidly out of my usual circles and I would have no idea where to even start browsing.

I’m just an average ammy on an okay budget trying to decide if this sport has a place for me anymore - mid fives would be doable but only once. If that horse were to get injured outside of insurance coverage I’d probably be unable to replace it with good conscious and relationship intact - and I already have one retiree on my bill.

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Well, I bought one that meets all your requirements but he’s a little older (6 when I bought him in Jan) and was being firesold. I paid $22k on a bargain basement deal.

These do exist but a lot of the bargains are on the smaller side since everyone wants a fat, 16.2, bay gelding hack winner.

If you’re okay with green-as-grass and can set $10k aside for import, you may be able to get a decent deal from Europe. My guy came to the people who sold him to me via the Czech Republic, and I found out what they paid and felt it was surprisingly low for the quality.

This 100x over. I’m in the “could” and my 30yo self would. Not anymore. Once you have “the” horse it’s $2K a show minimum to make it up with our local circuit of one day shows all but gone.

Another ammy friend just bought a nice looking Appendix that might meet your criteria, but a yearling. But she has her own farm and will enjoy the journey if the baby decides she’s not a hunter.


Mid 5s if you’re lucky for a riding age horse. Everyone wants the hack winner. The lower the fence height the more people pay for it too. The 2’6 hack winner goes for crazy amounts. Losing the “hack winner” would drop your price CONSIDERABLY.

I think you could get a nice baby for low 5s but then you’d have to wait and it’s a bit of a crapshoot.

If you can ride different types and get along with lots then you could import from a lesser known euro market for more like low-to-mid 5s.


Interesting that the hack winner is more relatively at the low levels. But then again often the jumping is inconsistent at that level so a blue in the hack might make the difference between champion and nothing.

For clarity, I’m fine with a “piece” of the hack (as in cute but not worldbeater) but even then I’m still seeing things selling for insane prices.

I’m suspecting I may be priced out of even the local level market now. An old friend used to clean up in the small As and local C shows with an inexpensive QH by nailing the O/F and hoping something fancy blew a lead in the hack - horse was a saint but not a cute mover. These days even that type is going for $40k+ with a minimal show record. Which is quite disheartening for what I’d call the “average” ammy!

I could always let my hunter dreams go and switch to straight jumpers, where my preferred ride is quite different (catty and with some game - think 16h bouncy ball built like a pony. A saddle fitting nightmare for my height and femur in my experience :joy:). But I still have that dream of owning a horse I love to watch hack around.

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I get that you don’t want an OTTB given your past experience (which I’m not doubting or trying to talk you into considering) but this is why they fill a niche. That’s where you can find what you’re describing and it’s not mid 5s.

We’ve also had some luck converting eventers that just didn’t have the dressage chops. Lots are TBs but not right OTT. That’s a market to keep an eye on.


I am selling one for $35k, I think if you look you could find one marginally cheaper but not by much

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I was in the market this year and have seen nice unbroken or lightly started 3 year olds from smaller but reputable US breeders for $18-25k. Find a breeder who is located in a low COL area like the midwest or north dakota, buy from them direct and save $10k. Quite a lot of them, although they do sell fast as 3 yos, I narrowly missed out on a few lovely youngsters that had just been backed but this is the time of year they come for sale again. I also am considering a very nice 4 year old mare that is not backed. A lot of these breeders have terrible or unmaintained websites so just call them on the phone is my recommendation.

And you also get a young horse that grew up outdoors on pasture in a herd, which is important to me as they are stronger and have good minds.


My perspective is a little skewed, but with the oncoming drought, fuel prices and rising grain prices, I think horses may have a downward correction soon.

I’m in NM, hay is going to be scarce this year, we don’t have a lot of water already and the fires are going to make it worse. The ashes get in the irrigation water and cover everything in mud.

I’m already seeing prices a lot lower around here.


This is an unfortunate reality that we may indeed be facing soon.

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I really think that these sorts of challenges only truly affect the lower end of the market. The people shopping into the six-figure range don’t mind a 10% price hike on their horsekeeping costs.


Do you have the ability to save for another year while you ride something else? I say this for two reasons:

  1. Everyone agrees we’re at a weird point in time in the horse economy. Horse prices are super high, but input costs are rising fast. Nobody really knows what’s going to happen, but one year’s time might dispel some of the mysteries.

  2. Buying a green horse with potential is always such a romantic idea, but it can really go sideways. COTH forums are rife with stories! If you can save and increase your budget, you can buy one already doing the job and reduce your risk a lot.

Not sure if that’s even realistic for you, but it’d probably be a wise move to wait and save.