What the F is Going on With Horse Prices!?

Exactly this! Since Covid it’s been crazy! Are first time owners buying all these horses? Horse flippers coming out of the woodwork? Even live and auction prices are through the roof! I have no problem with buying a horse that has come through an auction if the seller has had it long enough, fairly and honestly represents it and I can ride it and get a PPE. Nowadays you don’t even get a chance to sit on it or vet it. Boom! It’s already sold…:roll_eyes:

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Supply and demand? Low interest rates increasing consumer purchasing power? Spiking costs associated with keeping horses? COVID restrictions reducing the amount households are spending on “indoor” entertainment thus increasing the amount available to spend on outdoor recreation like horses? Market crash circa 2008 ish put a dent in the number of quality horses being bred in America therefore reducing supply and increasing prices in the current hot demand?

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I agree with all the points made by @lenapesadie but want to add a generational perspective. I also became a first-time owner during covid, but covid didn’t really have anything to do with it. The deciding factor was that I paid off my student loans and put a big dent in my mortgage. Lots of millennials like me are entering that life stage and simultaneously deciding they aren’t having children. Millennials are more likely than earlier generations to be college educated indicating they have better income potential. Obviously this doesn’t account for full market swing, but it’s a point I rarely see raised. That’s my experience at least.

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Supply is trending down - lots of breeders started getting out of the business following the 2008 crash. It’s also become increasingly expensive to produce a nicely trained horse with good skills and experience - the kind of horse a newer rider needs.

So supply was already down, when COVID drove demand way up. The average white collar professional couldn’t spend their disposable income in the normal ways - fancy meals, vacations, broadway shows, etc. They also had a lot more time on their hands - no family vacations, no work travel, no daily commutes, etc. Picking up an outdoor hobby made a lot of sense.

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We keep on thinking that with the rapid increases in the costs of keeping horses, that horses are gonna be dumped soon… fire sales. Price of hay and grain, and board, and barn worker’s wages effecting the cost of board. What happens when the price of mortgages and other borrowed money goes up soon? Maybe I’m just a pessimist about this, IDK.

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The market is finally matching the true cost of creating said products.

Land has gone up, feed has gone up, board has gone up. It’s just plain expensive now to own a horse.

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And adding on to this, so many of those trainers who used to give young horses a solid foundation to set them up to become nicely trained horses with good skills and experience are aging out of the business and there are very few younger people stepping up to fill that niche.

I heard a breeder joke recently that when Bob (the only good colt starter left in this area) retires, she’s going to have to stop breeding.

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Yeppers. And bought a farm instead of a suburban home in a good school district :wink:

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I’ve been planning another horse for a while and currently navigating getting a mustang. Don’t have the fence height, time, nor experience to start one myself but…thinking that finding a gifted trainer that is bringing one along and once you’re over the year out of the holding pens then you don’t need BLM approval on facilities right? Would be a Sale Authority type purchase?

But why a Mustang? 1. Getting one from a good/soft trainer who started them means less baggage and poor start and you have the other advantages Mustangs bring to the table - soundness, foot quality, athleticism.

And you’re also helping get these horses out of the holding pens. We have a big problem and now a drought.

Win win? Seems to me for under $10,000 a good horse can be acquired. Sound right?

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You can certainly get a good all around using horse for under $10,000. Maybe closer to $5000 for ranch bred QH.

I don’t think you can get a horse with proven performance in a set discipline for under $10, 000.

Perspective. When I went shopping for my first horse as a young teen, my parents top budget was $350. When my sister got a horse a few years later we upped that to $400. These were backyard trail horses. For actually schooled you had to pay $750.

When I returned to riding 15 years ago, safe kids local low level jumpers were $5000. Now they at least double that. However my closet trainer connections have a knack for finding bargains or freebies, though these come with baggage.

I sort of borrowed my mare from my trainer at a point trainer had too many horses, and never gave her back. She’s priceless but I have no idea her market value.

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Well how smart were you to just borrow something and not bring it up again? I love it.
I like the idea of a ranch bred QH but really feel pulled to helping with the mustang “problem”.
What are your thoughts on getting a mustang?

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Be patient and maybe the market will be flooded come next Spring? Fertilizer has at least TRIPLED in cost from last year and that along with increased fuel prices is going to make hay prices skyrocket for everyone I would imagine.

Growers are going to have to pass along the increase to their customers and some people may be unloading some horses?

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What I’ve come to about so much of pricing going up on some things is that people with investments have done SO well in the market over the past 10 years that I don’t see prices like horses or new homes coming down for who knows…years.

If you had $500,000 in the S&P500 10 yrs ago you know have $2MM (TWO MILLION DOLLARS) - that’s a 15% return.

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I hadn’t thought about this but this is my cohort/friend group, too. 30s and 40s, good professional jobs, no kids, probably splitting a lot of costs with a partner… leaves a decent amount of money to spend on the horses, especially if you haven’t traveled much in two years. Views on homeownership are changing too. Pretty much everyone I know, even people with plenty of family help, are so priced out of the market that they’ve just given up. If you’re not aiming to buy a house, may as well buy a horse.

The pandemic has also reframed people’s perspectives on what is important to them. Hobbies, pets, sports, time outdoors with friends and family is a much bigger priority than it was a few years ago for many of us.

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I saw an imported yearling the other day priced at $65k. Mind blown… Was hoping to be able to afford something really nice in the next few years, but it’s not looking good anymore with these prices…

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@PaddockWood

My first horse was a wildie, feral horse off a reserve, that I bought for $350 off the local dude string. She was broke WTC. She was very smart, tough, healthy, and surefooted.

Mustangs are very variable in conformation and type. You’d need to look at the horse in front of you.

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OP mentioned you no longer can PPE a horse at an auction before bidding, if I read that correctly?

Most auctions have never held horses long enough for prospective buyers to do anything but watch it being led and, possibly, ridden by an auction provided bruise boy/gal a few hours before the sale. Winning bidder takes it as is, always has at typical, public auctions. Thats nothing new.

Far as prices, perhaps we (as an industry) finally have stopped overproducing?

I suspect that the aging-out factor of the producers of riding horses, in so many disciplines, is going to affect the horse market for quite some time. Maybe decades. Thinking of breeders and trainers, who seem to skew toward boomer generation.

I remember even 15 years ago being in an area where the ammy-adult divisions were full, but the junior divisions were small in comparison. Those juniors and their classmates would now be graduating college and starting careers. How many of that population will be thinking of owning a horse sometime in the next 5-10 years? Probably a low percentage compared with past generations. How many of the then-ammy’s are now physically slowing down and considering cutting back on riding? Quite a few. Anyway, not a good sign for the future of the demand for riding horses.

So the current surge in demand could be temporary. Might last a few years, though, if the trend toward moving out of the urban areas continues.

If the horse supply does exceed the numbers of riders who can and will make those horses into good riding partners, or even good farm ornaments (if they are at least easy to handle), there will be many more neglected horses in the future. Guessing that is likely to depend on each geographic area. Some will have more riders than others.

But maybe the pandemic retreat out of the city and to the country will create more homes for horses than would have been available otherwise?

Also: A question for the millenials. For a time there was a U.S. population trend toward more urban, population-dense areas. Concentrate the human footprint and work toward efficiency there. Is the pandemic move back out to the country and smaller towns mostly boomers, or millenials and younger workers as well?

So, for SA or Adoption you need BLM approval. You might want to just go ahead and get approved, because if you find a Mustang in a training program with a TIP trainer, s/he will probably be finished with the horse before time is up and would only transfer to you the adopted horse…so you would need to be approved but wouldn’t need 6’ fence for a gentled Mustang or a trained mustang regardless of how short of one year that horse was.

I have 9. one has been with me a very short time, 4 for one year and three for a year and a half. I am aboard one of the first ones so far and working on the other two (not for sale btw).

You are so right about their feet. My farrier skips them most of his visits. Like, for every four visits to for the domestics he’ll trim the mustangs once(the three that have been here the longest…other horses aren’t gentle enough to have him do their feet…but! they don’t need it anyway)

So, you could find a good TIP trainer and work toward getting one from them. OR, you could get a TIP trainer and select your own horse from holding and have it go straight to your TIP trainer, but be adopted (or SA) by you from BLM.

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I think you’re onto something. I was also interested and a quick search provided this recent document about just your question:
“Then COVID-19 happened and many of these millennials found themselves working from home. Zillow found that nearly two million renters unable to afford homes in metro areas could now afford to buy farther out because they no longer had to commute to work.”
Source: https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/10/zillow-and-census-bureau-data-show-pandemics-impact-on-housing-market.html

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