If you are thinking about buying a horse for the first time, you might experience sticker shock when you start searching the classifieds. Good quality horses are not cheap!
There are a lot of horses out there to choose from but how much do you actually have to pay for a good horse? From experience, I’ve learned that you can find good horses at every price range.
On average, the most common horse breeds cost $2,500 – $5,000. The price of a horse increases into the $5,000 – $10,000 range when they have special blood lines, excellent conformation and many hours of intense training. Certain horses like Arabians, Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods can command prices greater than $30,000 simply because of their breed.
However, don’t let the vast price range discourage you from finding the best horse for you. There is more to learn if you want to get the best bang for your buck. Keep reading and I’ll show you what you need to know to find a horse that fits your budget.
What determines the price for a horse
Horse prices vary greatly and for good reason. One flat rate price doesn’t work for all horses because they are not all equal in lineage, conformation, health and training. It makes sense to pay less for an untrained horse and a bit more for a well cared for horse.
Let’s take a look at several factors that contribute to the overall value of a horse.
- Breed – Categorizing horses by breed is the first major factor when it comes to price. Some breeds are worth more than others because of their designated looks and use. Breeds designed for specific activities like racing, jumping or herding cattle give a horse more value. Just like with dogs, purebreds are also worth more than mixed breeds.
- Pedigree – Registered horses cost more than unregistered horses. A registered horse, also know as having “papers”, has a written breeding history. Offspring of prodigious sires and dams have ingrained value that they often live up to as a result of good breeding.
- Conformation – Conformation is the overall physique and build of a horse. Their bone structure, muscles, way of moving and standing all make up their conformation. The closer a horse is to meeting the “standard”, the more money it’s worth. This is especially important for show horses and riding disciplines where certain physical traits make or break their ability to perform. A beautifully built horse is nice but remember, they don’t need to have perfect conformation to be a great trail or ranch horse.
- Training – A well disciplined horse with hours of training in one or multiple disciplines is worth more than the average trail horse. Owners expect to get a monetary value that is equal to the time and effort they put into training the horse. Young horses that have not received any training, or very little, are usually worth less. Older horses that haven’t been trained or ridden in a long time will also require more work and therefore should cost less.
- Age – The age of a horse and its value can be tricky. A foal can be worth more than an adult horse with standard training simply because of its excellent pedigree. Other times, a 10 year old horse is worth a pretty penny because it is physically and mentally in its prime. And don’t forget, horses that have been around many years are now essentially “bomb proof”.
Cost for 15 most popular horse breeds
Now that you have an idea of all the pieces that are considered when pricing a horse, let’s go over what you can expect to pay on average for the 15 most popular breeds. If you are on a strict budget, use this list to help narrow down your search to specific breeds.
This list gives you a general price range you can expect to pay for horses. However, you may find a great horse way cheaper than expected for many reasons. Also, remember that just because a horse is really expensive, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will live up to that price tag. Do your homework and make sure you are paying an appropriate amount equivalent to the quality of the horse.
|American Quarter Horse||$2,000 – $6,000|
|Appaloosa||$3,000 – $6,000|
|Arabian||$5,000 – $30,000|
|Dutch Warmblood||$4,000 – $30,000|
|Fjord||$4,500 – $10,000|
|Friesian||$3,500 – $50,000|
|Haflinger||$3,000 – $6,000|
|Morgan||$1,200 – $15,000|
|Mustang||$1,000 – $5,000|
|Paint||$1,000 – $10,000|
|Palomino||$1,500 – $5,000|
|Standardbred||$900 – $5,000|
|Tenneessee Walker||$1,000 – $10,000|
|Thoroughbred||$1,000 – $50,000|
|Warmblood||$2,000 – $40,000|
How much does it cost to lease a horse
If you aren’t ready to commit to buying a horse, try leasing one! Horse owners that don’t have time to ride their horses often opt for leasing them to others who can give them the appropriate amount of attention.
You can usually lease a horse for $250 – $400 a month. Partial leases designate strict limits on riding time to a few occasions a week. Full leases give you complete access to the horse. They can stay on the owner’s property or come live on your property. Feed and other associated costs may or may not be included in the lease fee.
How much do ponies cost
If you think that horses are too expensive, you should consider ponies. However, in some situations ponies can be just as expensive as full sized horses. You can buy some pony breeds starting at $800 but most are still in the $1,200 – $5,000 range.
Base your decision to buy a pony because of size and not price. Are you more comfortable riding closer to the ground? Is a pony a better fit for you than a bigger horse? Make sure you consider all the options a pony will provide before you buy.
Where can I get a free horse
If you are wondering if you can get a horse for free, the answer is yes! My second horse Maverick was given to me for free through mutual friends. His previous family just had too many horses to take care of and he needed a better home.
There are “free horse” sections in many online horse classifieds like EquineNow and DreamHorse. You can even find free or very inexpensive horses on Craigslist and Facebook. Many states also have horse rescue programs that are looking for interested horse owners.
However, free horses come with the risk that they have more problems than average. Why else would you give away a horse for free? Some owners just simply need to get rid of the horse quickly but may times there are issues that prevent the horse from selling.
These problems may not be obvious until something triggers them later on. A free horse can quickly build up expensive vet bills if they have health issues as well.
If you are up for the challenge and are comfortable with horses, I say go for it! See if you can setup a trial basis first. I gained a wonderful relationship with my horse Maverick and I would do it again in a heart beat.
How much does it cost to maintain a horse
Purchasing a horse is expensive but the cost of maintaining a horse is really where the dollars start to add up. The longer you have horses, the more money you will spend on them.
You can expect to pay on average $215 – $375 a month or $2,580 – $4,500 a year to properly maintain a horse.
The exact cost depends on the specific things you need to take care of your horse. Some reoccurring expenses include hay, grain, treats, water, shampoo, insect repellant, dewormers, medicines, vaccinations, farrier fees and vet fees. If you want to show your horse or compete, throw in entry fees and riding lesson costs. You will also have to pay hefty boarding fees if you don’t keep your horse on your own property.
Many things are a one-time purchase but are still expensive like barn supplies, tack, riding clothes, grooming supplies and a horse trailer.
You may find it more affordable overall to buy feed in bulk, however it is going to cost more up front than if you buy a few bales of hay each month. It all depends on your budget and storage space.
This might seem daunting and expensive but remember, many of these things are not required when owing a horse. Check out my other article about how much it really costs to own a horse. I go into great detail on how much you really need to budget in order to own a horse.
You can buy a horse on any budget and get a good one if you know what to look for. Remember, most of the time you do get what you pay for. However, the average horse owner who is looking for a steady trail horse or 4-H buddy can still find good horses for less than $3,000. Make sure you always do your homework and really check out the horse before you commit to buying.