Neu Perspectives

The Price Point Pivot

From future plans to timelines and goals, when shopping for a horse, there’s more to assess than just the price tag.

From future plans to timelines and goals, when shopping for a horse, there’s more to assess than just the price tag.

Nice horse. 

I know — our market is wild. It seems that in the last couple of years, demand has been high, and supply (for certain kinds) of horses is low. It’s hard to tell what you should even plan on spending anymore. 

I’ve been thinking about this lately and how a lot of people are OK with losing money on their horses. It’s not technically a loss; it’s something they enjoy and hope to make memories and gain skills with. It’s a wonderful way to spend one’s time. There are so many perks to horse ownership. But as with anything, when deciding what to spend, it’s so important to weigh the value of a horse over the cost of it. 

This is a deep subject that can barely be explained in a short blog post, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes a $200,000 mare is a screaming deal, and a $400 pony is way overpriced. Expensive, cheap or whatever the tag associated with the number someone paid for a horse is not as important as the value of what’s behind that amount. 

It can be confusing. And sometimes, if you want something and it’s overpriced and not worth what you are paying, but you have the money to spend, who cares? Go for it. You’re not in this to make money, and it sparks joy. I’m all for it. 

And for the others, know that the $200,000 mare is still show sound and spits out a $100,000 baby every year. The $400 pony is not broke and acts touchy — not to mention that no kid nor adult can catch it, much less ride it. If you can’t navigate clearly through the value of the horses you’re considering, realize that the most important thing you can do to ensure a positive outcome is to find people you trust to help you and guide you through your decision. 

For example, say your budget for a nice horse is $25,000. You find a reputable trainer to assist you and go somewhere where the people are honest, and the horses are exactly as they say and feel. You tell them what you want, and they have three options. There is the perfect fit for $30,000. He’s sound, quiet, middle-aged and pretty. In all honesty, he’s underpriced for what he is and what’s gone into him. And then there’s one for $15,000 that is older, requires maintenance to stay sound, not nearly as pretty or well-bred but is also very broke and safe. The third option is a beautiful, sound, talented, open-quality 2 year old by Badboonarising and out of a good mare whose progeny’s earnings exceed $200,000. He’s started and going and is good-minded but needs more training to fit your goals and vision. He is priced at $25,000. 

There’s no bad answer to the above scenario but understand that each horse carries a different value compared to the price tag. The $30,000 horse will hold its value and bring joy. The $15,000 horse is cheap compared to what you thought to spend and also brings joy, but his value will continue to drop as the years go by. The Badboonarising might be a $100,000 horse toward the end of his three-year-old year, but will he be something that fits what you want now? Will you find joy in the ups and downs, having him in training, taking him down the performance road as he gets trained? Cheaper isn’t always the most sensible. But again, neither is the most expensive choice either.

I raise, buy, train and sell ponies. I don’t flip horses, and I rarely trade them around. Usually, I’m in it for the long haul and hope to have a nice, finished product that is a notch above the normal kid pony. So, when folks ask me what I’ve got for sale, I think it’s sometimes surprising to them that my stock doesn’t match Craigslist prices. I’ve learned to be ok with that. My ponies aren’t the right choice for everyone, and I totally understand wanting a cheap starter pony for a kid to tug around the roping pen while Dad heels. But a horse (or pony!) with years of training, seasoning and experience, on an excellent feed program and is sound, level-headed and kind, with years left ahead of them to help kids build their confidence, holds a lot of value. So, sometimes, spending $1,500 on a gentle, old pony that’s been ridden a little bit by kids and has poor manners and an illbroke feel versus spending $15,000 on something with $30,000 worth of riding really speaks volumes to the value of your money spent. 

More isn’t always better, and it’s not smart to go broke trying to keep a big herd of horses around. (This is a classic example of doing as I say, not as I do). But when thinking about what you want to spend on a horse you hope to fall in love with, do this: Get a good team together, consider the different tiers of what each price point offers and what sort of value is the smartest one for you at this stage in the game. 

And on another note, if you pass on the Badboonarising colt, can I please have their number?

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