Selling a horse is not easy and when deciding how much your horse is worth its value should not be determined by how much cash is needed to buy the next horse. For many owners, selling horses is not something they do often and putting the advert together and coming up with a realistic price tag can be very difficult. Whilst parting with their horse is usually a very emotional decision, when composing their advert, owners should try to remain objective when describing their horse; what are their assets, what job can they excel at, what proven experience do they have, what is their temperament like, how well are they bred, what are their quirks. There is no autotrader or zoopla for horses where you can actually see what other horses, similar to yours, sold for. There are many factors that can help to determine the value of your horse which are explained in more detail below.
Factors Influencing Value
- Height, Sex & Colour
- Intended Job & Performance Record
- Health Status
- Reason for Sale
- Economic Climate
- Marketing your horse
Horses in their prime (7-12yrs) are usually worth more simply because the demand for older or younger horses is less. Older horses are at risk of more wear and tear on their limbs whilst younger horses require more training investment and experienced, confident riders. Buyers should not however rule out older horses as they often have more experience of varied disciplines and if well cared for there is no reason they could not continue to do a job for many years to come. Likewise a younger horse with a sensible head on their shoulders who has already seen a lot should not be automatically dismissed on age alone, it is often down to the mileage of the horse, its training to date and its temperament and not necessarily its age which determines suitability.
Height, Sex & Colour
The height of a horse does impact on its value, the 16.2h bay gelding is going to be worth more for example than the 15h grey mare, again it relates to what people are looking for in a horse and geldings are more commonly preferred to mares, horses over 16h have a greater value than those under 15h and bays are preferred to greys.
The buyer is going to want to fall in love with their new horse. The more sane, sensible, attractive and “easy to do” the horse is the greater their value. If they are good to; catch, load, shoe, hack alone and sensible in traffic these attributes will count for a great deal. Safe, easy to manage horses are worth their weight in gold and these qualities will often supersede others such as breeding, sex, location and performance record. Horses that are suitable for novice or amateur riders can be of greater value than those which require a more experienced, professional rider despite perhaps being more capable at competition level.
A horse which is well bred, whose siblings have gone on to do great things will increase the horse’s value. It is also important that the horse is true to type, with good conformation and paces for the job it is being advertised for.
Some breeds will command higher prices than others. For example Thoroughbreds, particularly ex-racers tend to be the least expensive whilst Irish Draughts (and crosses), Connemara Ponies, Warmbloods and Spanish Horses just to mention a few, will command higher prices. This, in the main, is due to the demand for horses of these breed types due to their talent for particular jobs and their temperament.
Intended Job/Performance Record
The title you give your horse advert should indicates what job the owner feels their horse is best suited for, that may be an Allrounder, Competition Horse, Eventer, Hunter, Dressage Star or Happy Hack. The greater demand for a particular type of horse the greater value will be put on that horse. An allrounder who is easy to do, in their prime and who has a competition record to reflect their proven suitability for any given discipline will attract more buyers than a horse who can only excel in say dressage. A horse who is being sold as a “project” from the field will by comparison have a very low value as the risk in taking the horse on, where it cannot be tried and tested and where there is no performance record to speak of, reduces its price considerably. The demand for such horses is very limited and it usually makes better sense, both for the horse’s welfare and to ensure a better sale, to get the horse in regular work, hacking out and taking it to some events so that it appeals to a wider audience of buyers.
Horses will often have some sort of ailment or other whether that be a physical ailment, behavioural issue or vice. It is best to be upfront and honest about these issues as any serious buyer will be suspicious if your advert mentions nothing negative about your horse whatsoever. It is not in the interests of the buyer, seller or horse to waste time inviting people to visit your horse only for them to eventually find out about these issues later down the line through trying the horse or having a vetting. Some ailments will be a deal breaker for some buyers and not for others. A horse with some wear and tear but who has a super temperament and attitude to work but just needs a less strenuous life still has a value and can find a forever home but honesty is the key to finding it. Sweet Itch for example will be a problem for some buyers, particularly if where they keep their horses is especially prone to midges but not for others where the midge population is low and they have experience with the condition. Likewise for ponies who are prone to laminitis or horses who have a vice, if these horses score well in other areas they will still have a value and can find a suitable home.
Location actually does matter when selling horses. Whilst many buyers are prepared to travel a considerable distance to find the right horse they would prefer to do the majority of that travel via motorways than rural B roads. So if you have a quality 16.1h bay gelding, allrounder who is well bred, with an impeccable performance record, excellent temperament, aged 8 years old you are much more likely to be able to command a higher price for that horse in the home counties than say in the far reaches of Wales, Cornwall or Scotland. Sometimes it actually makes financial sense to move the horse to a livery in a more easily accessible location to ensure you reach more buyers.
Reason for Sale
A horse which has moved around a lot and has not been with its current owner for long will have a lesser value than a horse which has been with its owner for many years and is being sold through no fault of its own. The only exception to this rule is perhaps ponies which have been outgrown. Horses which are sold as they are unsuitable for the job intended can make buyers suspicious and cautious but this is no justification to be dishonest about why you are selling the horse. If a horse was originally bought to be a showjumper but actually prefers dressage and the odd sponsored ride then be open and up front and you are much more likely to appeal to genuine buyers who appreciate an honestly written advert from an owner who cares about finding their horse a home where they will be better suited and therefore remain with their new owners for a much longer period.
The economic climate will have an impact on the sale value of your horse. This is a factor outside of our control but will most certainly have influence on its value. During the Covid Pandemic we saw a huge increase in the sale prices of horses (and indeed puppies) as the demand increased for horses like we had never seen it before. People had more spare cash and time available to devote to the hobby as people were working from home, saving huge sums on petrol, not going out and not taking holidays and so forth. We now see ourselves in a recession and experiencing a “cost of living crisis” so the demand for horses has dropped, the number of horses being sold has risen and the value of horses has decreased.
Good horses which are sensible to hack out, have proven track records competing and are low maintenance will always command high prices and be easier to sell than horses which are more challenging to ride, have health or behavioural challenges and are less proven in their education and training.
Marketing Your Horse
Whatever the value of your horse, whether it is worth £500 or £15,000 unless your advert is written well, with good quality photos and video and then put in front of the right audience your horse is unlikely to sell for the price you want or to do so quickly.
It can be a false economy not to invest in paid advertising. You usually get what you pay for in terms of the audience you wish to penetrate and the service offered in terms of marketing. Don’t undersell your horse by not promoting their advert to enough people and don’t put too high a price on your horse with the intention to reduce the price if they don’t sell. So often horses are put up for sale at unrealistic prices only to be reduced weeks, sometimes months later by which point buyers are suspicious as to why the horse is still for sale and they are put off.
Any horse is only ever worth what a buyer is prepared to pay for it so arguably it is better to price your horse slightly below market value, get lots of interest and be able to choose the most suitable buyer and have your horse sell to the best of homes quickly than to pitch the price too high, have very few buyers or none at all and face the reality that you will need to reduce your price, all the while you will still be paying the running costs of the horse which will doubtless mount up to the hundreds which could have been saved if the price was less steep at the outset.
It is important that when you receive enquiries that you respond promptly and are honest when answering any questions about the horse’s potential suitability for the buyer. When you invite buyers to view your horse make sure your horse looks presentable, that they are clean and looking smart with pulled mane, trimmed feathers (if appropriate for the breed) and clean hooves. Ensure that your tack and yard are presentable. Buyers are not going to fall in love with a dirty horse, with dirty tack in an untidy yard.
If you are considering selling your horse and would like advice by all means contact us. If you would like to find out more about the benefits of advertising your horse for sale @ Right Horse Right Home do visit our How it Works page here. You can also read testimonials from other owners and buyers who have bought and sold horses through us here. I hope you have found this article useful and we welcome your comments below.