Buying your dream horse may come with a hefty price tag.
As the saying goes, “the cheapest part of horse ownership… is buying the horse.”
The first step of figuring out what your budget is for a horse, if you can afford one in the first place, is finding and averaging out the going rates for the cost of care in your area. On top of this, you’ll need to factor in the costs of farrier work, which differs exponentially in price depending on location and what type of hoof care your horse requires. Veterinary services (routine and accidental) are also a cost to consider.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the factors influencing the price of jumping horses. You’ll also learn about the ongoing care expenses you can expect to pay over the lifetime of the animal.
What Influences Horse Prices?
Factor #1: Training
The level of training the horse has received will influence its price dramatically. Training costs time and money, so the better trained a horse is already, the higher the price tag will typically be.
For riders who are not capable of doing their own training, and need a horse who is more trained, your budget will have to be bigger.
If you are a newer rider, do not try to save money by getting the less trained horse. Chances are, you’ll spend just as much money (or more) outsourcing training to fix issues you aren’t equipped to deal with yourself. You also risk turning an experience that should be exciting and fun into a stressful one instead.
Factor #2: Age
The age of the horse influences price quite a bit, too. An older, been-there-done-that horse, who has a significant level of training, may be cheaper due to soundness issues. Or, it may be winding down its workload instead of climbing up the levels in the way a younger athlete entering its prime can.
On the flip side, young horses may also be priced lower due to lack of experience and being more likely to be silly or excitable, thereby more difficult to handle.
Age isn’t going to guarantee the price tag, but it will give you a good idea if you look at it in conjunction with how much training the horse has. If you need a horse with experience, but have a limited budget, getting an older schoolmaster is likely the way to go. If you have the experience to train a youngster, you can get a young and promising athlete for cheaper and do more of the work yourself.
Factor #3: Soundness
The horse’s soundness will influence price a lot. Horses who need routine maintenance from the vet in order to perform as an athletic animal will typically see their prices take a hit as a result.
Horses who require nothing, and have put in years of sporting work and remained sound, are more likely to hold their price because of it.
Some soundness issues are just cosmetic, like old scars or bumps on the legs, rather than actually having physical issues come with them, but even still, these also tend to affect price.
If you are a rider that does not need an upper-level horse, you will likely have more opportunities to save on purchase price with horses that may have old injuries, maintenance or conformational issues that prevent them from reaching the upper levels or doing certain types of more strenuous riding. This is a great way to get a horse who can be well trained with a good mind, but on a lower price budget.
Factor #4: Level of Athleticism
Even without factoring in training, a horse who is untrained but shows high levels of athletic ability and a lot of promise to move up the levels of competition, will fetch a higher price than a less naturally inclined horse with more training.
Athletic ability, as perceived by the public, will boost the price tag.
A horse that jumps really well naturally and correctly will be priced higher than a similar horse who does not have as much of the wow factor when it comes to athleticism, even if in theory the skill can be adapted and trained with more work. Horses who show a ton of potential as athletes will be sold for more due to the promise they show naturally, the assumption is that with more training they could be even more capable as an athlete.
Factor #5: Overall Appearance
Humans are vain, so a horse who has a “wow” factor in photos and videos will sell for more money and in less time. People love fancy and unique markings, lots of white markings or “chrome” or unique colours such as palomino, black, liver chestnut, buckskins or steel dapple greys.
Physical appearance or uniqueness can make horses more appealing to buyers, regardless of age or training.
Similarly, there seems to be a tendency for equestrians to prefer geldings over mares, so a gelding may fetch a higher price tag than a comparable mare. There also is a bias against certain colours, like chestnuts, making horses in that colour more likely to sell for less.
Factor #6: Breeding
Bloodlines and breeding may also factor into price significantly. Nice sport horses are expensive to breed, and well-known stallions cost more to breed.
A horse who is not registered will typically sell for less than a comparable horse who is registered.
There is also a tendency for certain breeds to sell for less than others, particularly depending on what discipline they’re being marketed in. A Quarter Horse being marketed as a jumper will likely sell for less than a Thoroughbred or Warmblood, even if their athletic talent is comparable, simply because of breed biases in the sport.
Factor 7: Location
Location matters a lot when it comes to price. If you live in an area that is more rural and has less of a competition circuit, prices tend to be lower as sellers are more likely catering to pleasure riders. There is less demand for pricier horses that are being marketed as competition mounts.
Rural areas also have less people to market to in general and require more travel from out of area for people within cities to look at horses available, so prices also tend to be affected by this as well.
Similarly, in areas where one discipline or riding style dominates, you’ll see higher prices for the horses trained in the most sought after disciplines, but lower prices on horses who are specialized in disciplines that are less common in the area. In western areas, horses who are being sold as English horses for disciplines such as show jumping won’t have as much of a market and therefore prices may fall as a result.
Factor 8: Competition Record
Competitive record will increase price, especially for horses who have competed at rated shows and travelled distances to do so. If they have an impressive record at all different heights and with all different levels of riders, their price will increase exorbitantly to reflect their ability to do well with all different types of riders.
The competitive record is less important for riders who aren’t focused on moving up the levels of competition.
But for any horse you look at, this is something to keep in mind as it tends to increase the price pretty substantially compared to lots of the other factors.
What Does a Jumping Horse Cost?
Low-level jumpers will be the cheapest to buy, by default, due to the fact that a lot of different horses can fulfill the needs of a rider who has low-level ambitions.
Beginners with small budgets have more freedom to get something older that may not be able to jump the big jumps, but can keep them safe and pack them around smaller courses. Or, riders can save money by getting a horse who is well trained and well broke for another discipline, but greener to jumping.
For people shopping for a low level horse, you do not need the budget of someone who is looking for something that can be competitive on the A-Circuit, especially over bigger courses.
For riders who are able to handle a greener horse, you can very easily find something off of the racetrack to retrain for the lower levels for under $3,000. In many cases, provided the horse is sound, they should be able to even be taken up to the mid levels with appropriate training, giving the rider more freedom to adapt if their goals change.
This would not be a good choice for new riders, though, as horses straight off the racetrack need experienced handlers.
For riders who need something very broke, you can expect to find something for under $10,000 fairly easily. The price will vary substantially depending on how broke and trained the horse needs to be. If you need something absolutely bombproof, the price will be higher. If you want the horse bombproof and younger as well, depending on if the horse needs maintenance or not, the price will be higher.
For riders on a budget, you should be able to find nice low-level schoolmasters that are entering their senior years for less than $10,000. In a lot of cases, when riders are moving up and finding their older horses new jobs, they’ll sell their schoolmasters who may need a bit of maintenance or who can’t jump super-high for almost the same as you can buy a green broke horse.
It very much depends on location and to what level the horse has competed if they have, but it would be perfectly reasonable to have a budget at around $3,000-$5,000 if you’re okay with taking on something older that may need maintenance.
Surprisingly, in a lot of cases, mid-level jumpers can cost as much as upper-level jumpers. A horse who is fancy, successful in their discipline, and able to pack around junior or amateur riders, can be worth a lot of money.
There is some variation depending on the aforementioned factors, so you can save money depending on breed, soundness, age, etc. But for a mid-level jumper that you can buy and basically take straight into the arena, you’re more likely than not looking at spending more than $10,000.
A horse who has proven themselves at the 1m+ level in the jumper ring will be unlikely to be priced for under $30,000 especially if they’re viewed as a schoolmaster in their discipline.
The training and showing costs associated with producing a horse to this level are not cheap, so while the price tags may seem steep, it is reflective of the work put in and the type of buyer most of these horses are being marketed to.
Well known jumpers on the circuit, even at the mid levels, can be sold for within the 6 figures ($100,000+) and this really is not uncommon. Horses can truly fetch insane price tags, particularly if they’re being produced to be skilled at a specific sport.
If you’re on a budget, getting a green youngster is often the way to go if you’re capable as a rider to bring one along. You can also look into leases, or consider horses who are a bit older and may have once been an upper level jumper, but are looking to step down and go into some easier height brackets.
An upper-level jumper is a horse at the pinnacle of sport. This means they have to be sound enough to withstand the demands of the sport as well as athletically able to be competitive at the highest levels.
For riders who are shopping for an upper level horse that needs to basically be finished at that level, they have to be prepared to spend a lot of money—as in the cost of a house, basically, depending on where you live.
Essentially, if you want a finished upper-level horse that is fairly easy for a junior or amateur to get on and go, you need to have a six-figure budget or higher. It is truly a huge investment and something that you need to be in a luxury financial bracket to afford.
Of course, not all upper-level horses were bought for those crazy price tags initially, some riders who are able may be able to spend less on promising prospects and bring them up themselves. Then you also have to consider the costs associated with doing so, including the costs of bringing them out to shows to campaign them and over time, these costs can very quickly add up into the six-figure mark.
Horses who are proven at the Grand Prix level and have tons of accolades under their belts (err, girths) have even been known to sell for millions.
No, that isn’t a typo. So, if you’re looking to buy an upper-level jumper who has already somewhat proven themselves, be prepared to spend high five figures and above.
What Other Expenses Will Follow?
If you do not have a property setup for a horse to live on, you will need to board it at an offsite facility. Contact local boarding facilities and find out their rates for full board. Or, if you’re comfortable doing most of the work, you could look into self-care options, as well.
Boarding costs vary greatly depending on location. If you live in an expensive city, expect to spend a lot more than someone on the outskirts of town or in the country.
Boarding facilities with all of the bells and whistles like an indoor arena, fancy stalls, viewing lounge etc will bill accordingly.
Full board with a nice barn and an indoor arena and all of the amenities will be most expensive, especially if it is at a show barn. You can be looking at prices from anywhere from $500-$2,000+, depending on location.
Field board with a shelter tends to be one of the cheaper options and is, in most cases, better for the horse. Depending on the barn’s facilities and how much food the horses get, pricing varies substantially.
For grass pasture only, some places will offer this for as little as $150—though more likely $300-$600 if you want your horse being fed grain and supplemented with hay.
Feed and Supplements
If you do full board, feed should be included but is not always—always ask! Supplements are almost never included in board and price will depend on what your horse needs.
You can be looking from anywhere from as little as $15-$30 monthly, or upwards of $100-$300 depending on the exact supplements.
A horse who needs specialized supplements from the vet will be more expensive than one just being supplemented with basic minerals.
Regular vet costs for horses are typically limited to vaccines, teeth floating, and Coggins. Vaccines will depend on which ones you get, but you typically spend about $100-$250 per year. If you’re able to vaccinate horses yourself, you can save more.
Teeth floating varies depending on if it is a power float or hand float and if the horse needs sedation, but generally you can expect to spend $150-$300 on teeth each year.
Young horses may need to be floated more often as they lose teeth or older horses with dental issues may need to be seen more often because of this.
Coggins tests are cheap and vets typically only charge $50-$150 depending on if you’re getting them alongside a health certificate or not. In the U.S., Coggins is a more standardized test for moving across borders and to other barns whereas in Canada, it isn’t as common to get Coggins tests done as routinely as most Americans do due to them not being required when moving from province to province.
Horse equipment is not cheap and prices will vary depending on quality and how known the brands are. Saddles are likely to be your most expensive piece of equipment and with them you should factor in the costs of saddle fitting which can vary from $100-$300+ depending on how often you need it fitted, whether the saddle needs to be adjusted and whether or not you have a local fitter or need someone to travel to you.
For buying a saddle, you can expect to spend usually at least $500 for a decently well made one, or into the thousands ($4000+) for newer, more prestigious brands and more specialized saddles.
Bridles are cheaper, but you can also spend a lot on them, too, if you wish to get more expensive types, but typically, you should be able to find a decent bridle and bit for your horse for under $200, even if you buy new.
Blankets, grooming supplies and more, are things you should factor in for repair costs or buying again if you lose or break them, so set a budget aside for continuing to replace the items that typically see the most wear.
Training and Lessons
Training and lessons are not cheap, but as mentioned in prior factors, location and type of training, as well as the expertise of said trainer will define price quite a lot.
For a rider who needs to be in a frequent program of one lesson a week or more, you should be expecting to spend at least $200 monthly on lessons.
If your horse needs to be in full training, you should expect a minimum of $500 a month, alongside board, and this is on the low end of costs. If the barn is a show barn or the trainer is a well known trainer, this all will increase. Fees for training at horse shows also tend to be higher, especially if you’re also outsourcing trailer costs.
Prior to going into ownership, be very honest about your budget so you can see if it is the right time to look into purchasing. It is not a good idea to try to save on costs for purchase if it means getting a horse that will be above of your skill level or doesn’t check all of the boxes in terms of viability of meeting future goals.
You’re better off waiting and saving and getting the right horse than you are getting a horse that may scare you due to being too green or getting something that is incapable of bringing you up the levels in the way you envision.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- Complete Beginner’s Guide to Show Jumping
- Horse Jumping Tips Beginners Can Put Into Practice Today
- 10 Best Stirrups for Jumping Clear (And Staying Safe)
- 100+ Things to Pack for a Jumping Horse Show (Checklist)
- Compositi Stirrups Review: I’ve Never Jumped Better