Horse Care Tips

Buying a Horse? Understanding Private Treaty Sales

Horse in a stable
Written by Natalie Gasper

Should you consider private treaty horses?

Sounds fancy, right? Not to worry. Private treaty is just another way of saying that the seller communicates and negotiates directly with the horse buyer.

Private treaty sales are those that happen directly between the buyer and the seller. The seller has more control over the price and the home the horse ends up in. The buyer gets to see the horse in its typical environment and doesn’t have to deal with bidding.

Private Treaty Defined

Private treaties are very common. You’ve probably seen lots of horses posted for sale on Facebook or other sites. Instead of posting a price, they may state “Private Treaty.”

Reaching out and communicating directly with the owner about the horse is the basis of a private treaty sale.

Private Treaty vs. Buying at Auction

With private treaty sales, an owner chooses to deal with potential buyers directly. With auctions, there is a “middle man” between the buyer and the seller.

Private Treaty vs. Buying from a Sale Ad

A lot of times, this will be the same thing. Ads are often how private treaty sales are advertised.

Horses in a pasture

Photo Cred: Canva

Why Sell a Horse Private Treaty?

Private treaty sales give owners more control. They can choose the price and make sure the next owner will provide the best possible home.

How do horse auctions work?

Auctions act as a middle ground between buyer and seller. The owner typically consigns the horse to the auction, who then markets the horse and tries to maximize the bid prices.

Can you buy a horse at auction via private treaty?

Sometimes you can. A few auctions (usually online ones) will allow offers to be made before the auction begins. The horse is then marked as ‘sold through make an offer.’

Benefits to the Buyer

When buying a horse via private treaty, the buyer can meet the owner and see the horse in their typical environment. Usually, the horse will be calmer than at an auction. Not having to deal with the stress of bidding also is a nice plus.

Benefits to the Seller

Many sellers are personally invested in the well-being of their horses. Meeting prospective buyers means making sure the horse will go to a good home and offers peace of mind. Plus, no commissions have to be paid to an auction house.

Mare and Foal in a field

Photo Cred: Canva

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does private treaty mean for stud services?

This usually means the stallion owner is selective about the mares they will allow the stallion to breed. Most look for a certain level of quality, a proven show record, or specific/proven bloodlines.

Q: Do private treaty horses cost more or less than horses with a listed price?

Owners will often use ‘private treaty’ in place of a price for one of two reasons. The first is that the horse is expensive (think high five to six figures).

The second is that the horse is being sold for free, or cheap, and they want to make sure people with genuine interest are reaching out.

Q: What kind of contracts are used when buying a horse?

Almost all horse sales use a standard sales contract. You can find them online, or ask your trainer if she has one.

Q: Do I need a brand inspection?

Maybe, but maybe not. Learn more about horse brand inspections.

Parting Thoughts

The next time you see a horse or a stallion listed as ‘private treaty,’ don’t be intimidated. Instead, take comfort in the thought that you’ll be dealing with an owner who truly cares about their horse.

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About the author


Natalie Gasper

Nancy loves retraining off the track Thoroughbreds and working with her dogs!