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Buying a Schoolmaster...

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  • Buying a Schoolmaster...

    Just lately I was looking to buy a very nice PSG schoolmaster but she ended up being sold before I got the chance to try her. She was priced at $15,000, however she had a manageable health problem so that reduced her salable price.

    Anyway, now I am back to square one. Where do you look to find a nice schoolmaster? It definitely wouldn't have to be schooled as high as PSG and could be an older horse with a manageable health issue. However my the top of my budget would be $15,000 right now. Is this even realistic? I would love to have something that could hack and maybe even pop over a jump every once in awhile just for fun. I would like something that I could learn on and show occasionally at local shows.

    But where do you search to find these horses? I have been looking online but they all seem to be $30,000. Perhaps I will have to continue saving my pennies and look to buy one way down the road instead??

    Would love your thoughts and opinions. Thanks!

  • #2
    That's not very much for a PSG schoolmaster

    I sell young horses solid at 1st/2nd for more than that.

    So to get a ridable horse schooled to PSG for less than $20-25k, would I think mean that the horse had problems.

    Sorry, they are not hard to sell and they are hard to find.

    $15k is a really really good price.
    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
    New edition of book is out:
    Horse Nutrition Handbook.



    • #3
      There is quite a difference between a "PSG competitor" and "PSG schoolmaster".
      There is a quite a difference between "show sound" and "serviceably sound"

      Usually an average horse that is showing 4th level and schooling PSG+ sells for around $40K (plus/minus) depending on their show scores, soundness, ease to ride, and by what age that horse is schooling PSG.

      However, if you are looking for a "PSG schoolmaster" who is "serviceably sound", I think you can find one for $15K in this economy if you can offer a good home. I would think that jumping for most schoolmasters would be questionable.

      I know 21 year old schoolmaster who showed PSG with scores in 60% and who was sold for $1K out of his pasture retirement. He taught a great deal to his new owner for 3 years and she showed him successfully at 1st level as well. They were both happy with that arrangement.

      I know another PSG schoolmaster, who only showed till 3rd level but schooled all of the PSG movements. He had a leg fracture, but recovered to be a good schoolmaster for a Training/1st level rider who nurtured him back.

      I know another horse that successfully showed at 4th level, schooling several levels above at PSG and I-1, but had repetitive soft tissue injuries and was given away while he was still lame. He was nurtured back and was able to show at 3rd level.

      I know a handful people who sold or gave away their older, not show sound GP Schoolmasters to a good homes.

      Some horses love people and love to have a “job” rather than standing in the pasture. Some horse trainers feel proud when their horses can teach somebody else. Look for horses and owners who feel this way.


      • #4
        If are are willing to take 20+ y/o that is not show sound, then yes, you can probably find something with PSG training. You could likely also find something trained to 2nd or 3rd, off-breed, maybe 15+ y/o. I know someone who got a great 3rd level schoolmaster, 18 y/o, for $10k. His changes were late behind about half the time, but he sure taught her a lot.


        • #5
          Do you have an instructor for you to help you look? I am currently in the market for a jumper mare and have enlisted my instructor as well as several sporthorse dealers and farms for some help! The more connections, the better. A lot of the good deals seem to be sold before they hit the market or some are not even on the market but the owner would consider selling to the right home. If you can, I would really ramp up your connections and get the word out there.

          I think it is possibly realistic in this economy (though I am in Canada), just very difficult to find - you will almost definitely need connections, I think it could be near impossible to find what you are looking for just through posted ads (?).
          ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
          ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


          • #6
            a very inexpensive FEI schoolmaster will likely come from a personal contact. they are out there. Some FEI riders want to retire their high performance competition horse but want to make sure the horse goes to the right home with specific criteria. The owners are willing to place the horse for very little money for the peace of mind of finding the perfect home.

            My wonderful Grand Prix schoolmaster cost me $1. He was nineteen when I got him and I still showed him in recognized dressage shows in florida at 22. Buuuut I knew his former owner. That opportunity never would have come my way if I didn't. So leave no stone unturned. Develop your contacts and keep looking. Good Luck!


            • #7
              My reaction when I considered your requirements and converted the money to UK Stirling was "No way. Not enough"

              For sure that would be the case if you were buying on the market in Europe or UK.

              May be I've just not a clue though for the US market but I'm thinking you'd be VERY lucky to get what you need for that money unless you are known in the dressage world or have some very useful contacts or a reputation for being a great potential owner.

              So I went to have a quick search on the internet and turned this up. It reinforced my opinion and it might help you:


              I'm thinking though that you need to do a lot of networking but in order to be successful more quickly that there needs to be a compromise and a review either of your requirements OR the budget. If your budget is fixed then most likely you'll have to either wait a heck of a long time for some good luck to happen along OR reconsider the specification.

              You also need to be very clear about what's essential to you and be able to decide quickly and with funds all available and ready to go if something great comes up.


              • #8
                Where are you located? I know of a 4th/PSG horse within your budget - 15yo, no maintenance.
                True North Dressage
                Select Cheval Canadiens for dressage and eventing


                • #9
                  Are you willing to look at breeds other than warmbloods? If you are you may very well be able to buy one that is even sound enough for competition at that price. If my horse were for sale (solid PSG, able to do the two's well) I would not expect to be able to get more than $15,000 for him. He is sound. I considered selling him but have given him to my daughter to take over so at this time he is not for sale. In addition to being 100% sound he's only 11. The hitch in the get along and why if I elected to sell him I couldn't expect more than 15,000 is that he's only 15 hands and not a warmblood. He also is high maintenance in the handling department. What that means is that he needs to be hauled with a buddy. Better if he goes to shows with a buddy. Can be a total ninny at times but is not dangerous and is all heart/loves his job. Yet again HE IS NOT A WARMBLOOD....despite that major flaw for the current market he is very capable of 60s at PSG. So it all depends on what you want, what your purpose is and the trade offs you're willing to make. Even at the basement price that my horse could bring if my daughter did not want to ride anymore I would only sell him to someone I knew. Once you train a horse from a 2 year old to higher levels like PSG you tend to be pretty picky on where they go. I would think that networking will be the key in your search.
                  Ranch of Last Resort


                  • #10
                    Graemont is a top quality dealer that usually sells very high end horses. They aren't cheap. Their prices don't represent the entire marketplace. They are the top of the marketplace.

                    It is true, that with some exceptions, you pay more, you get more. If you are willing to get less, you pay less and get what you want.

                    Older horse, less popular blood lines, less experience, less awards and achievements, harder to ride, less training, lesser known trainer and dealer, less sound, cheaper.

                    Younger horse, higher level, prettier, more awards, higher scores, more popular blood lines, more training, more fun to ride, sounder, coming out of well known trainer's barns...more expensive. Specific things that add up to 'potential' in a young horse or buying the skills of an older horse.

                    When one breaks it down that way, it's a pretty simple market.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                      Graemont is a top quality dealer that usually sells very high end horses. They aren't cheap. Their prices don't represent the entire marketplace. They are the top of the marketplace.
                      I didn't post because I thought they might wholly represent the market. It was because it was a pretty informative indication of what you get for your money.

                      Whilst they may well sell "very high end horses" themselves it was the "what you get for your money" bit that I thought was useful.

                      However it sounds to me that the OP is looking for a pretty much "high end horse". Albeit she's specified that she'd consider an older one or one that might fail a vet inspection and it's obvious to a blind man that would bring the price down.

                      Warning: Questions coming.......

                      Or don't you think their information and indicative prices are correct?

                      Where would you recommend the OP go if they want to get something that meets their requirements?

                      As you're much more familiar with the American market than me, what would you suggest the OP would have to budget to meet requirements. What would be the range for that specification?

                      Alternatively what specification would the OP expect to get for $15,000 over there?

                      It is true, that with some exceptions, you pay more, you get more. If you are willing to get less, you pay less and get what you want.

                      Older horse, less popular blood lines, less experience, less awards and achievements, harder to ride, less training, lesser known trainer and dealer, less sound, cheaper.

                      Younger horse, higher level, prettier, more awards, higher scores, more popular blood lines, more training, more fun to ride, sounder, coming out of well known trainer's barns...more expensive. Specific things that add up to 'potential' in a young horse or buying the skills of an older horse.

                      When one breaks it down that way, it's a pretty simple market.
                      It's a fact no matter whether you're buying a horse or a car. Pay more you get more. That's just commercial free market. NOTHING to do with advising or helping the OP to find what she wants within her prize range.

                      Who would you personally recommend might be able to help the OP get the horse of her dreams ??


                      • #12
                        I have no idea if this mare is still available, but she fits the "off-breed" category and is priced at your $15, 000 limit.


                        When I was horse hunting almost three years ago (different economy, I know) I wanted a first/second level schoolmaster. I was willing to look at off breeds and wasn't limited by size as I'm 5'2" tall and don't minds something around 15 hands. My budget was $8,000-10,000. I was limited by location; it just wasn't feasible for me to search anywhere I couldn't get to and home with one overnight. I found NOTHING. So first, you're lucky you're looking in this economy; I've seen plenty that make me wish I was looking now. Second, if you're looking to show at schooling shows mostly, the off breed won't count against you. I ended up with a Saddlebred (with no dressage training) and the judges have been very open and complimentary. Third, I agree with posters who have told you to network, network, network. I wish I'd done more of it. Finally, be patient. Not trying to diss my guy, but had I been more patient he is not the horse I'd have ended up with.

                        Good Luck!


                        • Original Poster

                          Thank you for all for your opinions so far.

                          To answer some questions mentioned above, I would be open to any and all breeds, it would definitely not have to be a warmblood! I also would be able to ride smaller horses, and would have no problem with a horse that stood between 15 and 15.3 hh (although I can also ride bigger horses as well, I know smaller ones are sometimes a bit less expensive because most people seem to want horses 16 hh+)


                          • #14
                            Maybe try upper level former eventers in their teens? I sold my (then) 15 yo TB mare who was not sound for more than Beginner Novice eventing, but was schooled through 2nd level and sound for that for only $5,000 (about five years ago, and to a family friend...) Just a thought.
                            Yes, I ride a pony. No, he would not be ideal for your child. No, he is not a re-sale project...


                            • #15
                              Don't know where you are located, but this place puts out some VERY nice draft crosses, and one seems to fit your criteria -- http://www.forresthillfarm.com/page21.html the second one on the page.

                              I think you can find a decent schoolmaster for your price range. There seems to be some cute little schoolmasters for that price I've seen in my searches. I'd also keep my eyes open on dreamhorse.com, sometimes you find a diamond in the rough.
                              When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.


                              • #16


                                Don't know if either of these are close to what you're looking for...
                                "Oh, sure, you may be able to take down one smurf, but mark my words: You bonk one smurf, you better be ready for a blue wave."---Bucky Katt


                                • #17
                                  Graemont sells very nice horses. There are cheaper horses available than theirs, but I think generally, not quite in the same bracket as those horses.

                                  When I was horse shopping some years ago, at one point I think I talked to Steve Wolgemuth @Graemont a little. If I recall, he was very nice, very open, and very informative. I recall liking him. I'm told he has an excellent feel for matching horses to riders. His horses and his services were out of my (modest) price range.

                                  His essay of advice to buyers is excellent, and the price breakdowns are great. His writeup includes types of horses he doesn't usually sell - lower priced horses.

                                  People wanting to buy a dressage horse should print every one of his articles off and hang it on their refrigerators and read it every morning. He emphasizes one needs to decide what one's goals are first. So much good advice there!

                                  To the OP, check out the horses for sale on dressagedaily and warmbloods for sale dot com, it will give you some idea of what ads say on those websites (LOL, not what horses sell for), but to me, I think it is far better if you can buy a local horse that you and your instructor are familiar with, have seen shown, know the owner, etc. You ride it, instructor rides it, try it out twice, and if you're interested, get a really good vet to do the prepurchase, and be ready to walk away if there is a problem.

                                  I shopped the internet ads and it's pretty easy to wind up buying a bad horse. A better way to find a horse is to talk to your trainer and let him or her help you find a horse. Most trainers will get a commission from the seller, granted, but hopefully, your trainer is a decent person and has some feeling that it's good for their reputation to find a nice horse that will work out for you.

                                  No matter how little experience we have, most of us know that there really aren't any fixed prices, or even predictable ranges, for horses. Not that covers every case. Saying a horse is 'PSG' is just the beginning of trying to figure out what one should pay for it.

                                  There are 15,000 dollar PSG horses. Older, less sound, some problems of some type. There are 50,000 dollar PSG horses. Sounder, younger, going better, scoring better. There are 150,000 dollar PSG horses. Going lots of places. There are even PSG horses that sell for more than that. Drool and dream, as my friend says, LOL.

                                  A price for a 'nice' psg horse might be around seventy five or eighty. My friend got one around that about 3 years ago. What's nice? Seventeen hands, pretty, well trained, easy to ride, sensitive but never unsafe, shown, nice blood lines, correct mover, wins at regionals.


                                  • #18
                                    I got my California Dressage Magazine and here is some adds for you to look at:

                                    Napoleon - 9 year old 16.2, fancy mover, blue ribbons at 1st level, lead changes, grey, $15K Dixon CA- 707-421-1993

                                    Kashmir is an outstanding FEI schoolmaster -http://www.dressagestar.com/Members/...e-schoolmaster

                                    has shown through Second level, is currently schooling Third level and is ready to start his changes - http://www.dressagestar.com/Members/...-horse-gelding

                                    Actually there are quite a few PSG horses but out of your price range:
                                    Reinzi - $80K 1999 Confirmed PSG
                                    Voodoo - $45K 11 yr, 16.3, shown at 3rd, schooling 4th
                                    Grundstein - $125K, 2000, 16.1, shown at 4th level, has tempis, passage, piaffe.
                                    Charleston - $75K, 15 yr. FEI
                                    Last edited by Dressage Art; Jan. 17, 2010, 05:31 PM.


                                    • #19
                                      Alter-ego: I'm in the central Florida area, have a 20 yr old "off breed" PSG horse that I'm considering leasing. I do not really want to part with him for fear that I lose control over his ultimate welfare. He is showing at the level now and is darn low maintenance. I'd prefer he do less work than is necessary to keep him performing at this level, but he sure can teach you to ride tempe's, do the pirouettes, etc. Problem is, I also want him to stay in central Florida...

                                      So - keep your ears open, put out feelers everywhere, and something will come up.
                                      We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                                      • #20
                                        I think in this economy you can find the horse you are looking for at, or VERY close to that price - pretty much anywhere, you just have to look hard enough.

                                        I was just browsing horses for sale in my area, saw this one and thought of this post - and I wasn't even looking for it!!

                                        "Wonderful, willing and sweet Canandian WB gelding with big movement. Talented and highly trained. 17.2 hands tall, dark bay, handsome 19 year old. Sound, sane and fun! Good legs and feet. Travels well. Personable and trusting, he enjoys his dressage job and likes his people. Reluctantly for sale due to move. $18,000." - the tag line labels him as a "Grand Prix Schoolmaster" - he is located in NY


                                        Good Luck with your search