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Is the horse market currently really bad?

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  • Is the horse market currently really bad?

    Just wondering - I noticed last year, young prospect type horses were flying off the shelf. This year, I see a lot of reduced prices and horses not getting sold. I also have a horse for sale that is not selling. Is the market in general bad, or is it just a coincidence? What are ya'll experiences right now?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Equine Adhesive View Post
    Just wondering - I noticed last year, young prospect type horses were flying off the shelf. This year, I see a lot of reduced prices and horses not getting sold. I also have a horse for sale that is not selling. Is the market in general bad, or is it just a coincidence? What are ya'll experiences right now?
    Too many horses for sale at a too high price point, considering the deals you can get in Europe even with shipping.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      I appreciate the great reply! I am talking about horses that are under 10K, both for what I observed last year and my experience this year (not imports). Is the lower price bracket just not of interest to folks right now?

      Comment


      • #4
        What breed, what discipline?

        Comment


        • #5
          I can't speak to your specific question, but in general terms, the horse market is shrinking and will likely to continue to do so in the future. And, I think young prospect type horses are particularly vulnerable to some of the factors contributing to the shrinking market. For example:

          The horse-riding population is aging. 10 years ago I might have been interested in a prospect. No today. I'm 60. I'm not buying/starting any young horses ever again.

          The pipeline is shrinking. Fewer young people are learning to ride -> fewer young people develop the skills necessary to work with young horses -> demand for young prospect horses decreases.

          Getting into the horse business is more difficult and more expensive. Horse property around here is being turned into subdivisions. To get affordable acreage, you've got to go way out, which then makes your place too far away for many people to be willing to drive to for boarding and lessons, creating another barrier to the entry of young trainers who might be shopping for those less expensive prospects.

          And so on....
          "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything
          that's even remotely true."

          Homer Simpson

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with NoSuchPerson. I'm around 30 years old but I've seen a huge change in the market and atmosphere around here. Boarding barns around here are selling left and right... And being torn down. Having horses around here anyways is becoming difficult and only for the elite. I imagine that type of thing will start effecting sales. It makes me so sad!

            Comment


            • #7
              I agree with NoSuchPerson - affordability is a key issue. Our boarding barn rates have gone up, and to me it seems a premium price for a place with no indoor. shavings is an issue and hay also. I hear many folks are going to rough board due to high boarding costs. my DH and I made good money for our area and I am not sure we could afford the costs today

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm not in the market nor do I have a horse for sale, but in general everything horse-related around me seems stuck in neutral for lack of a better term. It doesn't seem to be healthy enough to grow beyond it's current state and is shrinking in some areas. On the surface, it would seem the horse economy is doing ok and I guess in a sense it is because I'm in a wealthy area with plenty of pricey barns which seem to be thriving. But almost all the tiers of barns below that which used to have average to low middle class customers are either gone or at risk of being sold to developers. I'm not at all sure how sustainable this situation is because as someone else said, we need kids with supportive parents to keep the horse economy alive. I imagine 99% of those parents are too worried about being able to pay their own increasing bills on stagnant salaries or send their kids to college to spend money on a horse. I'm too far removed from showing to say anything intelligent about it in this context but I will say that when I look at results online, I'm usually surprised at how small the classes are.

                I've also noticed that COTH is much "quieter" compared to what it was like a few years ago. I wonder if that's because of the economy and a shrinking number of riders or if it's just that people take their conversations to facebook or twitter?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by bauhaus View Post
                  I'm not in the market nor do I have a horse for sale, but in general everything horse-related around me seems stuck in neutral for lack of a better term. It doesn't seem to be healthy enough to grow beyond it's current state and is shrinking in some areas. On the surface, it would seem the horse economy is doing ok and I guess in a sense it is because I'm in a wealthy area with plenty of pricey barns which seem to be thriving. But almost all the tiers of barns below that which used to have average to low middle class customers are either gone or at risk of being sold to developers. I'm not at all sure how sustainable this situation is because as someone else said, we need kids with supportive parents to keep the horse economy alive. I imagine 99% of those parents are too worried about being able to pay their own increasing bills on stagnant salaries or send their kids to college to spend money on a horse. I'm too far removed from showing to say anything intelligent about it in this context but I will say that when I look at results online, I'm usually surprised at how small the classes are.

                  I've also noticed that COTH is much "quieter" compared to what it was like a few years ago. I wonder if that's because of the economy and a shrinking number of riders or if it's just that people take their conversations to facebook or twitter?
                  Not sure "more quiet" means less lurkers and posters, we don't know what the site's statistics tell.
                  You are right that there are other places now on the internet for people to spend their idle time than COTH, like more restrictive social media, facebook etc.
                  There you can converse only with people you want to hear from and that will let you say what you want without bringing other you may not want to consider to the table.

                  Public forums like COTH are, well, public, where anyone can post what they think.
                  That doesn't sit well with some that only want one side to have the floor.
                  It tends to stifle interest in participating when you keep having to let them and their friends that come to the pickings have the floor all the time so as not to keep up insane, accusatory/defensive irrelevant posting that ends up in insults.
                  PM's to that effect attest to that being why some stay silent when they would have liked to participate with what they may bring to the table.
                  I expect also that, when only one side has the floor, it gets old even if that is your side talking to itself.
                  Maybe then some move on, not so interested any more.

                  On the horse market, the western horse market has places it is very strong, for the nicer, well trained, talented and pretty horses.
                  The spring sales, especially of performance and ranch horses, were extremely strong.
                  The later early summer ones were weaker, but those generally are.
                  Demand at this time is less, everyone already has this season's horses and are out there doing things with them.

                  Many people are trail riding, riding clubs have their playdays and team pennings and jackpot barrel races and ropings, junior rodeos are very competitive.
                  There are several associations to compete under, some local, some regional ones.
                  Those horses are still bringing good prices if they are very good.
                  Entries in most of those are still high, plenty of competitors out there wanting to have fun with their horses, many with whole families.
                  The higher end performance events, maybe not so many are participating, where it takes upper level horses, talent all around and considerable more money and dedication to play, demands very good to top horses, equipment, supporting teams and comes with higher entry fees.

                  The many other young and older but green horses out there, those with problems, unsound or bad actors?
                  Those are, as they have been over some years now, selling cheap.
                  A good trainer with extra time can look thru those and still find some worth bringing along and improving so they become the next level, higher priced ones.
                  Then, most trainers do prefer to work with really nicely bred horses that have potential up front, even if they have to pay more, which leaves the lower end of horses hard to even give away.

                  As with everything else in life, change is a constant and no different in the horse industry.
                  Where will current changes lead will be interesting to see.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post

                    Not sure "more quiet" means less lurkers and posters, we don't know what the site's statistics tell.
                    You are right that there are other places now on the internet for people to spend their idle time than COTH, like more restrictive social media, facebook etc.
                    There you can converse only with people you want to hear from and that will let you say what you want without bringing other you may not want to consider to the table.

                    Public forums like COTH are, well, public, where anyone can post what they think.
                    That doesn't sit well with some that only want one side to have the floor.
                    It tends to stifle interest in participating when you keep having to let them and their friends that come to the pickings have the floor all the time so as not to keep up insane, accusatory/defensive irrelevant posting that ends up in insults.
                    PM's to that effect attest to that being why some stay silent when they would have liked to participate with what they may bring to the table.
                    I expect also that, when only one side has the floor, it gets old even if that is your side talking to itself.
                    Maybe then some move on, not so interested any more.

                    On the horse market, the western horse market has places it is very strong, for the nicer, well trained, talented and pretty horses.
                    The spring sales, especially of performance and ranch horses, were extremely strong.
                    The later early summer ones were weaker, but those generally are.
                    Demand at this time is less, everyone already has this season's horses and are out there doing things with them.

                    Many people are trail riding, riding clubs have their playdays and team pennings and jackpot barrel races and ropings, junior rodeos are very competitive.
                    There are several associations to compete under, some local, some regional ones.
                    Those horses are still bringing good prices if they are very good.
                    Entries in most of those are still high, plenty of competitors out there wanting to have fun with their horses, many with whole families.
                    The higher end performance events, maybe not so many are participating, where it takes upper level horses, talent all around and considerable more money and dedication to play, demands very good to top horses, equipment, supporting teams and comes with higher entry fees.

                    The many other young and older but green horses out there, those with problems, unsound or bad actors?
                    Those are, as they have been over some years now, selling cheap.
                    A good trainer with extra time can look thru those and still find some worth bringing along and improving so they become the next level, higher priced ones.
                    Then, most trainers do prefer to work with really nicely bred horses that have potential up front, even if they have to pay more, which leaves the lower end of horses hard to even give away.

                    As with everything else in life, change is a constant and no different in the horse industry.
                    Where will current changes lead will be interesting to see.
                    I am curious to know how busy the western shows & events in my area are. My current horse (and my aging joints) seem like maybe some fun events or trail rides in a western saddle might be in our future. When I was a kid the ratio was 60% western, 40% english as far as barns, tack shops, and shows were concerned. Today that seems to be reversed heavily in favor of english, and I realized if I want to actually look into buying a new saddle instead of borrowing a friend's western saddle I don't even have a tack shop with knowledgeable staff to help me choose one because the only shops with educated rider employees are english-focused.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bauhaus View Post

                      I am curious to know how busy the western shows & events in my area are. My current horse (and my aging joints) seem like maybe some fun events or trail rides in a western saddle might be in our future. When I was a kid the ratio was 60% western, 40% english as far as barns, tack shops, and shows were concerned. Today that seems to be reversed heavily in favor of english, and I realized if I want to actually look into buying a new saddle instead of borrowing a friend's western saddle I don't even have a tack shop with knowledgeable staff to help me choose one because the only shops with educated rider employees are english-focused.

                      I don't know where your area is, but around here there is hardly any English riding, maybe a couple trainers and a few classes in shows and not in every one of them, rarely an all English riding only show.
                      All kinds of western events are happening every weekend and at the lower levels, the competitions seem to be very well attended, for what people participating say, to the point that they have qualifying rounds for the bigger classes.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by bauhaus View Post
                        I'm not in the market nor do I have a horse for sale, but in general everything horse-related around me seems stuck in neutral for lack of a better term. It doesn't seem to be healthy enough to grow beyond it's current state and is shrinking in some areas. On the surface, it would seem the horse economy is doing ok and I guess in a sense it is because I'm in a wealthy area with plenty of pricey barns which seem to be thriving. But almost all the tiers of barns below that which used to have average to low middle class customers are either gone or at risk of being sold to developers. I'm not at all sure how sustainable this situation is because as someone else said, we need kids with supportive parents to keep the horse economy alive. I imagine 99% of those parents are too worried about being able to pay their own increasing bills on stagnant salaries or send their kids to college to spend money on a horse. I'm too far removed from showing to say anything intelligent about it in this context but I will say that when I look at results online, I'm usually surprised at how small the classes are.

                        I've also noticed that COTH is much "quieter" compared to what it was like a few years ago. I wonder if that's because of the economy and a shrinking number of riders or if it's just that people take their conversations to facebook or twitter?
                        It seems to be neutral out in So. Cal. I haven't seen a barn go under in about 15 years, two new parks have been opened up for public and riders, one with an arena and places to park your trailer. Prices for horses haven't changed in fifteen years, but board has gone up.

                        A local barn recently closed its lesson horse program and two horse rentals have also closed in the past few years. Unfortunately rentals and lesson programs are what we need to bring in new riders, so we may feel the affect of that down the road.

                        I just bought a ten year old horse so I'm crossing my fingers I can continue to find good trails for the next fifteen years.
                        In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The PNW is not shrinking-- there's no shortage of barns (though there seems to be a shortage of quality trainers...) and kids filling the beginner ranks. The rated shows are smaller but the schooling/one day type are definitely the same or bigger than they were 25 years ago when I started out. I think the industry waxes and wanes over time. I see many of the same faces year after year with new adults starting out too. The economy is booming, but the middle class is still not seeing much improvement and that stymies the horse industry, makes us in that bracket pick and choose our shows and horse activities. I know I've cut back on showing. Costs of hay, bedding, etc. have done nothing but increase, so even home horse ownership is expensive. Sales of horses are caught up in all of this.
                          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            My observations:

                            Facebook has taken the place of forums with many new to horses.

                            The riding clubs and their show circuits in my area are struggling: it is very difficult to get enough volunteers to run the shows, and attendance is declining. The English-based ones went first. Several clubs have folded and the ones that continue depend upon one or two supremely dedicated individuals. Burnout reigns. It is also a challenge to find facilities to hold the shows if they need to move (which several have).

                            Long-established school barns have closed their programs due to retirement. New barns do spring up to fill the gap: not all of them have been successful. Some properties have been sold for development. Hard to resist the money.

                            Everything is more expensive. Everything.

                            Our area has had two bad hay years in a row: this has driven hay prices up considerably. That hits the overhead and boosts all other prices.

                            I see a lot of high-end saddles on sale sites. Did we have a large crop of young riders going off to college? I have no idea: but they are selling their saddles.

                            There has been a surge in promoting second careers for OTTB's. Wonderful! BUT...there seem to have been a lot of (mainly younger) riders who took on a 'project' TB they got for a few hundred dollars and expected to be able to sell it in a few months to a year and make a nice chunk of easy money. It also seems that the reality is that too many out there planned to do just that: pick up a $500 OTTB, put some riding on it and sell it for thousands. The market ends up flooded, not all horses are diamonds-in-the-rough, it ends up costing more than anticipated, and the end result is a horse that is over-priced in order to cover the costs and provide that nest egg the trainer was counting on. Those 'cheaper' horses can serve to undermine the lower-end market.

                            Riding has been promoted as a hobby. Something to do when the whim strikes. I find a lot of beginners are looking to just try it out. They come for the ride that is the lesson; few have any intention of going anywhere with it. That is fine: but it makes a riding program dependent upon a steady stream of new clients as the turnover tends to be somewhat higher than it used to be. That 'steady stream' can be more of a trickle. It is a different business model and it takes adapting - and hard work on the promotion end of things.
                            No matter where you go, there you are

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post
                              Getting into the horse business is more difficult and more expensive. Horse property around here is being turned into subdivisions. To get affordable acreage, you've got to go way out, ....
                              I have the super 8 movies from the 1950s/60s of my wife's parents series of houses they had when she was growing up. Every three or so years they would move "out into the county" which then meant a move of three or four blocks north (for those who know Dallas all these properties were inside LBJ north of White rock Lake).

                              Three blocks got you into no mans land of wide open ranch-land... four or five minutes extra.

                              These days you need to move forty, fifty, sixty or more miles into rural lands which really is isolated

                              ---

                              As for horses, good proven ones will have a market... the common everyday packer is still a very low priced animal ...and always has been. I seen very little price inflation on horses, but more deflation from the 1980s... a good entry level horse with potential is still a mid four figure horse as it was then

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I too have a horse for sale that I expected to sell by now. It really blows my mind, the ISO ads I see with their teeny budgets for their desired unicorn.
                                I remember helping a friend four or five years ago with a $15k budget looking for a 2'6'' packer warmblood, and they didn't exist then. She didn't even want anything fancy, never wanted to jump higher than 2'6'', but never found a horse, everything non-TB was $20k+.
                                Now, people seem to expect to be able to get a high child/adult packer warmblood, with scope to move up to the 1.30s+, for $10k. Can you really get one from Europe for that, including import???
                                "The best of any breed is the thoroughbred horse..." - GHM

                                http://www.mmeqcenter.com/sale.html

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by NoSuchPerson View Post
                                  I can't speak to your specific question, but in general terms, the horse market is shrinking and will likely to continue to do so in the future. And, I think young prospect type horses are particularly vulnerable to some of the factors contributing to the shrinking market. For example:

                                  The horse-riding population is aging. 10 years ago I might have been interested in a prospect. No today. I'm 60. I'm not buying/starting any young horses ever again.

                                  The pipeline is shrinking. Fewer young people are learning to ride -&gt; fewer young people develop the skills necessary to work with young horses -&gt; demand for young prospect horses decreases.

                                  Getting into the horse business is more difficult and more expensive. Horse property around here is being turned into subdivisions. To get affordable acreage, you've got to go way out, which then makes your place too far away for many people to be willing to drive to for boarding and lessons, creating another barrier to the entry of young trainers who might be shopping for those less expensive prospects.

                                  And so on....
                                  Sadly, you're right.

                                  And the shrinkage will continue. There are niches where the market is reasonably good. I know somebody who has done well with their breeding program but they work their tail off riding and showing the sire and some of the dams of the foals they are selling and spends a LOT of time training them and preparing them for inspection. If I were to estimate their actual profit it's likely 4-5 times minimum wage. That's a pretty good wage but as a return on capital it's kind of weak. Given the value of their land, facilities, breeding stock, equipment, etc. I suspect they getting maybe 2%. That's better than passbook savings but not as good as 10 year Treasuries. And with bonds all you do is clip the coupons.

                                  At the elite level where buyer and seller ego is as important as the actual horse the dollars are pretty big, but that's a VERY small niche.

                                  The input of new riders his really anemic in most of the places I'm informed about.

                                  How many college riding programs have folded in the last couple of years? How many new ones have replaced them?

                                  The future, sadly, is not very bright for most of the equine industry.

                                  ​​​​​​​G.

                                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Guilherme View Post

                                    Sadly, you're right.

                                    And the shrinkage will continue.
                                    back in the early 1990s Ralston Purina was concerned about the future of its Purina Mills division due to drops in recreational horse use. I was on an advisory joint group of Ralston Purina and the USDA. We were asked to find answers on how expand/improve horse ownership as even then the decline was noticeable,

                                    No solution was found, they sold the Purina Mills division in 2001 to Land O'Lakes

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I agree that the horse market in general is shrinking, but it does depend on the breed, the discipline and the location.

                                      I breed and sell Fjords. There is no shortage of people interested in buying Fjords. I get unsoliticited inquiries every week.

                                      However, I deal in a specialty breed. There are maybe 6K of them in North America, not millions like QHs and TBs. It is not like there are dozens for sale that are proximate. It really is a national market; I have even sold internationally. Also, most Fjords are not spectacularly high dollar horses. Most of the Fjords I have sold went for less than $10K and that was often with training and a performance record. My location also helps -- I am in horse country that is close enough to a major metropolitan area with a high SES population. We have more horse-centric opportunities here.

                                      I do market my horses. I have a website that I keep current. I send out a monthly e-newsletter. I am active in my local dressage and combined training association. My horses get out and compete in dressage and low level eventing. I am on the farm tour, I let my horses go to expos, and we volunteer for 4-H events, like horse judging. I network with other breeders. I am not passive about promoting the breed.

                                      Luckily for me, I don't need horse sales to put a roof over my head or food on the table. I don't have to sell any horse because I own a farm. And I consider myself lucky. I can wait out market cycles. This is a good thing because markets change over time.
                                      Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
                                      http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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                                      • #20
                                        Reining keeps expanding, entries are over the top full.
                                        So are working cowhorse/ranch versatility, team penning and team roping.
                                        Easy to find 600+ entries in barrel races.

                                        Cutting is way more expensive and some of their show entries are down.

                                        No telling if those markets will keep going higher, or most of them finally have to pull back if the economy starts failing.

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