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Price differences between unstarted 2/3 year olds and started 3/4 year olds

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  • Price differences between unstarted 2/3 year olds and started 3/4 year olds

    I'm always searching for ways to make money at my farm in Ohio with no indoor, and my latest idea is to buy a few unstarted 2 and/or 3 year olds over winter and do all the groundwork and riding prep, and then start them in spring and sell them over the summer. I'm figuring this time where they go from unstarted to started has to be a point in their lives where there is one of the biggest price jumps. I'm planning on spending around 3-6k for them unstarted.

    I'll be buying probably strictly registered WB's who have decent pedigrees (I'll at least be getting the best I can for the price range). Does anyone have any thoughts or input on this idea? Is a good idea, or a bad idea? How much do you think a 3-6k unstarted 2 year old is worth as a started 3 year old (generally speaking of course, I know there are a million and one variables). Thanks for any input.

  • #2
    If you have the skill and patience to start youngsters,
    why not offer yourself to owners of 2-3 year olds to
    train their animals. You get guaranteed income from
    the training and boarding that way. Or you could offer
    a service to people that you will help them shop for
    a nice youngster and then you will start it for them.
    Robin from Dancing Horse Hill
    Elmwood, Wisconsin


    • #3
      Tricky question. I really don't think there is much of a price jump for young horses until they are proven show horses and/or proven child/ammy friendly. Some people may even pay more for the unstarted horse they can start "their way".

      Areas may differ though.

      Best resale projects I took this year were two 5 year old TB mares that had been sitting for a year. I didn't buy them though...just sold them for a high percentage commission after starting them over fences.

      As an aside, if I am going to be paying a decent sum of money for a horse, I want an indoor (or covered) arena to try it in just in case the weather is incliment.

      I agree that training may be a better money maker. Perhaps a retirement or lay-up home?
      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


      • Original Poster

        The horses wouldn't be put up for sale until spring/summer, so trying them out wouldn't be a problem. They won't be for sale in the winter. Also, I do offer training for clients as well but am hoping to make more money this way.


        • #5
          Unless they were bargains that turn out to be exceptional, $2-3k. More once they're doing more stuff--jumping courses/ competing. I don't think it would be a huge moneymaker if you have to keep them for a year or two plus put several months training into them.


          • #6
            You have to have a really good eye to make a profit off that type of situation. Once the horse is under tack, it has to be able to demonstrate it's a nice horse. There is a good chance that, unless you are lucky, some of your prospects will turn out to be worth the same or less money as they were as "unstarted, with great potential" if they turn out "started, not so much potential as you might have expected". It's easy to make a mistake on an unstarted horse. As people have hinted above, it's also only after the real work has been done, when the four year old is ready to go around the baby green, that the price increases exponentially. It's large time and money investment to get from unstarted to that point.


            • Original Poster

              Oh well, maybe I need to scrap this idea then. Here is what I was hoping to do with a little more detail. Search, search, search for a nicely priced 2 or 3 year old who is unstarted or barely broke around Jan/Feb/March for, say, 4k. Train through the summer and theoretically have the horse going a nice, simple w/t/c - maybe start some lateral work and/or x-rails. It costs me an average of $200/month or less to keep a horse at home for me (this does factor in wormer, vaccs, a little extra for random things, and I am my own farrier). So after purchase, PPE, and say 6 months of care (I'd hope to have an even faster turnaround than that however), I hope to be able to sell the 4k horse who I now have between 5,500-6,000 invested in for 10k. Do this times 3 or 4 horses and maybe I can make a little something.
              Also, I'm not talking TB's - they seem, in my opinion, to not have the price increase I see in WB's. And lastly, I have brought a number of horses up in value with numbers that compare to what I'm posting here, and my own horse was bought as a $2500 3 year old and is now a 12-15k 4 year old. Maybe that's given me too much confidence since I got a great deal on her, who knows.

              If you guys think this is unrealistic, I'm certainly willing to forget the idea, it's just that I've tried the retirement board thing with no luck, and my farm isn't paying for itself at ALL, and I need some new ideas (other than teaching lessons) to make money here if I'm going to be able to keep the place. Just trying to think outside the box a little bit.


              • #8
                I'd love to know where you can buy really nice 3 year old WBs with good breeding for $3-6K.

                But I agree, unless you get very lucky *and* you are willing to put some mileage on these horses and demonstrate that they can win a bit in good company, you'd be better off just offering to start youngsters for others. A lot of breeders bemoan the fact that no one is willing to start their nice young animals at a reasonable cost these days; perhaps you could find one of them and work out a deal where you can trade your skills for a percentage of the sales price later, or something along those lines.
                We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.


                • #9
                  My guess is "50%."

                  If you're working with a $5000 horse then you'll get $7500.

                  If you're working with a $500 horse you'll get $750.

                  Remember that these are "ballpark" averages and nothing more.

                  This presumes you do no more than give the horse a "classical" start under saddle. If you provide some specialized training or get into the more athletic work (jumping, stock work, etc.) then you'll do better.


                  Right now the whole equine economy still sucks like the vacuum of space. Tamara tells me she watched a televised auction of WB horses and it was awful (from the seller's perspective). From what she said buying good quality WBs in your projected price range will not be all that hard. I'll let her provide the details.

                  Economically you're probably better off with training contracts as you have minimal capital investment and don't take any market risks. Of course you also forgo a chance at a significant gain if you get a real "diamond in the rough."

                  Good luck in this very difficult market.

                  Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Lucassb View Post
                    I'd love to know where you can buy really nice 3 year old WBs with good breeding for $3-6K.

                    But I agree, unless you get very lucky *and* you are willing to put some mileage on these horses and demonstrate that they can win a bit in good company, you'd be better off just offering to start youngsters for others. A lot of breeders bemoan the fact that no one is willing to start their nice young animals at a reasonable cost these days; perhaps you could find one of them and work out a deal where you can trade your skills for a percentage of the sales price later, or something along those lines.
                    Umm, yeah 3-6k is NOT going to even pay for a nicely bred WB's existence...
                    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


                    • Original Poster

                      I'm referring to nicely bred for the price range..... as in Rio Grande youngsters (there are tons of them), Sempatico youngsters, Leonidas youngsters, and so on... There are plenty of horses of that quality for under 6k, especially as two year olds. Anyway, thanks for the input everyone.


                      • #12
                        I think that often times the unbroke 2-3 year old is "worth" MORE than the broke 4+ year old. It seems like breeders (and owners in general) price the 2-3 year olds pretty aggressively based on the potential of the horse and the fact that you have a good feel for what you'll end up with conformationally at that point. The really good horses increase, of course, after showing that they've got the goods, so to speak. But the horses that prove to be mediocre seem to often drop in price/value as a 4yo. And my personal experience is that it can be really hard to find a good deal on a well bred 2/3 year old....I ended up with a yearling the last time I was looking (2 years ago) because after looking for a year and vetting a couple, I couldn't find anything under $25K that would pass a vet check.

                        So I'll echo what others have said. If you can find a screaming good deal on a 2/3 year old then go for it. But I think the bigger price differential (and potential gain) is in buying babies (6 mo-1 year) and selling them as 3/4 year olds, which obviously requires a larger investment in time and money.

                        But personally I've had better luck picking up cheap horses off of the track and selling them for more with 6-12 months of work on them. I agree that TBs don't hold the same value as WBs in this day and age, but if you've got a good eye it's not terribly difficult to pick one up for $1-$2K and sell them for $5K-$10K. Of course with that being said, I take them to several big shows in that time period and that helps the sales process a bit.
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