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What does a quality hunter prospect yearling cost?

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    What does a quality hunter prospect yearling cost?


    First off, let me say that I am in the planning phase. I am not ready to purchase.

    I am an ammy rider of mediocre talent that does the adult hunters a handful of times a year. I am in a full training A circuit type program where my horse gets regular training rides and I lesson at least once a week. I purchased my current horse when he was lightly under saddle with no jump experience at 5 yrs, and he just turned 8 this spring. I give this background to indicate that I have never had a made hunter and I am comfortable with bringing along something with lots of professional guidance.

    Although my current horse is WONDERFUL and has the best brain for an amateur in the history of the world, he does have significant hock degeneration. He gets all the maintenance possible, and is currently happy in work and should be for years to come. But, I am under no delusions that he will keep going at the 3 ft level late into his teens like some horses do.

    The practical side of me says that I need to start planning for the future. Of course I cannot say for sure how many years he has left at his current level, but the idea has struck me to buy a young horse and let it be growing up in the meantime. The obvious benefit would be getting a quality horse at a good price before it has learned any bad habits with someone else.

    I am very lucky in that my parents have a small little farmette and could easily accommodate a young horse (they already have a couple of horses they care for including my old retired event horse). I would have "free" board outside of the actual expenses (feed/vet/farrier) while the horse is growing. They are about equi-distance from my house as my barn and I could easily get there minimum once a week. Otherwise, my mom is a lifetime horse woman as well and has agreed to help me bring one along on the ground.

    My question is this: What should I expect to pay for a yearling of A show quality with talent for the hunter ring? I have tried doing some light googling and it's not as easy to find as I expected. I of course want what everyone ones, a modern typey baby that shows promise to be a great hunter. MUST HAVE A GREAT BRAIN. I would sacrifice a bit of flash for something with all signs pointing towards ammy friendly (again, mediocre talent here). I will probably be picky about color- I prefer bays with chrome. I do not prefer chestnuts or plain bays. Sue me, ok?

    Another question - I am tall (6 ft) so I would need some real assurances that the yearling would finish out quite tall as well. Is this possible to predict accurately with a yearling? I would really need 16.3 or larger. My current horse is 18 but on the narrower side and I look good on him.

    If I wanted to get an idea of price and availability where would I look? Again, light googling wasn't as helpful as I expected. I need to get a realistic estimate to start planning and getting the hubby on board.

    I expect I have 4-5 years of serious competition left with my guy before he is ready to step down a bit which is why I am not in a rush at the moment. I cannot afford to have 2 horses in full training so when new baby horse is ready to go into full training older stepping down horse would come "home" for my mom or we would find other suitable arrangements.

    I am in Texas but would get the right baby from anywhere in the US or Canada.

    If I am a crazy person and this idea sounds totally psycho feel free to tell me why. I want to be realistic. Yes, I know horses can get hurt. My gelding spent the first 1.5 yrs I owned him on stall rest more often then not. I am very familiar with the savior that is major medical insurance. I also realize ANY horse can get hurt at ANY time. I do not have high 5 figures for a made hunter and I honestly prefer the journey anyway.

    Thanks in advance for all the help!
    A blonde & her hunter:

    Based on your criteria, I assume you're looking at warmboods - and of course, tall with chrome is going to cost you more than 16'1 and chestnut (though it sounds like you're aware of that).

    Each seller and each horse is different. What would probably be of most value to you is the facebook groups that cater to young warmblood sales. There's at least one that deals specifically with the 3-and-unders (and there is another breeding group for general warmblood breeding). There may be a h/j specific one but I can't say for certain on that. All of those would be good resources to see what's on the market and what programs are producing what you're looking for (and what it's costing).

    Right off the top of my head I know of a 3yo that is mostly what you are looking for (17h, gelding, pedigree of a top hunter sire for capability, ridability, & AA friendly) though he is mostly plain bay. Has 30 days under saddle. So he's a bit older & has some training, but for context, that horse is being marketed at just around 30K.

    The downside is that what you gain in affordability with the one year olds, you lose with your desired guarantees (size & capability). At one, there will be a better idea of size (iirc, string tests are most accurate on yearlings & up) but there may still be some variation. The development on young horses can be odd sometimes so you may have to train your eye as to what is just young horse growthiness vs poor conformation - because again, that can factor into what you end up with as a mature adult.

    Part of it is also going to be what program you buy from. Many breeders seem to prefer selling either as foals (and then ship out after weaning) or as 3 yos who have just been started. The 1-2yos aren't the most robust segment of the sales market (it sounds as if many breeders will hold onto their youngstock if they don't sell as foals, because they can get a greater return once they're started - especially if they own their own facilities & start them on their own or have a good relationship with someone who does start young horses).

    Definitely would recommend researching top notch hunter programs (facebook is good for this, again the groups I mention above) and then seeing what they're selling and at what price. That may be the best way for you to get an idea for cost that's not just "well as best I can guess".

    The other component to this is that while you address you "prefer the journey anyway", you may want to seek out opportunities to ride very young and very green horses before committing to buying something unstarted. You don't mention if you have a background or experience with riding extremely green-broke horses, so while I know I've said this on another thread I think it bears repeating. There is a world of difference between a just-started green and green that's lacking miles/exposure/refinement. Riding just-started horses is a skillset in and of its own right, and even if someone can doesn't mean they enjoy it. Definitely seek out the opportunity to ride some of these horses to see if it's something you enjoy...because if you don't, then you may need to factor in having to research the cost and availability of having someone else ride a young horse for you until their education is more advanced.


      Your situation sounds quite similar to me. My parents have a small farm, so over the years my mom and I will purchase a yearling or weanling, let it grow up with a retiree, then I will ride it and show it for several years, pass it on to my mom, and so on.

      We have never been willing to risk the price tag that comes with the big name breeders (W. Charlot farm for example). Instead we call around, check out some line shows, ask around at the young horse classes, etc. Find a horse you like, or a breeder you like, and go from there. The breeders who are only putting 2 or 3 babies are often more affordable and spend more time with them (vs staff).

      In 2017 we purchased a weanling for $9500 cdn, she's turning out far nicer than the ones that we looked at in the $10k-14k range. The difference was that her breeder was several hours off the beaten path.
      Yearlings would have been an additional 2k-5k.


        Original Poster

        Edre and GoodTimes thank you for the thoughtful and detailed responses.

        Edre- I think I would like riding. A very green (but sane) horse but i do not know for sure. I have ridden all sorts over the years, but not many green broke WBs. I will try to seek out opportunities to ride the occasional one of I can find some willing friends. I am luck that in my program all training rides are included, so should it be that the initial very green phase is too much for me I could take a back seat for a bit letting the pros do their thing.

        Sounds like I will really need to start researching reputable programs putting out horses that are similar to what I want.

        GoodTimes- I wish so badly I had the knowledge to pick out a good one not from an established program. In my case, where I have little to no experience evaluation a young horse, would you recommend I stick to a reputable breeder even if it means a slightly higher price? And thank you for the specific price points. I was thinking $10-12k but sounds like that might be a better price point for a weanling versus a yearling unless I can find something off the beaten path. Can you ship a weanling across the country safely?

        (Sorry in advance for any typos. Wrote this response in a hurry taxing in a runway!)
        A blonde & her hunter:


          I grew up riding green horses, but there was a big learning curve from "green with a decent foundation" and "green, just getting a foundation". It required a different skill set from me, and I know people in similar circumstances discovered they had a strong preference for one over the other. Just be careful that you aren't getting yourself in a situation where you have a horse with a level of training you don't enjoy riding (unless money is of no issue and you can imagine putting the horse in training before you take over the ride). That can be an expensive lesson to learn!

          If you're looking at a budget of 10-12k, I think you're going to be better of looking at foals/weanlings - but again, this is going to come with more uncertainty for things like mature height. (I bought a foal that by best guess, would finish up around 17h - both parents are taller and the offspring of both dam and sire tend to be on the tall side. Currently it looks like I will be fortunate if she makes 16'2.) One thing to consider is that sometimes you can get away with less height if the horse themselves is set to be wider/more heavily built, so you may want to look at factoring this into your research. (As a tall rider, I understand, believe me.) It may not be the end of the world that a horse finishes sub 17H if they are not so narrow. That would open up the door for your purchase options, especially if you can identify certain pedigrees that lend themselves to some substance and a good jump.

          I have seen horses advertised in the price range you're mentioning, but they aren't horses I would consider a sure-fire A quality guarantee (and they also lack the height and chrome). That's not to say they won't be capable and that they won't mature into something lovely, but that I would consider it a gamble to buy with those expectations (unless you can afford to buy, train up, and then resell if it doesn't work out). I have seen some 2019 foals in that price range that might attain the height, but definitely have the chrome and by breeding should have some talent - but it's all a bit of a balancing act.


            I've paid $10K for on-the-ground, but pre-weaning foals several years ago. I still do a lot of window shopping, and the in-uteros/weanlings with the bloodlines I like tend to be in the $12-15K range.

            Now I breed my own, and while technically for sale, I'm not really marketing them, as I breed for horses I would like, and want to bring along to show in the AA/AOs, and so I'm not really motivated to sell them
            That being said, I would say I have about $8-18 in my yearlings (depending on how many tries it took to get the mare in foal, the stud fee, and how smooth the pregnancy and first year were.) I am a hobby breeder and I don't need to make a living selling these youngsters. I have my own farm for my riding horses, and so sale prices don't need to cover mortgage, farm maintenance, etc. I can't imagine how professional breeders make a living.

            I'm on a strict budget too, so I can appreciate your situation. Start researching bloodlines. When you're at a show (or watching USEF livestreams) ask/look up the bloodlines of the horses you like. Then you can search for youngsters with similar breeding that are off the beaten path/at hobby breeders, where prices will be a little less. You could also do a custom breeding, by leasing a broodmare and breeding her to the stallion of your choice, either at the breeder's facility or at your parents'.

            Height is a bit of a crap shoot. I'm short, so generally I want something in the 15.3-16.2 range. I got a nice young hanno gelding in Germany who was supposed to finish at 16.3. He's now 17.3. I have a super fancy 3yo I bred myself who's mom is 15.3 and sire is 16.2. He's a beefcake, but I'll be lucky if he hits 15.2. Breeders have stories where even full siblings finish hands apart. Tall parents and grandparents on both sides will help, but as Edre says, wither height isn't everything--barrel/length of neck and length of stride can make up a lot for a shorter horse.
            Last edited by ElementFarm; Sep. 9, 2019, 02:56 AM.
            A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's does that...



              Original Poster

              This has been very enlightening, thank you for the replies!

              I realize now I was lowballing the budget for what I want and will need to adjust accordingly or be willing to compromise.

              I'm glad my fellow tall riders can appreciate the height issue. I do agree that a beefier shorter horse could work as long as it fills my leg up. But I would be disappointed if I looked out of proportion (hunters and all). I guess worst case scenario I'd end up selling if too small for me and risk losing money.

              Great suggestion about keeping tabs on the breeding of horses I like at shows. I have a few fall shows coming up and I will do just that. Sounds like I could go with a "smaller breeder" if I was more confident on what bloodlines I'm interested in.

              Anyone want to start me off with some stallion suggestions that tend to stamp their babies with size, good brains, and hunter movement?
              A blonde & her hunter:


                Too bad you weren't looking now....I know of the perfect yearling for you....ack! Ticks all your boxes. LOL!


                  A friend bought a nice yearling by Escudo II who had done some showing on the line from PA a few years ago. She paid $10k-ish. Has a very natural rhythm and great attitude.

                  As for stallion suggestions, another friend (small-scale breeder & judge in NY) has two young horses, one by Cabardino another by Cabalito. Both have done very well - the Cabalito is under saddle and is big (17.2) and looks super easy to live with. The Cabardino is only 2 and has been very competitive on the line nationally.
                  Last edited by skip99; Sep. 9, 2019, 12:29 PM.


                    Look at Legaczy, he is a lovely stallion whose foals grow up to be gigantic. He had a yearling next to my yearling at SBW International Hunter Futurity championship who was already 16plus and is now close to 18.
                    McDowell Racing Stables

                    Home Away From Home


                      You could check out High Point Hanoverians in Chestertown, MD. Their late stud, Rosenthal, has many successful offspring currently competing in the rated Hunters. Their yearlings are in the $12-14k range, so not too far over your budget. They also host several inspections (Oldenburg) and Young Horse shows at their facility each year, so you could visit and learn a lot about their program, meet the sire/dam of the horse you're looking at, etc. I am in no way affiliated with them, just am local and have seen many of their babies grow up to be impressive through mutual friends. I finally went to an inspection there last year and was impressed with the quality of the horses, knowledge of the owners/manager, and demeanor of all their horses I met while I was there. There were also numerous people who had previously purchased horses from HPH and one had traveled all the way from Georgia to buy another - they were all happy to show me videos of their current babies competing! They're a bit far from you, but I assume with your budget and seeking a long term match, you're willing to travel. Good luck in the search


                        I've both bought youngsters for myself and now am a breeder, so I've been on both sides of your equation.

                        I agree with much of the good advice you've received.

                        My perspective: brain is the hardest thing to evaluate for horses in the age range you are looking for, so that makes finding something that is suitable for you to bring along the most difficult aspect. I've brought along quite a few now, and see that their temperment on the ground as babies often has little bearing as to how they are under saddle. I've had ones that came broke on the ground and were difficult and spooky under saddle and others that you can still barely spray with fly spray that are the most laid back under saddle. Also, this is subjective depending on what types you like. Some are sensible but hot, some are lazy and quiet but randomly spooky or won't go forward. Others are so sensitive that they can be very challenging to start but are the best riding horses in the end.

                        I think the best age to buy is weanling or two years old. Yearlings are very hard to evaluate, especially mature height. They also often look nothing like their adult selves, so when buying from afar this could be tough. Three year olds are almost all easy to ride, so I don't think worth the premium over a two year old. It's not until they're 4 or 5 that they are difficult if they're going to be. For height prediction, 90% of my horses have gained 1 hand from their two year old height. From yearling final height is so hard to judge because so much happens in their growth in that year between 1 and 2. Some three olds barely grow more and some will gain 2-3 inches. If a two year old looks really balanced and mature, then it might end up smaller. I have full siblings that were over two hands different at 4, but both gained 1 hand from 2 year old height.

                        I think the most important things when evaluating for your future hunter is looks, how they are in the jump chute, and the movement. I usually don't jump mine through the chute until they are two, so that might be harder for you looking at weanlings, but I do let yearlings and weanlings jump over single cross rails set along the rail. Weanlings are tough in a way since they almost all have amazing canters and do lead changes easily, so it's hard to tell them apart. Look for ones with good toplines and necks that come out of the wither and watch the walk. Look for a horse that had a ton of swing through the body at the walk. In the chute height of fences is unimportant, but style is at that age. All of mine showed that good technique their first time through if they were going to have it later. The good ones measure the distance, and rate themselves right away. So they don't jump over their shoulder even if the distance is tight for them, they rate their own stride to maintain their technique. This is what makes a good hunter and easier horse to ride later I think.

                        Pedigree is more important for jumpers, typically it's so hard to know how good they'll be until they're 6 or 7, so you need to rely on breeding at the start. Good hunters are very hard to make, so if they don't have the right technique and move the right way from the start, they're never going to. Often you have to sacrifice scope and technique over fences for the hack winning trot. I would chose one that moves and looks the way you like, since most will be able to jump 3' and you can't change the looks or the way it moves.


                          Cost is challenging. Breeders will want at least what they have into it when they sell a foal, (which is around $5-7k) but as it ages and they've been feeding it or are running out of room, sometimes the cost actually comes down. You should be able to find something suitable for high 4 figures if you look in the right places.
                          You should check out the fall classic sale put on by Canadian Warmblood. You can watch and bid online. You can get a feel for what people are willing to pay and which types bring the most money and compare with ones you're seeing local to you or in online adds. It is a breeders sale so there will be lots in the ages you are looking for. There is also that flashpoint bloodstock online auction. Keep an eye on these online auction prices so you know what you want to spend for the type you are looking for. Otherwise, most private sales you'll never get any data from since prices paid aren't usually advertised. At least it's a starting point, even if you never bought one through those avenues.


                            Original Poster

                            Laurierace horsepooramateur winter

                            You guys are incredible! Thank you so much for the WONDERFUL advice. Just wow!

                            Ok so now I am thinking a 2 yr is a safer bet to make sure I get the height and jump technique I am looking for. I will certainly check out that fall Canadian Warmblood sale. What great advice. I also greatly appreciate the stallion and breeding farm suggestions.

                            Price wise, I assume a 2 yr old will be a bit more, but that also gives me a bit more time to save. I won't seriously need a 2 yr old for another year or two, which also gives me a hood timeline for researching bloodlines and breeders.
                            A blonde & her hunter:


                              Conversely, I and many breeders would be a lot less negotiable on the price of a 2yo as opposed to a weanling, because the return on investment is much higher if I sell it as a backed 3yo. If you have a solid raising program (and it sounds like you do) I would go for a weanling. But I disagree with winter; unless you find someone doing a fire sale you aren’t likely to find one in the 4 figures. It costs too much to breed and raise them to sell them for that.


                                HJdaydream You could also breed Coco next spring. She is 17.2 and built like a draft horse and gray.
                                McDowell Racing Stables

                                Home Away From Home


                                  hunter breeding is not easy, and not very often done in my country. i bred a top hunter, doing his job in USA out of my breeding mare, i breed for quality allround/ jumpinghorses, who are not easy, they are honoust and willing to work, you have to have quality, with riding and they give you the best. they had lots of quality on tact/rythm in walk trot canter. and my foal, was as a horse, was easy going, under saddle, not as powerfull in willing to jump as his mother, he had nice perfect rythm , so he had a superb quality canter, and had the best amazone i could have wished for, and won the most he could. For the people who know daryl portela, and her hunter Winner, Winner sired by Haarlem, out of Gamora Sired by nocturn, from famous Morka/Karla dam line, was bred by me.

                                  So the best is to look for dutch, german warmblood breeding lines, holstein, hannover, oldenburg, kwpn, espcially from damlines that come from there. mine came from german damlines, especially the holsteiner damlines have more quality as they were bred earlier for under saddle then dutch horses.

                                  and look at the horse you want to buy and especially the mother, what is the quality of the canter, rythm and tact has to be the best, and if you can see the dam under saddle, you have an idea, what the offspring will do.

                                  and let the horse you buy, free movement, and free jumpin and see what quality it has, and take a person with you who can see it, or make a video of the movement and jumping so you can see it back...


                                    Originally posted by Anne View Post
                                    Conversely, I and many breeders would be a lot less negotiable on the price of a 2yo as opposed to a weanling, because the return on investment is much higher if I sell it as a backed 3yo. If you have a solid raising program (and it sounds like you do) I would go for a weanling. But I disagree with winter; unless you find someone doing a fire sale you aren’t likely to find one in the 4 figures. It costs too much to breed and raise them to sell them for that.
                                    I think if you look in the right places, there are actually quite a few fire sales on horses. If have a tight budget this is what you have to look for. A smaller breeder who doesn't have millions of family capital behind them who needs to move some horses because they didn't get what they wanted for the last one or have a large vet bill. Some of the breeders in Canada who have 30 mares and are breeding 10-15 foals per year sometimes have some very nice ones in that price range as weanlings, because they have the numbers to make that work. I totally agree though, most weanlings with the look and the breeding for the hunters, who are from an established breeder are going to be in the 5 figures. If you have a tight budget you have to be flexible on breeding and flashy markings but that doesn't mean you can't find something that is suitable, you just have to know what to look for and where to look.

                                    I agree a two year old will be more expensive than a weanling, and I also prefer to sell at weaning or at 3 (but that is because I want to ride them myself before I decide to sell) but I maintain that two is the best age to buy for someone who doesn't have experience selecting young horses. It is slightly less than a started three year old, but looks more like it's adult self than a weanling or yearling. I think that is the best age if you want a better idea of what you will have later. Of course it will cost more, but you also get to ride it sooner. I also do know breeders who prefer to sell before starting because they do not have the ability to start horses or are not near anyone who does.


                                      I was recently in your similar situation! (Texas as well) Owning a current hunter where we got along nicely but really wanted an affordable yet top quality hunter back up for years down the road when mine became too old. Ideally I wanted to develop on my own (with help) and I would be part of the entire process. My expected result was something that can be competitive a top level but not ever seeing myself spending top money for a finished horse.

                                      I started the same as you asking around and PM'ing on this same forum in fact. Learned quickly that there are several tastes and each breeder considers theirs the most appropriate type for a hunter, and they are all correct and incorrect in this subjective game! Keep educating yourself and asking questions to hone in on what your distinct style is, because it is all a judge's opinion at the moment.

                                      Along the path, I started emailing a couple of thousand miles away with Anneliese Kannow of Three Wishes California. (
                                      I presented her with inquiries on current horses showing what I liked, (she travels to top circuit shows on all coasts and watches the best) I would research USEF records and a pattern emerged of certain stallions characteristics that suited me. (Also 6' and cant look the part on a small horse)

                                      My taste for a hunter tended to reveal a repetition of more the jumping bred stallions over the sometimes more hack winning dressage movers at lower heights. Time and again I saw Lordanos, Argentinus, Catoki, lots of Quidam De Revel blood showing the type I liked. Lordanos being my favorite for what appeared to be the steady Eddie ammy type.

                                      After a year or so, Anneliese notified me she was being given the opportunity to breed a 17h Lordanos mare who was also top ranked nationally in 1st year greens both with pros and her amateur owner and would I be interested in participating in the breeding process? I wasn't bound to purchase, but we agreed on a price if I liked the foal, worked a contract together, chose a stallion
                                      and away we went. I learned along the way and have enjoyed the process and have a beautiful 2 y/o colt that will probably finish 16-3+

                                      All said by inspections and weaning, I had a quality foal for less than $15k, and paid out over time. Not a rock bottom deal for most, but considering I got a top mare, top stallion, superior genetics that's where I wanted to invest my money. Anneliese has young horses available of all ages but her in-utero's and custom breedings bring the affordability of the best genetics in line. You just can't discount the quality of the mare.

                                      And yes, breeding does add time to the process, but it sounds like you have the time for the right project. Enjoy the process, I think you are headed on the correct path!
                                      no hoof, no horse
                                      no head, no horseman. just wear it.


                                        15-20k for a yearling,