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How do I go about buying a prospect directly from a breeder?

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  • How do I go about buying a prospect directly from a breeder?

    I recently lost my 8 y/o eventing partner to tragic circumstances. Heartbroken, I hoped to move forward in a positive direction and went on to pre-purchase three beautiful "sound" OTTBs who were all found to have significant issues that prevented them from being suitable for jumping.

    I am emotionally and financially drained, and feel like I will never find the right horse, especially on a budget (I am a young teacher with a mortgage). Some COTHers on the eventing forum recommended that I change my search criteria and maybe consider an un-broke sport horse prospect from a breeder. Several people said that they found high quality sport horses for a very affordable price this way, since you're not paying top dollar for experience and training. I have never broken a horse myself, but I have professional help and am a confident, experienced rider. Not sure if this is the best course of action for me, just something I'm exploring.

    I did a bit of googling, but most of the breeder websites (not a wide selection) I found in my area (Southern California) were selling yearlings-3 y/o for $10,000+, which is way out of my price range. Also, I hard a hard time judging conformation on the youngsters, since they aren't finished growing (ex: is that a short neck or just a baby thing?).

    I've never tried to buy a youngster from a breeder, so I would love to hear your opinions about whether or not this is a good idea and, if so, how to go about doing so. Thanks!

  • #2
    A purpose bred eventing prospect from a breeder is going to cost you a minimum of $5K in utero. And it increases from there.

    If that's out of your budget, then I'm afraid you're back to OTTBs. And as you've found out, that's not necessarily any cheaper.

    Sorry - but unless you can provide Me, the Breeder, with a good reason to support your horse habit, I can't afford to - eg Are you an upper level rider? Can you get my horse UL exposure?
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Molly Malone View Post
      A purpose bred eventing prospect from a breeder is going to cost you a minimum of $5K in utero. And it increases from there.

      If that's out of your budget, then I'm afraid you're back to OTTBs. And as you've found out, that's not necessarily any cheaper.

      Sorry - but unless you can provide Me, the Breeder, with a good reason to support your horse habit, I can't afford to - eg Are you an upper level rider? Can you get my horse UL exposure?
      This pretty sums it up. That being said, I have followed your posts on the other part of the forum and I was very sorry for you that the OTTB didn't turned out on the good side for you.

      It will be very hard (not impossible, but hard) for you to find anything coming directly from a breeder for less than what previous poster stated. This because it cost (for me at least) around 7k give or take to put a wb foal on the ground. So I can't let them go for less, unless I want to do pro-bono. And if one day I find out that I cannot sell them for at least the cost of breeding them, then I will quit breeding.

      But.... some breeders are sometimes willing to make payment plans for roughly the price of a full board training facility. Yes it might take you a year or two to pay your prospect and bring him home, but then you will have a quality of horse and you will have seen him grow etc. If you take a good insurrance on him, if something happens to him, you won't be left with zero.

      Good luck in your search! I hope you will find what you are looking for.
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      • #4
        Well determining what bloodlines you prefer and seeing who has them is a start. Then you must contact the breeder and see what they have available as well as the costs for in utero, customized (if they do that) as well as youngstock who are yearling - two in age because this is the time they often just sit and room for the next crop might be needed. Another option is contacting those who have something other than warmbloods for sport. There are morgan breeders, connemara breeders, welsh breeders etc that have adults going in eventing and breed for that venue. You might find something closer to your price range by going that direction. It is a huge gamble as you must already know. Networking is key.

        A friend of mine (the breeder) just sold a warmblood filly who is coming 2 for around $2200. She hasn't been handled a lot and is a bit spoiled; but, sensible and for someone with experience a pretty easy egg. He was really needing to decrease his stock. He had a higher price tag on her but got a bad deal on a prepurchase exam which forced him to get that filly xrayed from head to toe just to prove that what the other vet stated was inaccurate. So the buyer got a decently bred filly (who needs training and time before getting to go places and compete) with a full set of clean xrays for a pittance. There are deals to be had out there but again you must network, put yourself out there and many times prove to the breeder that not only are you a "good home" that you will also be a competent show home as well. Another key is that you will never forget who the breeder is/was when it comes time for your star to shine......
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        • #5
          I'd also recommend looking at other breeds and don't get discouraged. I sold a 2 year old Morgan/Friesian/WB cross a few years ago for about your price range - he just did his first Novice course and won the jumping round. It is an unusual cross for sure, but some of the Morgans are incredibly handy and sturdy. And I sold a Paint/Friesian/WB cross last year for a friend - 3.5 years old, just started, a really natural jumper who would have been a great 3 day prospect. They may not make it to advanced, but if you are looking for a mid-level partner, you might find one outside of the WB world. A friend just went to look at a Connamera/WB cross - a bit out of your price range, but solidly under saddle, already been to an event or two, and about the price of a 2 yo Warmblood.

          I know someone selling an Appendix Quarter who is a nice lower level prospect - isn't going to take you out of Novice most likely, but he's broke and started over small jumps. Again, not a WB, but much closer to your price range. Also put the word out - there are breeders who are just anxious to sell and get out of this awful horse market I've seen a few ads recently for young stock that was well bred for less then I know it cost them to put that baby on the ground.

          If you don't have the $ to pay the fair market price, you will have to spend a lot more time and energy looking for the bargain, but they are out there. The trade off - if you want a horse soon, you need to pay more - if you are willing to search for a bargain, and willing to turn over a lot of rocks (and find a few bugs under those rocks), you will eventually find something nice. Meanwhile, keep saving your pennies!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by blame_the_champagne View Post
            Also, I hard a hard time judging conformation on the youngsters, since they aren't finished growing (ex: is that a short neck or just a baby thing?).
            You have honestly summed up a primary problem with most people, so don't feel alone there. Buying weanlings/yearlings is a very risky proposition for someone who doesn't have the experience or feel for it. Babies do indeed change considerably in shape through the various stages of their lives. The usual idea that it's best to look at babies at 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months, and 3 years most definitely does not always work out. I have known a considerable number of horses to not follow this time schedule.

            If you are going to buy a young horse, you need to buckle into some homework - what I mean is, educate yourself and know your bloodlines. There are certain bloodlines that have a propensity for the best eventing lines. Depending on what your goals are, you may want offspring from stallions who have competed for medals at the Olympics and other FEI upper level events. These will be pricey, because the breeders heading for those bloodlines are pairing the tops to the tops and consistently coming out with top performing horses.

            If you're wanting a low to mid level eventer, you may wish to expand your search. As a breeder, myself, I think I feel pretty confident making the note that MOST breeders in North America are not specifically eventing breeders, so you're already in a niche that is fairly small as these things go. There are a number of them out there, but not nearly as numerous as the other sports. I would advise you not restrict yourself to your home state of California as you might not get you what you want. As with all things, it's "who you know", so talk to a bazillion people who are active in your sport and follow up on the leads they give you. Each person you contact might give you contact information for the next person and so on. Shopping can be exhausting, so the key element here is patience and make sure you get what you want. You're spending a lot of money - your hard earned money that you saved with considerable sacrifice, so be PATIENT AND GET WHAT YOU WANT!

            As any honest breeder will tell you, when it comes to buying in-utero, be aware that there are some risks as any number of things can go wrong, which is why in-utero foals are offered much cheaper than those already standing on the ground. They SHOULD be offered with a live foal guarantee, but 99.9999% of them do not come with a "perfect as apple pie" guarantee. This means, the foal might survive the foaling, stand up, and suckle and survive past 7 days, but that doesn't mean its legs are all pointing in the correct direction! So, unless you're up for that kind of gamble, look for weanies or youngsters already on the ground and expect to pay a bit more for their quality.

            When it comes to shopping for youngsters, ask the breeder to supply you a variety of pictures from all stages of life, and even some videos from newborn, to several months old, to weanie, etc. This will reassure you that this (quite probably) rather ugly looking 2-year-old youngster in front of you, will indeed most likely morph back into something beautiful, rideable, and talented enough for what you want. They go through some real ugly phases and awkward growth spurts can even impact their gaits, but seeing a general variety of pictures and videos can reassure you. I think most breeders would agree, the yearlings and 2 year olds are hidden behind the barn living in the back 40. Some morph into beauty at 3 years, a lot will take their sweet time and finally achieve it at 5, 6 or even 7. I had a warmblood stallion (later gelded) who finally "showed up" at 7, another gorgeous filly turn into a mule (and an ugly mule at that) until finally the summer of her 4-year-old year when this lovely young mare showed up at the barn door asking for cookies and scratches - I was looking at her like, "really, is it you?? Where've you been all these years!?"

            I think what most people will tell you, breeders included, is that you won't get any real discounts just because you buy from the breeder.

            What people WILL tell you is that when you buy direct from the breeder you get:
            (A) The bloodline you want.
            (B) The untouched (aka unwrecked) raw horse you want
            (C) The movement and talent you want, and
            (D) You are then free to handle and start this horse EXACTLY the way you want and you can take your time and develop this horse to your specifications.

            Some increasing number of trainers buy young stock, but their whole purpose is turnover - so they're started fast, quick, sometimes rough, and sent into video and sales with sometimes a number of holes in their educations - some with bigger holes than others, depending. And then other trainers are super good at starting youngsters, but you're going to pay some pretty pennies for these horses too.

            So, there are definitely pros and cons to buying prestarted versus buying babies and starting yourself.

            If you decide you want a baby, but the difficulty of assessing their conformation intimidates you, pay for the services of someone (with references from people you trust) who buys babies for a living. They will get you what you want.

            Also, do look into payment options. A number of breeders will offer payment plans. Best to do this on a weanie or yearling because you will not be allowed possession of the horse until you've paid in full and so doing this with a 3 year old and then taking a year to pay... well ... you get the point.
            Practice! Patience! Persistence!
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            • #7
              http://www.canadianwarmbloods.com/classifieds/index.php

              I love mares but if I were you I would look at broodmares. They are completely undervalued as a riding horse because they have big bellies and do not look the type but if they are conditioned they snap back. Based on your budget it might be one of the best ways to own a quality bred horse that just needs some TLC.

              The above link is just some examples.

              Comment


              • #8
                As a breeder of WB sport horses, I can tell you that if $10k is WAY over your budget, you're going to have a hard time finding a quality young prospect for less than that. It cost me about $5k just to get the foal on the ground, and if you're looking for a 2 or 3 year old, add 2-3 years of feeding, farrier bills, vet bills to the equation.

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                • #9
                  I understand the OP's frustration. Three vettings equals a LOT of disappointment.

                  Here's something to consider when looking at the price differences. When you are looking at OTTB, the price they are offered at represents the RESIDUAL value. Not the initial value. It's the value left over once the initial value as a racehorse is exhausted.

                  Purpose bred sporthorses are being offered at their initial value. That value has a trajectory.... in-utero to foal to unbroke youngster, to started under saddle.
                  "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin

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                  • #10
                    There are some wonderful draft cross orphan (nurse mare) foals at Last Chance Corral in Ohio for very low cost. There is advice on feeding and caring for the foal on the website. Work with a trainer that has experience in comformation and movement. Good luck in your search.
                    \"You have two choices when a defining moment comes along - you can either define the moment, or let the moment define you.\" Tin Cup

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                    • #11
                      I've read your story and heartbreak on the eventing thread(s)... The hard reality check is that while there are some that will give you a great deal and you can find a breeder that is "desperate" or "has to sell" something for a very cheap price, the majority of us that breed won't sell for a quick, cheap sell. (unless there is a great incentive for us to do so).

                      I have a friend who has always said that it costs the same to feed a "cheap" horse as it is to feed an "expensive" horse. The difference is that the old adage of "you get what you pay for" is generally true.

                      The "cheapest" way you will find an UL prospect (unless you have time to search out one that is with a breeder/seller that "has" to sell type situation) is to buy in utero or as a very young horse. Even then it will still cost around $4500 + to buy one. The more "proven" the nick is (offspring of the sire/dam) the more $$ it will cost. Sorry for the disappointing news. The good thing is that most of the time in utero sales you don't have to have the foal paid off until it is time to wean/leave the farm (so you have time), and there are breeders that will work with you on board and allow for you to pay off a young horse with payments (but you typically have to also pay board/insurance and the horse stays with the seller till paid for). Plus you get a full history of the foal's injuries, health etc.
                      Emerald Acres standing the ATA, Trakehner Verband, sBs, RPSI, and ISR/OLD NA Approved Stallion, Tatendrang. Visit us at our Facebook Farm Page as well!

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by ahf View Post
                        I understand the OP's frustration. Three vettings equals a LOT of disappointment.

                        Here's something to consider when looking at the price differences. When you are looking at OTTB, the price they are offered at represents the RESIDUAL value. Not the initial value. It's the value left over once the initial value as a racehorse is exhausted.

                        Purpose bred sporthorses are being offered at their initial value. That value has a trajectory.... in-utero to foal to unbroke youngster, to started under saddle.
                        Yes, losing my promising, talented, young heart horse and then having three failed vettings on apparently sound horses has left me feeling pretty hopeless. I've done everything by the book, but have still seen my hard earned pennies slip down the drain. I read, research, pre-vet, take my trainers along, watch vids, watch more vids, ride it, trot it up, you name it.

                        Your explanation is extremely helpful. When I logged onto breeder websites in my area, I couldn't believe the prices (no judgement, just disappointment). OTTBs in my area are a dime a dozen since I live by several big tracks, but they all seem to have major issues (hence the price tag). It looks like I'm just going to have to take time off of riding so I can save, save, save. Although, it totally breaks my heart to think of not being at the barn every day for...years??? In the meantime, I can keep networking and hoping/believing/dreaming of that special bargain deal several people have gotten.

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                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by acottongim View Post
                          I have a friend who has always said that it costs the same to feed a "cheap" horse as it is to feed an "expensive" horse. The difference is that the old adage of "you get what you pay for" is generally true.

                          The "cheapest" way you will find an UL prospect (unless you have time to search out one that is with a breeder/seller that "has" to sell type situation) is to buy in utero or as a very young horse.
                          I'm actually not looking for an UL prospect. I only have aspirations of going through prelim, actually, so low-level to mid-level.

                          Yes, your friend is wise. That's exactly why I stop when I have a bad vetting. It costs the same to feed a lame horse and a sound horse. I realize that any horse can have issues at any time, but I'd rather not start with one that already has a significant soundness issue.

                          It's tough, though, because I have several friends (including a previous trainer) who NEVER vet. They just pick up a horse (usually a free OTTB) and go on their merry way. I don't know why, but I just can't do that. I know myself and how attached I will get to the horse. If it comes up with issues a year or two in, then I know I'm going to spend whatever money and time needs to be spent fixing it. I'm not just going to be able to pass it along and get a new one. Therefore, it makes more sense for me to be careful and choosey at the outset. However, I envy them their carefree ways (truly no judgement, just not my style). Disclaimer: I totally realize the limitations of a vetting and do not place all my eggs, so to speak, in that basket.

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                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by yankeeclipper View Post
                            There are some wonderful draft cross orphan (nurse mare) foals at Last Chance Corral in Ohio for very low cost. There is advice on feeding and caring for the foal on the website. Work with a trainer that has experience in comformation and movement. Good luck in your search.
                            Thanks for the lead. I'll follow up.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by MysticOakRanch View Post
                              I'd also recommend looking at other breeds and don't get discouraged.
                              I think I might be spoiled because I got an amazing deal on my last eventer because he was "off brand." He was the wrong breed, wrong size, and wrong experience set. He was a 14.3hh paint/quarter horse who had been used for roping and cattle work. I refused to look at him at him at first. I was leasing a gorgeous Trakehner mare at the time, and assumed I was only going to buy a TB or WB. After much cajoling, I finally got on him and that was it. He could jump the flipping moon and was the absolute bravest horse I'd ever sat on. He had so much heart (not to mention completely uncharacteristic A+ floaty movement) that I let go of all my prejudices and previous assumptions and bought him. Best decision ever. I realize, though, that his price tag is not at all the price tag on horses that are bred specifically for my sport.

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                              • #16
                                Breeders tend to price their sales horses at what it's cost them to produce the horse. This certainly does not equal the market value.
                                You need to get a buyer to agree to an inflated price instead of the buyer looking at the actual value of their stock.

                                While ahf is right, the value of an OTTB is the residual value that POV overlooks the fact that once started on a show career the value of an OTTB can easily exceed their value at it's highest point as a race horse. Look at the horses winning at the Tb Celebration shows. You are delusional if you think any of the horses winning at those shows can be bought for less than mid 5 figures. Lots of OTTB winning in H/J at the zone levels. Some of those horses have sales prices approaching 6 figures.

                                Many people who buy through Canter or similar organizations do only a simple vet exam. On a 4K horse it makes no sense to spend 1K on a vet exam. A lot of the Tb Celebration horses came from Canter or Lope so their are suitable horses out there.
                                For example, there is a nice looking 5 year old gelding on the CharlesTown trainer listings for $1000. He never raced because he was never registered with the JC. He has no racing injuries so apt to be sound.

                                When you shop at Canter take a trainer who is experienced in dealing with OTTB. Your current trainer may or may not be the correct person to evaluate the horses at the track.

                                You take a similar risk when buying a WB. If you buy as a young horse you may end up with OCD down the road. Regardless of the breed you can't tell what the horse may develop.

                                If you want to get to Prelim buying a draft cross is just silly. You have several strikes against you based on type.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by S A McKee View Post
                                  Breeders tend to price their sales horses at what it's cost them to produce the horse. This certainly does not equal the market value. Some breeders do. I never did. If I had a lesser young horse, I believed in cut and run.
                                  You need to get a buyer to agree to an inflated price instead of the buyer looking at the actual value of their stock.

                                  While ahf is right, the value of an OTTB is the residual value that POV overlooks the fact that once started on a show career the value of an OTTB can easily exceed their value at it's highest point as a race horse. Look at the horses winning at the Tb Celebration shows. You are delusional if you think any of the horses winning at those shows can be bought for less than mid 5 figures. Lots of OTTB winning in H/J at the zone levels. Some of those horses have sales prices approaching 6 figures. .... and I bred a horse that is now worth more than my farm. But there was no way I could afford to put the time in at Welly World to get him to that valuation. That's life with horses.

                                  Many people who buy through Canter or similar organizations do only a simple vet exam. On a 4K horse it makes no sense to spend 1K on a vet exam. A lot of the Tb Celebration horses came from Canter or Lope so their are suitable horses out there.
                                  For example, there is a nice looking 5 year old gelding on the CharlesTown trainer listings for $1000. He never raced because he was never registered with the JC. He has no racing injuries so apt to be sound.

                                  When you shop at Canter take a trainer who is experienced in dealing with OTTB. Your current trainer may or may not be the correct person to evaluate the horses at the track.

                                  You take a similar risk when buying a WB. If you buy as a young horse you may end up with OCD down the road. Regardless of the breed you can't tell what the horse may develop. This is all sound advice.
                                  The sawmill down the street makes it's money from milling oak trees. Not from sawdust, which is a byproduct, and sold in trailer loads to horsemen. Now, if they want to invest in new equipment, they could begin to produce dehydrated bedding pellets with that sawdust. Same thing with OTTB's. The fact that once trained, that horse is worth more than as claimer at CT is really beside the point. Most racehorse trainers and owners are not going to make that investment to get the horse showing.

                                  And speaking of residual value.....I had another thought.... isn't there a farm in KY that raises nursemares? And then sells the mares' own offspring after raising them in groups as "orphans"?
                                  "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin

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                                  • #18
                                    5 of my last 6 purchases have been (directly or indirectly) from Breeders.

                                    I bought Belle from her breeder as a long yearling, paying the asking price, which was actually my bedget for an under saddle 3 yo. I love Music dearly, and have a great connection with her. But she did not end up being what I was looking for in a competition horse. She was not reliable at, and clearly did not like, cross country. For her is was the penance she had to pay for doing dressage and show jumping (which she DID like). Luckily I was willing to change disciplines, and we had lots of success doing straight dressage, with a bit of straight jumpers and hunters thrown in. I wouldn't sell her for a million dollars, but I didn't get what I was planning for.

                                    I din not buy Spy from the breeder, but from his second owner (got the papers from the breeder). I bought him as barely backed 10 yo. He has the most positive attitude of any horse I have worked with, but turned out not to have the athletic ability of his full sister (owned by my sister). I bought him as a sales project, bu was never able to sell him (nobody wanted a 12 you who still needed "miles".) He also turned out to have arthritis, which could be a problem sometimes. But I leased him out for 8 years to a couple on young girls, and he took each of them reliably from "Intro" through Novice. I still have him at 31. Again, no regrets, but I did not get what I was planning for.

                                    I bought Belle form her breeder, as a 5 year old. She basically needed to get her off the payroll. She sold most of her stock much younger, but Belle was a bit hot for her normal clientelle, and a bit small (15h1") for people looking for a performance prospect. I expect the price did not cover all her expenses for 5 years, but it DID get her off the payroll. She is almost everything I planned for, but it has been a very long road with many setbacks.

                                    I bought Brain as a rising yearling from the estate of his breeder, who died of a heart attack. His niece was my dressage instructor, and the only other "horsey" person in the family, so she was in charge of selling the horses. He was bred to race, but she wanted him to go to a sport home, and I got him for the price set by the estate (which was very reasonable, and probably less than was "invested" in him). I bought him as a sales project, and I did, indeed sell him as a 5 year old, though not at a profit once you include the expenses.

                                    I bought Chief as a weanling, again as a sales project. The breeder had moved, and then had her barn and fencing blown down by hurricane Katrina. Again, getting him sold was more importatn than covering her expenses, and I got him for a very reasonable price. In part because of some developments in my own life, it took longer to get him sold, but I did sell him as a 7 year old.

                                    I bought my newest horse (see thread on "my new project") from a one time breeder who bred thinking she would keep the filly, but then decided to sell her as a 2 yo. So far I am very happy with her, but only time will tell.

                                    Anyway, the bottom line is that buying an unstarted horse (regardless of the age) is a major gamble. You may or may not end up with what you planned for.

                                    If you are working on a tight budget, you need to be open to different breeds, different ages, different levels of training.

                                    You need to keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities to "buy wholesale" (the owner is more interested in getting the horse off the payroll than in covering expenses to date. This certainly includes OTTB, but lots of other stuations as well).

                                    Whether young or old, if the horse is not already established in your chosen discipline, you need to be prepared for the horse not being well suited for your desired discipline.

                                    You CAN find "got to get him off the payroll" situations with horses established in your discipline, often in the case of a teenager going off to college, a move, a death, a divorce, or the birth of children. These horses often sell by word of mouth before they are even advertised, so you need to be sure that you get the word out that you are looking. And you have to be prepared to look at a lot of frogs before you find the prince.

                                    If you can make it work financially, I would suggest a ("free") lease while you are looking. That way you can still get your horsey fix whithout feeling rushed into buying something soon.

                                    Just keep your eyes and ears open, and something will turn up.
                                    Janet

                                    chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

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                                    • #19
                                      In dealing with breeders, be sure you do your homework. California breeders have been much in the spotlight lately, so be sure to do due diligence on their veracity and trustworthiness.

                                      Stock breeds tend to be MUCH, MUCH cheaper than WBs. Don't know why the cost of a 2 yo Western horse tends to average much less than 5k when WB breeders can't do it for less than 10k.
                                      Last edited by vineyridge; Apr. 8, 2013, 03:52 PM.
                                      "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
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                                      • #20
                                        Have you looked at Lone tree Farm http://www.lonetreefarm.net/
                                        Their stallion is a of 4 RID to event at UL. They have a number of sport horses as well as knowing other breeders who have youngstock by them. In the past, there prices hve been very reasonable. I know some of his stock has shown in the FEH and his older ones are just getting going.
                                        Epona Farm
                                        Irish Draughts and Irish Draught Sport horses

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