How is Horse Value Determined? What’s It Worth? (Cost Guide)

How does an equestrian determine horse value?

If you have ever tried to buy or list a horse for sale, you know how difficult it can be to either buy a horse within your budget or list them at a price that matches its training and achievements.

Here I will talk about horse value and the factors that determine it.

What is Horse Value?

majestic horse

How much are horses worth? Horse value is the purchase price of a horse or what a horse is worth in terms of money.

Horses can also have sentimental value, as humans and horses can form tremendous bonds.  These make charting horse value difficult.

However, for the purposes of this article, I will be referring to the monetary value of horses. Every horse is priced differently for sale, so you are sure to find one that fits your budget.

READ MORE: Gypsy Horse Cost

How to Determine Horse Value

When charting horse value, these factors that determine the price of an individual horse and the conditions of sale.

Horse Breed

Some breeds are more popular than others.  Popular and useful horse breeds will sell for more than those that do not appear to be good riding horses.

a large Thoroughbred looking at the camera

For example, thoroughbreds that are champion horses have a list price of millions of dollars, but an off-the-track thoroughbred that did not succeed in racing is only worth $500-$1000.

Similarly, purebred Friesians have an average price of around $25,000, but you would be paying a lot more for a proven Fresian stallion that has been approved for the official Fresian studbook.

For example, Black Sterling Friesians is a top Friesian horse seller in the US. One of their 5-year-old geldings with top dressage bloodlines is selling for $50,000, which is a very high market price (1)

Show Performance

The more shows and training a horse has, the more its value increases. Most equestrians want to purchase a horse that will be successful in competition and help them advance their career.


Champion Thoroughbreds by a top sire and out of a proven mare in the sport they were bred for will have a higher list price than a healthy horse born to a rescue mare.

The American Thoroughbred is one of the most prized horse breeds in the US

One of the most expensive horses in history was a thoroughbred  Fusaichi Pegasus (2). He sold for $70 million at auction and was purchased for $4 million as a yearling. This is far above the market price

Horses descendants of elite bloodlines, such as some Arabian horses, will have a list price of hundreds of thousands to millions, well beyond what most can afford for a single horse.

Read our separate guide about how expensive are Arabian horses.

Here is a video of ASE Magnificent, a young Arabian stallion who has champion Arabian horses as parents and full bookings for breeding this year.

Charting horse value efficiently takes time and skill. The sale value of a horse fluctuates depending on all of these factors and more.

READ MORE: How Much is a Mustang Horse?

How to Budget For a Horse

Equestrians often worry that their budget is too low and that they will not find an affordable or healthy horse.  Here are some tips on budgeting for horse ownership. 

Consider How Much Money You Have to Spare

Although horses are wonderful and life-enriching, most people who own them do it for fun or because they want to, not because they are absolutely necessary for life.

So, when you budget for a horse, first consider how much money you have to spare after paying bills and other daily necessities. 

Find your total monthly income and subtract the cost of all your expenses from it. How much do you have left over? Do you have enough to purchase the horse you want, vet bills, monthly board,  having the farrier out every eight weeks, and more costs of services like daily feed costs?

Do you have any debt you need to pay off? Debt payments will subtract from the money you have to spend on a horse until you can pay them off, and there are a lot of costs in horse budgets.

Lastly, do you have enough money saved so that you can continue to care for a horse in case of an emergency?

Barbara Jean Atchison Horse
Credit: Barbara Jean Atchison

Ask Yourself What is Most Important to You

Typically, when building a budget for a horse, you have to choose between one of two options:

  • Pay more upfront for a well-trained horse and spend less on training 
  • Pay less for a unbroke or green horse and spend more on their development 

If you can handle a green or unbroke horse, or that is what you prefer in an equine partner, go for it. But, many riders, such as para dressage riders like myself, cannot have a green horse.

Purchasing a horse is the least expensive part of owning a horse because it is a one-time purchase, while the ongoing costs, like boarding horses and vet care, are a monthly or yearly commitment.

If the horse gets injured, it will end up costing more because you have to pay for their vet bills so they can heal. There are some insurance policies that will help with big costs, but you must factor in the monthly premium.

If you can determine what parts of horse ownership are must-haves for you and your horse, and what aspects you can compromise on, you can start to build a budget that fits your preferences.

Should I Get a Green Horse if My Budget is Low?

Green horses are a great option if you want to purchase a horse on a budget. However, you should only purchase a green horse if you have the experience to train it or have someone experienced to help you.

Green horses take an experienced rider because they must learn a lot and properly. If you buy and work with a green horse despite lacking experience, you risk harming both yourself and the horse.

Cathy Benscoter Horse
Credit: Cathy Benscoter

What is a Realistic Budget for a Horse?

The average yearly cost of horse ownership is $3,876 for a single horse.  This number can be less or more depending on the state you live in and the cost of services and vet care in your local area.

If you want to care for and own a horse properly, you should save at least this much before purchasing and ensure you can continue to have those funds for daily horse care.

The average costs can vary depending on the age and experience of the horse. A young horse that has good bloodlines and a stellar show record will price in the high five or six figures.

On the other hand, an older experienced horse will still be in the five figures but slightly less because of age. A senior horse that can no longer be ridden will only be a few hundred.

The University of Minnesota has some good tips for caring for horses on a budget. They suggest, if it is possible, that “It’s usually more cost efficient to keep a horse on the owner’s property than boarding.” (3)

Here is a video that explains more about budgeting for a horse.


What makes a horse worth more?

lady preparing the horse for lunging

Their bloodlines, training, breed, and show record all increase the worth of a horse.

Is it expensive to own a horse?

Owning a horse is expensive. The average yearly cost of horse ownership is almost $4,000.


Horse value is how much money they are worth, and this is determined by their breed, bloodlines, training, and show record.

To build a budget for horse ownership, you need to look at your income vs expenses and be honest about what you can afford. The average annual cost of horse ownership is nearly $4,000.

brown horse having a training


1. Black Sterling Friesians – The best Friesian Horse Seller in the country [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 25]. Available from:

2. Hype, Luck and Mystery: The Story of Fusiachi Pegasus and the Most Valuable Horse Race in History | The Action Network [Internet]. Action Network. 2020 [cited 2022 Jun 25]. Available from:

3. Caring for horses on a budget [Internet]. [cited 2022 Jun 25]. Available from:

Bryanna Tanase
Bryanna Tanase

Bryanna is a 23-year-old Florida-based Grade 1 Para-dressage rider based in Florida and she has been riding for 5 years. Horses are her passion and her ultimate goal is to be selected for the US Para-Equestrian Team and represent the US at the Paralympics. She rides at Quantum Leap Farm and Emerald M Therapeutic Riding Center and her equine partners are Shane, an American Paint Horse, and Cappy a Welsh x Thoroughbred. When she is not helping at the barn, riding, or training, she is learning about horses, writing articles about them, and using her social media platforms to raise awareness for therapeutic riding and para-equestrianism, shares her journey, and advocates for greater inclusion of para-equestrian in the media and equestrian sport at large.
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