Whoever said that a dog was man’s best friend never owned a Quarter Horse. For centuries, these majestic creatures have aided man through every endeavor, from fieldwork to cow wrangling and now showstopping glory!
Despite their versatility, Quarter Horses are surprisingly affordable. However, as with most pets, the purchase price isn’t what gets you; it’s the upkeep.
In this article, we’ll examine how much a Quarter Horse costs, its monthly running costs and how to save money on a purchase.
How Much Does an American Quarter Horse Cost?
The average price of a Quarter Horse can vary depending on what you aim to use it for. If you’re looking for a pet, a ranch mate, or a family horse, you would spend between $5,000 – $10,000. Foals and grade Quarter Horses are much cheaper, with deals for less than $2,000.
Conversely, buyers looking for a horse to compete in major events should budget at least $70,000. However, if you are an experienced trainer and know how to pick them, you can get an untrained horse with winning potential for a bargain.
What are the factors that affect the price of a Quarter Horse?
Photo credit AQHA
Despite their outstanding performance in show circuits, Quarter Horses are remarkably cheap. That is because it is the most popular horse breed in the world, with over 6 million registered by the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) since 1940.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t find any with thoroughbred-like price tags. Here are the main factors that affect their price.
The first factor that determines the price of a horse is its age. You can get a colt for less than $1,000 without papers. Foals with papers are slightly more expensive but still a bargain at between $2,000 and $5,000.
A filly might cost you a bit more, but a seasoned competition horse can range from $10,000 to $30,000 on average. That said, the price can be much higher depending on the next factor.
The equine world is all about bloodlines, and Quarter Horses are no different. Horses with elite bloodlines and have proven their championship mettle will easily go for over $50,000, with a few going for twice that in public auctions.
Almost as important as the bloodline is their breeding potential. Champion bloodlines that are proven breeders will go north of $60,000.
On the flip side, horses with unknown bloodlines will fetch much less, even if they have won a few events. If the horse has an undesirable bloodline and no victories, these can go for under $3,000.
A critical aspect of horse ownership is training. Quarter Horses trained for competition or even recreational riding can go from $7,000 to $15,000. Trained horses are highly recommended for first-time horse owners.
Project horses are much cheaper, often going below $5,000. However, the cost of owning a project horse can add up overtime. A professional trainer would charges between $45 to $100 per half hour. It is not uncommon for people to spend over $2,000 a month on training.
Other factors that can affect the price of a horse include location, health, and conformation. You should consider all of these before making your final decision.
Monthly Costs for Quarter Horse Care
When you buy a horse, it is important to remember that owning an American Quarter Horse is a long commitment. This breed has a life expectancy 25 years, although some have lived up to 40. So, even though it isn’t an expensive horse, American Quarter Horse care can cost a lot over its lifespan.
Here is an estimate of how much you can expect to pay to care for the beauties monthly.
Before you buy an American Quarter Horse, you need to decide where it will live. If you can keep a horse on your land, that will save you a bit of money. If you want to use a boarding stable, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $800 a month, but it can be as high as $1,200. This will depend on the type of services you want, the location, and amenities.
The top estimate is what you’d expect for a full board, which covers feeding, stall cleaning, and turnout. A cheaper alternative is a full-care pasture board, which costs an average of $500.
If you’re new to the Bay Area, hoof care costs might catch you a little off-guard. A typical visit from the farrier is about $200-$250. If you ride your horse quite often, it will probably need shoes, adding a little extra to the cost.
Just like other horses, a Quarter Horse breed will need hoof care every four to six weeks. If you’re unsure, speak to your vet.
This is the third most expensive maintenance cost, with an average monthly bill of $100 to $200. This depends on several factors, such as the size of your Quarter Horse, how easily it keeps its weight, how much grain it consumes, and the quality of hay.
It is important to speak to a vet before buying grain for your American Quarter Horse. When buying hay, aim to purchase it in summer instead of fall, as it tends to be cheaper. Of course, if you’re using a full board facility, you don’t have to worry about this.
When you first buy your Quarter Horse, you’re going to need a vet check, which costs about $200. Under no circumstance should you rely on the seller’s vet check. Afterward, you also need vaccinations, deworming, dental work, and other routine vet costs, which come to about $500 a year.
You should also save money for illnesses, injuries, and other unpredictable medical bills.
A few other costs to consider are insurance, grooming supplies, bedding, water, waste removal, and general equipment. You should budget at least $100 a month for these.
A realistic minimum annual budget to care for your American Quarter Horse is $6,000. If you plan on competing, you will add transportation costs, rider fees, training, and event charges.
This might seem like a lot of money, but if your horse rewards you by winning a few events, it could be worth it. Besides, whatever you spend will be a drop in the bucket compared to what a few owners have spent on their horses.
The Most Expensive Quarter Horse Purchases in History
Even though the American Quarter Horse is inexpensive, those with Championship bloodlines tend to fetch a bit more. In some instances, they rival some expensive horse breeds.
On September 2, 2023, Mr Pacmann set the record for a yearling racing American Quarter Horse sold at public auction, fetching an outstanding $1 million. The colt is from the lineage of Feature Mr Jess, a Grade 1 winner that has sired the earners of over $24.9 million.
Hopes are high for Mr Pacmann, considering he has two siblings who have grossed over $1.8 million in earnings. The colt was bought at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale.
As impressive as the sale is, it is still way off from the most expensive racing Quarter Horse sale at public auction in history. That honor goes to Moonin the Eagle with a price tag of $2.1 million.
Image courtesy of Heritage Place
Bobby D Cox bought the multiple Grade 1 winner at the Heritage Place Fall Mixed breeding stock sale in 2018.
Just like Mr Pacmann, Moonin the Eagle had also been sold at the Ruidoso Select Yearling Sale when he was younger, fetching $45,000 in 2013. He was later seized by the federal government in 2016 before being its record-breaking sale.
Another record-setting sale from Heritage Place was for Tempting Dash. The Grade 1 winning stallion, and son of First Down Dash, was bought for $1.7 million at a public auction in 2013, a record at the time.
Interestingly, Tempting Dash had also been seized by the federal government before the sale.
As outlandish as these figures are, they are much less than what discerning buyers pay at private auctions.
These exorbitant prices showcase the value placed on top bloodlines and championship potential by horse enthusiasts. However, if you need to rein in your budget, there are a few clever ways to do so.
How to Save Money on a Quarter Horse
Unless you plan on starting a breeding program, you probably don’t want to spend millions of dollars on a horse.
If you’re on a tight budget, are willing to put in the legwork to train your horse, or don’t care about competitions, here are a few ways you can save money.
You can adopt a Quarter Horse from either a rescue organization or an owner who can no longer care for it. In either case, you could save thousands of dollars.
Adoption fees are typically around $1,500 from a rescue agency. From an individual, you can get one for under $1,000.
- Buy a foal
Quarter Horse foals are full of life, require less space, and don’t eat as much hay as older horses. They are also a bargain, with many going for less than $2,000.
However, you need to understand that buying a foal means buying an inexperienced horse that will be quite the project. Training a horse is difficult for beginners. If this is your first horse, it is best to avoid untrained horses, especially if they will be around kids.
- Buy an older horse
American Quarter Horses are one of the best horses to buy in their teens thanks to their long life. Mature Quarter Horses are generally easier to train than foals.
Quarter Horses in their late teens can still put on a show or two, or you can race around your ranch for up to a decade. Ensure you have a vet check it out to ensure it doesn’t have any diseases or disorders that will break the bank or shorten its lifespan.
- Buy a grade horse
If you’re not interested in competing, buying an unregistered horse or a grade horse is a great way to save a lot of money. You will still get all the charm, dependability, and speed you require, even if it’s not a registered horse.
Besides, you can still go for open events if you change your mind.
- Buy privately
Given how common Quarter Horses are, chances are high that you know someone or can meet someone who breeds them. You can skip the dealer hurdles and markups by purchasing from a pal.
If you use this option, ensure you do your research properly so you don’t fall victim to equestrian-related internet scams.
Other ways to save money on a Quarter Horse are to learn hoof care, first aid, and other services that will reduce professional fees. You may also consider shared ownership.
Read: Why are Horses Eyes Covered?
How much does it cost monthly to own a horse?
Taking care of a horse can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,000 a month, depending on where you live, the health of the horse, and the type of stable. The average owner tends to spend less than $7,000 a year, unless they are going for events or the horse is unwell.
How much does it cost to train a Quarter Horse?
To train your Quarter Horse for half an hour will cost between $45 to $100. That means you can spend anywhere from $200 to $10,000 per month. Unless you plan on going for equestrian events, you won’t need to spend more than $500 a month.
What is the cheapest horse?
The cheapest horse breed is a wild Mustang. The government could pay you $1,000 to adopt a Mustang, or you can purchase one for as little as a dollar. The second cheapest breed is a Quarter Horse.
Are Quarter Horses good for beginners?
Yes, Quarter Horses are an excellent choice for beginners. They are friendly, highly intelligent, and easy to train. They are also very versatile, so they can be used for ranch work, racing, other equestrian events, or just as pets.
Buying a Quarter Horse in 2024
There is so much to love about the American Quarter Horse, which is why it continues to gain in popularity. This means that buying a Quarter Horse in 2024 won’t break the bank unless you want it to.
If your heart isn’t fixed on any breed, there are many wonderful options to consider.
Another breed that performs well at events is easy to train and is highly intelligent is the Arabian Horse. Some call it the most intelligent horse breed; but you might call it your new best friend.