Cheapest Horse Breeds in America
Horses have a reputation for being expensive pets, so you may be surprised to learn that you don’t have to blow your budget to fulfill your dream of owning one. While purchasing any horse is a long-term commitment with monthly financial requirements, the initial cost of the horse can vary greatly depending on the breed and training of the horse.
What are some of the cheapest horse breeds? Here is a list of the horse breeds that tend to be more inexpensive when it comes time to purchase:
- American Quarter Horse
- American Paint Horse
- American Standardbred
- Miniature Horse
- Missouri Fox Trotters
You must proceed with caution when purchasing any horse, especially with “cheap” horses. Some are truly under-priced gems, but others may have health or behavioral problems. That being said, don’t get discouraged with your dream of owning a horse. I have purchased all the horses I’ve ever owned for under $2000! In this video, I share the prices of each horse and how I acquired them:
Read on to learn more about these budget-friendly equines!
Cheap Horse #1: American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is the king of Western riding disciplines and can be found in almost every high-quality ranch breeding program. If you’re looking for an elite Quarter Horse to partner with you in the show ring, you can spend $50,000 or more. However, I’m not referring to Quarter Horses of champion bloodlines – Quarter Horses also happen to be, by far, the most common horse found in the United States. Because of the sheer number of this breed in the country, you can find them across virtually all price points and pedigrees.
You can find Quarter Horses on almost any ranch, at the rodeo, on your local trails, at most lesson barns, and likely even in your neighbor’s pasture. This means that you can find one from a champion bloodline for your sporting adventures, and you can also find a dead-broke Quarter Horse in need of a good home at a steal of a price. I usually notice trained trail quarter horses going for as low as $2500.
Cheap Horse #2: American Paint Horse
The American Paint Horse is another breed that can be found almost anywhere across the United States. While many Paints can make excellent partners on the ranch and in the Western disciplines, they are just as likely to be found at the lesson barn and in English competitions. American Paint Horses come in a wide range of colors and markings, with each horse just as unique in appearance as in personality. They are generally easy-going and well-suited for beginner riders and children.
I bought my American Paint Horse, Bella, for $650. She was five years old and unbroke, and I found her on a horse listing site for my state. She turned out to be an amazing pony that could easily jump 3’6 courses!
Cheap Horse #3: Belgians
Belgian Horses are some of the world’s biggest and strongest draft horses, most commonly used for driving, farming, and plowing. While, initially, it may cost a pretty penny to purchase a team of young, trained Belgians to pull a wagon, many of these horses will eventually be discarded to rescues, auctions, and kill pens. I often see these horses pulled from the kill pens for less than $3000.
As such big animals, Belgian Horses are not cheap to take care of; they often require special hoof care and a lot of feed to nourish them completely. Because of this, many people are so quick to discard these horses once they can no longer pull a wagon or plow. The Belgian horse tends to be the most mistreated and discarded horse breed in America.
That being said, Belgian Horses are amazing. Most of them have sweet temperaments with bomb-proof training that make them safe for beginners. You can find many older and trustworthy Belgian Horses at horse rescues across the country. If you’re looking for a quiet trail partner to tote you and your family around on, I highly recommend this horse!
I see a lot of Belgians at horse auctions, and you may be able to get them cheaper at the auction while also saving them from going to a kill pen. To learn about buying a horse at an auction, check out my article Buying a Horse at Auction (Helpful Tips & How it Works.)
Cheap Horse #4: Thoroughbred
Like the Quarter Horse, a Thoroughbred of excellent bloodlines can fetch an eye-watering price. In the case of the Thoroughbred, this is due to the billions of dollars the horse racing industry profits from in the United States every year. These horses have very short careers, however – with most retiring at 2-3 years of age when they are still considered foals. The elite Thoroughbreds will go on to be sires and broodmares, while the ones who didn’t make it far will be sold as OTTB (off-the-track Thoroughbreds).
You can often purchase an OTTB for very little money due to the fact that there is no profit to be earned from these “under-performers.” OTTBs will usually require more training than horses of other breeds because they tend to be more sensitive, having been used only for speed. They are also more likely to have suffered injuries from being overworked at the track, so make sure to have them vet-checked before committing. You can get Thoroughbreds off the track for under $1,000.
Before you decide to buy a Thoroughbred off the track, I recommend reading my article Should I Get an Off-The-Track Thoroughbred? Read Before Buying.
Cheap Horse #5: American Standardbred
While Thoroughbreds dominate the flat tracks, Standardbreds dominate in harness racing, largely due to their lateral gait, known as the pace. But as is the case with Thoroughbreds, American Standardbreds retire from racing at a young age, at which point they either go on to produce elite offspring or are sold as an OTSB (off-the-track Standardbred). OTSBs almost always require some training to make them well-rounded riding horses, which will typically bring the price down.
They may also come with old (or fresh) injuries, bringing the asking price down even further. If considering an OTSB, make sure to get a thorough vet check, and have reasonable expectations for training. Many OTSBs will need to learn how to trot and canter, as these gaits have never been asked of them.
You can also find a large number of Standardbreds at most auctions and kill pens, especially on the East Coast. After racing retirement, many of these horses will go on to become Amish buggy horses. From there, they get into auction circuits or are sold for meat.
You can easily find unflappable and sweet Standardbreds for very reasonable prices, costing as little as $1,000 to pull from a kill pen. Don’t let these diamonds in a rough pass you by!
Cheap Horse #6: Arabian
The Arabian is one of the oldest horse breeds in the world, originating in the Middle East. They are slight in stature, have a distinguishable dished profile, and are typically high-spirited. You can often find an Arabian at an unbeatable price for a couple of reasons. The first is their availability – they are quite common in the US, and therefore the supply is often higher than the demand.
The second reason is that they can be considered “hot-blooded” with a sensitive, or even nervous, temperament. For this reason, the Arabian may be a good choice for a more experienced rider on a budget. That being said, I have personally worked with many laid-back Arabians that were just like any other horse. When purchasing an Arabian, be cognizant of your skills and needs and whether the breed would fit you well.
An untrained Arabian can be found in the three-figures, while you may be able to find a green-broke Arabian for just a few thousand dollars.
Cheap Horse #7: Appaloosa
Another breed commonly found in the US is the Appaloosa. These horses are known for their Dalmatian-like (or, more accurately, leopard-complex) spots. The Appaloosa is seen more frequently in Western disciplines, although they excel in endurance riding and English-style eventing, and is a common breed found in lesson barns and used for trail riding. Because of the large number of Appaloosas found in the country and the wide range of body types and conformations found in the breed, you can often find an Appaloosa for a reasonable price.
When looking at Appaloosas, it’s important to know that the ones with louder and flashier markings will oftentimes sell for more money. Some Appaloosas will have no spots on their coat but have a completely pure Appaloosa bloodline. Non-spotted Appaloosas may go for cheaper than Appaloosas with many noticeable spots.
Appaloosas are similar to Quarter Horses because their price range varies widely. A flashy Appaloosa with a colorful coat may be in the five digits, but a trained grade Appaloosa can be found in the low four figures.
Cheap Horse #8: Miniature Horse
Miniature Horses can be found throughout the United States and are commonly found in petting zoos and as pasture pets. Miniature Horses can be picked up inexpensively because they are not used for riding, they’re cute, every child wants one, and there are a lot of them! They also have remarkably long lifespans, often living into their 30’s. It is not uncommon to find a Miniature Horse for sale that was previously purchased for a child who has since “outgrown” the animal.
Before purchasing a Miniature Horse, it’s important to know their personalities and health requirements. Miniature Horses are notorious for being stubborn. I can speak to this one myself because while my Miniature Horse, Yoshi, is very sweet and calm if there is something he doesn’t want to do, he’s going to fight not to do it.
Secondly, Miniature Horses can’t just be thrown in a pasture like normal horses. These horses can gain weight very easily. If they have 24/7 access to rich grass, it can easily lead to laminitis and founder. If you want to purchase a Mini, make sure you have an area that can be used as a dry lot or where grass can be limited.
There are many miniature horses in rescues that you can adopt for a few hundred bucks. Many of these miniature horses may even be trained to pull a cart and carry children around. I recommend starting at a rescue if you’re looking for a miniature horse!
Cheap Horse #9: Missouri Fox Trotter
Missouri Fox Trotters are sturdy horses known for their unique and comfortable gait called the “fox trot,” which makes them great for endurance riding and long days around the farm. This is another breed that can be found just about everywhere in America, but most commonly in the Midwest.
I like Missouri Fox Trotters because of their hardiness; these horses are rugged equines that are relatively low maintenance compared to other breeds. They are also very smart. I see these horses for sale on local horse groups on social media, and they always seem reasonably priced. You can find a rideable Missouri Fox Trotter fit for the trails for as low as $3,500.
Cheap Horse #10: Mustang
If you have some experience in training horses, one of the best and most affordable ways to acquire a horse can be purchasing a Mustang from the Bureau of Land Management. Every year the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rounds up thousands of Mustangs to control wild horse populations. You can adopt trained or un-trained Mustangs through the program, with the “trained” horses typically only having 90 days of work under them. In both cases, expect to finish the training at least yourself. Trained Mustangs can be adopted for as little as $500-$1,000, while BLM will often pay a $1,000 incentive if you adopt an untrained animal. To initially purchase the animal, there is a fee of $125.
All that said, this is not for everyone. Some Mustangs will never fully lose their wild nature, and training them can be a bit more difficult than a normal horse that has been domesticated for its whole life. There are TIP trainers, or trainers approved by the government, all over the country that can either sell you a started Mustang or work with you on your own.
How to Get Horses Cheap
There are many different ways you can find horses for cheap. From auctions, kill pens, and rescues to someone who just needs to get rid of their horse fast. In my latest video, I share all the ways I have gotten horses for cheap:
Buying A Horse Doesn’t Have To Be Out Of (Financial) Reach
You can purchase a horse without breaking the bank through many avenues. In many situations, you can expect the horse to require some level of training. In every case, you should spend the money to ensure a thorough vet check is performed. That being said, have realistic expectations with vet checks when it comes to purchasing cheaper horses. Take time beforehand to understand the level of maintenance commitment you’re willing to do on this horse. If the horse is of acceptable health and temperament, you may be rewarded with decades of partnership with an affordable horse.
Now that you know the cheapest horse breeds, it’s time to discover the most expensive horse breeds! Check out my article Top 15 Most Expensive Horse Breeds in the World.