What Does it Cost to Buy a Quarter Horse?
You are not alone if you’ve had your eye on a Quarter Horse, and for good reason. There are more Quarter Horses in the United States than any other specific breed. They make excellent family horses, and they really do reign supreme regarding ranch work and showing in Western circuits. You may be wondering how much you would have to spend if you’d like to add one of these versatile horses to your herd.
How much do Quarter Horses cost? If you are looking for a solid family horse and you aren’t concerned with pedigree, you can usually find a Quarter Horse for under $10,000. A foal or an untrained horse will cost even less, and you can typically find a healthy project for less than $5,000. While this makes Quarter Horses one of the most affordable breeds on the market, you can easily spend over $70,000 or more on an elite show or breeding prospect.
Keep reading for more about the supply and demand factors in Quarter Horse sales, the most expensive Quarter Horses sold, and how you can save money when purchasing these horses.
The Average Quarter Horse Purchase Price
If you’re looking for a gentle family horse or an unflappable trail horse, you can find a Quarter Horse that meets your needs for under $10,000. As an example, I just looked at the local livestock ads in my own town. I immediately found six different purebred Quarter Horses for sale, with purchase prices ranging from $1,750 at the lowest to $7,000 at the highest. The most expensive horse in this range was a 7-year-old gelding in his prime. The least expensive horse in this range was a 2-year-old filly that has so far been unhandled (in other words, a project horse). All of these horses were described as sound and healthy, and all but two were broke to ride.
You may be wondering how it is possible that Quarter Horses can dominate the show ring but also be so reasonably priced. Aside from bloodlines, this really comes down to the fact that they are so commonly found.
Quarter Horse Bloodlines
Most people who purchase Quarter Horses seek a versatile horse to accompany them on trails, keep their children safe, or help them on the ranch. But if you are serious about Western competitions or serious about your ranching herd, you may decide to look for a horse with proven bloodlines. This is where you can spend much money through remuda auctions of elite ranches.
One of the most sought-after bloodlines is from the famous 1956 Chestnut Doc Bar. Doc Bar was the offspring of racing Quarter Horses but did not do so well on the track himself. He did have the impressive ability to throw offspring with an incredible cow sense and extreme athleticism, allowing them to dominate the cutting arena from the 1960s and on. One California rancher was quoted as saying, “We need to raise awfully good ranch horses, as far as ones that can get the job done in steep country, rough country, and high country… most all of our horses go back to Doc Bar. He goes in just about every line of horses that does anything in ranch country, in the show ring, and everywhere else.” Horses that come from lines that include famous and well-known sires (and mares) like Doc Bar will fetch a much higher-than-average price than the typical Quarter Horse.
The Popularity of Quarter Horses
Quarter Horses are the most popular breed in the United States and are one of the most popular breeds in the world. Since 1940, the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) has registered over six million Quarter Horses. The vast majority of these registered Quarter Horses are in the United States (420,000 of them are in Texas alone), but they are also popular globally. Canada has an estimated 250,000 Quarter Horses, and behind Canada, the country with the highest number of Quarter Horses is Germany.
What does this have to do with their average purchase price? Breeds that are commonly found will typically fetch a lower average price than breeds that are rare. This is not only true of horses but is true of economics in general. It has to do with supply and demand… the supply, being more than sufficient to meet the demand, drives down the price of the average Quarter Horse. Quarter Horses are also incredibly versatile, so while a specific bloodline may come at a much higher price for those interested in seriously showing, there are plenty of horses with working bloodlines that are much easier on the wallet.
How to Find Cheap Quarter Horses
The average horse owner isn’t looking for the next “Moonin The Eagle” and can expect to pay a very reasonable price for a Quarter Horse. While you can purchase a horse of this breed for the low-mid four figures, there are ways that you can spend even less on a purebred Quarter Horse.
Purchase a Foal
One way to save money on buying a horse is to purchase a foal. Foals are typically much more budget-friendly than more mature horses, but where you save in dollars, you will make up for it in time. Foals will need extensive training and patience. If you’re not experienced in training, I would not recommend a foal for first-time horse owners.
Buy Grade Quarter Horses
If you are simply looking for a great trail, family, or ranch horse, another way to save money is by purchasing an unpapered or grade Quarter Horse. These horses typically have very laid-back, easy-going dispositions, papers or no papers. Unless you are planning to enter breed-specific competitions or you are looking for a broodmare, you may decide that you don’t need a registered horse.
Look at Older Horses
Lastly, you can usually save quite a bit of money by purchasing a Quarter Horse that is in their late teens or early 20s. Quarter Horses are typically a very hardy and durable breed, and provided your horse checks out with the vet, you should expect to get several more riding years on a Quarter Horse that would otherwise be considered as entering their “senior” years.
The oldest horse I personally know is a 38-year-old Quarter Horse gelding. While he isn’t jumping anymore, he’s still happy to be led around with young kids on his back and has even been known to break into an unrequested trot or lope in the arena now and then). Regarding a good Quarter Horse, there is no reason to shy away from looking at a sound prospect simply based on age.
The Most Expensive Quarter Horses In History
The most expensive Quarter Horse sold on record was the dapple gray stallion named Moonin The Eagle. The horse was sold as a yearling in 2013 for $45,000 but was seized for unknown reasons by the federal government three years later while still in race training. He was then subsequently sold to Cox Stallion Station for a record-breaking $2.1 million. Trained by Rolando Almanza, Moonin The Eagle placed in 10 of his 14 career starts and has sired 33 champions, including nine stakes horses. Sadly, Moonin The Eagle died at just nine years old after being euthanized due to unknown complications.
At this point, you may be double-checking the subject of this post: are we talking about racehorses, or are we talking about Quarter Horses? It’s true that Thoroughbreds all but dominate the racetracks, but it may surprise you to hear that the Quarter Horse is actually the fastest sprinter of all breeds, having been clocked at 55 miles per hour. They lack the endurance of the Thoroughbred, however, and therefore compete in short races, usually a quarter of a mile.
Buying A Quarter Horse In 2023
One of the oldest American horse breeds, the Quarter Horse is just as popular now as ever, partly because they are so versatile. Quarter Horses are stocky enough to carry a rancher all day, they are agile enough to keep up with the demands of herding in the arena and on the ranch, and they are friendly and calm enough for a rider of just about any age and experience level.
Quarter Horses dominate all facets of the Western disciplines, are the most widely-used working horses, and are also popularly kept as family horses, trail partners, and lesson mounts. Considering their versatility, it is easy to understand how they have become the most popular breed of horse in the country.
Fortunately, for those wanting to bring one to their own farm, their popularity and lower-than-average purchase price make Quarter Horse ownership attainable to even the most budget-conscious equestrians.
Another popular horse breed that you can find for cheap all over the country is the Arabian. To learn the average price of these horses, visit my article How Much Does an Arabian Horse Cost? 2023 Pricing Guide.