This Isn?t A 100-Percent Buyers? Market

One day last week, my wife, Heather, had a phone conversation with a friend of ours who felt insulted and angry because a prospective horse buyer had offered her half of her horse’s advertised price. That price was one-third less than the price she?d previously offered (because she really wants to cut her costs by selling this horse), and the woman also wanted to, after trying the horse twice, take him on trial for a month. Basically, the buyer was a tremendous pain in the butt, and she even she told our friend that this is a buyers? market, insinuating that our friend should be happy to accept her oh-so-generous offer. Our friend took the low-ball offer as an insult to the horse and as a slight to her as a professional horseman. The situation prompted Heather and I to ponder the horse market, which probably isn?t a whole easier than trying to predict the leaping and?now? plunging of the stock market. The horse market is a pertinent topic to us, since we do sell horses, although not nearly as many as we did before the economy crashed three years ago. Two of the horses we have for sale now are youngsters, a 3-year-old Thoroughbred-cross gelding and a 2-year-old warmblood filly, and I think they represent opposing arguments of how strongly this is, or is not, a buyers? market. On the one hand, it would certainly seem to be a buyers? market since a lot of people have been trying to lighten their horse load, trying to reduce feed, veterinary, farrier and other costs by having fewer horses in their care. that’s caused a glut of horses on the market, across the discipline spectrum, and the economic law of supply and demand says that as the supply of a good rises and the demand decreases, the price has to fall. We’re in the reduce-the-herd boat with the 2-year-old filly. We were given her as payment for training her sire, and we would like to sell this lovely filly, now. Since she was a late foal (born in mid-August 2009), We’ve only had her in our care for about 18 months. We’ve put almost no training time into her (other than teaching her to lead and stand for vet/farrier care), so we don’t have much invested in her yet. So we’re willing to offer her for any reasonable offer. (No, $500 is not a reasonable offer.) On the other hand, people who have good horses that they want to sell are not willing to fire sale them, unless they’re absolutely financially or otherwise desperate. that’s the case with our friend?s horse and with our 3-year-old gelding. Her horse is a good mover and is beautifully schooled on the flat, and sHe’s put three years of time and money into him, so $5,000 doesn’t begin to recoup that investment. We bred our 3-year-old, and just in stud fee, feed, vaccinations (the only vet care He’s had) and hoof trimming, and feeding him for three years, We’ve invested between $8,000 and $9,000 in him. And He’s been in work since February, so tHere’s six months of our time, which we would have charged $4,200 for. Plus, He’s the fourth foal We’ve trained out of his dam, so we know the strengths of his siblings and know He’s the most athletically gifted of the four. So, with $12,000-plus invested in him and knowing his quality, we’re not going to take low-ball offers. But we also know that riders are always reluctant to buy young horses and that they don’t accept what it’s cost us, as the breeders and trainers, to get them going under saddle. So they won?t usually pay what young horses are worth. that’s why He’s listed at for $8,500, a price that’s only two-thirds of what We’ve put into him. We sold his two older brothers for more than twice that as 4-year-olds, and so we’re willing to wait, if we have to, and sell him for more after He’s proven himself in competition next spring. So, is it a buyers? market’ Yes, largely it is, because there are certainly more goods available (horses) than there are buyers looking to buy them. But good horses, like luxury cars (Rolls-Royce at the extreme, but also Mercedes, BMW, Cadillac), are going to remain expensive because of their relative scarcity. And even if it is largely a buyers? market, that doesn’t give buyers the right to be inconsiderate or rude to the people selling the horses. Would you walk into an auto dealer?s showroom and tell him, ?I know you’re desperate to sell cars, so you’ll take my offer of $1,000 for that car, or I’m out of here?’ Of course, it all comes down to the age-old maxim: What’s horse worth’ What somebody will pay for him.

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