It counts for more, yes, for someone who doesn't want a papered horse. But the papered horse still sells for more money. I'm talking about how much the horse is worth on the general market. Look up equine classified ads. Can't argue cold, hard fact.
If you were suddenly in a desperate situation and had to get rid of your horse fast, a papered horse would be much easier to sell than an un-papered horse with the same attributes.
And yes, training and a good, sound mind and body will sell a horse faster than papers, but if you're selling a well-trained horse with papers and a well-trained horse without papers, the papered horse will sell faster and for more money.
Papers are a plus. So is the perfect age, gender, color, etc. So yes, papered horses often sell for more. Geldings sometimes sell for more. 8-12 yr olds often sell for more. Horses in fancy colors sell for more. But selling price does not often reflect quality. Sometimes it just reflects the value of the horse in the eyes of the person that is selling it.
Papers are a positive, not a negative. But they don't make the horse. In the end, they are just an ID card for the horse. An identity.
But yes, average it out, and papered horse often sell for more. There are a lot of cheap papered horses out there right now, that except for a set of papers, are not any different from a grade horse.
Hey, I'm not an argumentative soul. I just feel a need to defend all the honest, non-papered using horses in the world. I love and appreciate them just the way they are.
And if they all went away today, I would be heart broken!
And I would certainly rather have a well trained Mustang than a fancy halter QH horse that can't work a lick! (No offense to fancy halter QH's that CAN work a lick).
Really, it should be both. Good looking horses should also be able to work. I think sometimes people lose sight of form vs. function. Halter horses should be beautiful athletes. Not the weirdo fashion models of the horse world. They should be what the rest of the breed aspires to. The best of their type. We should go "Ooh and ahhh I want one!" Not "OMG, that horse is freaky!"