Same thing around here. I've been shocked at the prices. An average cow horse, and I mean nothing spectacular with only a few names waaayyyy back on the papers, and only started, going for $2,500 all the way up to $6,000.
I can pick up a truckload of gimpy looking "green broke trail horses" for nothing. Usually small and nothing decent.
Have you looked into Morgans? Probably not cheap but worth a look. Good Luck!