What I say may not have to do with horses and kids, but the price of "fancy" horses in general...
In my opinion, you get what you pay for. For my personal experience:
I bought my first western pleasure gelding for $7500, which I consider "mid price range". I trained him myself without the help of a trainer and we got top 5 in Congress, but nothing higher than that. He was a great little horse and one who I really "transformed" through good training, but he had faults. He had no good breeding, was very long in the back which made it hard for him to collect, thick neck, and a weak stifle. Terrible flaws? No way, and at 12 years old we sold him as a push-button horse to some novices for $5k.
Now I have a weanling who has been appraised for roughly $10-12k, and you can see the immediate differences. She has great breeding, perfect pencil neck, great proportions, excellent topline, and a nice hindquarters. After I put some good training on her and take her to shows, I expect her to be an expensive, "fancy" horse. I couldn't go out and buy one of her without breeding it, because it was cheaper to pay $5k to breed. But when I look at her, all I see is quality. And unlike my first horse, many of the conformational problems will not be there. She will be able to collect easier and compete in multiple events.
I don't see anything wrong with a "top level" horse. If you want to win, you need to have the complete package - breeding, conformation, and talent. That costs money. That isn't to say you don't stand a chance on a lesser horse, but I believe the value is really there. I'm sorry it's difficult to afford, I was fortunate enough to be able to breed my dream horse because I would not be able to purchase one like her. But I have always believed that horse showing is a rich man's sport. But that isn't to say you can't have fun at the same time!
I also don't like this misconception that people who have expensive horses don't train them themselves. I certainly do, I wouldn't want anyone else to touch my expensive horse!