I have a mare I'm looking at buying. I have another thread going on the Critique topic that has brought up this question. How do you value the training that a horse has had? This mare has had a solid two years with a trainer and is very good with kids, in shows, with novices and experts alike. She has no bad manners and is sweet and affectionate. Her conformation is good and pedigree is good but is she worth a premium because of the training value. So how do you put a number on training. Check out the other thread for all the background. http://www.horseforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=6762
Hmmm.... this is a really tough question. A lot of it depends on what you're looking to do. In the H/J world the most important thing is that the horse can do it's job and win. Unless you show ponies or the conformational hunters in the A circuit, it doesn't matter if his conformation isn't perfect (and if you're showing in one of those divisions your horse is going to be a heck of a lot more then 7,000). We don't care about breeding or papers!
Conformation is important in that it can help you see how long your horse will hold up. Sure, you see 28 year old toed in calf hocked horses going around and doing their job but generally a horse that's not built well won't hold up under hard work. I always recommend getting a prepurchase exam from a vet before buying any horse. And certain faults will make certain things harder. The longer the horse the more difficult it's going to be to balance. A downhill built horse is going to have a harder time getting off his forehand. But it doesn't mean you can't teach a long horse how to balance or train a downhill horse to collect. It's just going to be harder.
The value of training is completely dependant on who's doing the training. 2 years is quite a long time! With a great trainer a horse that's been with them for 2 years is going to be fantastic. With a not so great rider who calls themself a trainer? Well, I'd rather have something green then something that's been ridden poorly for that long!
In my opinion, esp for those starting out, temperment is the most important thing to look for. In fact, I'd be willing to pay a little more for it. Again, I'd much rather have a bombproof horse that's not as fancy then something with an extensive show record but difficult to be around.
The most important thing is asking yourself what you're going to be doing with this horse and if it's a good match. If you're going to be mainly trail riding, maybe a little showing, but all around just having fun, you could probably find something for less then 7,000. You don't need something fancy for that. But if you really really like this mare and you're willing to pay it, then pay it. Esp if you'll regret it if you don't! If you're looking to show extensively and you're not experienced enough to deal with some of the issues you'd get with a green horse, well, 7,000 really isn't very much. In fact, in some worlds, it's very low end. I'd recommend looking around as much as you possibly can. You can get a better idea of what horses are going for in your area. Excuse the novel, hope some of it helped though!
I would be surprised if you could not find a horse with her level of training, her sweet temperament, and the same or better conformation for $5000 or under. Yes, I think good training is especially valuable, especially for a first horse, BUT...
Here is a question. If that same mare (confo., temperament, bloodlines) was green, how much do you think she would be worth? Because there are so many green horses who match her conformation, temperament, and bloodlines, I would guess about $3000 would be a pretty common price (probably good in some areas). That being said, do you feel that she has at least $4000 training on her?
All of that being said, you cannot put a price on the connection that you just make with some horses. If you have that connection with her, nothing else really matters.
I the connection is your case, you could possibly try negotiating her price with them. You can even find a very nice/polite way that you have seen horses similar to her for X amount of dollars, and ask if they would be willing to match that. Also, you could let them know you are keeping their number, but will keep looking for something just like her (let them know you love her), but for X amount of dollars...they will either play ball or you have left the door open for yourself to come back later when they have not been able to sell for that price (quite possible, but not certain), and give them an offer for X amount of dollars. Point being, you might be able to negotiate for a little better deal.
First of all, thanks to both of you for taking the time to post a thoughtful response. She sold for $4000 three years ago. I found that out since I posted. The trainer's family bought her from their boarders who counldn't commit to the time a horse demands. This trainer charges $1800 for 90 days training plus care. So it wouldn't take long to incur $4000 worth of training costs. If you sent a horse to a trainer for 6 months, there you are, four grand. The trainer, his wife ( a champion rider herself), and their grand-daughter have ridden her since and she has also been used for lessons. I watched her work out in the arena two days ago with one of their junior riders. I was very impressed. I didn't want to see what the trainer could do on her since that wouldn't be the norm. He could probably work magic on a donkey. She stood calmly to be groomed, saddled, even while the barn dog went in and out between her legs. She stood quietly while the ranch stallion was breeding a few mares. Lots of commotion there. She went through a nice warm up and did some reigning and even did a few low jumps. She worked well with other horses in the arena. Overall, a very good audition.
That being said, I'm pretty sure they are set on $7000. My husband worked on them some already and he can negotiate better than anyone I've ever seen. He does it all day. I have an apppointment with anther ranch nearby that has several horses for sale. So I'm still looking but I have a feeling I'll be comparing every other horse to Special. I think what I'm going to do is ask if we can lease her for a few months as a trial period or some other similar arrangement. We own our own business too and it would be a good way to see if we can really commit to the time involved in caring and riding a horse. They don't offer full board unfortunately. That would be ideal. The owners know that I can afford $7000, that's not an issue. It may though influence if they are willing to move on their price although their price as been set for a few months so it's not like they saw us coming. I sound like I'm trying to justify and talk myself into buying Special. Maybe my mind is made up already.
I think you know, we know you just want someone to tell you to buy her...yes? If it's any consolation, tbs are bred to have longer backs, it makes them better "stayers". It's not so much her back as is her feet that would worry me. She has too much angle in her front pastern, which means she ends up with incorect shape/length hooves, and her hind hooves seem to upright and short. It's hard to say from pics tho. Mind you there is NO such thing as a PERFECTLY conformed horse :)
Her price is too much really, but it's real hard to negotiate with sellers that a) aren't in a hurry and b) don't need the money. Sounds like these people are both.
If you love her you love her, I know a top eventer mount who has the worst hind legs you've ever seen. If you looked at a picture of him you would right him off in a second. BUT see him move... it still blows me away, it tooks like floating on clouds.
Update: I looked at several other horses locally but alas ... none seemed to be "the one". We decided to buy "Special" because she just seemed to our horse. She is a real sweetie. I did find out some other info on her history. She has shown in several English events and took first in all of them. She also turned a 16.8 sec barrel run and nearly ran out from under her rider. She has incredible speed and my son seems to think he's like that and my daughter is interested in riding English. Now I know she probably won't win any Western Pleasure events because of her long stride. We are taking her to a regional show Sunday and a friend is going to ride her to give us a look at what she can do. I've had several people unaffiliated with the former owners tell me that I got a bargain. I know that she sold green for $5000. She is a very gentle and easy going horse, very loving too. She seems to know already that we are her family. If you believe in the Law of Attraction or know of it, I believe that she is the answer to what we were looking for. So far she is a perfect fit. Also, she is nearly an identical clone to her grand-sire, Special Effort. He is in this months American Quarter Horse Journal. So I have a short little video with my daughter riding her on youtube. This was the first time she rode her. http://youtube.com/watch?v=-2N8YxBM-4Q
Special's grand-sire "Special Effort" is featured in the March AQHA Journal. He has just been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Just a little bragging.
We have been riding her a lot. Unfortunately she is laid up right now because another horse kicked her in the front knee. Looks like all will be OK if the joint hasn't become infected. Wish her good thoughts for a speedy recovery. The vet is optimistic.