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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I didn't know where else to put this so here goes:
So I've already been through the whole thing about how difficult it is to start a horse training business and get enough of a customer base to make it your full time job. However, I'm curious if it is at all possible to actually sell a horse for a profit. So hypothetical scenario time:

You just bought a really cheap (lets say a couple hundred bucks), untrained horse. Say it's about 6 years old and has either been completely unhandled or physically abused. So, assuming there are no vet, farrier, feed, or any other crisis bills along the way (basically, assuming that the world is being unnaturally kind to you and your horse) and it takes to training fairly well (say it's just meant to be a family trail horse. Sort of one of the "bombproof" types that are really relaxed and calm on trails), could you hypothetically take into account the initial cost to buy, feed cost, vet, farrier, etc. and still sell the horse for a profit?

I understand how many different things people take into account when buying a horse, but I'm curious if it's better to be able to sustain a horse without expecting to get profit back, or if it is possible to make a profit. In general, I don't worry about this sort of thing, but it was just a question I had so I figured I'd put it on here.
 

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I agree with Avna. It is possible, but not probable. One other thing you might want to think about would be to buy in the later summer / fall when people are looking to sell and prices are lower, work the horse over the winter, and then sell when it's (hopefully) got its nice spring coat, looks healthy, and is trained, and it's usually more of a seller's market. Of course, that assumes you can train it enough in six months, and then of course you're feeding it over the winter.

I don't know a lot about training horses, but I'd choose the unhandled horse over the abused horse, if I were being practical and cold-hearted about it. I have a rescue, and I am so happy to have been able to give him a good home. But, while he is an absolute sweetheart 99.9 percent of the time, he does have emotional issues that need to be managed, or he can explode. I would not be comfortable passing him along to someone else unless I was sure that they could deal with that. And he was just neglected, not abused. With abused horses I would worry that without a long period of gentle training (and even WITH that, maybe) there might always be that .01 percent of the time where something triggers them and they act out. Not out of aggression, I mean, but out of fear. But it's still hard to deal with. And if you're trying to flip a horse, you can't afford to keep them around for a long period of time, right?

Having said that, if you are the kind of person who COULD take an abused horse, retrain it, and sell it on to a good home, then absolutely do it. Be a hero. Give that horse a second chance.
 

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I'm confused... You said "no vet, farrier, or feed" bills besides the "initial." But if you're keeping a horse for at least a couple months, there will absolutely be running costs. But, putting that aside...

Let's assume you're keeping this horse for six months, and assume that you're keeping it on your own property (aka no boarding fees), and assume the initial cost is $200 (unlikely unless you buy from auction - even then, more like $400+, and comes with so many risks), and assume the horse is fine barefoot on minimal feed and needs no vet care besides vaccines and wellness check. Let's assume that this horse ends up being a half-decent family trail horse, and you find a buyer willing to pay $2500 for the horse. Breakdown of costs:

Buy: $200
Fall & spring vet visits (vaccines, wellness check): $300 total
4 barefoot trims: $200 total
6 months of feed: $200
6 months of hay: $600

Total cost: $1500
Sell price: $2500
Total profit: $1000

Assuming you put 1 hour a day into working with this horse for the full 6 months, that would come out to more or less 180 hours. So you'd be making maybe $5 an hour, assuming absolutely nothing goes wrong with the horse and you're able to turn a $200 horse into a $2500 horse in six months and that the horse is smart enough to learn so much in 6 months. This is especially difficult for a horse that doesn't have any sort of registration or bloodline history.


Just a few issues that may or may not come up, but some are very likely:
- You simply don't find a horse under $500 that is sound, under 20 years old, and not completely messed up in the head or body.
- The horse has a very hard time keeping on weight. Double/triple the feed & hay cost, add a few hundred $ to vet fees to rule out potential illness.
- Horse turns up lame randomly, and needs corrective shoeing. Double/triple the farrier cost.
- The tack you own doesn't fit a new horse. Add $500+ to costs to buy fitting tack.
- Horse has a minor behavioral issue that prevents seeing a large amount of improvement in 6 months. Cut the final sell price in half.
- Horse has a severe behavioral issue that seemed fixable initially but ends up being too dangerous to train. Horse is unsellable.
- You're a fantastic trainer, but the horse doesn't automatically give the same respect to potential buyers who aren't as skilled. Cut the final sell price in half.
- You realize it's harder to train this horse than you thought, and you see little to no improvement in 6 months. Sell price breaks even with initial buy price.
- Horse has a serious medical emergency or need. Can amount to $1000+ in additional costs, and horse (probably) no longer becomes sellable.
- The horse turns out to be only pasture-sound.
- Horse was drugged when you went to look at it. Turns out to be a lunatic or dead lame when you get it home. Horse is unsellable.
- Horse ends up turning out decent, but you have a difficult time finding a buyer for whatever reason.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
by the initial vet, farrier, feed, etc. I meant the coggins, vaccines, shoes, trimming, teeth floating, grain, hay, and all the other basic care things you need for a horse. And, Though I've never done it and I don't know anyone who has, I've seen wild horses sell for less than $200 (on the BLM's auction page, the average age is like 6 years old and they all appear to be unhandled, or handled minimally) , however there may be extra fees I am unaware of, not to mention the gas it takes to get to a pickup location and back. I am very inexperienced when It comes to running a horse facility of any kind, and I don't expect to make profit off buying a cheap horse and reselling it. I know how many problems can, do, and will arise with horses, no matter the breed, size, location, any of it. My primary concern is helping a horse become someone's companion, and I don't believe in rushing training at all. I go at the horse's pace, and even though I have a preferred training method, it changes and shifts in technique and time with each horse.

From the sound of it, my method is definitely not the method to be making a profit from the actual reselling of the horse, but maybe it might work as a trainer if people like me enough. I appreciate the honest answers. At least I know now what not to expect. What I'd love to do is to have an income that supports my horse hobby, and then take on a project horse occasionally. Anyway, Thanks again to everyone for the answers.
 

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I think Mustangs make great clean slates. The thing is, under $200 still means at least a thousand in shipping. I just paid $800 to move my mare 400 miles, and a friend just paid $1200 to move her mare about 600 miles. Another thing is that the ones that are over two or three years old generally take a lot more time and energy to make them come around, and even then, they don't always come around that well. If you want to train a mustang, which I personally think can be a very rewarding experience, I would definitely advise getting a 3 year old or younger. The younger, the easier they'll be, and the better they'll turn out (generally speaking). I think it's worth the investment, although if you're willing to spend the time with an older horse and know you might not get as good results out of it, it's a very honorable path to take, though perhaps for someone who's already worked a few younger mustangs before.
 

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And, Though I've never done it and I don't know anyone who has, I've seen wild horses sell for less than $200 (on the BLM's auction page, the average age is like 6 years old and they all appear to be unhandled, or handled minimally) , however there may be extra fees I am unaware of, not to mention the gas it takes to get to a pickup location and back.

Ummm...
Don't mean to rain on your parade but unless things have changed...
Wild mustangs that come through the BLM are not to be resold for a specified period of time, like you don't own them!!
I believe you host and foster a horse for 2 years and at the end of that time you are then granted ownership and the paperwork that corresponds with the freeze brand on the neck.
Domestic born mustangs not freeze-branded are private property, but then also usually cost to purchase.

Now, that said...I don't know if there is follow-up with the BLM checking on their animals whereabouts and housing conditions which along with transport are exacting in demands for the animals safety when coming home "wild" and really does need done.
I however would not like to be the one who is checked up on and the horse is not with me and gone, sold off.
You could land in a heap of trouble pretty quick I would think. :|
:runninghorse2:...
 
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You won't make much on a mustang... even pretty ones that are fancy broke sell for less than half the price they would if they were a QH. You'd have a better chance of selling at a profit if you buy a horse with papers. Some people do make good money buying promising horses at auction, feeding them up and riding them for a month or so, then reselling privately. But here you also have to have the room and funds to keep a dozen horses until they sell and a hard enough heart to run the nutty ones back through the loose pen a month later if they aren't fixable.
 

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There must BE a way to make a profit on training and selling horses, or people would not do it.



I'm pretty sure the only way to do this is to do it in larger numbers, meaning take on a half dozen or more, train them up togther, and sell on. Even so, there will be very little profit.


I know a fellow how lives near the BLM holding pens in Oregon. He selects a few nicely built Kiger mustangs, trains all winter, and selling the the spring/summer. He puts a good handle on them, but he also selects the ones with coloration on them that is desired. He rides them out on the range and uses them in REAL cowwork. They are solid mounts and are desireable, and I was shocked when he said he can sell some for up to $8K!!!



He works very hard, and has raised a family from this hard work, but is by no means making any kind of real money.
 

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The lady I bought my first two horses from had a trail riding operation. She had a picturesque ranch that was about 150 acres and she would lead rides out there. She would buy green or untrained horses, then train them up just enough that they could be used in her program. Then she would use them for riders, and that use would continue their training. She didn't just do nose-to-tail rides either, even for beginners she'd make you break off from the group, do circles, that sort of thing. A lot of these horses were really just green broke, but they did well enough in that setting. Most of the horses were also for sale. And of course she charged for the trail rides. She seemed to make a decent living doing that.

For instance, I bought my Pony from her for about $3k (I wouldn't have paid that knowing what I know now). She had bought him about six months prior to that as a young stallion, no doubt paying less than $1k for him. Of course, she had to have him gelded, wolf teeth pulled, shots, etc. But she had been using him in her program, too, so he was paying for himself in that way. That might be an option for you.

OTOH, my third horse, Teddy, I got free. He was supposed to be part of my current barn owner's lesson roster, but he is a sensitive and anxious horse and did not do well with multiple riders (and then there was The Incident). It was the fall when she got around to wanting to get rid of him, and he hadn't been ridden in several months and was basically uncatchable to boot. The only thing she could have realistically gotten for him would have been meat price. She gave him to me instead. Now, of course, she's getting money from his boarding fees, but in terms of sales profit, she definitely lost money there. So you never know. I think you'd really have to know what you're doing to get more than a meager amount of money flipping horses, at least at the lower end of the market.
 

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Most people I know who are horse trainers have another income source-- farming, ranching, driving a snowplow in the winter, etc. A couple of them make their income boarding horses and teaching lessons. I know one full-time trainer, and he's booked two-three years out--- most people get an appointment for their colt when it's born, or simply have a slot they reserve every year and send a horse to him. He does a fabulous job, but he's also done this for 40 years, and did it while also working other jobs for many years to get the reputation he has. He is also blessed with a lot of ranch country to work colts in-- open, rough country, bad weather, cattle, gates, machinery, etc. that a lot of people don't have access to, but that make good horses.

You can make a living as a trainer, but usually you have to do it for a decade or two to get your reputation built up. Show a lot of horses and win with them. Start your own young horses and then sell them, and hope the new owners realize you did a good job and recommend your horses. THEN when you have people asking if you can train their horse and a waiting list for your colts for sale, you might be able to try doing it on the side.

The other full-time people I know that make money by training are those who have a boarding stable that pays the bills, and training horses are extra income, or those who buy cheap horses from the loose pen, ride and tune the ones worth fixing and haul the rest to the next sale and repeat the process. You do save some horses who would otherwise go to meat, but the ones you can't save you send back through the ring to the meat man. It's not easy, it's risky, you will get hurt, you will get strangles in your barn, you will get your heart broken, and you MIGHT make some money--- it's hard to make money doing this if you're honest about the horses you sell, but some people manage, either by not being honest or by being very scrupulous in what they keep. Most will only buy geldings in decent weight. If they aren't going well under saddle in 2-3 rides, back down the road they go. If they have dangerous issues, they get hauled to the loose pen in the next sale. You can't spend a lot of time and money on a horse and make money doing this. You do hoof trims only if needed, and you do it yourself. You feed cheap feed that puts weight and gloss on fast-- cracked corn and alfalfa, and you offer the horse for sale as soon as you can. You might have bought him Saturday at a sale for $450, rode him Sunday and Tuesday, he knows walk, trot, lope, stop and neck reins. You list him for sale Wednesday for $2200. If he sells within a week or two, great. If he doesn't, back to the sale he goes for whatever he'll bring. If he's got problems, he goes into the back pen where nobody will see him, gets fed minimally, and goes back to the sale as 'canner only' Friday because the buyers know if these folks couldn't get him ridden, he's not worth keeping.
 

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If I were serious about making this a possible career I'd go find a successful horse dealer in the area (not *too* close) and start working for them. See how the operation works from the inside.

Around here there are a couple such dealers in midrange price horses. They are both family operations, have been going for many years.

You would need to have business sense, a firm grasp of your clientele and how to reach them, and a willingness to build a reputation for a reliable product at the right price point. Knowing how to pick good prospects and bring them to market presentably is only part of your skill set and maybe not the biggest part.
 

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I only know one full time horse trainer and she makes her living buying horses, training them and selling them. She also sells horses for other people on consignment. It usually involves her putting like 30 days on the horse and then selling it for her 30 day fee plus feed and then her 10% sellers fee. She moves a LOT of horses each year and I think her husband's paycheck is what they mainly live on. She also breeds and sells colts. All registered AQHA stock for the bulk of her business. Before she got married she made enough to get by but she had some really tight times over the years. She has been doing it for enough years now that she has a good enough reputation that she does OK. She is never going to get rich but between her sale money and her husband's pay check they get by just fine. They also don't have any personal horses they are all either in for training or they are brood mares that are bred to a good stud.

All the other trainers I know have other income sources. I only do one or two a year and I am super picky about the horses I take in for training and resale and if I break even I am happy. However I use the horse business as a tax write off for my regular job as a computer engineer and I also work as the county brand inspector. I have an acquaintance that does the same thing I do who works as a bank loan officer. The trainer I mentioned before is the only one I know who takes in outside horses for training for a set fee but also does resale of trained horses she owns. I don't take in outside horses for training. Dealing with poor horse ownership is WAY too frustrating for me to ever want to go down that road.

The other folks I know who train professionally are either big name trainers with supplemental income through videos and clinics or else they are ranchers who buy horses in the fall, train until spring in their barn or indoor arena etc. and then resell in the spring. I only know one besides myself who trains the same horse over more than a year period before reselling but that is because both he and myself are trying to put out horses that are fully trained for something specific like roping in his case. If you do that you can get $15,000+ for a good horse but you will likely have it over multiple years and you have to win money on it so you also need to be good at whatever events you are training it for because even if the horse is great but you stink at whatever event you have it entered in, you will get almost nothing for the horse. You also will probably be paying $4k or more for the horse when you buy it to begin with if you are trying to turn out performance horses of some kind.

You also really need to have a good pulse on the horse market to know what to be selling and training for, for everything from the height of the horse that is currently selling best to breed and what events they need to be trained for to sell best if doing performance horses, or you need to do a boat load of stock work with them if you are selling trained stock working horses.

I have five horses up here right now but one will be sold in July, anyway my last vet bill for just teeth floating, vaccines, eye exams, sheath cleaning, other exams, and nutrition plan evaluation etc. was around $1,000. That will eat into your profits real quick.
 

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1 year and you can apply for the papers to own the mustang. They 'check on them' but they never came to check on the ones I know.

The kiger mustangs are special, and worth a lot more than a regular ol' mustang. It's like a specialty breed. That makes them more saleable, but also more expensive on the auctions because of this.

Some mustangs you might turn a profit on, but if it were most of them, or easy, the BLM wouldn't be paying people to take them. So my point is, it's not easy to train them, and the good ones you will be hard pressed to find.

I think there are some various ways to make money training and selling horses. If you can get a good hearted horse for free or cheap, put 30 days on it so it's safe for lessons, then have it make money while gaining experience, take it to some shows or have the lesson people pay to take it to shows... you could sell it for a few grand after and it would have paid for it's self or made income along the way.

Alternately buy a nice performance horse who's green for 10k range from someone who doesn't know what they have, or who isn't able to invest in it, tune it up and show it for a few years, then flip for a profit of 50k once it's reliable to bring the blues. You'd have to have your own property and maybe some connections for shows and stuff to make that work, and maybe still lease it out or do lessons on it along the way.

I don't really see how you can make a profit selling a horse for under 5k, the expenses are instantly going to add up to that, unless you flip it in a week, own your own property, or have other cost saving methods.

I thought worst case I'd be able to sell my mustang for more than what I paid since I'd be putting training on him, but I wouldn't feel safe even giving him away with the type of personality he has, so I just learned that he is meant to be MY money pit instead of someone elses.
 

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You can't discount everyday costs and I really wouldn't want to be living in the 'luck on my side' world either because horses just love finding ways to injure themselves. If you don't have insurance to cover for vet fees you do need a stash on money in the bank that you don't ever use for anything else 'just in case that luck runs out'
I never look at the 'one off' success stories because there are far more that aren't. A cheap horse is mostly always going to be a cheap horse. You can pick up trained 'OK' horses at auctions that have nothing wrong with them, a lot of them end up on someone's dinner plate so unless you really enjoy the training part the profit margin isn't great.
You have to love being around horses to do it rather than do it for a real profit - you'd make more money working those hours you spend on the horse working in a supermarket.


The real money in training a horse to sell comes at the high end where you're buying top quality youngsters that look as if they've got the talent and the bloodlines to do well - and they don't come cheap, unless you're massively lucky and find another Valegro! They don't always work out either so you need enough money to not be crying for months when the horse doesn't even make what you paid for it


The other money in training is from taking other people's horses to train and you need a good reputation to do that
 

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I think It also depends on where you live. Some areas are much more expensive for upkeep than others, even If you have your own facilities.


That being said, I agree that most trainers have another job providing their main income. The ones who do training full time have already built their reputation up or as much as I hate to say it, most likely come from money already. Many, as I've seen, also breed their own horses with reputable bloodlines, which allows them to increase the initial sale price of a horse prior to training. I don't know of any professional trainers who buy, train and sell, but I have seen It in people who are striving to become professional trainers. They usually don't make much of a profit, but this route helps them spread their name and build a good reputation around the community.


I think the more efficient route to training horses is to ride and eventually train other people's horses, but those opportunities in my opinion are harder to come by as you already need connections and a good reputation before most people will even allow you on their horse.
 

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And I am going to throw my hat in here and say that in my area you can go to a sale barn and buy a horse for under $1K and it is a reputable sale barn and sells a lot of nice horses. yes- some go for more than $1K but most go for under $3K. Horses are cheap to buy and expensive to keep. In my area (NW IL) first cut hay is jut now being done. We are weeks behind in planting our crops - hay is already at a premium price, and because of tariffs and flooding in the grain belt corn is going to be high this year so that translates into horse feed going up.

I don't think horse resale is a very profitable job and for me I would consider it to be a high risk job. there are so many outside factors that affect the cost of the horse and the upkeep - and all it takes is 1 really dissatisfied customer to blow your business out of the water.
 

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If you want honest, here goes:
You say you don't know much about running a facility - then don't do it
You are unreasonable in the price you are willing to spend on a horse to "train and turn a profit on".
Only the best Trainers make money on horses they put 90 days on.
How do you plan to make a profit on a $200 horse if you are not an experienced trainer?
Sounds like, with all due respect, you think 'flipping" a horse is like flipping a house.

I do not buy horses to train. I take clients with horses that they need trained. They can then show or sell them, it's up to them. If they sell, I get a finder's fee. I also get a contract for training - 30-60-90 days and beyond. I get paid up-front and ride 6 days per week, on the 7th day I take time for rest and playtime in the arena.

So, to be real, I wouldn't suggest that you do this as a "profit-making" business.
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
If you want honest, here goes:
You say you don't know much about running a facility - then don't do it
You are unreasonable in the price you are willing to spend on a horse to "train and turn a profit on".
Only the best Trainers make money on horses they put 90 days on.
How do you plan to make a profit on a $200 horse if you are not an experienced trainer?
Sounds like, with all due respect, you think 'flipping" a horse is like flipping a house.

I do not buy horses to train. I take clients with horses that they need trained. They can then show or sell them, it's up to them. If they sell, I get a finder's fee. I also get a contract for training - 30-60-90 days and beyond. I get paid up-front and ride 6 days per week, on the 7th day I take time for rest and playtime in the arena.

So, to be real, I wouldn't suggest that you do this as a "profit-making" business.
I appreciate your honesty. I just wanted you to understand this is not meant to be a short term goal at all. I am not even an adult yet, and I'm still learning, as I always will be. I have no idea about anything beyond some of the basic cares of horses, leisure riding, and a little from working with some abused horses. I wish I knew more about training, but the only people qualified in the area either don't have time to teach me or simply want to be left alone. I have books on all kinds of methods and all about the psychology of horses, but I don't have the money to buy my own project horse, I don't intend to without supervision the first time anyway, and I'm not about to try and work with someone else's horse and possibly ruin them. I don't understand the pricing of horses or any of their gear, and as I've said before, I don't intend to carelessly put a few months of rushed training on a cheap horse in the hopes that it will all work out. I intend to go at the horse's pace and I don't necessarily expect to resell for a profit.
 
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