Research revealed that horse sale prices varied by location; however, economics were identified as the main reason for selling across all three locations.
The problem of unwanted horses in the U.S. has increased over the past several years. The general decline in the economy and increased cost of feed were recently identified as significant contributors to the unwanted horse problem. Anecdotal claims of horses being abandoned at sales barns also exist but have not been confirmed. The goals of this research, conducted by the University of Minnesota and Texas A & M University, were to document the prices of horses passing through sale barns and identify reasons consigners were selling the horse(s).
Horse sale barns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Texas were each visited 6, 5 and 5 times, respectively, from March 2012 to January 2013. Horse sale price, breed, age, and gender were collected, and consignees were asked to complete a short survey identifying the reason for selling. Reasons for selling were placed into four general categories: economics, failure to meet expectations, owner-related issues, and business was horse training/trading.
The average sale price of 512 horses sold at a Minnesota sale barn was $350 and ranged from $1,950 to free. The majority (29%) of horses sold were American Quarter Horses. The average sale price of 605 horses sold at a Texas sale barn was $698 and ranged from $4,800 to $10. The majority (41%) of these horses were American Quarter Horses. The average sale price of 845 horses sold at a Wisconsin sale barn was $916 and ranged from $5,500 to $10. The majority (64%) of horses sold were Standardbreds. Most of the Standardbreds sold at the Wisconsin sale barn originated from harness racing tracks and were sold to the Amish and Mennonite community as buggy horses.
Of all horses consigned (n=2,125), 6% were not sold due to failure of meeting a minimum price. During this time period, no horses were abandoned at the sale barns. Two-hundred seventeen consigner surveys were collected. Forty-one percent of consignees listed economic reasons (i.e. cost of feed, too many horses), 25% cited issues related to the owner (i.e. lost interest, illness), 18% were horse traders, and 16% indicated the horse failed to meet expectations as the primary reason for selling. Some consignees (n=83) had attempted to sell the horse privately, most commonly via the internet, and most sellers (93%) indicated they owned at least one additional horse.
This research revealed that horse sale prices varied by location; however, economics were identified as the main reason for selling across all three locations. This information will be used to develop educational efforts aimed at prospective horse owners, including costs of horse ownership and proper matching of horse and owner.
Authors: WJ Weber, SK Beeson2, J Wilson, DH Sigler, EC Glunk, JL Zoller, and KL Martinson