Last Updated on March 28, 2023
Want to buy a horse but struggling to get the money together? Buying a foal can be tempting, as they are often cheaper. But how much does a baby horse cost and are they worth the gamble?
Baby horses are normally much cheaper than adult horses. This is because it is difficult to predict what a young horse will turn out like. But many people take the risk, and it pays off with a beautiful adult horse in the future. Let’s take a look at baby horses and how much they cost!
How Much Does a Baby Horse Cost? Foal Price Explained
Buying a horse can be very expensive. If you’ve always dreamed of owning a horse, you might think it will be impossible to ever own one. But what about baby horses – is buying a foal any cheaper?
Like adult horses, the price of a foal can vary widely. A baby horse with a good pedigree can be very expensive. In 2020, the highest price paid for a foal at the Oldenburg Elite Foal Auction was nearly fifty thousand dollars!
At the other end of the scale, some foals are sold very cheaply. This is normally because they were unplanned, and the owners cannot afford to keep them. The price of foals is also lower when there are a lot of foals for sale.
You may see baby horses at the horse sales for as little as $100. And if you’re very lucky, you might even find one being given away for free! Very tempting if you’re looking to get a horse cheaply, but what are the possible problems?
The main problem is that there is no guarantee of what the foal will turn out like. If the breeding history is unknown, you might end up with a foal that grows into an unsuitable riding horse. However, you might strike lucky and end up with the perfect horse!
The other reason that buying a baby foal is not as cheap as it seems is the cost of rearing it. You won’t be able to start riding your foal until it is about 4 years old. This means you need to pay to feed and look after it for a long time before it can be ridden.
However, rearing a foal can be a fun and rewarding experience. You will build a unique bond as the foal grows, and get to train it exactly how you want.
How to Choose a Baby Horse
If you are looking into buying a foal, it is vital to do some research first. Make a list of the qualities you want in an adult horse, as this will help you to narrow down your search.
The factors you need to consider include the desired size of your foal once it is fully grown, and what you intend on using it for. For example, if western riding competitions are your goal, then a baby Quarter horse may be a good option. For jumping events, you may prefer a warm-blood type such as a Trakehner. But if you want a steady mount for long trail rides, then a native breed or cob might be the foal for you!
When you’ve selected some suitable foals, take a look at their breeding records. You can then do some investigations which may help you to figure out what the foal will be like as an adult.
The best place to start is with the sire of the foal. Look at the stud records for the stallion – does he produce foals that go on to become good-quality horses? There is no point buying a foal intended for showjumping if the sire was a talented dressage horse!
Take a look at the dam’s breeding history too – have her foals taken on the desirable traits you are looking for? Are you seeking a foal with a particular coat color or markings? Don’t forget that some foals change color as they grow older, so it pays to research the color of the parents and their previous offspring.
Once you’ve found a foal that ticks all the boxes, it is time to take a look at it. Even when buying a cheap foal, it pays to get it fully checked out by a veterinarian. They will assess the soundness and conformation of the foal, helping to identify if the foal will turn into a good riding horse in the future.
Spend some time handling the foal, assessing how well it copes with being around humans. Ideally, you will want a foal that is confident and inquisitive, without it being too boisterous and unruly. A nervous or flighty foal is a bad choice, as it may take a long time for it to learn to trust humans.
How Much Does it Cost to Care for a Horse?
So, you’re thinking about leaping into buying a foal. It is a good idea to do your research first and make sure you can afford to keep it. But how much do baby horses cost to look after?
The cost of looking after a baby horse depends on how you look after it and the facilities you have available. If you have your own barn and paddocks, with plenty of grass and hay, then your feed and stabling bills will be relatively low. The costs will be much higher if you need to rent stabling and buy in extra feed.
No matter how much you keep these costs down, other costs will always arise. You will need to pay for the farrier, worming, vaccinations, and other veterinary expenses. It is normally fairly easy to find out the cost of these in your area to calculate how much your baby horse will cost to look after.
If buying a baby horse, there are some additional costs that you may need to cover. If you have never trained a horse before, you may need to pay for a trainer to break your horse to ride, who will need to cover costs such as a horse caretaker’s salary. Male foals, also known as colts, will need to be neutered at a veterinary clinic which can cost several hundred dollars.
How Much Does Breeding a Horse Cost?
If you don’t want to buy a foal, you might think about breeding your own. However, don’t be tempted to think of this as getting a free horse! The cost of breeding horses is quite high, and there can be some unexpected expenses.
You might already own a suitable mare for breeding, but if not you will need to buy or lease one. The cost of a good breeding horse can be quite high, particularly if it has bred good foals in the past. You could breed from a mare that has never had a foal, but you would have no guarantee of what the foal would be like.
Another cost of breeding a horse is the stud fee, which is the fee you pay for a stallion to mate with your mare. You also have veterinary fees to pay during and after the pregnancy. Once the foal is born, you then have two mouths to feed and house – double the expense!
Many horse-related organizations warn against breeding more foals, as there is a huge overpopulation problem in some countries and regions. Horses should only be bred if the likelihood of a good-quality foal is high. Indiscriminate breeding has led to the market becoming saturated with poor-quality foals, leading to a drop in the price of foals to the point that some are given away for free.
What’s the Cheapest Horse to Buy?
While buying a foal might seem like a cheap option, once you’ve factored in the four years you will need to feed and house it before it can be ridden, it no longer seems like such a bargain!
There are cheaper ways to get a horse of your own than buying a foal. A lease agreement can be a good option, and many horse owners will loan their horses out on a free lease as long as the lessee covers the living costs of the horse.
Another option is to adopt a horse that has been rescued by a horse sanctuary or to take on a feral horse that has been listed for adoption by the Bureau of Land Management. These start at prices as low as $125 for an untrained horse. They even run an incentive scheme where you can apply for a $1000 grant when taking on a wild horse! However, training a feral horse is not for the fainthearted, and should only be considered by experienced horse riders.
So, as we’ve learned, the cost of a baby horse can vary widely, but it is possible to get a bargain. However, you will need to cover the cost of feeding your foal for several years until it is old enough to be ridden. There is also no guarantee that your foal will turn into your perfect riding horse.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the cost of baby horses! Perhaps you bought your current riding horse as a foal? Or maybe you have some questions about the cost of raising a foal? Please add your comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why you should buy your daughter a horse?
Horses are not only fun to ride, but they are also very rewarding. Owning her own horse will help your daughter grow up, learn about responsibility, and develop a sense of independence and confidence as an adult. Studies show that spending time with horses provides young women with benefits including self-confidence, self-esteem, and a better understanding of life’s challenges.
Horseback riding can teach people about trust, respect, honesty, and communication. Riding also helps develop strength, muscle tone, and balance as well as coordination, flexibility, and good posture.
How much does it cost to raise a foal?
When raising a foal, you have to include the costs of the mare. You’ll spend at least $1,800 on the yearly expenses for her, so be sure you can afford the bill. In addition, you need to count on about $600 for keeping the foal until he is weaned, about $500 for veterinary care and miscellaneous expenses, and about $200 in advertising costs. The total cost to bring the foal to the point of selling can easily rise to around $5,000.
Is owning a horse worth it?
Owning a horse can be a fun and therapeutic experience and, if done properly, it can greatly improve your life. However, owning a horse is both rewarding and challenging. Horse owners must be knowledgeable, and responsible, and have enough time in their schedules to take care of the daily needs of their horses. There are many questions to ask yourself before you decide to purchase your first horse. What is my riding level? Do I have time for training? If I am inexperienced, how much time do I have to get my horse trained? Are my finances ready? Will I be able to provide all the necessary food, supplements, and equipment for my horse? What are my expectations? How do I choose a horse?
There are many things to consider when choosing a horse. One of the most important considerations is the temperament of the horse. A horse that is too active, fearful, or aggressive will be difficult to train. A horse that is calm, confident, and easy to handle will be easier to train and work with.
Is it easy to train a foal?
Training a foal has its own challenges. If you’re planning to get involved with foal training, there are things that you need to consider before you start. Firstly, the horse needs to be very comfortable and trusting of you. If you want to help your horse become more confident in you, you need to earn his trust. Secondly, you need to have a good understanding of how horses learn. Avoid overworking a foal, it’s better to keep your sessions short and consistent when you start the training with your baby horse.
It’s very important that you set the limits and teach a foal to expect them. Although it may seem cute at first, don’t be tempted to let a foal nibble your clothes, strike out at you, or even kick at you. Sometimes you need to give a firm but quick reprimand to stop this kind of behavior, or you might have more problems later in the training.
Kate Chalmers is a qualified veterinary nurse who has specialized in horse care for the vast majority of her career. She has been around horses since she was a child, starting out riding ponies and helping out at the local stables before going on to college to study Horse Care & Management. She has backed and trained many horses during her lifetime and competed in various equestrian sports at different levels.
After Kate qualified as a veterinary nurse, she provided nursing care to the patients of a large equine veterinary hospital for many years. She then went on to teach horse care and veterinary nursing at one of the top colleges in the country. This has led to an in-depth knowledge of the care needs of horses and their various medical ailments, as well as a life-long passion for educating horse owners on how to provide the best possible care for their four-legged friends.
Kate Chalmers BSc (Hons) CVN, Dip AVN (Equine) Dip HE CVN EVN VN A1 PGCE