Appraisers and Appraisals
So you've had your horse appraised by an Internationally recognized appraiser who has given you good news, i.e. that your horse is internationally marketable, could be shown successfully at the international level and is worth $10,000 even in this challenging market. You've been trying to sell this horse for 2 or 3 years to no avail, which prompted the appraisal. With internationally recognized appraisal in hand, you've listed your horse for sale on all the recommended sites, paid the necessary fees to have that horse marketed by the appraiser who travels internationally frequently, you've quoted the Internationally recognized appraiser and now you wait. A few sellers actually manage to get their horses sold, while others continue to wait.

and wait . . . and wait . . .

Two years later, the horse has still not sold, you now have another $5,000 into it and you're wondering what went wrong. This horse may be sired by a popular stallion, a stallion with a classic pedigree, a stallion with a great show record, a stallion that is Breeder's Sweepstakes Nominated, A stallion that is National Futurities nominated, out of a mare with popular breeding, out of a mare with a classic pedigree, out of a mare with a good show records, has been professionally trained, has been shown locally with good results, is on all the top equine sales sites, advertised in the breed magazines, yet it is still not sold. It certainly makes no sense given the glowing evaluation by the Internationally recognized appraiser.

There may be a few things being overlooked. First, it becomes obvious the horse was not worth the $10,000 it had been appraised at, but that figure probably made someone feel good enough initially to recommend the appraiser to others (and that cycle continues). Had that horse actually been worth $10,000 at the time it was appraised, it would have likely sold within two years. Second, a horse is worth what the market will bear which is the amount that horse actually sells for regardless what an appraiser will tell you. If you've had zero interest in that horse at $10,000, then the market is not interested in that horse at that price. Third, it could be that your horse is not marketable and sometimes appraiser will use this statement because they base a horse's value on the show ring, which just 5% of all horse owners partake in. This is not a realistic method to determine a horse's value, but most appraisers use this method over any other, depending on who is paying them, of course. Not marketable means different things to different people which is explained further in the article "Myths and Legends". However, for the purposes of this article, it is possible that the market is saturated with the bloodlines that your horse has, the sales competition are legion in number and the horse may simply not be marketable. This happens with the stallion's get whose owners perpetuate the myth of breeding horses as an investment for the future that will put your child through college, buy you a new Harley or give you a phenomenal tax shelter. Of the hundreds of people that attend seminars held by these "farms" every year, many become involved as breeders for no other purpose than to market those foals and make some money (or at least get some of their investment back). As mares foal, the number of horses needing care climbs, expenses climb and it is in the best interest of the owner to sell those offspring as quickly as possible before they're buried in debt to the boarding stable or stallion owner that is caring for their horses. Every year, 100 breeders producing 200 foals per year, holding onto inventory (foals and horses) for sometimes 3 or 4 years (depends on how long it takes to sell them), has the potential to put 800 horses bred just like your horse on the market. THAT is a lot of competition, but seldom does an appraiser let that interfere in their appraisals. Even if your horse were marketable, the competition is stiff. Fourth, it could be there has been a lot of effort by other breeders or the appraiser (if you didn't subscribe to or pay them for their services) to diminish your market by defaming your horses, how you care for horses or you. This is explained further in the article "Myths and Legends", but for the purposes of this article, suffice it to say most buyers don't often want to get involved in that type of drama to determine what is true or what is false and ultimately will not be interested in your stock. Certainly some of the biggest breeders in the arabian horse community employ these types of tactics (diminishing all stock but their own or the stock within their circle of friends) and often it is the little guy that pays the price. There are other reasons that it can be tough to market your horses, and here are the results of a 2 year study from a classified site for sale horses:

$50,001 and up = 1 offered, 0 sold (listed 6/2010)
0% sold

$20,001 to $50,000 = 23 offered, listing dates 6/22/09 through 1/8/2011, 2 sold (1 bred by Imperial listed 3/14/2010 at $30K and still in seller's name, 1 homozygous black stud listed 6/22/09 at $25K sold 5/10/2010)
8.7% sold

$10,001 to $20,000 = 62 offered, listing dates 1/23/2010 through 2/2/2011, 3 sold (1 double Ansata Hejazi grandson listed at $12,500 12/10/2009 still in seller's name, 1 Mahknificent KA son listed 12/10/2009 at $12,500 gelded 11/10/2010 sold 11/11/2010, 1 black mare listed 3/14/2010 at $20K still in owners name)
4.8% sold

$5,001 to $10,000 = 75 offered, listing dates 1/21/2010 through 1/11/2011, 2 sold (1 Alidaar grandaughter listed at $7,500 10/10/2009 sold overseas 9/1/2010, 1 Minstril daughter listed 3/9/2010 at $10K still in seller's name)
2.6% sold

$3,001 to $5,000 = 69 offered, listing dates 7/12/2009 through 2/15/2011, 5 sold (1 Anaza Bay Shah grandaughter listed 7/12/2009 at $3,500 sold 8/4/2010, 1 gelding listed 1/8/2010 at $4,500 sold 12/30/2010, 1 Ravenwood mare listed 2/20/2010 at $4,500 still in seller's name - Jane Bohn, 1 Thee Infidel son listed 2/20/2010 at $4,500 still in seller's name, 1 Imperial bred mare listed 9/15/2009 at $5,000 sold 8/13/2010 overseas)
7.2% sold

$1,001 to $3,000 = 66 offered, listing dates 7/22/2009 through 2/17/2011, 12 sold (7 listed at $2,000 or less)
18.2% sold

$1 to $1,000 = 14 offered, listing dates 2/20/2010 through 11/13/2010, 1 sold (double Minstril listed at $1,000 still in seller's name)
7.1% sold

$0 = 66 offered, listing dates 5/22/2009 through 2/17/2011, 16 sold. Looking at the horses, who owns them, their pedigrees, etc. I suspect these horses sold, sold inexpensively or were given away free (several were offered to me free about a year ago).
24% sold


* On average, it takes up to a year or more to sell a horse.
* Buyers needing terms appear to be common.
* Horses in the $1001 to $3000 range are twice as likely to sell than any other range (except $0)
* Horses in the $5,001 to $10,000 range are least likely to sell and have the most horses to sell.
* Horses in the $20,001 to $50,000 range sell more frequently than horses in the $3,001 to $5,000 range and are at the top of their game - show record, professional photos, owned by people who can easily afford to promote them (money is no object), etc.

There are some horses that are grossly overpriced, some grossly underpriced and some priced right. There is likely price negotiations. An Addis Auction in this time period sold three SE's under $3,000 - 1 at $3,000 to Talaria Farms and 2 under $1,000.

In a nutshell, a horse is worth exactly what it sells for and it has been a buyers' market for several years. If you're in a hurry to sell your horse, be realistic about your sales price let it go to a good home which is much more important than price and much better than letting it go hungry due to lack of funding.

There are other instances when appraisers come in handily depending on which side of the table you're on. The appraisal below was written by Elizabeth Salmon, Equine Consultant for a mare owner that had leased out her mares to a stallion owner. The stallion was not at public stud and the contract was intended to allow the stallion owner to get the first three foals and then send the mares back to the mare owner in foal in the following year. The stallion owner had agreed to provide health and mortality insurance costing approximately $1,500, agreed to transport the mares to the stud farm costing approximately $1,500, agreed to pay all veterinary, board, feed, farriery and care expenses for the duration of the lease costing approximately $10,500 and any other expense as needed to keep the mares in good health. The mare owner had some unusual requests and was somewhat fanatical about them.  She insisted that only grass hay be fed, no supplements be given and no grain be fed. On this diet, the mares could be kept at a Henneke body condition of 4 or 5 given their age, health and habits. Any long distance transport of the mares would result in a noticeable loss of weight. Here is that appraisal:

Contrary to what this appraisal states, the stallion did have a show record, had showed with some success in open shows, some of his foals had show records, some of his foals had been exported overseas and some of his foals had sold for five figures.  Sadly, the appraiser also made a comment about the mares' condition being "100 pounds under weight" in some photos  given her by the mare owner.  Nobody knows when those photos were taken, they certainly were not taken at the stud farm.  Had the appraiser requested current photos of the mares the day they were seized from the stud farm, she may have been compelled to withhold that mal-intended comment, which had nothing to do with the appraisal of in-utero foals and more to do with making it appear the mares were neglected by the stud farm - the con used to remove the mares in the first place.  Note:  The mare owner made the claim in court that she was only boarding her mares at the stud farm and had them physically removed while ordered by the Court to be boarded in the same county until a Show Cause Hearing could be scheduled.  Unfortunately, the mare owner removed the mares from the State immediately (she had no problem lying to the judge, lying in Court and was not held accountable) and ten days later at the Show Cause Hearing, the judge could not affect an order for the mares to be returned as they were out of his jurisdiction.   That's the state of the American legal system and for those that know how to manipulate it, it works wonders.

Ultimately, this appraiser was hired by the mare owner, worked for the mare owner and assisted the mare owner in legally converting the assets/investments of the stud owner into the mare owner's income.  The resulting three foals were all sold  before they were a year old with the filly being exported to Bahrain. 

Let the buyer, lessor, seller and breeder beware of appraisers and appraisals for they surely are in it for their personal gain.    It is best to know the value of your own stock, be realistic about what that stock is worth and take the words of any appraiser under advisement as they base much of what they know on the show ring, which constitutes less than 5% of all horses in our breed.  Surely the show ring is no measure of a horse's value, particularly not in these days when that venue has become a laughing stock.

One opinion on the subject of actual value might be Bill Addis - a man that should be held in high regard.  Bill has run Addis Equine Auctions for quite some time and really has his fingertips on what is really happening in the equine markets, but specifically, the Arabian horse market.​​  Here's a letter that he's recently written, which strikes a chord of truth that we all need to firmly grasp:


Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Challenger. Do you think for a minute that the big three auto makers do not have enough designers and engineers that could have us all driving cars that look like something from the Jetsons? I don’t think so. There are lots of people that would have loved to own one of those muscle cars back in the 60s and 70s but didn’t have the money. Or, there were some that did have one of those cars and want one again. Why do you think that these retro models are seeing their way back to the roads?

Not too long ago my wife, Terry, and I went to a John Fogerty concert. I was, and still am, a huge Credence Clearwater Revival fan (I have Bad Moon Rising for my ring tone). I bet the medium age at the concert was 55 years old. After 40 years, The Beach Boys are going on tour this summer. I bet I am not the only one that knows every word to ‘Help me Rhonda’ and, no, the first line is not ‘when she let me down there were owls puking in my bed’! I can’t remember my folks getting a retro Packard and going to a Tommy Dorsey reunion. What is the deal?

I think the greatest generation (those that grew up during the depression and World War II) were too conservative to go out after they got the kids raised and try to re-live their youth. Not the baby boomers! Although some of us are going to have to work until we are 116 years old, we are determined to have some toys and some fun now and before we depend on Depends.

What lesson can the equine industry learn from U.S. car manufacturers and the old rock and rollers? We see the same trends in buying horses. In the last 12 months, Addis Live Online Auctions has sold over 500 horses. Primarily Arabian, Half-Arabian, a few American Saddlebreds, Quarter Horses, Paint/Pintos, Friesians, Andalusion/Lusitanos and a few Miniatures. Who are our biggest buyers? You got it, the baby boomers! In fact, of the current 1,270 approved bidders, 85% are women and many over 50 years old.

All of the horse registries have seen a down turn in youth affiliations. There are so many things for kids to do today besides ride horses. Many have music on Monday, dance or cheerleading on Tuesday, tennis lessons on Wednesday, riding lessons on Thursday and Saturday, and then the rest of the time the kids have their noses stuck in their cell phone texting and playing video games.

What do all of us in the equine industry need to do to go after this baby boomer market? I think AHA is doing their part with the introduction of the Select classes and the 36 to 54 and the 55 and older divisions. We have to look further. There is a trail riding association that has over 100,000 members. Many of the people that can afford to own horses really do not want to show. They just want to own and enjoy their horses without the stress and expense of showing.

With summer coming up quick there will be many stables offering summer riding camps. Maybe it is time to have some summer camps tailored for our older folks. There could be a summer camp made up of women 40 and older with, maybe, a morning formal riding lesson and then a trail ride in the afternoon. We also see an upward trend in driving horses. Many seniors feel more confident driving in a Meadowbrook than they do riding in a Steuben. The comradery would be great and it has been my experience that if you can get someone to buy their first inexpensive horse, they get hooked and continue get more involved.

It is always good press to hear about someone selling a horse for over a million dollars but, let’s face it, this news scares many away. I have always contended that if we have a market for every horse under $5,000, the top end will take care of itself. I have had the privilege to know many people that have bred and raised some great horses. Almost all paid less than $5,000 for their first horse. You have to start somewhere. Over the years our auctions have been criticized and praised. We take it in stride. One of the things that make us the proudest is when someone has done well in the show ring or in the breeding shed and the first horse they ever bought was through us.

All of us that make our living in the horse business sometimes lose perspective on the horses in general. The main reason to own a horse is to purely enjoy them. After all these years, I still try to ride every opportunity I get and I love it. Our kids are grown up and on their own making a living outside the horse business. However, our grandkids are around now and they all ride.

I feel optimistic about the future of the horse market. I see a small increase in the prices of the horses overall. So, the next time you have horses to sell, rifle your advertising toward the old rocker. They’ve got the money.

Most respectfully,

Bill Addis

A lot of folks may disagree with Bill, but the study at the beginning of this article is proof he is more right than wrong.  Maybe the day has come when horse people must realize that not every horse they've bred or have for sale is worth as much as they actually have into it.  Breeders can spend $10,000 to get a mare in foal, to end up with a colt worth about $500 that will be much happier as a gelding.  Horse traders, the type that buy low in hopes of selling high, might get lucky now and again, but for the most part they are collecting mouths to feed and are often lucky to break even.  The single most important thing for every breeder and owner of Arabian horses is to not allow themselves to collect so many that they have to have a fire sale, because when that happens, everyone loses.

SC Desert Star Arabians
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