Breaking Down The Sale Ad – #2

Amazing Athletic Percheron Paint $23,500
Gentle Giant Ready for Career

Sendero Alza is one of those horses that comes around only once in a lifetime. He’s a kind, gentle giant with an amazing disposition and a true desire to learn. Standing an honest 16.3hh this magnificent Percheron Paint Gelding has an outstanding confirmation, well balanced and true.

Sendero has a strong fundamental and intermediate level foundation on the ground and under saddle. He is forward moving and solid in the walk, trot and canter in a dressage saddle or western saddle. Collect him or ride him out on a loose rein, your wish is his command…


Hmm…that’s a lot of money to be asking of this cross – amazingly athletic or not – so I wanted to take a closer look. His conformation doesn’t hold any surprises. He’s a bit post-legged, downhill built, and too straight, upright, rigid and light through the front leg. On the plus side he’s got a big hip, well-placed LS joint, strong loin, and medium back. His neck is set on medium and structured well. That makes him a potentially ‘okay’ riding mount; neither horrid, nor exceptional. Certainly he’s strong in the right areas to help nullify the full effect of the faults.

He’s listed as ‘trained all-around’ because that’s what this kind of horse can do – a little bit of everything, particularly if he’s got a good temperament, which this fellow appears to have.

I have no criticisms about the majority of this ad. It’s unfortunate that the seller decided to stretch reality. This horse is not a Dressage, Eventing or Jumper prospect in any pure sense of those disciplines as listed.

Certainly he could be taken to a Dressage show and plod around at the lower levels, but he possess no natural suspension to speak of, and his post-leggedness and downhill build are going to make engagement more difficult – though that big hip, LS joint placement and loin will help a lot. He won’t ever get great gait scores, and he’ll always look like a construction worker trying to do ballet. One would want to do Dressage for the benefit of the horse, not as an aspiration to ‘take him up the levels’ in Competitive Dressage.

Certainly he can be taken into a jumping ring; he seems a willing sort. His form is average at best, definitely not going to get those knees to his ears. He’ll have plenty of power to push off with, but will lack some scope. And again, he’ll be handicapped the way a body builder would be if trying to high jump.

Certainly he could be entered in Eventing, but he’s not getting past the lower levels. He’d be unable to make the times on Cross Country beyond those levels, not to mention there’s a lack of cat-like agility, which is often the difference between negotiating a challenging obstacle and disaster. He might suit a youngster for Pony Club.

It would have been much more honest for the seller to stick to the all-around route, since you never expect such an individual to excel in one discipline but rather to provide a safe, enjoyable ride, while piddling around at whatever. That kind of a mount suits a lot of people, and is worth its weight in gold.

If you have the time, check out the videos the seller provides. Those are the most telling. Full praise to the trainer of this horse, because that is exactly how you start a horse and turn it into a valuable asset for a wide range of people, even if the horse isn’t a spectacularly individual. If more people took the time to put this kind of a base on a horse, the equine world would be a significantly better place for horses.

Even with all the basic training this horse has received, providing a real solid base with which to move this horse forward, I still find it hard to swallow a $23.5k price tag.


27 thoughts on “Breaking Down The Sale Ad – #2

  1. It’s hard to tell. I’m on the other side of the country, maybe horses are going for more in his area. I agree that the training is great and the horse seems like a good ol boy, I just hope that the sale price includes some lessons for the buyer on how to interact with this nice horse. My fear is that what often happens when a well trained horse is sold, namely, the buyer assumes that the horse will respond to anyone the same way as to his trainer here. I could not see the brand, wonder where that come from. Not many horses are branded these days.

  2. He is a little light of bone, downhill slightly as one would expect of a paint/draft cross, but more could be made of a horse with his foundation. He was never asked to use that big and well made butt to do the work, with the right person who understands how to ask a horse to lift at the base of the neck and really engage, he could be an intermediate horse for eventing, dressage, he could clearly excel at the competitive trail obstacle events, he would probably make a good family mount to do a little of everything and still be good at it. Around here he wouldn’t bring $23,500 but I know people that would pay $10,000 for a sound horse with that variety of skills and an awesome calm temperment.

    • I’d even have a hard time swallowing $10k because I know how hard this horse is going to be to ride right and proper to have him reach full potential. Still, that all-around base he has and his temperament certainly has significant value.

      For his asking price, he should have serious potential in the upper level of something, and I don’t see it.

  3. Hmmm, I find myself oddly torn. I don’t know if I think that this horse is worth that much, but. . .

    I WANT someone to pay this much money for this horse. At this price range, I see a lot of horses that are very athletic or talented. However, the SHOPPERS at this price range tend to be older, less athletic or talented, with dare I say it? Unreasonable aspirations. Its amazing how often I see those pricey horses relisted for considerably less after a few months have passed with their new owner with all sorts of excuses, not enough time, too green, developed bad habits, etc. Alternatively, the horse enters full time training with the trainer du jour for the rest of its lifetime.

    This horse seems both stable and solid, and I approve.

    Also, I must point out this horse has two very trendy things going for him, Kolour and Size.

  4. In my local market, I’d say this is a $4,000 to $5,000 horse for what looks like reasonable soundness, good temperament and a nice base of training. Solid equine citizen territory. And it certainly is a pleasure to see an ad for a horse that is clearly well cared for.

    If he had some experience packing a child or amateur around the lower levels of a local show circuit while behaving himself (doesn’t need to win, just not spook, refuse a jump, buck, etc) that would probably take him to $8,000 to $10,000 territory. But $20,000 plus price tag like that in my market can buy you a proven winner for local low-level shows, a horse with some experience at serious intermediate level shows (say, the 1.10 m, 1.20 m divisions) or a green prospect with the talent for 1.20-plus. I like this horse but he’s none of those. I’d pass on him for myself but if he were $5,000 I’d love to have him for my husband to trail ride with.

    • Your market is pretty similar to our market;

      This mare even sounds similar; Standing 15.2 hands and 8yrs old. Paint cross percheron. She has good bone and solid feet. Up to date on shots, dental, feet, deworming. Clips, baths, trailers, stables, blankets. Jumps, trail rides, could work cattle go to mountains, dressage ect. Good all round horse with a sensible mind. Throws colour into foals. Sound and healthy ready for your next task. Serious buyers can contact me for more info via phone email or text. Videos are available.

      But she is priced at a reasonable $5000.00.

      • She’s 15.2….HUGE difference in price when they are under 16h! In the sporthorse world, they are culls. Crazy but that’s how it works.

        • If I’ve learned one thing it’s that if you care about height, you’d better bring out a stick and measure the horse yourself. It’s funny how often the cheaper horse is an honest 15.2″ and the more expensive horse is only 16″ on soft ground, with his shoes on, etc. . .

      • I’m also in Alberta, so we’re in the same market. A wacky market, because there are a gazillion low-end QH/paint/cross type horses for sale, so it’s not hard to find decent all-round trail riding/ recreational riding type horses for cheap. But there are also lots of people with oil money to spend on a fancy show horse for the wife/daughter, so there’s a lot of distance between the top and the bottom of the market. But Albertans with a big horse budget are show-oriented, are sophisticated buyers or working with trainers who are, so they expect to get what they pay for.

  5. For my part of the country, the asking price isn’t out of the ballpark for this horse. That said, how many average people can spend low to mid five figures on a horse? I spent an extensive time perusing the internet to find a suitable low level Dressage/Hunter type horse for a good friend. Criteria was young, unstarted or lightly started, WB type, average conformation and finish height of 16h or more. In my area, this was a high four (it may have 3 legs or OCD) to mid five figure horse. We ended up settling on a 1,000 mile distance to get a more realistic price, sacrificed on a few conformation shortcomings and have a youngster that I believe will suit her well. He has loftier movement than this Paint, probably a touch more potential and is a generally pleasant horse to be around. He will be exposed to many of the same things as the Paint until such time as he’s mature enough to be ridden. Even with a solid year of training cost, plus purchase price, he is about the 50th percentile price of the Paint. I do give this gal credit for all she’s taught the horse and her CA NH skills are well executed, but the horse is over priced IMO. I bet she’ll get close to asking price for his height and color alone from a heart buyer. Make him red and he’d be a $8000 horse all day long.

  6. I like the horse despite his faults. I could see him making a decent all around horse for someone who knows how to ride a horse with his build. I cannot picture him making it anywhere past intermediate in any sport, but I think he would make an awesome trail horse.
    Now would I pay that much for him? Absolutely not. I could get a very nice horse for that price in my town that has a show record and good potential to go higher up the rankings.
    I would however pay a few thousand for him.

  7. The trail horse comments make me a little sad.

    Around here trail horses are pretty much a dime a dozen and fairly disposable. After all what does a horse really need to be a good trail horse? (and I’m not talk endurance here, just a “trail horse”)
    Almost any horse conformation will hold up, as long as the horse is not structured to break down in a pasture. A good temperament? Yes, but a lot of the successful trail horses are lazy and unresponsive; it’s a huge asset for a horse that may not see any conditioning or arena work.

    This horse may be a jack of all trades, not a specialized athlete, but he has all the right stuff to be a solid entry-level mount for a decent rider. The price may be a little off the mark, but he definitely deserves a home where he does more than “trail rides”.

    • I think you’ll get some argument here about what constitutes a ‘good’ trail horse. It seems you’re describing the worn out horses of a public trail riding establishment, or those horse owned by people who show up on a Saturday or Sunday only to plod around on a trail on their horse.

      Some people ride very challenging trails and they ride them for hours and days at a time, need them to negotiated obstacles and camp over night etc… Not just any horse can do that kind of trail riding and certainly not a lazy, unresponsive or unconditioned individual.

      It also behooves an owner of any trail horse to pay just as much attention to conformation, biomechanics and condition. A horse should no more be allowed to move on its forehand, hollow and crooked on the trail as it should in the ring. It’s not healthy for the horse.

      • This is probably geographic disparity. In northern Canada, trail riding is very seasonal. There’s not too many people out there interested in riding at -15, let alone -25. I don’t even ride my horse in the indoor arena at -25 because I can’t afford to board her inside, and then cooling her our/ preventing a chill becomes a 4-5 hour process.

        Someone who wants to ride their horse consistently often finds another discipline and trail rides on the side. It’s pretty much the only way to justify the expense of boarding at a stable or building an indoor arena. So yes, I guess, here “trail riding” horses are mostly owned by “sunday riders”, they usually get 4-6 months off per year.

    • It really depends on what people consider a trail ride to be. An 8′ wide swath through the woods onto a dirt road is what many consider trail riding and basically any horse can do that – even on their 3rd saddle ride. But a good trail horse can hold itself on steep inclines without being held by the reins, they carefully negotiate their paths around rocks, fallen trees, readily plow through mud and running water and climb inclines with a loose, relaxed neck providing a counter point to help balance and thrust. I’ve taken friends on trails that were terrified by the obstacles I ride until they became secure with what horses can do. Even just a trail horse should know how to relax its back and bend itself on corners.

    • A truly good trail horse is harder to find than you might think. Especially now with the Competitive Trail rides becoming so popular (knowledgeable riders will snatch the good ones up in a heartbeat.) A horse that can do all of the required obstacles and meet the competitions standards for temperament can be hard to find. The price of a trail horse should and usually does reflect their abilities out there in the wild, be it city trails or switchbacks on a mountain trail.

      I personally like a horse that can and will think for itself if the situation calls for it, but will also listen to me when I need/ want them to.
      There is a local trail horse rental place in my town, they have some of the most well mannered horses around, not fancy, but they know what they’re doing. These horses can compete in CTRs and usually do other things like cutting and ranch work, some are even cross trained as hunters. The horses react to their riders level of knowledge. A green rider or one that’s never seen a horse before will get a different reaction out of the horse than a more knowledgeable rider.
      I watched one of my favorite horses slow down and amble along for a small child on her first ride, then turn around and give me one of the best and most fun rides I’ve been on in a long time. Talk about speed and precision. He was trained to jump and could do lower level dressage work. He’s now a proud and pampered teacher of children with his new owner.
      That trail place sells all of it’s trail horses, and they make a tidy profit off of them by not asking too much, but putting lots of time into them.

  8. “like a construction worker doing ballet” . . . hmmm, that sure sounds familiar ;). Having viewed a couple of ads now where the horse is unable to live up to the ad, so to speak, i’m curious: what DOES an upper level prospect look like? Eventing, dressage, or jumping? Does going above the low levels require a perfect conformation (all of the pros you’ve written about and non of the cons) or are there acceptable flaws?

    • Your last is a complex question. The short answer is, yes, they can possess flaws/faults, but they’d have to be of the minor/superficial kind, or have other outstanding qualities that nullify/reduce the severity of the fault.

      A horse may possess a major fault/s and still proceed to an upper level, HOWEVER, they’ll be on borrowed time. Often they will be sore, have chronic minor injuries/unsoundness that reappear over and over again, eventually either breakdown or need to be retired young.

  9. Just throwing this out there- some of the early commenters mentioned the great ground training and for some people that might warrant the higher tag. Ive never shopped for a horse over 2000…and there are a LOT of decent entry level horses out there in that market (younger and still green or older but owner just had a baby etc) so I dont really know what 20000 plus can get you outside of a breed specific market, but natural horsemanship is so incredibly hot right now. To someone with 20k to spend this horse would put stars in their eyes -“I can do everything I want with this horse AND have that great rapport and relationship!” Hell, I’m looking at my moody chestnut mare thinking “I wish you were that interested in spending time with me!” Lol. Obviously your average rider doesn’t necessarily have the skills to keep that up but ooooh wouldn’t it be cool?!! :p

  10. Nice to see that they have switched up the standard “stunning” for the grandiose “amazing.”

  11. When I look at price, I start with what ever meat price is ( and note I am anti slaughter – don’t want to start THAT Segway!). I add something for soundness, attitude good balance etc and end up with about $2000 for an OK horse. From there, unless it’s a breeding prospect (in which case the bloodlines add value) or performance (in which case the performance of the sire and dam add value) I put the real value on training. That’s what I’d be paying for and solid basics and ‘potential’ just don’t add $20,000 in my books. For what he CAN do rather than MIGHT do I would also look at around $5000 as a fair price. Looks like a nice boy though.

  12. One night I was awake at 4 a.m. and ended up watching something called the “Liquidation Channel” (bad idea). They were selling costume jewelry with low-end semi-gemstones, “regularly $900, reduced to $300, but for the next ten minutes only $29.99 plus shipping, act now!”, which price ($29.99) was about what they would cost in the department store. So the final sale is fair market value, but the emotional experience is of getting something precious for next to nothing. The emotional experience of getting a savvy bargain is what’s being sold.

    Even the mall jewellers is the same. Is a fiddly little diamond engagement ring “really” worth $2000 or $1000 or $599? Who among us can really evaluate gem clarity and quality?

    It reminds me of selling horses. There’s a reason it’s called horse trading.

    Horses are a funny kind of luxury goods. A horse’s cash value is worth exactly what someone pays for it at that moment in time; it’s a bit like the jewlery, art or antiques market in that regard. A lot of money going on what is in the end an emotional and aesthetic decision, with maybe a bit of greedy hope to profit in some way from the deal (re-sale, or win prizes and impress people). Every horse is unique, fashions come and go, and an individual horse (or a category of horses) can decline in price very fast (like from $60k to $1, if it has an emotional meltdown in the show ring and embarasses the coach and owner).

    Everyone I’ve met inflates the value of their own horses, and downgrades the value of other people’s horses. Anyone who really wants to move a horse off their property has an “OBO” in mind, even if they haven’t put it into the ad. On sales sites, I’ve watched nice horses that I know go from 15 to 10 to 5k, and then to “please free lease” as winter draws in. Also, if you list a horse at $20k and then drop the price to $10k because the buyer has such a great rapport, etc. etc., maybe you both walk away happy? Whereas if you list the horse at $5k, you might have to sell him at $3k and propsective buyers will think he is “not worth anything?”

    On the other hand, I think that sometimes it is “worth more” in cachet and publicity to a trainer or breeder to believe and insist that their horses are “worth” $10 or $20 or $50 k, than it is to actually sell the horse, and so they get very offended at reasonable offers. They would rather just run the ad forever and give off the impression they have valuable horses. Of course, if no one buys the horse, it isn’t worth that.

    And, yes, I agree with all the comments on this sweet Paint cross with the misleadingly Andalusian name: translated, it does suit him, “High Trails”? Speaking from experience, it’s not that hard to get a Paint to climb up on pedestals, or doze off while you wave a whip in its face 🙂 . But you can’t train suspension if it’s not there at all (though you can certainly un-train it, as I’ve seen a number of warmblood owners do). You can improve the paces a lot, but you can’t make a Paint move like an Oldenburg does naturally (speaking from experience again). The sales video is lovely if you are thinking about a nice riding horse, particularly for a larger or heavier person, and I really like the trainer’s energy. It would be nice to see her rewarded fairly for the time she’s taken with this boy. But I don’t see $20 k of performance horse here, in any discipline.

    However, if someone falls in love with him and pays $20 k, then that is what he is worth, at this moment in time. And maybe, if he sells for $10 k or even $5 k, both parties can still believe that he was “really” a $20 k horse.

    • Is anyone still watching this thread? I bought this horse in 2019 and found this a fascinating read. I’ll update if anyone is interested. Cheers!

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