Ah, our beautiful equine companions. As much as we love them, they certainly have a knack for emptying our pockets – especially if they belong to the priciest breeds.
It’s not just about the expenses that come with keeping these magnificent creatures, but the upfront cost of acquiring them that can leave a dent in your wallet. With more than 400 beautiful horse breeds in the world, only a few will cost you an arm and a hindleg.
But which ones are the most expensive? And just how much cash can you splash on a horse?
We’ve rounded up 10 of the most expensive horse breeds that will leave you wide-eyed and your wallet feeling considerably lighter.
Price: ≈ £80,000+
As the national horse of Turkmenistan, the Akhal-Teke stands proudly as one of the world’s rarest and most prized horse breeds. After all, with the nickname “golden horse,” it’s no wonder why this breed commands a hefty price tag.
But what makes this breed so sought after? The answer lies in its one-of-a-kind coat. Imagine a coat that’s so radiant it appears almost metallic. This stunning visual effect is a result of their unique hair structure which lacks the typically opaque core found at the centre of the hair shaft.
But these beauties are more than their looks. Akhal-Teke horses were originally bred by tribesmen for their athleticism and stamina, as they needed horses that could handle daring raids. Today, they continue to show off their exceptional abilities in long-distance running, show jumping, and dressage.
With a population of around 7,000 worldwide, most of which are found in Turkmenistan, the rarity of this horse breed contributes to their high price.
The cost of an Akhal-Teke will depend on factors such as its heritage, training, and age. But, a well-trained and carefully bred Akhal-Teke can fetch a price tag of up to £80,000 ($100,000).
Now, while that’s no small change, it seems a fitting price considering the uniqueness of this beautiful and rare breed.
Price: ≈ £4,000 – £30,000+
The Friesian horse breed, a native of Friesland in the Netherlands, is another sought-after and pricey equine. With a history that dates back to the 1200s, these horses have been capturing the hearts of equine enthusiasts worldwide – and it’s easy to see why.
Friesians were once valued for their strength and agility in battle. Over time, this horse breed has grown larger and more robust through generations of selective breeding.
The Friesian’s glossy black coat and distinctive high-stepping gait that looks like they’re floating or dancing shows an air of elegance that’s hard to resist. A flowing mane and tail that looks like it belongs in a shampoo ad and untrimmed feathered feet complete their captivating appearance.
But their appeal is also thanks to their temperaments. They serve as excellent carriage horses and are increasingly making a name for themselves in dressage competitions.
When it comes to breeding this regal-looking horse, standards are sky-high, and that’s one reason why their price tags are so big. But prices can also vary significantly, typically starting at around £4,000. Prices can reach £30,000 for a stallion or well-trained Friesian.
3. Dutch Warmblood
Price: ≈ £4,000 – £25,000+
Another expensive breed out of the Netherlands is the Dutch Warmblood. If you’ve ever been to a horse competition circuit as a casual spectator or a competitor, you’ve likely noticed Dutch Warmbloods among the top competing equines.
Their impressive physique, graceful movements, and pleasing nature have made them top competition horses among dressage and show jumping riders. Unsurprisingly, these qualities make the Dutch Warmblood one of the most expensive horse breeds in the world.
The breeding and training of a Dutch Warmblood are geared towards achieving excellence in these competition fields, attracting serious riders who are willing to invest in top-quality horses.
These horses have ancestors from two other native Dutch breeds known as the Gelderlander and the Groningen. Thoroughbred bloodlines were then introduced to further enhance the endurance and athleticism of the Dutch Warmblood.
Today, you’ll find three types of Dutch Warmblood: the athletic sports horse, the elegant harness horse, and the original Gelderland working horse.
Besides their competitive prowess, the Dutch Warmblood is also known for their gentle and kind temperament, making them an incredibly popular breed to own. It should come as no surprise then that such a highly regarded and loved breed can command prices as low as £4,000 and as high as £25,000 or more.
Price: ≈ £1,500 – £25,000+
If you’ve ever had a beautiful and spirited Arabian in your stable, you already know how wonderful – and expensive – it is to own. Arabians hold a legendary status as one of the oldest breeds, having been cherished and selectively bred by equine enthusiasts all over the world.
The Arabian’s distinct facial structure and elegant presence command your attention as if to say “Look at me, I’m a fancy steed!” and indeed they are. But it’s not just their physical appearance that grabs your attention, it’s also their cooperative nature and intelligence.
Back in the 1980s, Arabians even became hot commodities for investment. Prices skyrocketed during this time, but unfortunately, their value declined due to the carelessness of unethical breeders. Thankfully, the tide has turned today and these beautiful equines have regained the value they so deserve.
Luckily, you don’t need to be a millionaire to own an Arabian. While some can still carry a big price tag, there are also incredibly affordable Arabians. An Arabian horse in its prime (between 7-14) will fetch a much higher price tag than an older Arabian. But old fellas and gals can also be expensive if they’re in good health and have the ability to breed.
Naturally, Arabian horses with prestigious bloodlines, advanced training, and show achievements will cost you a pretty penny – typically around £25,000.
Price: ≈ £6,000 – £30,000
Usually, when an equestrian is looking for an elite horse, they go for a Holsteiner. They have a long-standing reputation for excellence as one of the oldest Warmblood breeds and often outshine many other breeds in competition. This makes them pretty expensive but worth every penny.
It’s said they were originally bred by monks in the 13th century with the aim to enhance their size and strength as farm and war horses. Their efforts paid off, and Holsteiners quickly became popular among monarchs and military forces across Europe.
Today, this versatile breed is a force to be reckoned with in the world of showjumping and can also be seen in elite dressage, driving, and eventing shows.
Despite all its numerous jobs over the centuries, the Holsteiner has never lost its winning personality. They remain true to their type with powerful bodies, sharp intelligence, and an easy-going attitude.
But sadly, the population of Holsteiner horses has been declining in recent years. These horses are now mainly found in their native region in Northern Germany, making them a rare breed.
So, of course, considering the eliteness, careful breeding, and rarity of the Holsteiner, you’ll need to dig deep into your pockets to purchase one of these beauties. This breed can fetch anywhere from £6,000 to a whopping £30,000. The larger price is typically due to top-notch bloodlines or Olympic-level potential.
Price: ≈ £10,000 – £20,000+
Let’s move on to the speed demons of the equine world, the mighty Thoroughbred. Bred in England, no horse breed comes close to the elite bloodlines and winning track record of Thoroughbreds.
The Thoroughbred is one of the fastest horse breeds out there. They really shine on the racetrack and have produced some of the most famous racehorses, including Secretariat and American Pharoah – two Triple Crown champs.
But Thoroughbreds aren’t just one-trick ponies (or rather one-trick horses). They’re versatile athletes that can deliver in almost any equestrian discipline, including dressage and show jumping.
When it comes to the price of one, well, let’s just say that their exceptional qualities come at a cost. While you can sometimes purchase a Thoroughbred for as little as £2,000, you’ll likely see a price tag of around £10,000 to £20,000 for one of these beauties in the UK.
This will all depend, of course, on their pedigree, performance, and age. But don’t be flabbergasted when you see prices reaching the six-figure range. It’s happened before.
Just look at Fusaichi Pegasus, a legendary Thoroughbred stallion who became the most expensive steed ever sold. This racing superstar was reportedly bought for a mind-boggling $70 million in 2000. That’s equivalent to £56 million today.
It’s true, owning a Thoroughbred horse requires quite a financial investment. But there’s no doubt you’ll be proud of your purchase. After all, there’s a reason these wonderful equine companions have such a big fan following – we can’t help but adore them either. Even if they chew through our wallets…
7. American Quarter Horse
Price: ≈ £10,000+
If there’s one breed that can do it all, it’s the American Quarter Horse. From reining to roping, barrel racing to trail riding, you name it, the Quarter Horse can do it with finesse.
You’ll probably recognise the American Quarter Horse as the star of Western films. But this breed is much more than just a good-looking actor! It’s an incredibly adaptable and versatile breed that’s sure to impress and capture the heart of just about anyone.
It’s believed that the American Quarter Horse is bred from a delightful mix of Spanish and English horses, as well as native breeds like the Chickasaw horse and the Mustang. So what does this have to do with them being an expensive horse?
Well, this mix of bloodlines resulted in a uniquely American horse that has a knack for almost every equestrian discipline. Particularly, Quarter Horses shine in rodeo and short-distance racing but also do well in show and pleasure riding.
This makes them exceptionally popular and in high demand. Riders of all ages can work with one and they love their calm and highly trainable nature.
American Quarter horses might not be the most expensive horse breed out there, but you still need some disposable income to buy one.
The Quarter Horse breeds are so abundant that they can cost as low as £1,000 but they typically carry a price tag of around £10,000.
Price: ≈ £10,000 to £30,000+
The Hanoverian, like the Holsteiner, is an impressive athletic breed from Germany with a history as one of the oldest Warmblood breeds.
Initially, Hanoverians served as carriage horses and reliable companions on farms and even in the cavalry. But as time passed, new bloodlines like the Thoroughbred, Holsteiner, and Cleveland Bay were introduced to create a lighter, more athletic riding horse.
Their incredible success in the world of equestrian sports is what makes them such a pricey breed. Hanoverians are praised worldwide for their elegance and athleticism. This is the breed you see taking home all those Olympic gold medals in dressage, show jumping, and eventing.
Another reason they’re so expensive is the meticulous breeding programs and selection criteria that come with breeding a Hanoverian horse. Breeders go to great lengths with elite breeding and only the cream of the crop gets registered in the Hanoverian studbook.
All of these things add up to the higher cost of Hanoverians. When you buy one, you’re not just getting a horse; you’re getting equine excellence!
Now, all this talk about how expensive they are likely already has you cringing to hear the price. The reality is a well-trained horse in its prime is going to command big bucks. A Hanoverian can cost anywhere from £10,000 to £30,000 or more.
9. Selle Francais
Price: ≈ £10,000 – £40,000+
France also contributes to the list of the most expensive breeds in the world with the prestigious French Saddle Horse, otherwise known as the Selle Francais. This horse breed has been carefully bred for generations to create top-notch show jumpers. And top-notch showjumpers they certainly are, competing beautifully at both Olympic and Grand Prix levels.
As the most prized French horse breed, Selle Francais horses are known for their eagerness and natural drive towards competition. But it’s also their striking physique and impressive jumping ability that makes them such a valuable and coveted breed.
The Selle Francais can rein in anywhere from approximately £10,000 to £40,000, with some exceptional individuals commanding millions. People are willing to shell out some major cash because these beauties have it all – stunning looks, impressive skills, and a burning desire to win.
Just to put things in perspective as to how expensive this breed can be: the most expensive Selle Francais, known as Palloubet d’Halong, was sold for an astonishing $15 million in 2013.
Getting your hands on a Selle Francais doesn’t come cheap, but it’s totally worth it for riders who want a great partner in success.
Price: ≈ £6,000 – £20,000+
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a real-life unicorn, then the Lipizzaner might just be your breed. That is if you have the wallet for them…
Lipizzanners have been refined through 450 years of careful breeding, with people travelling all around the world to find the finest bloodlines. If you’re lucky, you might catch them showing off their incredible jumps and moves at equestrian shows. They’ve got the strength and smarts in spades, which makes them incredibly desirable.
Not to mention their pearly-white coats, glossy manes, and enchanting personalities that make them look truly magical.
The Lipizzaner breed is closely tied to “Haute Ecole,” a fancy term for the highest forms of dressage and classical riding. They’re the stars of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, one of the best riding schools in the world for this kind of dressage.
This horse breed has had its fair share of challenges throughout history. Wars and a secluded breeding process made them endangered at times. Thankfully, their numbers are slowly bouncing back, but they’re still a rare find.
But the cost of a Lipizzaner is not only about the breed. Training, temperament, and conformation (body structure) all play a role too.
If you’re just looking for a pleasure riding horse, you might snag an older Lipizzaner for around £4,000 to £6,000 (still pricey, mind you). But if you want a well-trained Lipizzaner with a lineage of showstoppers, prepare to empty your coffers. Prices can start around £12,000 and soar up to £20,000 or more.
What determines the price of a horse breed?
Several factors are at play when determining the price of a horse breed. Generally, horse breeds that are sought after for their performance, lineage, and unique qualities tend to have higher price tags. Plus, the specific bloodlines within a breed can significantly impact the price.
Performance level and capability also play a role. Typically, expensive horse breeds are those that have proven themselves as winners in shows or races.
Can you purchase an affordable horse from an expensive breed?
Certainly. Prices can differ even among horses of the same breed. For example, even though Thoroughbreds are one of the most expensive horse breeds, they’re also one of the most affordable. The same can also be said for other breeds like Warmbloods and American Quarter Horses.
If you simply want a horse for pleasure riding, you’ll definitely find them at much lower prices than competitive riding horses with more achievements.
What are the most expensive horse breeds ever sold?
The most expensive breeds ever sold are primarily Thoroughbred racehorses, these include:
Fusaichi Pegasus – $70 million (2000): A renowned Thoroughbred racehorse that gained fame by winning the 2000 Kentucky Derby.
Justify – $60 million (2018): Another impressive Thoroughbred, Justify went undefeated in six races before winning the 13th Triple Crown ever at the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
Shareef Dancer – $40 million (1983): Shareef Dancer claimed the title of the world’s most expensive racehorse at that time. His lineage included the famous Northern Dancer, which contributed to his high value.
The Green Monkey – $16 million (2006): When he was only a two-year-old colt, this Thoroughbred became an overnight sensation for being bought for so much due to his lineage tracing back to both the famous Northern Dancer and Secretariat.
Palloubet d’Halong – $15 million (2013): A Selle Francais showjumper that was bought for an impressive sum by Jan Tops as a gift for his wife, Edwina Alexander, an accomplished Australian rider.