Whether a horse is kept as a free-roaming animal on a farm or intended to bring home the prize money, every horse has something unique which they offer. The same can be said for different breeds of horses, which depending on this, come with a different price tag.
Most expensive horse breeds in the world
The most expensive breeds in the world are valued and priced due to their appearance, athletic ability, intelligence, or kindness. When a particular breed has been identified for any or a combination of these characteristics. Selective breeding takes place to hone in on these and produce horses considered to be perfect for a specific function or discipline.
The most expensive breeds in the world Dutch Warmbloods, Oldenburgs, Thoroughbreds, and Arabian horses. It is not an easy task to select one breed as the most expensive as these horses are sold for individual prices which vary across the world and also vary based on the particular bloodline within each breed.
What are the most expensive horse breeds?
Arabian horses are the oldest existing breeds and are considered to be legendary for this reason. They are renowned not only for their endurance and use in long-distance riding events but also for the grace with which they move. Arabians are also known for their intelligence.
This breed was the preferred breed as a cavalry mount between the 1800 and 1900s and up until approximately 1940, were bred by the US army for their endurance. During this time period, Arabians were one of the most expensive horses in the world. That being said, their value dipped in the middle of the century as a result of the reputation of those who bred them being tarnished.
This has changed in modern times as the value of Arabian horses has again increased with many riders choosing this breed for showing, dressage, and general recreational riding.
Price: $1000 to $100,000. The most expensive Arabian horse was sold for $1.5 million.
2. Dutch Warmbloods
Dutch warmbloods are bred and known for their premium performance and great temperaments. It is their size, build, demeanor, and the way they move which makes them a popular choice of the best dressage and show jumping riders in the world.
Dutch warmbloods are historically derived and bred from two other Dutch breeds known as the Gelderlander and the Groningen. Later down the line, Thoroughbred blood was introduced in the breeding of warmbloods which greatly enhanced their athleticism and stamina.
Most warmbloods are solid in color and these colors include black, bay, chestnut, and white. Their calm demeanor is what makes these horses a great option for completing at a high and often stressful level.
Price: $4000 to several million USD. The most expensive Dutch warmblood was sold for $13 million.
This breed is lesser known than many of the other breeds of this list but like the Dutch warmblood, is bred and ridden for its athletic build and reliable performance. This breed is particularly desirable for showjumping due to the natural affinity it has for this discipline.
The Holsteiner breed originates from German warmbloods and has a powerful and elegant gait. When looking at a Holsteiner, you may notice that it has a leaner and more athletic look compared to a warmblood or thoroughbred. They are considered to be a lighter horse breed and so are also often used for trail riding.
Holsteiners are not as commonly found as other breeds. This could be part of the reason why they come at such an expensive price tag.
Price: $3000 — $4000 for a youngster or prospect and upwards of $50,000 for a well-trained Holsteiner.
The Oldenburg breed originates from Germany and was in high demand in 17th Century Europe.
They were commonly bred to be used in wars or as gifts to rulers and the elite. Oldenburgs were at one stage used as farm horses until they were selectively bred for performance.
The modern-day Oldenburg is differentiated from what is referred to as the Alt Oldenburger, with the former being a popular choice for almost every equestrian discipline. Although these horses are large in size, they are compact in their frame and have powerful hindquarters with a long neck.
This breed is usually darker in color including bays, dark bays, and liver chestnuts. They have a calm and genuine temperament which makes these horses more suitable for a wider range of riders. The Oldenburg is set apart from other warmblood breeds due to it being bred on privately owned farms vs. state-owned studs, providing more freedom to breed specifically for enhanced performance.
Price: a seasoned Oldenburg can cost anywhere from $4,000 — $5000 while an experienced competitor can cost up to $200,000.
Thoroughbreds have always been bred for racing as they are known for their incredible speeds. With their ability to earn and win in high stakes horse races, this breed has recorded some of the highest selling prices. Thoroughbreds are relatively lean and easy horses to train. As a result, they are also used for showjumping and dressage.
Throughout history, there have been a number of particularly famous racehorses, many of which are Thoroughbreds. These include Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, was a Thoroughbred, as well as American Pharaoh, a triple crown winner. Due to their natural agility and speed, these horses have been bred to further enhance this ability. It is for this reason that this breed has been sold at such high prices.
Fusaichi Pegasus is the most expensive yearling ever sold at auction and was sold for between $60 million and $70 million. In 2000, this horse was the Kentucky Derby winner.
Price: The price range for this breed is enormous. Yearlings from well-known bloodlines can sell for multiple millions (USD).
The one thing Hanoverians are known for is their elegance and the way they carry themselves. They are a particularly large breed with strong legs, back, and overall frame. Although they are used in many equestrian disciples, they are particularly suited to showing.
Historically, Hanoverians have been used in agriculture and later as prestigious gifts for royalty. They were also used as reliable steeds in times of war. In this more modern era, certain characteristics of the Hanoverian breed have been focused on for suitability to dressage and showjumping.
Price: $7,000 — $100,000. The most expensive Hanoverian horse was sold for $1.125 million.
7. The American Paint Horse
This breed has been given a number of different names over the years including Pinto and Paint or skewbald and piebald. It was officially registered as the American Paint Horse in the 20th century. This horse, as their name suggests, has a distinct color pattern which includes blotches of dark and light brown on an often predominantly white base coat.
This breed of horse originated from spotted horses who have thoroughbred bloodlines and also closely resemble a quarter horse. They are predominantly found in North America and are popular as a result of their striking look.
Price: The highest price ever paid for a Paint Horse was $33,000 in Oklahoma.
This is one of the rarest breeds in the world which makes it no surprise that it is also one of the most expensive. Akhal Teke means ‘gift from the desert’. This breed is the national horse of Turkmenistan. There are believed to be as little as 8,500 Akhal Teke horses in the world.
One of the distinguishing features of this horse is its coat. It has an intense shine which makes it look almost metallic which is the result of a particular type of hair structure. Akhal Tekes are also incredible endurance horses. They have a long and narrow neck with a wide head which gives the horse a unique and regal appearance.
Price: The going price for a purebred Akhal Teke will depend on its location, age, and schooling. A well-trained and produced Akhal Teke can go for up to $100,000.
Friesians originate from the Netherlands and depending on their particular breeding, can reach some of the highest prices in the world for an individual stallion. There is evidence to suggest that this breed of horse has been around since as early as the 1200s.
Friesians are always black with a particularly glossy coat. They are easily distinguishable by the way that they move using a highlighting gait. Besides their natural beauty, Friesians are also known for their temperament which is kind, and their intelligence and willingness to learn.
There are extremely high standards when it comes to the breeding of these horses which is why they come with a hefty price tag.
Cost: $7,000 — $100,000. If you are looking for a well-schooled Friesian, you will pay up to $40,000 while stallions with top breeding lines go for over $100,000.
Lipizzaners have undergone 450 years of selective breeding. The horses which make a Lipizanner’s breeding come from all over the world and are of the finest bloodlines. Lipizzaners are medium in size. They are often used in equestrian performance shows as they are trained to perform huge jumps and impressive moves on cue. Their temperament is one of strength and intelligence which is what makes them such desirable horses to own.
Lipizzaners are a rare breed but are most commonly found in an area once known as the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. They are slower to breed compared to other breeds of horses which also adds to their price tag. Much effort and attention to detail are paid when breeding with these horses to ensure the purity of their bloodlines.
Price: $8,000 to $10,000
Andalusians are a breed that comes with a lot of history and is considered to be one of the oldest breeds in the world, along with Arabians. Andalusian horses from Spain are considered to be the purest of this breed.
You may recognize this breed either from historic cave paintings or from being used by the Spanish government. They were often given and kept as prized possessions in noble circles. Andalusians are known for their iconic white color but can also be gray, brown, and a mottled shade.
Andalusians are used most commonly in dressage and as stock horses. They have natural agility and the ability to perform. The way in which they move is distinctive and dramatic which allows them to score highly in dressage.
Price: The range is between $3,000 and $60,000, but a show-quality Andalusian will typically cost at least $50,000.
12. American Quarter Horse
The American Quarter Horse is often referred to as one of the most diverse and adaptive breeds across the world. This is due to their ability to perform and compete across almost every equestrian discipline which does not breed specific.
This breed originates from Central America and is believed to be a mix of a horse known as the Barb (brought to the United States by Spanish explorers) and fast ponies that hail from Virginia. These horses were later bred with Thoroughbreds and wild Mustangs.
This interbreeding makes this breed so versatile and able to be used in barrel racing and horse racing to trail riding and showjumping. That being said, they are built for short distancing used in racing vs long trail rides common in endurance riding.
Price: The average price is around $3,500.
This breed was developed in the United States and has a muscular but compact build. They have somewhat of a chiseled look and are almost always black and Chestnut in color. They have a strong but playful temperament which is one of the defining characteristics of these horses.
Compared to the other breeds on this list, Morgan’s are relatively small and stand under 15 hands high and weigh under 1000 pounds. What makes these horses stand out is their wide head, thick mane, and tail and their large, expressive eyes.
With their athletic ability, Morgans have been used on working farms and to pull carts and were also used as cavalry horses. They have also been trained as racehorses, although this is not what they are commonly used for today. These prized horses excel in side-saddle competitions and in trotting races.
Price: Between $2500 and $4,000
These horses are of Scottish descent and are draught horses that get their name from their originating town known as Clydesdale. They are one of the largest breeds in the world and are usually between 17 and 18 hands high and weigh over 2000 pounds.
Clydesdales are known for their cool and calm temperament and are known as gentle giants when it comes to their relationship with humans. Some distinctive features of these horses include the long hair on their legs, their distinctive faces, and their well-formed feet.
Their sheer size makes Clydesdales ideal for use in pulling carts, plowing fields, and carrying riders who are heavier than average.
Price: The average cost falls between $2,500 and $5,000. Bay or black Clydesdales with white facial markings are the most expensive variety of this breed.
15. Gypsy Vanner
Originating from the United Kingdom, these horses were initially bred to pull Gypsy caravans. These horses have the same frame and build as Clydesdales, who they are related to, but are smaller in size at 14-15 hands.
This breed was taken to North America in 1996 which was only when it got its official name. With their soft demeanor and gentle disposition, these horses are great family horses. They have also been used as horses for human rehabilitation and therapy.
Price: Generally from $4,000 to $30,000. You can expect to way upwards of $20,000 for a well-bred foal.
Mustangs are one of the most famous breeds in the world. They originate from a specific part of America in the North West and have roamed wildly for decades. Mustangs were introduced to the States by the Spanish and have become well renowned across the world.
Mustangs are hardy animals and are short and muscular in stature. They are well suited to adverse weather conditions and harsh terrain. They weigh around 8000 pounds and are between 14 and 15 hands high. In the wild, mustangs have been known to live up to 40 years old.
Formal adoption and breaking in the program were introduced in the United States for a controlled transition of many of these wild horses. This adoption fee starts at $125 but once trained and schooled, mustangs can fetch much higher prices. This is due to their versatility and ability to adapt to their environment.
Price: Between $125 and $5,000
Appaloosas are best known for their colorful and spotted coat, which sets them apart from many of the other equine breeds. Besides their unique and striking experience, appaloosas are well known for their gentle demeanor and intelligence.
Being eager to please, this breed is easy to school and train, and they are used across most equestrian disciplines including showjumping and cross-country. Due to their appearance, they are also used in movies and commercials.
Appaloosas have a number of different pattern variations on their coat and this is often referred to as the ‘leopard complex’. When they are born, it is almost impossible to predict their color. This is because they are usually born in darker shades which lighten as they shed their coats as foals.
Price: Between $450 and $8,000. The stallions used for breeding come at an average cost of $4,200.
18. Selle Francais
The Selle Francais breed is a prestigious French breed known for their exceptional performance in the showjumping ring. The modern-day Selle Francais is a result of centuries of cross-breeding until they were officially registered as a unique sport horse in 1958.
These horses are also known as the French Saddle Horse and are usually bay, dark bay, or chestnut in color. As a result of their intentional breeding for high performance, these horses excel at Olympic and Grand Prix levels.
These horses stand between 15 and 18 hands high. They have powerful hocks and broad hindquarters, ideal physical traits for jumping. This is a gentle and trustworthy breed of horses which makes them the ideal partner for novice and amateur riders.
Price: Between $15,000 into the millions. Due to their worldwide popularity and success in competitive showjumping, the most expensive showjumper sold in 2013 for $15 million.
What is the least expensive horse breed?
While prices of horses can vary between different breeds significantly, they can also do so within the same breed. A thoroughbred that has not been backed or trained may cost a few hundred dollars while a horse of the same breed who has been schooled from a young age to complete may be priced in the thousands.
What is important to note is that many low-cost horses of typically expensive breeds may not be trained or have official registration papers. This is what leads to its cheaper price tag.
As a breed, the cheapest horse is the American mustang.
What was the most expensive horse sold for?
The most expensive horse to be sold in history is the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner called Fusaichi Pegasus. This horse was the offspring of a famous sire by the name of Northern Dancer, a thoroughbred. Fusaichi Pegasus sold for the heft price of $70 million.