Zane advises buyers to be aware of the horse’s training history.
“We usually don’t buy two years old at Reno because the really good ones are spent, not always, but usually.” Zane explains, “by the time they get to Reno, those really great colts have generally been in heavy training and pushed hard. They may have physical problems or be mentally worn out.”
To evade this, consider tip number three:
3. Look for an actual two year old
Look for something riding around like a well trained two year old, instead of a colt that looks ready to compete in the show pen with three year olds.
“The really fancy ones can be over-broke and used up,” Zane says. He feels it can be a challenge to find some middle ground when shopping at such a prestigious sale.
It’s easy to get enamored by the high performers and overlook the greener horses.
“Two year olds that are a little behind on their training but still show a lot of ability can be a great buy at Reno,” says Zane. “Sometimes those kinds of colts will be cheaper since they won’t look as fancy as something that has been in training since last November. They won’t get as much attention.”
In the dry work, a two year old committing to his stop but not yet sliding 20 feet might have just as much future–but with a lower price tag.
5. Don’t underestimate the ugly duckling
Generally speaking, horse buyers get better deals when they compromise on perfect looks.
“I had a horse in the sale once that was in training with me. She didn’t go for very much because she was kind of ugly,” Zane admits. “She only brought around $10,000.
“But the guy that bought her got a great deal. She went on to make the finals the next year and won $18,000. Plus, she was eligible for the Sales Incentive Purse, where she won $21,000.
“Then her owner sold her for around $20,000. After her earnings, he ended up making $40-50,000 on the whole deal! It’s rare that happens, but it’s not impossible.”
6. What about bridle horses?
Horses on high profile sales tend to bring retail prices instead of wholesale prices, and that’s especially true for finished bridle horses. You should expect to spend top dollar for a horse that’s highly trained anywhere you go.
“I have a standing order for bridle horses and buyers will pay upwards of $65,000 for them.”
It’s a classic case of getting what you pay for. Zane warns that a relatively cheap bridle horse may be priced low for a reason, which is why it’s important to check x-rays.
For example, a horse that’s been in competition for many years could have soundness issues, which may explain why the owner is willing to part with the animal for such a rock bottom price.
Basically, if you’re trying to find a bridle horse for a bargain, you’re pretty much better off shopping for a unicorn.
7. If you’re bargain-hunting, shop where the horses are
Zane Davis’ favorite sale is the Fort Worth Select Yearling Sale during the NCHA Futurity in December. He likes the huge selection, which he says can keep horses from bringing high-end retail prices.
“Texas, in general, has more horses with great bloodlines. In Reno, the 3 or 4 sale highlights might bring more money than they would on a different sale,” Zane says. “In Fort Worth, there are 50 horses just like them, which helps bring the prices down.”
It’s a little like shopping at Costco vs. a boutique! They both have their place–it just depends what you’re looking for.
Zane Davis’ Top 3 Sires
Keep an eye on bloodlines from these high performing studs:
Zane Davis operates his Idaho Falls, ID training program with the help of his wife Holly and their three children: Zayle, Dawson, and Presley. He is one of only 13 riders to pass the million-dollar mark for earnings in the NRCHA.
Zane has won the Snaffle Bit Futurity, as well as the Hackamore Classic, Reserve Championship at the Stallion Stakes, and many more. Zane’s official bio on the NRCHA Million Dollar Rider page calls him a “fixture in the Open finals at every NRCHA Premier Event.”
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