Scarcity and Market Demand

Prices for adult horses are skyrocketing in 2022-2023 due to demand. Older broke rockies are also not usually listed for sale. I am finding lower standard rockies being marketed at this time for higher than what their worth in terms of experience and quality of horse. 

Grade "rockies" are being listed on the open market. However, my cautionary statement is that these horses are truly not rockies or possibly marketed under corrupt circumstances. A horse under a "rocky" label typically brings more than one just listed as "gaited grade".

​True registered rockies should come from reputable sellers as papers can be forged/faked. A blood test can also assist in making sure you have confidence your horse is in fact Rocky. 

Why Rocky? 

Arn't Kentucky Saddle horses or Pleasure Mountain horses the same thing?

We disagree! The two aforementioned breed registrations are not Rockies as they do not have the same strict standards as the Rocky Mountain Horse Association (RMHA is also a non-profit organization, that cannot be said about some of the other registries) 

A Rocky is a Rocky not just because it is a gaited breed (with or without a chocolate mane). It is a true life friend. These horses have a noteworthy personality and a very particular way of going (the foundation ones at least!) 

Pedigree is something that can help you trace these individuals and have record of other loving owners who knew and bred them. If you didn't have that information you do just have a grade gaited horse (even if you were told it was "Rocky"). Knowing the history of a horse can gain you access to information on how WELL CARED for it really was. Not a horse dealer's word on it's history.

The Rocky Market and Expectations


There are huge differences in the style of training each horse (regionally) could receive. That drastically affects how their style is down the trail, affects your future use depending on your ability AND drastically affects their health

There are HUGE differences between these two types of gaited horses and how they are trained. They both gait.... But it's a difference in how the horse handles energy that is like a freight train and convert that to a more level headed mount!

Can you see the difference?

What would you invest in?

"What should I expect to pay for a ROCKY?"
A very good question, without a simple answer.

          $? $? $? $? $? $? $? ? ?

     This is the million dollar question. Price all depends on what you want the horse for and what use it is intended for. The main categories that will affect the price of a horse are:
          1)    Brio (Spirit & Enthusiasm).
          2)    Smoothness & Speed of gait.
          3)    Training.
          4)    Manners.
          5)    Bloodlines.
          6)    Sex.
          7)    Age.
          8)    Intelligence.
          9)    Show Record.
        10)    Breeding Record.
        11)    Color.
        12)    Size.
        13)    Health.
        14)    Use.
        15)    Personal Preference.

        *16) Scarcity
        *17) The market/demand
     As you can see, there is a lot to think about when choosing a horse. And remember, no horse is perfect. No horse is going to have literally everything that you want.  You are going to have to compromise at some level in your decision to buy a Rocky, or a horse of any breed. However, each item on the above list increases the price as you add each one.  In other words, the more quality, the more good things, the higher the price. 


     The first question to ask yourself is "What do I want to do with my Rocky??"


     This is a very common series of statements I hear: "I just want a trail horse that is safe, will do anything that I ask it, is exciting for me to ride, but will let my kids ride, too.  I also want it to have perfect manners on the ground, be dark chocolate with WHITE WHITE mane and tail, must be a gelding, be 15HH in height, perfect health, perfect smooth gait that requires no skill to get it to gait, about 8 to 14 years old, and generally be just a 'good ole horse.'  But I don't want to pay over $1,500. Can you find me that horse?"

     If you find that horse, please let me know because I would buy it in a heartbeat! Also it would be worth about a million dollars. Also consider supply and demand, all marketplace shoppers are asking for this horse. The costs are going to go up for a high quality Rocky with any of these attributes.

     Think about what you are asking for. Quality costs. That is a fact. Because what makes quality is dedicated breeding of quality animals and long term love, attention, extensive training, and tons and tons of time. And as you all know, time is not free.

     Take this scenario and visualize: A breeder has to buy a quality mare with good bloodlines and then breed it to a quality stallion. Let's say he lucks out and someone gives him a wonderful mare with drop dead bloodlines. So now he needs to find a good stallion. Stud fees start at $500 and go up to $1000 or more. Let's be conservative and say that our breeder chooses the middle of the road. OK. He now has $500 invested in this baby (after ultrasounds and other vet checks or vaccinations that go along with preparing a mare and breeding to a stud.. Lets say that’s an average of $300-900) that he must wait 11 months and 11 days for (almost a year). During that year he has to feed that mare, costing a minimum of $100 per month ($1,200 for the year).  So the time has come at last and the mare foals. The day the baby hits the ground, our breeder already has $2,200 in that baby. Now he has to spend the next two years feeding and caring for and teaching ground manners to our baby. We will figure that his time is free, so all we are talking about is the food and expenses for 24 months. ($2,400). OK, our breeder now has a horse that he can start putting under saddle and training for real. He currently has $4,600 in this baby already. Let's say conservatively that he wants to professionally train this baby to start it off right. That's about $850 per month. Reasonably he can plan on 3 months of training ($2,500+ depending on trainer). Now he has a 2 year old baby with 3 months of training who needs experience in order to be a beginners horse, and he only has about $7,000 in this baby at this point regardless of other attributes. And then someone comes along and says, "Boy, that's a good looking youngster, I'll give you $2,500 for it, but only if you give me an additional 3 months of training." Can you really blame our breeder when he is hesitant and declines that offer?

     The bottom line of the above visualization is that horses are not free to the breeder or the trainer. Granted, many of us breed for the sheer love of the breed, but occasionally we have to bring in enough money to feed our horses or our own families. So don't be horrified at the prices that you may see in your search for the perfect Rocky Mountain. There are reasons that some are more expensive than others.  However, don't feel alone. Everyone goes through "sticker shock" when first pricing quality horses of any breed, and quality Rocky Mountains in particular.

     The bottom line in your search is COMPROMISE or MODIFY YOUR BUDGET= SAVE for the perfect horse. From the above list, what is the most important thing to you? What would you like to have, and what can you do without? If you want lower prices and safe trail horses, higher age is your best bet. Older horses have been there, done that, and seen most of it several times over. They are generally more settled. Since Rocky's can live into their mid/late 30's, a 15 year old horse is not old, but it is usually safer/ experienced and possibly less expensive. It is only less expensive because the "public perception" based on other breeds of horses is that 15 to 20 years is old. A 20 year old Rocky can provide many years of trail riding to the outdoor enthusiast. 

     If you are looking for a fabulous show horse to ignite the show ring and win everything in sight, then you had better own a bank and go to the best trainers in the world.  Remember, the more training, the higher the price.  Started/broke registered Rocky prices start reasonably at about $7,500 and go up depending on experience and region.  You can get Rocky's for less, but you better be looking really carefully at why that horse costs so much less.  It is an important fact that one trip to the emergency room is more expensive than a good quality, "safe" horse.  It is also important to note that NO horse is completely SAFE, especially when left in the hands of an unknowledgeable person not adequately shown how to ride or handle a horse. Certainty Rockies are quiet, but by no means is a 2-year-old horse ready for a 6-year-old child starting out with horses.

     One final thought on pricing.  The market has been changing lately.  The greatest demand right now is for a pretty gelding that is 14.2 to 15 hands tall, 8 to 14 years old, that is trail experienced and conditioned, smooth gaited, and that beginners and advanced beginners can ride, with exquisite ground and trailer manners.  The "push button" horse.  And since demand is high and supply is low, you know what happens to the prices.  You can reasonably expect to pay $9,500 to $15,000  or even $40,000+ for the above horse.  Do not fall into the trap thinking that you only want a gelding, so he will be a lot less expensive.  It isn't necessarily so.  You are not buying a one of the most abundant breeds on Earth, such as a American Quarter horse. There are at least 3 million of those. Supply is high and demand aka prices are low. Considering there are only 20,000-30,000 registered and traceable Rocky mountain horses in the world you can expect that all of your chosen attributes may not be available. Just 10 years ago the US was under a bit of a recession and breeders were not breeding, 10 year old Rockies simply are not available because no one bred horses during that time. Hence the demand is still climbing for that chocolate gelding who's 10 years old. Mares are more intelligent and calmer anyways! This is a great contrast to other breeds.

     It is further very important to understand that color affects price a whole lot.  If you want a chocolate, black and even rarer colors such as grulla/palomino/roan, then be prepared to pay for those colors, as they are at a premium.  However, in my opinion, color should be one of the last priorities on a list.  It is like going to buy a used car because it looks pretty on the outside, but may not run more than 5 miles off the lot.  A pretty color is not going to be that friend for life, unless that pretty color has the personality, the gait, the training, and the manners to go with it.  And if it does, you can expect a greater initial price.  Inexpensive horses in those colors usually have something else as a drawback.  That is fine if you are willing to take the down side just to get color.  Consider your needs, and then decide on color after you meet the horses.  Don't cut out all horses that are not the color you want unless you have real money to spend.  This breed is not like quarter horses where you have 3-4 million in the US to choose from.  You have approximately 30,000 registered Rockies, scattered throughout all 50 states, which means that color is going to greatly affect the cost of a horse.  You can always put color on your "wish list" but don't let it be the only thing you look for. Many Rockies are in Kentucky as that is where the breed association is based and has developed. Don’t necessarily think traveling to Kentucky will allow you to find that perfect horse either. Sometimes a picture and description does not match the actual horse buyer expectations when seen and ridden. We all have different riding styles that go along with cultural upbringing as well. Buyer beware and never purchase sight unseen. Get to know your sellers and the horse so you know exactly what you are purchasing.

     Good luck in your search, and be persistent. You can find an affordably priced horse if you are flexible and realistic in your needs and you are patient in your search. We would be happy to help you find that horse.  We try very hard to match the right horse with the right rider, so that everyone, including the horse, wins.   Click here for our pricing.