What Does The Word Prospect Mean When Regarding Horses?


Barrel prospect, roping prospect, cutting prospect, eventing prospect. All of these terms are things you might see in different ads regarding the sale of certain horses. But what does the word prospect mean when it is used to describe or label a horse?

What Does Prospect Mean Regarding Horses?

When a horse is described as a prospect, it basically means that the horse shows promise in a certain discipline, but they aren’t fully trained in that area. Usually, these horses need someone to complete their training and put a lot of work into them before they can be considered finished horses.

Are Prospects Good Horses To Buy?

Just because a horse labeled as a prospect seems to be at an affordable or cheap price, I would not entirely recommend getting one unless you are prepared and know what you are getting. These horses, though they may be good once their training is finished, are definitely a handful before they are through with their training.

I think that some prospect horses might be great to buy. this is because there are some out there who truly are good for what they are being sold for. I would just be cautious about buying such a horse because of the fact that you never know what you are getting yourself into.

The only time I think it would be a good idea to get a prospect horse is if you are an experienced rider, trainer, or are working with an instructor who will help you get your horse to where you want to be. Otherwise, these horses who are only partly trained might be a little too much for someone without the proper experience to handle.

Are Prospect Horses Usually Young?

Yes, most prospect horses are between the ages of 3 and 8 and have had basic training started on them. The reason most of these horses are young is that it is at this time in the horse’s life where they are assigned their careers or jobs that they will likely do for the rest of their lives.

If a horse shows promise in an area, whether it be barrel racing, jumping, or dressage from a young age, these horses can be sold as prospects for these disciplines.

Are Prospects Cheaper To Buy Than Fully Trained Horses?

Yes, typically horses known as prospects are much cheaper to buy than fully trained horses. There are a few reasons for this. They include:

  • The younger the horse, the harder to handle
  • A lot of work needs to be put into these horses to get them ready to do what you want them to do
  • These horses may not even be good at what they are sold as a prospect for
  • These horses often have behavioral issues that need to be worked out of them

For these reasons, prospects are usually a lot cheaper to buy than trained horses.

Do All Disciplines Have Prospects?

Yes, pretty much all disciplines have prospects sold all the time. The different disciplines that I have heard there being prospects for include:

  • Barrel Racing
  • Cutting
  • Reining
  • Roping
  • Ranch Work
  • Dressage
  • Driving
  • Eventing
  • Show Jumping
  • Racing
  • Cross Country
  • Halter
  • Saddle Seat
  • Hunter
  • Equitation

There are even more disciplines that horses are sold for as prospects, but from the top of my head, this is what I can think of.

Can You Use A Prospect Horse For Something Other Than What It Shows Promise In?

Absolutely! Actually, many of the horses that are sold as prospects end up doing something different entirely! Sometimes the jobs that people think that these horses will fit actually don’t work well for the horses at all so they find a new job that suits them better.

This is exactly what happened to a horse one of my friends rode! The OTTB that she rode all the time was previously owned by someone who bought him as a barrel prospect. When it was clear that this horse was not meant to run barrels, she sold him and my friend bought him and turned him into a hunter jumper horse which suited him so much better.

If you are considering buying a prospect, I would keep it in the back of your mind that this horse might not work for what you want them to work for. Not all horses are going to be the perfect fit for what someone thinks they should do!

Where Can I Buy A Prospect Horse?

You can buy prospect horses almost anywhere! You can buy these horses anywhere. Some places where you can find prospect horses for sale include places like:

  • Social Media
  • Barn Sale Pages
  • Craiglist
  • Horse Shows
  • Horse Trainers
  • Horse Sale Sites
  • In-person or Online Auctions
  • Breeding Facilities

These horses are one of the easiest horses to find because there are so many half-trained horses for sale as compared to fully trained horses successful in their discipline.

Do Prospects Make Good First Horses?

NO! And I can say that again. I would never recommend getting a prospect as your first horse unless you are an experienced rider or trainer who just hasn’t owned a horse of your own yet. The reason I don’t recommend this is because these horses are not good for beginners. Prospects are only partly trained horses who need a lot of training and work to get them to a point where they can successfully work at the job they were intended for. Getting a prospect horse is a big commitment that should only be taken on by someone who is able to handle such a horse.

Hailey Johnson

Horses have been my passion ever since I can remember. At school, I was known as that weird horse girl, and I would read horse encyclopedias for fun. Over the years since those days, I have only learned more. My experiences with horses of a variety of breeds have taught me a lot. Now I want to share what I know with you!

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