The Ins and Outs of Equine Appraisals

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

You’ve heard of appraisals before, but it’s probably most likely dealing with a piece of real estate. Banks need an objective, third-party perspective to determine what a property is worth before they feel comfortable lending large amounts of cash. But a horse appraiser, what in the world?

The reality is, especially in the show circuit, that many top horses cost as much (or more!) as a house. Sue Leep, an equine appraiser, took some time to sit down with us and answer some questions on what an appraiser does and how they can be essential for your barn.

In simple terms, what is an equine appraiser?

An equine appraiser is an expert in a specific field of equine breed or discipline. ie hunters, jumpers, dressage, reining, thoroughbred racing, etc. This person is qualified, usually through certification by a recognized appraisal association. The association would specialize in equine appraising, educating the individual to be able to make a written valuation of a horse through research and specific information such as breeding, competition records, market comparisons, on site inspection, competition videos, pictures, etc. 

What are appraisers used for?

There are many reasons why appraisals are used. Donation, litigation, partnerships, divorce, tax purposes, insurance and insurance settlements, and many other reasons.

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

How did you get into this business?

In 2009 I received an invitation to apply for my appraisal certification through the Association of Equine Appraisers (ASEA). At the time, the appraisal industry had been flooded with equine appraisal requests due to the economic recession. The association was looking for qualified people to become appraisers. That is where I first was introduced to what an appraiser did. It was several years later when I actually did some thorough investigation and found that the work was both very interesting and something that I would enjoy doing. It also leads in to expert witness work, which intrigued me. I found that my sales business and judging dove tailed with this work, because It kept me updated with the industry. 

What was the accreditation process like?

There was a lot of studying. A lot to learn about the appraisal process and types of appraisals. In the end, There was an exam you had to pass which was given at a testing center. I found it all very interesting, including the history of the association.

Why might someone use an appraiser?

If you donate a horse and want a tax write off of over $4,999.00, it is required that you have a written appraisal. This appraisal will go with the horse to the selected donation spot, like a college equine program or handicap rider program and many others. You may need an appraisal for insurance settlements, litigation, partnerships, syndicates, tax purposes, etc. It is for anytime you need a market value  future value, or income value. There are even appraisals written for pre-deceased horses for value purpose.

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

How can people find a qualified appraiser?

You can research on the Internet under equine appraisals, and find many. The advise I will give is to make sure who ever you decide on has expertise in the discipline that your horse has been trained for. No one is an expert in every discipline and breed. If they tell you they are that should raise a red flag. Referrals from friends or trainers is also another way, but again I would make sure to do your homework so you are comfortable that you will get the best appraisal possible. For example, in my website I give a brief background of myself with qualifications, which most do, but I also offer people my resume by request. You can also look up the American Society of Equine Appraisers and request from them an appraiser specifically for your horse.

What factors go into appraising a horse? 

There are many factors that go in to making a valuation for a horse. This is where we do a lot of research. Pedigree, show records, talent and ability, age, sex, temperament, winnings, health reports. Obtaining videos, pictures and registration papers and finding comparable (comps) horses with in the market. All these things are included in the valuation and written appraisal.   

To learn more about getting an appraisal for your horse, visit Vision Quest One Appraisals.