Buying a Dressage Foal--Part 2 Opportunity Cost
Given all of these uncertainties associated with buying a foal, it is helpful to put into perspective how much money you’re actually investing into the foal to get it to 3.5 years old, versus how much a decent 4 year old would cost you.
Foal purchase price: $15,000
Foal mortality/major medical insurance: $800 per year x 3 years=$2400
Foal board for 3 years (from weaning to 3.5 years old): $350/month x 36 months=$12,600
Vet/shoeing/other expenses in those 3 years=$2000 (assuming no major vet bills not covered by insurance)
Total spent from foal purchase to 3.5 years (not including starting under saddle): $32,000
Obviously you can play with the numbers, maybe board is more or less in your area or insurance is more or less, or your foal cost more or less. But this gives you a general idea of the expenses associated with buying a foal over the 3 year period before you can actually start him under saddle.
The other thing to remember is you have to wait 3 years before you can start riding. As described in part 1 you are also taking the risk that the foal ends up being an average mover that you have to resell, or has some sort of career ending injury, or what-have-you. That's 3 years that you could be spending riding a young horse that you bought as a 4 year old for that same $32,000. Granted, it's rare to find a super quality 4 year old for that price with no vetting issues, but it might be a better investment of your time and money to find a more normal young horse at a lower price point if riding and training is your main focus.
In the end it's a risk assessment problem, and there is no right answer. Every situation is a little different, everyone has different goals and a different tolerance for financial risk (and loss of time).
Next post: given that you've decided to take the risk and buy a foal, where should you look? Europe has a ton of dressage foals relative to North America, but what are the pros and cons of buying in Europe versus North America?