Buying a Dressage Foal--Part 3 Pros of Shopping North America versus Europe?
I spend far too much time perusing European foal auctions. It's easy to get sucked in, all the fancy babies with their fancy pedigrees, accessible with a single click! (And a large price tag for the ones I really want LOL). Does it make sense to buy a foal in Europe? How do the foals being born and bred here in North American (specifically the US and Canada) compare? What are the pros and cons?
Pros of buying in Europe:
1) European auctions can be a very easy way to see a wide range of foals at varying prices, all pre-vetted with professionally produced videos and pictures. Auctions are generally very good to work with for buyers (having had extensive experience with sales), so communication tends to be quicker and easier
2) A wider range of bloodlines, particularly offspring from up-and-coming European stallions is available. Also hard-to-find marelines are much more accessible in Europe than North America (which is why many NA breeders buy breeding stock in Europe, despite lecturing NA riders about how they need to support NA breeders)
3) More variance in price. This can be good and bad, depending on whether a bunch of people want the same foal (in which case it is bad, unless you love spending money). Some average foals can be relatively cheap, compared to a comparable foal in North America.
Pros of buying in North America
1) In general foal prices don't have as wide of a variance as they do in Europe. Really top foals in the US don't generally catch the kind of high prices they could in Europe for several reasons. For the foal buyer, it means a top quality foal in the NA might be cheaper than a comparable foal in Europe.
2) Depending on location, seeing the foal in person might be easier and cheaper, and transport to it's new owner (you!) might be cheaper and easier than international travel.
3) In general I've found the NA-bred foals I've bought have been handled more extensively and are better socialized than the European foals. I'm sure I'll get some hate for this comment, and it certainly isn't universally true, but that's been my experience on average. Europeans treat their horses much more like cattle than in the NA, so often the horses don't lead well, don't halter well, have no concept of picking up their feet, and generally aren't as well socialized at a young age. Whether this makes a difference to you as buyer or not depends on your experience and comfort level with handling feral baby horses, and how important it is to you. For the record I don't think it affects ridability and under saddle work later on (although I'm sure many would argue this point as well), as I've had some fantastic riding horses who were beasts on the ground, and vice versa.
Next blog post: the CONS of shopping in North America versus Europe