Buying a Dressage Foal--Part 4 Cons of Shopping North America versus Europe?

So how do the downsides compare?


Cons of buying in Europe:

1) There is a lot more competition amongst buyers at European foal auctions, and particularly the big stallion stations are often willing to invest a lot of money in top quality colts. The "warmblood stallion market" isn't even comparable here in the NA. Not even close. As a result it can be much harder to get your hands on the really popular foals in Europe, unless you have some majorly deep pockets.


2) Pay attention to the current exchange rate. If the US dollar is really weak against the Euro, is can be a really bad time to buy a foal (or anything else) in Europe. While 12,000 EUR may seem like a good price for that super foal you're eyeing, if the current exchange rate is 1-1.3 in favor of the euro, that same foal will actually cost you $15,600. Of course if the dollar is strong against the euro this works in your favor if buying from the US.


3) Import costs can be substantially higher than transport within the US. Generally, in 2021, I would budget about 10k USD for import for a young horse under 2 years old or a gelding from Europe to the US. Obviously don't take my word for it, if you're serious about buying get a quote from a transport company before purchasing. Mares and stallions over the age of 2 cost more because they have to spend an additional amount of time in quarantine.


Cons of buying in North America:

1) While most of the main dressage-focused registries (Dutch, Oldenburg, Hanoverian, Danish, and a few others) are located within a days drive of each other, warmblood breeders in the United States are scattered all over an area the size of the entire continent of Europe. This can make finding quality foals very frustrating and expensive (assuming you want to go see them in person)


2) North American auctions just aren't on a par with European auctions. It has been tried, and surely will be tried again, but NA auctions pale in comparison to their European counterparts. At some point, I think that will start to change, but it hasn't yet. That means the quality of the foals is generally lower (not always!) in an NA auction than at a European auction. Most saavy NA breeders know this, and if they are good marketers themselves, know they can get more for their foals privately than at auction. Which leads us to (3).


3) Buying through a private seller in the NA can be incredibly frustrating. For as well-packaged a product provided by the European foal auctions, the product and customer service available here in the NA can be wildly varying. As many buyers know, getting a half-way decent video can be an exercise in pulling hens-teeth (or whatever other frustration-inducing activity you can imagine), much less getting a seller to communicate quickly and reliably. This is of course not universally true, many NA-based breeders are very saavy at marketing, and have an extensive social media presence, many pictures and videos of their foals and superior communication. I will say my personal experience with NA-based breeders has been quite wide-ranging. I've bought several foals through American breeders who are amazing in their communication and presentation of the horses. However, I will never forget that I literally once watched a sales video of a foal for 5 minutes before I even saw the foal himself (they kept videoing him hiding behind a shelter), only because I knew the bloodlines and was really interested. Nowadays I'm not that patient or motivated LOL.


Next post: what do I look for in foal conformation? How does one evaluate cute baby horses? What changes as they grow, and what stays the same? While I think these questions are really difficult to answer I'll share some of my personal observations and experience in the next post. Stay tuned!

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