View Full Version : Importing from Europe

May. 7, 2009, 11:51 AM
Could someone share their experiences with me? Did you travel there to try horses or did you buy one "sight unseen"? Did you go through a broker? Anyone have any experience with www.KWPNimports.com ? Did you think it was worth your money to go there rather then to buy here?

Tini Sea Soldier
May. 7, 2009, 11:55 AM
Honestly, with the state of the economy and the fact that the euro is so much stronger than the dollar... you'd probably get a better deal on a wb here on home-turf... where people are looking to get ANY return on their investment horses that they can't move!

That being said... if this is what you really want to do...I'd fly over to Europe with a trusted professional that has a relationship with an agent over there... never would buy one sight unseen and without sitting on it.

May. 7, 2009, 01:00 PM
Thats what I thought at first, but its starting to seem that people here would rather hold on to their nice young ones then sell them below what they think they are really worth. Of course, there are desperate people out there but I think they are in the lower (20k-under) bracket. So even with the dollar the way it is, are euro horses still competitively priced?

May. 7, 2009, 01:22 PM
All I have to say is be very careful. There are far too many places that think they can take advantage of a foreigner. Go with someone who has good connections, knows who they're talking to and what they're talking about and you will hopefully go back to North America with a horse that you love, was exactly what you saw/tried and will not have been cheated in terms of pricing.
I'm in the Netherlands right now at a wonderful sales barn - feel free to PM me if you're looking to find more info about buying horses here, or anything else!
As for transport of a horse I believe we've used European Horse Services for almost all of our shipments to and from and they've been nothing but wonderful! www.ehs.be

May. 7, 2009, 03:20 PM
Be careful. "Horse traders" and people who know the value and potential of their stock are everywhere. Europeans see Americans coming if you know what I mean.

My first instinct was to write "If you have to ask..." I don't mean that in a derogatory or snide way, but to say unless you have a trusted network-- not just a trainer in the US, but also one in Europe or an agent known to you or with a verifiable track record, plus a PPE vet, I think you are exposing yourself to a great deal of risk.

Also, check on the costs of shipping and quarantine. Last I heard that added about $7-10K to the price of your Eurobred.

Hope this helps with whatever you decide!

May. 7, 2009, 03:47 PM
Well Dealers are dealers in every language, shape, and form. I'm aware of that. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly all before. However, no one has yet to answer my question: Are horses more competitvely priced in Europe or the US in terms of young stock? Even in today's economy? As far as importing, I was looking for some basic info and maybe a recomendation. I am by no means sold on going to Europe but I'm willing explore where my money will take me the farthest.

May. 7, 2009, 04:17 PM
I'd say it completely depends on what you are looking for. For foals I'd definitely look local first. But if you are shopping for something under saddle you may still find it easier to find it here in Europe. Numbers game, much less distance involved to travel per horse etc.etc.
There are owners trying to cut losses on investments (who would really buy a horse as an investment anyways...) here as well. For instance last week a 8yo stallion, proven over S* sold for around 65K Euro and this horse had changed hands for 200K as a 3yo through an elite auction and was resold as an M-level 6yo for 80K.
I wouldn't bother to come here to shop for what's readily available at home but if I understand you correctly that's not what you were asking right?

May. 7, 2009, 04:33 PM
I think the competitive pricing part definitely depend on where you look, who you look with, and what you are looking for. We went to Europe 2 years ago to get my moms future A/O. We went with a couple who our trainer recommended because they are always importing and know a ton of people over there. Right now I would say that you would probably find better pricing in the US due to the economy--people are trying really hard to sell horses but I agree with you in the sense that people who have really nice young prospects here are hanging on to them or still asking the same price that you could find one for in Europe.

So like I said it all depends. My jumper is an import (we didn't import him but the people we bought him from did) and my moms future A/O we imported. I personally just liked the going to Europe and doing the shopping/trying :) It is a lot of setting things up and organizing everything (I just remember my mom and the trainers talking about it FOREVER) and the flying and quarantine does add quite a bit to the price (the shipping/flying/quarantine, depending on what kind of services you get when they are flying/in quarantine, added about 9k to the horses price)

I do love a european horse though--most of the time they have great work ethics and are well broke--plus they just have a "european" look that I like. If you need any more info feel free to PM me--our barn has imported manyy horses.

May. 7, 2009, 06:19 PM
A few years ago, Geoff Young wrote an article in the Rocky Mountain Horse Connection about shopping in Germany with Nancy Gooding... it gave a pretty cool picture of the process, if you can dig up the article.

May. 7, 2009, 06:57 PM
If I had unlimited price range for my next horse I would bring one over from Germany. My trainer imports from Ireland and has several contacts. She already said my next horse is going to be bought stateside becuase of the dollar value.

May. 7, 2009, 07:12 PM
Have you thought about Argentina? I don't know if you are looking for a hunter, jumper, or an equitation prospect, but we have a boarder that solely buys Argentinian horses and absolutely swears by them. And, my god, are they impressive! I was supposed to go over Christmas, but a bunch of things ended up getting in the way, but we're definitely going this upcoming year, and I am greatly looking forward to it. If you are able to make the right connections (just like Europe, I wouldn't go alone/without a good inside connection), you can get some AMAZING horses for quite a bit less money than you could get them stateside (the last horse this boarder sold was bought for the mid 4 figures and sold for the HIGH five figures in a matter of 8 months). Shipping and quarantine costs are around 5K if you can get on a full pallet. Just a thought.

May. 7, 2009, 07:18 PM
Have you thought about Argentina? I don't know if you are looking for a hunter, jumper, or an equitation prospect, but we have a boarder that solely buys Argentinian horses and absolutely swears by them. And, my god, are they impressive! I was supposed to go over Christmas, but a bunch of things ended up getting in the way, but we're definitely going this upcoming year, and I am greatly looking forward to it. If you are able to make the right connections (just like Europe, I wouldn't go alone/without a good inside connection), you can get some AMAZING horses for quite a bit less money than you could get them stateside (the last horse this boarder sold was bought for the mid 4 figures and sold for the HIGH five figures in a matter of 8 months). Shipping and quarantine costs are around 5K if you can get on a full pallet. Just a thought.

Ditto this. I've sat on a lot of very nice horses brought over from Argentina. Some were bought for low-fives and then sold for high-fives to six figures.

May. 7, 2009, 10:29 PM
So tired of people importing horses! Small rant but seriously if you are going to bring a horse here from another country it better be really special. As in you could not find it here, otherwise what is the point other than to say I imported a horse. I can guarantee that almost anything you find over there can be bought cheaper here.

May. 7, 2009, 11:34 PM
We bought my AO horse (With GP potential) and also my young one overseas (Australia). We've been really happy with both and paid less than we ever would have in the US. I would have bought here but the prices were really high:(

May. 8, 2009, 01:39 AM
LOL what a joke! Come on did your a/o horse become a g.p horse???

Quickly here a horse is priced based on money won, or should be, So the big winner while costing big $$$ can also bring in big $$$ winning classes. Less carefull horses that are great teachers are less expensive as they will never earn there keep. I mean really I know of several A/O horses for under 70k. Dear lord I have a 6 yr old that has g.p potential he is showing in the 1.30 and 1.35 double clear will do 1st g.p in september and oh he is a t/b and cost 2,500. I would sell him for 40k. After his winnings he has cost a total of 10k including purchase. I have 2 others that are 5 1 that is 4 and all cost under 2k and will jump a 4ft course except the 4 yo who is doing 3ft

There are far to may good horses here just lacking some quality trainers. Great cheerleaders though! Good job you spent 40k or 100k wow you are pretty. So sick of half cocked trainers getting clients to sped big $$ on horses.

May. 8, 2009, 02:31 AM
About whether horses are cheaper here (in Europe) or over in NA, it depends on what you're looking for. If we're talking about buying a horse with top bloodlines, I think they will be more expensive in Europe because here they are obsessed with the bloodlines and some of the best semen in the world is available here and only here, making them that much more exclusive.
However, I believe that luvs2ridewbs doesn't need to worry about bloodlines too much since they don't really have horses here bred to be hunters.
If you find someone here who knows the value of a hunter horse, the price will likely be extraordinarily high. If you find someone who knows nothing about the hunter world and is trying to sell the horse as a dressage prospect (who happens to have a wonderful hunter jump) then you will likely get a great deal.

May. 8, 2009, 10:37 AM
Thank you for the great responces. I would be looking for a hunter prospect for those of you who were wondering. You've given me alot to think about!

May. 8, 2009, 11:19 AM
g29000, while TBs are certainly available cheaply, not everyone can ride them. I think the warmbloods are favored not only for the look, but for their rideability. Generally (certainly there are exceptions), the colder temperament of the warmblood makes it a more amateur and junior friendly horse. So yes, it is possible to buy an inexpensive TB and develop a winning horse, but it's not for everyone.

Personally, it seems to me that many folks in the U.S. are not pricing realistically in view of the market. Some are, but many seem to be trying to continue on with pricing as usual. As for breeders, it is still far cheaper to raise horses abroad than it is here. By the time a young, well-bred hunter prospect is w/t/c u/s here, the breeder has spent a considerable sum getting the horse to that point.

Whether it is cheaper to buy abroad or here in light of the dollar really depends on where and with whom you are shopping. OP, as others have said, do expect to spend $6k to $10k on shipping to the airport, flight and quarantine if you bring one over. More if it is a mare or a stallion (longer quarantine).

French Twist
May. 9, 2009, 12:23 AM
I imported from Germany in 2001, sight unseen off a video direct from a breeder. At that time, it was a super deal... as the US-Euro was very strong. I got a nice foal (super athletic, beautiful conformation/mover) that probably would have been in the $10-12k range here, for under $10k including import. I would be more hesitant to look now with the currency exchange. Then again, if you find *the* horse, then it probably doesn't matter where it is... you'll do what's necessary to get it!

Also regarding the sight-unseen purchases (both domestic and foreign), I have to admit that I've had three successful purchases: a pony hunter that went on to ribbon at pony finals, the warmblood foal from Germany (nice horse, but better dressage than jumping, who we sold recently), and a quarter pony for trail riding (who's begging to be a pony jumper lol!). In each case, I had good conformation photos and/or videos that sold me and the sellers were very good with communicating, answered every minute-detail of a question and were consistent in their descriptions and policies. It's risky. But you have to go with your gut. For each one of those purchases I made other inquiries on horses I liked, but for whatever reason they didn't feel right, something was off about the horse, or the seller seemed sketchy or slow to respond to questions.

Most hunter/jumper trainers have connections in Europe. I've seen some of the horses that Annie Dotoli has sent to the New England area, and they've been extremely nice. So if you can find a good, in-the-know hunter/jumper person that's now based in Europe, that might also be helpful as you shop there. Good luck!

May. 9, 2009, 02:45 AM
Ah, French Twist! Funny you mention Annie - she just came to see one of our horses last week! I heard she was from the states originally. She's very nice!

May. 9, 2009, 03:04 AM
To g29000 I think you should stop fighting reality. Most buyers who can afford it aren't looking for a project but for a horse they can get on and have fun with/compete or at least feel good. And I daresay if someone is willing to pay substantial money they are entitled to what and where it pleases them no?
Afterall this is the money that keeps the industry alive. You may be a skilled rider but I have to say I've got little respect for your approach to people.
Would also like to see videos of the horses you have advertised here so we can see whether or not they compare to what the rest of us is talking about. I know of quite a few jumpers who are well capable and in the habit of jumping a double-clear 1.45m course who I'd not touch with a forceps as a sale horse. To each their own but I don't care for the condescending tone of your posts above.

French Twist
May. 9, 2009, 04:11 AM
Ah, French Twist! Funny you mention Annie - she just came to see one of our horses last week! I heard she was from the states originally. She's very nice!

Awesome! I've never met her, but I spent some time riding at Riverwind Farm and Annie is one of their connections in Europe. They have a young hunter baby I'm guessing she found for them, and he's very gorgeous! She'd be a great contact for finding hunter prospects there based on him.

May. 9, 2009, 10:59 PM
g29000 What does it matter to you if someone chooses to import a horse?

Sounds like you need to knock that chip off your shoulder.

May. 10, 2009, 02:24 AM
Are you looking for a hunter or jumper? I can recommend a good jumper person

May. 10, 2009, 08:57 AM
Back to the OPs original question.

I bought a horse from Germany about six years ago. First I just had photos of her free jumping which were nice enough for me to ask for the video. The video was very current and included her 2nd attempt at jumping under saddle. She was very green but obviously had alot of talent, so much so that I bought her off the video.

My feeling was that if I could not ride her than someone else could. I am not one to sell/trade horses but this mare was so attractive, talented and well priced I could not pass her up. If she was in the US she would have easily been priced at least 4-5 times what I paid for her.

Sometimes it seems that in the US, young horses (lightly backed) have an unreasonably high price tag. It's a mentality that may be summed up as "well they have not proven that the judges don't don't like them ".

I still have the mare and she is without a doubt "the horse of my lifetime".

The agent I used in Germany took care of the vetting and all other importation arrangements and the whole process went very smoothly. The agent posts on this board ;) and I would be happy to refer you to her.

May. 11, 2009, 08:09 PM
In our current economic state I find it sad that there are some quality horses here in America. Where your $ would go to other people living in our economy. Thus improving it. So yes I care about that. Can you comprehend the amount of money spent overseas on horses every year? well into the tens of millions. Would that money not be better spent here? There are plenty of 1.45 double clear horses that you say you would not touch as sale horses. Why?? I am going to guess that all your clients come to you and say I want to be a loser! ( Loser is defined as 2nd place as 2nd is the 1st place loser) If the horse is a winner in a current program why can you not keep it a winner? That would involve you teaching someone how to ride is that the problem?? Almost all clients say they want to win but don't want to put the time in to learn how to ride. This is a sport not a hobby at the level we are talking. Anything over 3'6 and it becomes a sport. The problem is taking there money overseas and buying an easier horse for them to ride. I believe they call it riding not the "big easy" Even with all the $$$$$ some people have trouble achieving there goals. Sorry for the rant just sick of the whole ordeal

May. 11, 2009, 08:46 PM

I've ridden for over 40 years. I've trained my own horses for much of that time, working with many green horses. At this point in my life, it's not about not riding well enough or being too impatient to work my way up, it's about time management and enjoyment. I'm looking for a made horse, or a younger horse with very solid fundamentals. That's not lazy, it's realistic.

I've bought horses from Europe, Ireland, South America. You can bemoan the fact they we are sending $$s overseas all you like, but there's a reason. US breeders need to develop a method to economically get their young horses to a state of flat and jumping education on par with the European horses the same age. In the US, it's expensive for breeders to do that. Once a professional is involved, you have high training fees, board, show expenses. And if they exhibit talent, you get an exhorbitant price with multiple commissions in tow. At the risk of angering folks, I also think the level of riding and education provided to 3/4/5 year olds in general, is more advanced in Europe. I've rarely sat on a US youngster with the quality fundamentals. Obviously, that's a generalization with exceptions. But I've found it true more often than not.

I've found many US breeders less than realistic about the worth of their pride and joys. When I'm told that their home bred, recently backed and jumped a few crossrails is worth 25K, but can go to Europe and get a 4 yr old jumping a 3 ft. course with solid flatwork guess what I'm going to do...

US breeders are developing fantastic bloodlines, now we need to help them put together an end-to-end system that allows them to develop and market their horses in a cost-effective fashion.

May. 11, 2009, 10:46 PM
europe is still very expensive to buy in. for a hunter i would honestly just stick with NA. though if you do choose to buy from europe, do not buy sight unseen. too many crooks in this world.

May. 11, 2009, 10:55 PM
I so agree with jr. I have bought horses in Europe and South America as well. I can go to one place there and see 10-15 horses in one day. Here you drive six hours to see one horse which half the time ends up being inappropriate. (No matter how much homework you do.)

Where can I go here in the U.S. that will show me 10-15 3-5 yr. old horses that can jump around a 3'-3'6" course at a small show, and have good flatwork? (And don't cost a fortune?) And I can go to Europe and South America and find multiple places like this. So I could see 30 or more horses in one trip!

May. 12, 2009, 02:39 AM
The shows here (Europe, I mean) are ridiculously cheap to go to so it's so much easier for the young horses to develop themselves not only at home, but also in the ring. We went to a show a couple weeks ago and for four horses showing two days, one to two classes per horse each day, it cost us a grand total of 150 Euros. Somehow I don't think that could happen in North America!

May. 12, 2009, 03:35 AM
I agree showing is much cheaper here but that is partly because we do it more DIY here while in the US there seems to be paid staff involved for whatever is involved. The 150 Euro would have been I suppose entry fees plus gas?
Where in the US does anybody show with no trainer and/or groom directly involved? It seems to me there are 5 professionals eating from any single amateur involved in the US whereas here the ratio seems to be the other way around if not less. It's only natural US-bred horses need be priced higher to recouperate their cost when within the culture it is considered normal to spend an excess of 2000 US on foalcare alone (e.g. send mares away to foal out), then pay cash for every day these horses live (whereas here most horses grow up as a by-product of general farming, much cheaper even if you calculate from a true economic pov...) and then pay professionals for just about any time the horse is touched.

It begins as early as with mareshows. When I show my mares it's me doing the prepping, the cleaning, the braiding and the running and seldom do I hire any help beyond absolute need (e.g. having 5 to show the same day). When I show client's mares boarded with us, there is only a flat fee involved which adds maybe a hundred or 150 to the board bill incl. transportation depending on where we go.
The same holds true for under saddle education. Ever since I was 14yrs old it was up to me to start our youngsters and show them under saddle, present at preselections and MPTs and it is only since I have two little kids that I stopped doing the starting part. That not only saves tons of € but also enables one to get a grip on your horse's inner self. Watching can tell you only so much about them it's actually working with in a variety of setups them that I find gives you valuable feedback about your breeding.
This is not to say one way is better than the other, there are a variety of things I think the US is way ahead of Europe (e.g. horses tend to be better maintained vet-wise, owners seem to be much more educated and more prepared to spend the $$ it inevitably cost to provide a quality surrounding for horses. But putting young horses on the ground and getting them ready to sell is not one of it.

To g29000 you might be thinking the spheres in which you travel are superior but this attitude won't take you very far nor do I find it comprehensible.
Winning ribbons at shows is only one of many goals one may set oneself and I don't see why it should be the only acceptable one.
Many amateurs who have not the slightest interest in showing (some of them because they have shown for years and gotten tired of it, some because they just don't like being competitive to begin with) do take excellent care of their horses and I know of many who are much better riders than the average you will see in a show. Why on earth should I not willingly sell them one of my horses if it is the right match?
It's not that I mind competitive riders, quite the opposite. But as far as the sporting aspect goes I consider riding more of a form of living but a sport. When I still showed myself it didn't feel more like sport when I jumped and rode dressage at M level than it did during my equitation and E-level time.
At the end of it I realised that winning had lost a lot of its thrill because at the local level I was showing there were no more challenges and I was not equipped to upgrade to S-level. So I stopped showing altogether.
I don't think that makes me a worse or better rider it just reflects a shift of interest that many feel after having showed for years. It's all nice and exciting when horses I sold in the past do well at shows (and I am thankful I don't consider being 2nd or 3rd out of 40+ a loss *LOL*) but my main priority in selling is for the horse and client to be a good match. And let's face it, not all 1,45m horses are fun rides, quite the opposite.
I don't advocate bad riding I just argue that bad riding only happens outside of shows and everyone that successfully shows at 1,45 is a good rider. It's not that way, I know many riders who have never jumped over anything higher than 3'6'' or never showed actively at all in any discipline who I deem excellent horsemen and would be happy to sell to.

May. 12, 2009, 09:21 AM
I went to Germany 3 years ago with my trainers and imported two horses. I had a very good experience. I just loved going over and shopping, trying...seeing how they did things.

One of my trainers used to live in Germany...speaks German and has a lot of contacts (they are there right now on a buying trip).

When we went over...my trainers had gone first and picked out a bunch that they thought would be appropriate for me to try. Then, when we got there we got up every morning and went to a farm. As a previous post said it was easy to try several to many horses in a day because every thing was so close together.

We picked out 4 horses and ranked them in order. We sent #1 to vet...didn't pass...but, #2 and 3 did...so those are the horses we shipped. It cost about $9k for the transport and quarantine.

It was a great experience and I would love to do it again. That said, there are some wonderful horses already here. If you are showing in the A circuit there are many trainers making the circuit that would love to show you some horses.

May. 12, 2009, 09:24 AM
Very well said Kareen and Jr.

The economy is not going to rebound if everyone stops importing and starts buying domestic horses.

If someone has the money to spend and on a nice German horse, buys it, brings it home, and pays for U.S. feed, hay, vet care, show fees, hotel fees, grooming fees..........I'm thinking that will help the economy too.

Speaking from my own experience, horses in the northeast have been outrageously priced for decades.