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Moving to UK

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  • Moving to UK

    Using an alter as we have not yet told all family and friends.

    My partner and I have finally decided to take the plunge and move in together. Due to jobs, things owned, etc, we have decided that it makes more sense for me to move to England, rather than him moving to the States.
    Obviously this is quite a large undertaking, and while we have most of the people things sorted out (visas, etc), I still haven't figured out what to do with my animals! (We have friends who have brought dogs over, but never horses!)

    I have a lovely OTTB mare that I event, and while I am not against selling her, I would love to bring her over with me. While I've worked for barns that import in the past, its always been UK to USA, not the other way around. Does anyone have any suggestions/experience with the import process?

    If I were to sell maresy , what is the market like for an American TB running prelim/intermediate?

    Also, what is basic horse care like? From my research, I've noticed that full care near where we will live (Bedfordshire) is close to what I am paying here (around 1k/month). Do most people use full care, or is it normally more self care/living out? I know we must have different types of grain/hay, so what is a typical feed schedule?

    I'm assuming the eventing scene is pretty great? Do most people haul their own horses? You often hear that the trainers are less hands on than in the states, is there any truth to that?

    Basically, I am going in pretty blind, with almost no idea how it works, so any information would be greatly appreciated!

  • #2
    I can't answer many of your questions on costs etc., as I have been here for 25 years now, but I grew up in Bedfordshire. Great horsey part of the country!

    I think you will find many similarities in care, (and as here. good care and bad care.) Good farriers and good vets abound and I think you will be happy (if cold and wet.)

    I'd love to hear about your transition and how it all works out. Write a blog or something!


    • #3
      Even though the UK is so much smaller than the US there are still regional variations as to what is "normal" for the area regarding care, etc. I'd suggest joining the Horse & Hound online forum (UK equivalent to this board more or less) to ask about Bedfordshire, and also #twittereventing on facebook again for local info and all things eventing.


      • #4
        You might also try looking for local horse community Facebook pages, pretty much every area has its own Facebook group page.

        In general you will find much of the horse world different-- in that the trainer heavy model of the US world does not exist, and most ammy show people haul in by themselves ( sans trainer) and do their own competing.

        Board is called livery. Full livery can mean a variety of things, but usually (not always) includes your horse being ridden a few times a week. Full care board US style ( without training rides) is usually under the label of part livery. Self care is DIY livery, and many people do DIY or part DIY ( i.e. doing the care on the weekends).

        A lot of places feed haylage rather than hay-- haylage looks like a giant hay roundbale, but has a higher sugar content than hay, and is left to ferment under its plastic covering. Hard feeds are probably not that different.

        Black rather than brown tack is the norm. People tend to turn their nose up at brown tack, although it is used, just not the norm.

        Free choice hay/haylage is called ad lib hay. A lot of use is made of hay nets. It is rare to find cross ties, generally unheard of. People tie horses up in the aisle outside of the stall when mucking out. Halters are called head collars-- a figure 8 noseband is a Grakle, otherwise the nomenclature is about the same. Great saddle fitters abound. There are tons of little barns ( called yards) everywhere. :Everywhere. There are few indoor arenas-- people ride in the rain.

        Feel free to PM if you want more info!
        A canter is a cure for every evil. ~Benjamin Disraeli


        • #5
          I have a friend who made the move two years ago. She left two horses here (one retired, one pro-ridden), and took her personal schoolmaster with her. She said it was a pretty straightforward process, and her vet worked with her shipping company to get the paperwork in order.


          • #6
            Welcome to the UK.
            Horses move back and forth between the UK and the US all the time. Perhaps talk to one of the specialist companies for advice, particularly if you already have contacts. The USA has different diseases from the UK e.g. west nile isn't here yet, so professional advice will be necessary.
            Like anywhere, there is good care and bad care but there is a very solid basis of good care as the horse culture goes deep. The BHS has a list of approved livery yards but it is not comprehensive.
            One major difference is that owners expect their horse to be versatile - hunt in the winter, event in the summer, chuck in a bit of dressage and a few fun rides and regular hacking. People have lessons and coaching but there certainly isnt a learned dependence on trainers. Indeed, in eventing, Mum is usually trainer as well as well as groom.
            Livery/board is as variable as you wish. Closer to London, land costs are high and more people pay for livery because they don't have their own stables. Further away, more people will keep horses at home. In your case, perhaps look for a competition livery. Professional eventers often have liveries on their yards to help income.
            We are a nation built on grass. Hay is good and readily available, as is haylege. Turn out usually happens all year round. Some horses live out full time. There are many companies offering a variety of ready mixed, nutritionally balanced feeds. Loads of supplements are not necessary.
            Two really important differences between USA and UK are 1) ONLY a qualified farrier can shoe a horse (a welfare law) and 2) ONLY a qualified vet can treat an animal so a vet must supervise all medical care (another welfare law). We do not inject hocks unless there is a diagnosed medical condition.
            The UK is probably the global centre of eventing with 180+ events p.a. BE runs many training opportunities and has BE accredited coaches. Have a look at the British Eventing webpage. There are many xc training facilities. Because of geography, no event is ever more than a couple of hours from home, they happen from March to October and most are one day competitions. It is possible to be done in a couple of hours and home by early evening. You can even have a family life!
            "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths


            • #7
              I moved myself and my horse from the US to the UK about ten years ago. The process itelf wa straightforward -- the shipping company took care of all the customs faff and communicated with my vet about the required paperwork, which is a lot because there are lots of diseases they have in the US that they don't want in the UK.

              Adjusting to this country was harder. For a start, individual turnout isn't a common thing here, and my horse has no equine social skills, thanks to growing up as a young horse in the States where it is common. She did not get those skills and doesn't play nice with others. I have found yards where that is offered, but it's a pain in the arse and doesn't leave you with a whole lot of choice.

              DIY, as it's called, is more prevalent than full livery. The latter means the barn feeds,mucks out, and turns out your horse, while the former means you do it. There is also a thing called part or assisted livery, where you take care of the horse a few days a week, or you clean the stall and they do turnout. It means different things in different barns. You find a lot of barns where there is all three times, and they can be ridiculously chaotic, with horses being brought in and out and fed at different times. Some horses tolerate that stuff, mine doesn't. So I have to find barns run more like American ones, with everyone on the same routine. They exist -- but you have to look.

              As someone said above, there are no trainer run barns or "programs." That's something I never did in the US so I didn't care, but if you do, it's something to adjust to.

              Lots of barns don't offer winter turnout. Some of them don't have enough spare fields and winters are so wet that horses will poach fields. Many do have it, of course, but it's always something to ask when you're barn hunting.

              Indoor arenas aren't that common. This kind of sucks. My horse goes on strike now when asked to work in horizontal rain (although there is probably less rain and it's less horizontal in the south of England than in Scotland). She is pretty sure that wasn't part of her contract.

              Depending on where the yard is, trail-riding, or hacking as it's called, requires lots of taking your life into hands dodging cars on the road. Probably not just a UK thing, but I was lucky enough to always board at US barns with good trails. Not so much here.

              I have found there is less interest in horsemanship here. This is probably more indicative of the specific barn I was at in the US in contrast to the ones I've been at in the UK more than any sweeping generalisation about the whole country, but for whatever it's worth, it's been my experience. Most people I have come across here write off behaviour as "cheeky" rather than addressing training holes and attempting to create a willing, easy to work with partner out of their horse. At the top levels of dressage, eventing, and showjumping Britain has some incredible horsemen and women, but it doesn't seem to filter down to muddly amateurs. I find the lack of understanding people have for their horses a bit frustrating. But like I said, this might just be the barns I've kept my horse at.

              The next horse I get will be a hardy British native breed that can live out wherever and tolerates the weather. I think horse owning here would be a much more pleasant experience with that sort of animal rather than my princess of a Shire/TBX who needs to be kept in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed.
              Help me keep my horse in peppermints and enjoy a great read! My New York City crime novel, available on Amazon.