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Importing off video

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    Importing off video

    Here I am stuck in the USA and I’ve been horse shopping for three months. No luck. Two failed vetting. I have a spreadsheet with over 65 horses on it and quite a few of them are a plane ride away in the US. I’ve been traveling every other weekend to try horses and it’s getting depressing.

    I reached out to a seller in my state about a horse they have, and it turns out they import horses. They don’t import horses for my specific discipline, but they came back to me really quickly with a very exciting five-year-old who has won a lot of competitions in Germany and really looks exactly like what I want for about $10-$15,000 less than I’d pay here, imported.

    Anytime I see people importing off video I think there is no way I could do that. Absolutely no way. And here I am, seriously considering it. I have 1 million questions for the seller and for the agent, and of course the pre-purchase exam would be extensive.

    What is the common practice if the horse is not as expected when imported? I have heard that some sellers will help you sell the horse to someone else, but you are on the hook for the horse and stabling and training until then of course. Are there other scenarios?

    Other pitfalls to avoid? An experienced importer I met said don’t do it...

    #2
    Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post

    What is the common practice if the horse is not as expected when imported? I have heard that some sellers will help you sell the horse to someone else, but you are on the hook for the horse and stabling and training until then of course. Are there other scenarios?
    Generally, no. This is a living animal that was imported specifically for you and there is no "return to sender" without significant expense incurred. You need to be absolutely sure that what is arriving is what you want. There's no scenario where the importer incurs all the risk so you can try things out -- well, unless you pay that $15,000 premium you're trying to avoid to buy something that's already here.

    Generally caveat emptor applies. If that horse would be worth $15,000 more here than it is there, even after import, then why hasn't it been imported yet? It's obviously not worth the importer staking their $ on it, so why should you stake your $ on it instead?

    I certainly know people who do it. I'm not sure it's a good fit for the one-horse owner trying to get a runaway deal. It has been my experience that there are some things lost in translation with vettings in different languages and some things that are acceptable in Europe but not here and vice versa. I would not personally be interested in a situation where someone who imports horses for another discipline picked one off the roster that they think might work and sent it to me.
    Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
    you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

    Comment


      #3
      People are busy buying TB racing prospects via the internet at present, paying good money. Why?

      1. The sales are held by highly reputable firms who select the animals they are willing to sell.

      2. The videos used are professional and clearly show legs and feet, horses trotting away and towards, moving on good surfaces etc. They are not videos of horses trotting round and round in semi-darkness or being chased by chickens and small children.

      3. The pedigree is known and understood, and/or the race record is provided for the animal and it's close relatives.

      So for this horse: who is selling it? What is their reputation and do they have evidence of selling horses to do the job you want?

      Does the video provide enough information for you to judge key areas? If not, will the seller provide further images? And answer questions when you ask them.

      Is there some pedigree available that is helpful in determining potential? Can you check the performance record? If it makes little sense, because each nation has it's own pattern of shows and awards, have it explained by someone who knows the system.

      Horses are cheaper in Europe because equestrianism is a common amateur activity and few people expect to make money, let alone a living, from horses. The costs of producing a top animal are low compared to the USA. Few people selling are considering an American market because they can easily sell locally. American purchasers are often taken aback at the level of training put on a horse in Europe prior to competition: you might find you will have to do a lot of additional training to meet your needs.

      Personally, I prefer putting my own hands on a horse that I'm considering as a purchase, mainly because I believe character is the most important thing in a horse and that is really hard to find in a video.

      And then, any horse purchase is a risk. A PPE is only a snap shot on that day. Xrays only show what is to be currently seen and cannot predict the future. Vets are not soothsayers. So consider what imperfections you are willing to accept. If you make the purchase, are you willing to loose the $$$$ and end up with a dud? That can happen with any and every horse you buy. You pay the money and the problem becomes yours.
      "Good young horses are bred, but good advanced horses are trained" Sam Griffiths

      Comment


        #4
        My adult daughter bought a horse in Ireland off a video. He is a wonderful horse. The horse came from a well known breeder who regularly sells horses to our family friend. The breeder listened carefully to what my daughter said she wanted and also talked with our family friend to see what she thought we needed. The breeder selected a sweet, talented, calm, horse who is well loved by my daughter. Buying a horse sight unseen is a gamble. It can work out, particularly if you have a good contact overseas.

        Comment


          #5
          Perhaps a followup question for another post is: What are some names of very reliable international sellers (or US-based, for that matter) who have a track record of making good matches.

          I don't necessarily have a clue about this but I steward at a lot of horse trials and I have seen a few horses from Ardeo in Ireland, who are both solid citizens as well as good performers.

          Comment


            #6
            I have a friend in Ireland who quite often sells horses sight-unseen - most are to folks he knows and regular buyers who'll call him with 'send me one just like X' and off they go. I would trust him to send me a horse but I'd prefer to go there and see the horse(s) myself. Sometimes what you think you want can be completely different after you sit on a few. But that's me, I'm the adult amateur amateur. There are plenty of good talented riders - pro and amateur that can sit on any horse and make the best of that animal.

            I don't know that I'd import from a video from someone I didn't know or have some sort of connection with.

            Comment


              #7
              so, you have a spreadsheet of lots of horses, and then flew out to look at them. Presumably, they looked perfect 'on paper' and then fell short when you saw them in person. So how do you think a horse from Europe will be any different?

              TLDR: if you're not comfortable buying solely off video in the US, you probably shouldn't do it for an import.

              the long version:
              I lived in Germany for several years and owned several horses there and did import back to the US. That being said, they have a lot of SLICK riders there that can make really, really green horses look amazing. There's a proven 'sales' process there, and in my experience, it results in a lot of training shortcuts. Most of my German horses, I really had to go back to foundational work to fill in training holes they arrived with.
              There are lots of horror stories about different horses getting off the plane than were in the sales video. And legally navigating shady PPE practices across the ocean are extremely difficult (ask me how I know). Even if you have a 100% honest seller, the horse that arrives is just as likely to not be what you hoped for as a from-across-America horse would be, but with a lot less legal recourse and some language barrier complications thrown in.

              I LOVE my German horses, but would think hard about importing off video. In fact, I've purchased several American horses solely off video and phone conversations. Most worked out well, a few didn't. But these horse were low-priced enough that I was willing to take a chance. Once I pay euro prices and add on import costs, it starts getting expensive enough I want to get to ride the horse.
              A good man can make you feel sexy, strong, and able to take on the world.... oh, sorry.... that's wine...wine does that...

              http://elementfarm.blogspot.com/

              Comment


                #8
                Food for thought...

                https://www.theplaidhorse.com/2020/0...-sight-unseen/

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  Yes you guys are reinforcing that it’s a crazy idea, I agree!
                  Over the years I found it quite a few horses are different to my expectations when I try them in person, but this go round I’m finding I’m more accurate at reading between the lines what the sellers say, and seeing tiny things on video. Buying from Germany would make that quite difficult!

                  Willesdon, to your good points, I am from the UK so I have a reasonable understanding of the European system. The seller has five or six videos of the horse competing at the level I want to go, and doing other things, though I have asked for conformation pics showing legs and feet clearly.

                  The horse is also a registered warmblood, and the competition history is listed on the competition results sites as well. The agent knows the place where the horse is coming from very well as she has bought a couple of horses from the town before and knows a lot of people there so she can make the connection and understand more about the private seller and why they are selling etc.

                  The agent specializes in dressage and jumpers and I want an eventer, so it’s not like her experience is irrelevant. Agent is also from Germany.

                  ElementFarm you’re right: at this price it feels even more important to see the animal!

                  gottagrey will your friend in Ireland sell me a horse?


                  Comment


                    #10
                    I've bought from Europe, from a very well-regarded breeding farm that had originally been highly recommended to me by authoritative people whom I trust. I had visited the farm myself on more than one occasion, had stayed there, and the family (and their trainer) had seen me ride a few of their horses, before later purchasing long-distance. They knew that I would be starting and training my own horses, too.

                    We had conversations about my needs; I was familiar with the bloodlines, their stock, and how their finished horses had turned out, and overall it was a positive experience. But, it didn't save me money - it gave me access to excellent horses of sterling bloodlines, from a top breeder, at a fair price for what they were.

                    I wouldn't have gone that route in an effort to save money.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
                      Yes you guys are reinforcing that it’s a crazy idea, I agree!
                      Over the years I found it quite a few horses are different to my expectations when I try them in person, but this go round I’m finding I’m more accurate at reading between the lines what the sellers say, and seeing tiny things on video. Buying from Germany would make that quite difficult!

                      Willesdon, to your good points, I am from the UK so I have a reasonable understanding of the European system. The seller has five or six videos of the horse competing at the level I want to go, and doing other things, though I have asked for conformation pics showing legs and feet clearly.

                      The horse is also a registered warmblood, and the competition history is listed on the competition results sites as well. The agent knows the place where the horse is coming from very well as she has bought a couple of horses from the town before and knows a lot of people there so she can make the connection and understand more about the private seller and why they are selling etc.

                      The agent specializes in dressage and jumpers and I want an eventer, so it’s not like her experience is irrelevant. Agent is also from Germany.

                      ElementFarm you’re right: at this price it feels even more important to see the animal!

                      gottagrey will your friend in Ireland sell me a horse?

                      Absolutely!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        The other risk you aren't considering is the risk of the import and quarantine itself...it doesn't always go smoothly,
                        Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                        Comment

                          Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by CHT View Post
                          The other risk you aren't considering is the risk of the import and quarantine itself...it doesn't always go smoothly,
                          I see a lot of people referencing the quarantined horse disaster from a while back. I also read “Since 2016, the U.S. has imported close to 39,000 horses though airports. Of this total, fewer than one percent of horses have received non-negative results during import quarantine,” said Mike Stepien with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

                          https://horsesdaily.com/article/equi...porting-horses

                          I wonder what the risk level is, outside that >1% who test non-negative on arrival?

                          Comment


                            #14
                            In any case when you buy a horse - especially buying one this way it is as important to vet the agent as much as the horse as other people have noted. I think the biggest risk is that you and the horse do not click personality and temperament wise. Sometimes horses are not "bad" but they are bad for that person. But if you have a really good agent that will listen to what you want and has a real knowledge of the horse ( not just saw the horse a couple of times) I think this could work.

                            I still can't believe you can't find a nice TB/ Holsteiner cross in this country. But maybe they are mostly on the East Coast and yes it can be costly to fly across this country. Especially multiple times. Or something in Canada. But you probably won't find something with a competition record though unless it has topped out at its level.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              How picky are you on the type of horse you ride?
                              Are you an adult ammy that needs Dobbin to be perfectly smooth, cover for you when you try to take that wayyy long spot and you just need to feel a personal connection with the horse you’re buying?

                              or have you ridden and show a lot of different horses and can generally get along with most types.....


                              I’m a horse trainer and while I generally get along with most horses, if I’m going to own them, they’re going to be extremely special. They’re going to be comfortable, a little forward, sweet personality that I connect with etc.
                              Keep this all in mind when buying a horse sight unseen....if you’re a picky type and need to feel a strong connection (like me 🤣) then perhaps importing isn’t for you. Unless you don’t mind if it doesn’t work and you’re sure you can flip the horse and get your money back.

                              Comment

                                Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by TheHunterKid90 View Post
                                How picky are you on the type of horse you ride?
                                Are you an adult ammy that needs Dobbin to be perfectly smooth, cover for you when you try to take that wayyy long spot and you just need to feel a personal connection with the horse you’re buying?

                                or have you ridden and show a lot of different horses and can generally get along with most types.....


                                I’m a horse trainer and while I generally get along with most horses, if I’m going to own them, they’re going to be extremely special. They’re going to be comfortable, a little forward, sweet personality that I connect with etc.
                                Keep this all in mind when buying a horse sight unseen....if you’re a picky type and need to feel a strong connection (like me 🤣) then perhaps importing isn’t for you. Unless you don’t mind if it doesn’t work and you’re sure you can flip the horse and get your money back.
                                I've ridden and competed a lot of horses over the last 35 years, and I do feel like I can get a good ride out of a lot of them. But I know for a fact that if I'm spending for myself I want a nice forward horse with a trainable mind who likes people and wants to work, and who won't throw his toys out of the pram at shows. I've tried a few horses recently some would put in the "pro ride" category and felt like I could make them work - two failed the vet. (I've done 2 PPEs and one my vet wouldn't even PPE for me, so really 3 "failed" the vet)

                                This is precisely why I've been so against importing off video before! However, the market right now is such that I cannot locate a horse of just the right height, age and experience level who is sound. Forget color, breeding, sex. It's white hot out here, and all that's left are the dangerous jumper, the aged competitor stepping down, the rearer who spent a month with a cowboy and we're not sure he's fixed yet, or the horse who severed a tendon and just started back in work after 2 years off. I vetted a showjumper who was over budget and over age and had never competed in eventing once, for goodness sake. He failed.

                                So, I feel like if I bought this horse and he wasn't a fit for me, he'd find a new home pretty quickly.

                                That said, the latest is that this particular German horse is already sold after being on the market less than a week.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I wouldn't do it.

                                  A few years ago, I was waiting for our house to sell so I could go to Spain and impot a dressage horse. I was watching every single video I could every day and making a list of those I wanted to try. I had a short list of the advertised horses and the actual horse that I loved off the video and I was sure he was the one. I'd completely written off a mare by her videos because she looked too hot, too bouncy and just not my type at all.

                                  And you guessed it, I ended up buying that mare. She rode completely differently to how she looked on the video. While she was hot, she was completely rock solid in her nature and temperment. The horse who I loved on video turned out to be a lot of a harder ride than I anticipated. His rider was also very tiny which made him look a lot bigger than he actually was. I still enjoyed him, but he had nothing on the mare.
                                  Not my circus, not my monkeys!

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post

                                    I see a lot of people referencing the quarantined horse disaster from a while back. I also read “Since 2016, the U.S. has imported close to 39,000 horses though airports. Of this total, fewer than one percent of horses have received non-negative results during import quarantine,” said Mike Stepien with the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

                                    https://horsesdaily.com/article/equi...porting-horses

                                    I wonder what the risk level is, outside that >1% who test non-negative on arrival?
                                    It is more than that. The trainers I used to work for imported horses, and many of them seemed NQR for a about a year after import. This could be in part because they imported on a tight budget - so perhaps not as direct a route as ideal, but it took a while to get the horse's body sound, and they also had more issue with allergies (food & bugs), with some being extremely adverse to local bugs...to the point of being dangerous.

                                    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      "so, you have a spreadsheet of lots of horses, and then flew out to look at them. Presumably, they looked perfect 'on paper' and then fell short when you saw them in person. So how do you think a horse from Europe will be any different?"

                                      I thought this too! Then I realized that my "perfect for me" horses were the ones given to me who had never been ridden off track. When I went horse shopping, (and was able to ride some of them) I didn't know what to look for. I felt that I should have the "I just know this is the one" feeling, and never had it. So I think deciding off video isn't completely irrational. (And if anyone knows any race horse trainers that want to find an excellent home for a retiring TB, send them my way! If the one that gave me my first horse hadn't died way too young, I wouldn't have had to go horse shopping.)
                                      That's fine, many of us have slid down this slippery slope and became very happy (and broke) doing it. We may not have a retirement, but we have memories ...

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        I have bought off video previously, although within the US and with a right of refusal after a 2 week trial. I've had that horse (a Connemara/TB mare) for 13 years and she's been great, but is getting older and won't be doing prelim for that much longer. I just bought a 3 year old off video from Ireland. I did have friends who have worked with the Irish breeder previously and my trainers frequently import from Ireland and Germany and have a local guy who will go check out prospects once you've found a horse you like. Like you I had already looked locally and vetted one that failed, and I was looking for something fairly specific, which was a performance bred Connemara cross with the potential do prelim or above, and preferably one that was a really good mover in the 15'1-16 hand range. I have started and worked with young horses before and get along with a variety of horses, so I have more flexibility in terms of horses then some. I was interested in ages 3-6, either unstarted or started, but if started not over jumped or pushed too much. I wanted to see good video of them moving and free jumping, and wanted one that had parents with a performance history. There aren't a ton of Connemara crosses out there like that in the US, and they are expensive. I also was hoping to find one that wasn't grey, since melanomas have been a problem for my current mare and 80% of grey eventually get them. In addition to having my trainer's local guy look her over we also did an extremely thorough vetting with the vet who used to be the vet for the Irish SJ and event teams, and then we had him send all the X-rays to my vet here. I had two different people measure her to make sure she was the described height. It was not a completely smooth process in that her flight of horses got stuck in quarantine because of a suspect test for glanders by another horse on the flight, which thankfully later came back negative, but the horses were all kept together and she caught the flu from a quite sick horse from that group, which turned into shipping fever. Luckily I took out vet insurance from Broadstone XL, and they have covered almost all the costs beyond the deductive, but she spent a few weeks in the vet clinic. Now she is home and fine and is a lovely horse, and just as described. Lovely personality, fabulous mover and jump, and to my mind combines the best traits of both breeds. I know several other people who have imported connemaras and crosses from Ireland and been very happy with them, and my trainers regularly import event horses from Germany and Ireland and it usually goes fairly smoothly, especially for the geldings. If you decide to proceed feel free to pm me, I have thoughts on which import companies to use and would not recommend the one I used.




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