Recently I started on my endeavour of importing a young horse from Europe. My current horse was bred in the Netherlands, had a stint in the UK, and then came to the US. He is a very well-travelled fellow and thus isn’t fazed by much, except various spooky white objects. As a Dutch citizen and a Dutch rider, I am, not surprisingly, biased towards the Dutch horses. So, when I decided it was time to look for a young horse – I love Newton, but he is 16 – I knew it had to be from the Netherlands. Many countries breed fabulous horses, but the Dutch horses are second to none for me. While this is a known process to me, I have realized along the journey that this is sort of an unknown and mysterious process. I’m here to break down some of the thought that goes into my personal decision to import a horse, as well as to break down some of the barriers that some people might have in their head.
The first thing I consider is currency exchange. I’m an international relations major currently getting my masters degree at Georgetown - political climate is something I tend to pay a lot of attention to. The war in Ukraine has caused the value of the Euro to plummet. As a result, the Dollar to Euro was almost one to one at the time when I was looking to purchase. (I think I bought Norman within a week of the best exchange rate). While this is not something that is relevant to everyone, if you are working on a relatively lower budget – personally mine was around $45,000 – then considering exchange rates between international currencies and the dollar could make a huge difference in your purchasing power.
Speaking of budget, consider what your specific horse budget is. Importing a horse also consists of, along with the usual pre-purchase exams, several other components. Flying the horse here, quarantine, and shipping from quarantine to your barn. Right now, to fly a Horse it costs around $7,500 from Ireland (where I found my desired Dutch horse) to JFK, $3,500 for quarantine, and then either the cost of your gas, trailer/truck wear, and time to pick them up or shipping from quarantine. So given all of that. If your budget is $45,000, you’re probably looking for a horse in the $30,000 range, depending on flexibility.
Now that you know how to break down your budget, it’s time to start looking for a horse. This is probably the limiting factor: you need a connection. Whether you’re planning a trip to try horses or planning on buying sight-unseen, you need a connection who is able to look at horses for you. Personally, I had connections through my trainer in Ireland, and through a good friend in the Netherlands. Honestly the best suggestion I would have is: ask people you trust. Personally, I bought Norman sight-unseen from a video. This can take a long time, but when you do find the right horse, I would move quickly.
The actual process once you’ve purchased the horse is surprisingly smooth. The farm I bought Norman from is used to exporting horses. They quickly arranged his vaccinations, papers, travel to the airport, quarantine (on both ends), and flight. So honestly, I didn’t have to do anything, but for farms that tend to do a lot of exporting, that is common. If they do not do it, your connection will guide you through who to make arrangements with. Norman is specifically flying with Dutta Corp. The actual Journey from their farm to your farm is probably a week when it’s all said and done.
If you have any more questions regarding importing horses, I would be happy to fuel them. If there is enough curiosity, I’d love to do a follow-up once Norman arrives in the US. If you’re curious what I look for in videos since I didn’t try the horse, or what I plan on doing with him after he arrives, or just questions about international horse travel please ask! I’d like to think my experiences can help other people either learn or explore new and exciting avenues in the equestrian world. It doesn’t need to be secretive or closed off.