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So You Want to Import an


Finding your perfect equine eventing partner is challenging, to be made easier with professional assistance, though, especially if


While there are numerous quality horses available here in North America—some bred here and some already imported— there are compelling arguments for search- ing farther afield for your next partner. If you want the experience of shopping for a horse in Europe, a professional who has existing contacts and knows their way around can help you find the best quality horses with the least amount of frustration.


Where to Travel Good quality sport horses can be found around the world, but there is a reason England, Ireland and Western Europe are popular horse buying destinations for North Americans: these countries have established breeding programs and they are small and densely populated enough that you can see a large number of horses in a short amount of time. In addition, flights tend to be straightforward and relatively inexpensive. Australian eventer Ryan Wood, who is based near Union-


ville, Pennsylvania, says when he moved from Australia to the U.S. he brought a few horses with him, but the long flight to Australia plus the size of the country do not make it an effi- cient place to shop for horses. “It’s less expensive and more practical for me to go to


Ireland,” Ryan says. “Ireland has a huge breeding program and they are renowned for breeding good horses, and that’s sort of what I know. I went over there once and then I went again and it felt comfortable going there, compared to say France


28 March/April 2019


or Germany where there are obviously good horses but I don’t speak the language and I don’t have the connections that I have in Ireland. I’ll go and see Richard Sheane at Cooley Horses and if we don’t see what we’re looking for at his farm, we’ll drive around together to some different places and maybe go to a small show if one is running and see if some- thing catches my eye. Richard has some great connections and we usually come up with something pretty good.” Ryan says he usually goes to Ireland two or three times


a year and imports five or six horses each year. Sometimes he shops for clients and sometimes they join him to look for their own horse.


“I do buy horses in the U.S. as well,” he says. “I’ve got some


really nice ones from American breeders and Ilona English and Mary Hazzard have a bunch of homebred horses that I ride. But when you’re looking to buy a horse in the U.S., they’re pretty spread out. There are obviously good breed- ers in the U.S., but it’s easy to be in Ireland in six hours, spend a day and a half looking at 30 or 40 horses and then you’re back before you know it. It’s efficient because you see a lot in a short amount of time.” When Alabama native Missy Miller, now based in North


Salem, New York, wanted to spend time working and riding in Europe after college, she chose to work for Dirk Schrade in Germany because she knew he sold a lot of horses and she wanted to learn the ropes. Now Missy has a number of contacts in Europe and makes horse buying trips a couple of times a year. “I have a couple of people there looking for horses for me,


and every time I go over there I come home with a handful of new contacts. Every week I get a few messages about horses and I always try to respond, and I try to keep people updated about horses I’ve sold over here,” she says. “The woman who found Quinn, my top horse, is in Germany but started dating an Irish guy and moved there—it’s the best of both worlds! She gets these nicely bred German horses but starts them out hunting in Ireland.” Irish rider Tim Bourke, who is based in Virginia, imports


a couple of sales horses each month and travels to Ireland several times each year to look at horses with clients. Tim partners with Jonathan Reate in Ireland, who sources horses from all over Europe and brings them to Ireland; Tim has imported horses originally from Germany, Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic, as well as numerous Irish horses.


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