I was recently reminded of a situation where an American Adult-Amateur went to Europe and purchased a young horse to be a Hunter and realized that the horse had some major issues, both physically and mentally. This happens more than it should but mostly it is the case of the buyer being uninformed as to how business is done in Europe.
Germany, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and Ireland are the main horse breeding nations for Sporthorses. The Irish Sporthorse has changed significantly in the past 25 years. It used to be that an Irish Sporthorse was a mixture of Irish Draft and Irish Thoroughbred. Today that isn’t necessarily true. The bloodlines of German and other European Nations have been introduced so that the Irish Sporthorse is now a mixture of European bloodlines.
If you think that you are going to buy a Hunter or Jumper prospect, 4 or 5 years of age for $50,000 to $75,000 then I will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. You have about as much a chance as you do winning the Lottery where the odds are 1 in 300 million. Maybe you will get lucky! In addition, the cost of importing the horse into the United States will cost anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000.
Thirty years ago, a young prospect , would cost anywhere from $500,000 up. A seven or eight year old would be $1 million or more. Today, I understand that prices have gone as high as $10 million for a Grand Prix Sporthorse.
The purchase of a quality Sporthorse in Europe is difficult unless you are willing to pay the price.
A recent auction, Tops International Auction – 2023, in Belgium, saw prices for 2023 foals of 50,000 to 112,000 Euro’s. Two 7 year old stallions went for 1,900,000 Euro’s each while a 6 year old gelding went for 1,000,000 Euro’s.
Breeding Sporthorses in the United States hasn’t changed in thirty years. The cost is too high and it isn’t glamorous. In Europe you can see a hundred horses in a 100 mile radius. Plus you get to be wined and dined European style.
My experience in purchasing Sporthorses in Europe starts with knowing and dealing with a reputable horse person. Either you and/or your trainer need to have a personal relationship with whomever represents you there. There are many honest and reputable horsemen and women in Europe but there are as many charlatans.
Do not expect to find that “perfect horse” and don’t expect to find it for $50,000 to $75,000. In the past, a number of American Trainers made a business of importing Sporthorses that were not going to be Jumpers but could be retrained as a Hunter. These horses were fairly inexpensive. However, the Europeans soon realized what was happening and prices soared. They now had another market and the prices represented that.
If you are going to purchase a horse in Europe, do your research first. Use a reputable dealer and don’t expect to pay “bargain basement” prices. You get what you pay for!
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