I can’t believe it, it actually happened. My lifelong dream of heading to Europe to buy a horse came true. It was exhausting and scary and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Here are some of the things I learned from my trip to Europe!
- Know exactly what you are looking for BEFORE you go and have self control. You see tons of horses. Its super easy to get googly eyed and get drawn to the gorgeous dappled grey…..You know, the whole “I get distracted by shiny objects thing”. Don’t do it. ONLY buy the exact horse you set out to buy.
- Have a trusted adviser/trainer go with you. I would venture to say this is the most important, especially for me. I was a Europe first timer, only buying my second horse, and switching disciplines from the equitation to the jumpers (I know, I converted to the dark side J). So, it goes without saying, I needed someone who I trusted to help me make the right decision, keep me safe, and have my best interest at heart.
- Don’t go in winter. Ok, so this isn’t a fact or a tip but I am from California and I froze my rear end of the whole entire time! A shirt, sweater, down vest, down jacket, and outer jacket, and I was STILL cold. I know, I am a wimp. I don’t want to talk about it…..
- Spend as much time as you can in Europe. Go to as many barns as you can. Go to multiple countries. The more horses you see, the better your chances to find the PERFECT one.
- Be as fit as you can. Normally I ride one horse a day, three to four times a week. In Europe, I rode as many as fourteen horses in one day. If you were looking at the young ones like me, you will ride all types. Some more broke than you could have ever hoped for, and some you wish you had sticky spray for. Workout and ride as much as you can before you go!
- Be brave. My horse had so much power and scope, I was actually afraid to ride her. I thought I would have flown right over her head and that would be it, they would be dragging me out in an ambulance. Much to my surprise, her jump was not only not a problem, but crazy fun and easy to stay with! Had I not been brave and gotten on, she would never have been mine. And that, my friends would have been a shame.
- Try every horse you like twice. If you like a horse, go back and try it the next day. For me, I was much more comfortable on the second day. I knew the horse, knew it would go well for me. I felt more confident so we were able to better test what we could achieve together. In addition, you can see if the horse will perform exactly the same – remember no luxury of a week long trial here.
- Video Everything. Yes, I mean everything. Scrutinize every step and jump. Watch and re-watch each video, this really helps you look at the horses technique, scope, and soundness in much better detail.
- Vet and Vet again. This sounds a bit silly, but its not. Trust me. Have a trusted vet in Europe go over the horse in excruciating detail and x-ray everything. If that vet believes this horse should “pass” then have everything sent over to your vet to ensure your vet agrees with all findings. As an added bonus, your vet will start out with comparison x-rays.
- Prepare yourself to wait. I am impatient. It took nearly 2 months from the day I laid eyes on my wonderful horse to get her into my hands. So not cool! Mares + quarantine + more waiting = me impatient. Good things come to those who wait, right?
But, what’s the most important thing you ask? Enjoy the ride! Remember, this is supposed to be fun! Happy horse shopping!
Written By Katie Gibbs. Share this on Facebook if you’d love to import a horse from Europe!