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  • Writer's pictureTaylor A. Flury

American Cost as Compared to European Cost

I am constantly being surprised by the increase in numbers of well-bred young horses we are breeding here in the states. It feels like every day I learn of a new breeder who is breeding top quality young horses with bloodlines on par with those of European Breeders. As a breeder and wanting to help promote American Breeding, I was asked to join the board of the Belgium Warmblood Breed Registry. One of the most educational and fun aspects of being a board member is that I help to run our Keuring tour every summer and am lucky enough to visit breeders all over North America whom I had never before met. It always boggles my mind how some of the nicest breeding and young stock is found in the strangest, most remote, places.

I am not going to lie; I have imported several youngsters from Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands. With that being said, I have been able to learn through experience much of the different ins and outs of importing young horses. However, these days if I were to go looking for a young horse with specific bloodlines, I would not be surprised, to be able to find it here in the states. Furthermore, I would try to find it here in the states because I want to build relationships and support American Breeders.

One misconception that I think many of us Americans have is that horses are cheaper in Europe. How many times have we all heard the old saying, “the cheapest part of the horse is the purchase price?” I think this is the same type of thing we are dealing with when we say horses are cheaper in Europe.


Often times you can purchase a horse cheaper in Europe; but usually that is the Euro price you are seeing before being converted to dollars. Keeping in mind that the Euro conversion to dollars is always fluctuating you could be paying anywhere from $1.25-$1.50 for 1 Euro. That means that 8,000 Euro weanling with exceptional bloodlines you saw is actually about $10,250; not adding in the wiring costs and what not. After all, you probably cannot just go pick up your foal and hand them a check. Which leads to the next question of how much is it going to cost getting your newly purchased equine home.


There are several factors one must consider when shipping a horse home. The shipping company will explain everything to you and you should ask for several different company’s quotes before you purchase your horse. After all when that extra 8k to 10k shipping bill doubles the price of your horse, it is not so inexpensive after all. Do not also forget that you will have bloodwork fees and a few other miscellaneous costs involved. If importing a weanling, maybe you can get lucky and the shipping company will find other babies to share the shipping container with you to lower your costs.


Every horse has to pay for quarantine though and these costs vary widely depending upon the age and gender of your horse. Any geldings and horses under the age of two years only have to spend the required 3 days in quarantine. A mare of breedable age or a stallion has to spend anywhere from 2-3 additional weeks undergoing further tests at a registered quarantine farm. Furthermore, the US only has import locations currently in New York, Los Angeles, and one in Chicago is opening soon. That means that when they are released you either have to go pick up your horse or have a shipper bring him home to you or on to the further quarantine; thus incurring extra expense.


Lastly, after incurring all of this expense and being so excited about the arrival of your horse you will probably want to purchase insurance. Purchasing insurance for European Travel is of course doable, but it is at a much higher rate than simply insuring a horse here in the states.


As we all know though we do not just buy a horse for the monetary value and as such there are other variables to be considered when purchasing from Europe. Unless you are going to spend a few thousand and a week traveling to Europe you probably will not have the opportunity to see the horse in person. Then if it arrives and for some reason you are not happy with it, even if the breeder says they will trade it out, it is most likely going to be cost prohibitive to send it back to Europe. When you buy through an American breeder it is going to be much easier to find information about that breeder’s reputation and to see their references.


One of the last benefits I have found when working with American breeders is they want to place their young stock with riders and trainers who will promote them and as such they are usually easy to work with. For example, if you are a young trainer looking to build a business they might be willing to go partners with you or allow you to make payments. We all have to work together and compromise with each other if we want to breed the best. How many Europeans are going to allow you to bring a horse “across the pond” without it being fully paid off.


I think it is easy to just look at the purchase price and think it is cheaper but shouldn’t we all work together to promote North American bred horses?

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