Frequently Asked Questions

This section of Graemont.com has comments and reactions to common questions that we are asked.  Please realize that the use of any of this information should not be used in place of competent and independent counsel when buying a horse.

When does it make sense to shop in Europe vs in North America?

This decision should be made based on what you are looking for and what price range you are shopping in.  Generally, buyers with less than $25,000 as their total buying budget will do better shopping domestically for a horse ALREADY UNDER SADDLE.  Buyers shopping for young horses not under saddle, ponies, and certain rare breeds might still consider Europe even with less money to spend.

How much does it cost to go to Europe and shop?

Graemont, Inc has organized regular trips for customers where it only costs $850 per person.  That includes ground transportation, hotel, breakfast and very nice dinners (except first and last nights).  Flight costs can be quite reasonable when booked in advance.

I heard that when Americans shop in Europe the prices are raised.  Is that true?

If you ever attend a European auction, you will soon realize that Europeans are more apt to raise their hands and pay big prices for horses than Americans.  Although there are a few stories told, mostly this is a fallacy.  These stories are most often told by local European sellers trying to lure you to being loyal to them - so they can "protect" you.

I heard that the vets in Europe aren't as good.  Is that true?

There is a different veterinary climate in Europe, and some different protocols - but it would be unfair to classify it as better or worse.  There are excellent and poor veterinarians in North America and in Europe.  Typically, European veterinarians are less defensive and will tell you what they think.  They assume that you realize the risk you are taking and don't feel the need to be overly "negative" about their interpretations of results.  Some buyers actually prefer the European style of vetting because it is more helpful; i.e. they will tell you what they think about their findings instead of just what the findings are.  They aren't afraid to recommend a purchase rather than just recommending more tests or more opinions.

Why are so many people going over to Europe to shop now when there are good horses in the US for sale?

Many dressage horse buyers start out determined to shop in the USA - but soon become discouraged.  The two main differences are the number of horses per square mile and the sophistication of the horse culture in Europe.  In Europe you can try 20 horses for sale in three days and a number of them could be fairly interesting.  In the USA it would take months to do the same thing, and you would need to qualify every horse with a video before traveling.

How do the prices of horses in Europe compare to the prices in the USA?

In the last 10 years the world has suddenly become much smaller - largely because of the Internet.  Everyone is researching how much everyone else is selling horses for.  There are no longer regional markets especially for horses that are in demand worldwide: like amateur horses, top competitors, young rider horses and quality young prospects.

How can I save money in shopping?

The main way to do this is by purchasing something that others aren't as likely to want.  Smaller horses are no longer in that catagory, but old horses, young horses, difficult horses are.  Sometimes if you're willing to accept a cribber, a veterinary management case or a higher risk for unsoundness (a horse with OCD, grade 3 radiographs, a recovering injury) horse you can find a bargain.

How will I know if a seller is telling me the truth about a horse's temperament and behavior?

Buying a horse is always risky, even if the seller tells you everything.  But the main thing that buyers don't take into account is that are responsible for the horse's behavior the instant that they buy a horse, and a seller cannot predict how the horse will act when they are no longer managing the horse's surroundings.  Take into account what type of owner had the horse before you and check out the horses performance history.

What is the biggest mistake that buyers make?

The biggest mistake that buyers make is that they buy a horse that is more athletic than they are.  It's usually just a matter of time until things escalate to a point of failure or even dangerous when a talented and athletic horse is not kept loose and comfortable in it's body.  Another mistake that buyers make is that they think that a trained horse is easier to ride than one with less training.  Some horses are easy to ride already at 1st level.  Some horses are very difficult to ride, even when they are competing at Grand Prix.

What kind of horse do the most people want?

Most people want a horse that requires a low level of horsemanship and riding ability to maintain it's safety and correctness.  Buyers typically describe this as a horse with a "good temperament."  The age between 5 and 9 years is most in demand and a horse that is well started with a flying change is very popular as well.  geldings tend to be in demand at about a three or four to one ratio over geldings.

What does it cost to bring a horse home from Europe?

To the Northeast (New York) is has cost customers from $5,200 to $6,500 depending on the import agent.  Budget about 6K and you'll be close.  To Florida and California budget between 500 to 1,000 more.  (This info is being published in the Spring of 2006)

How much does a pre-purchase exam cost?

In the USA a Pre-Purchase exam on an adult riding horse costs from $250 to $2,500 depending on what you require. In Europe at the time of this article's publication it costs about Euro 500 ($600) and includes about 12 - 18 radiographic views and a thorough clinical exam.

Is buying a young horse a better investment than buying a schoolmaster?

Investment?  If you want to use that word in the same sentence as the words "dressage horse" you need a serious reality check.  Buying a schoolmaster is typically a much better investment in your personal satisfaction in reaching your riding goals.  If you buy a young horse and you plan to be one of it's riders, the changes of getting beyond 1st level in the next 4 years are slim and the changes of your wearing a shadbelly are next to none.

I have fear issues about riding.  What kind of horse should I buy?

You should probably rent a horse.  Kmart has these horses outside their stores, and they only cost 25 cents for a 3 minute ride.  Seriously, if you have fear issues, you are probably going to make your instructor crazy, your horse will have an unhappy existence - and you probably would be much happier if just owned a nice horse that your trainer could ride.  Competitive dressage horses are typically spirited and unpredictable.  Buy a lower quality trail horse type that has three basic paces.  Consider a quiet quarter horse, a Fjord or a quiet Friesian.

I want to buy a horse that can teach me something.  What do you recommend?

Buy a horse with great "default settings."  That means a horse that wants to have it's back up, wants to put it's head in the bridle and reach for the bit, wants to go forward and wants to be balanced.  Submit completely to the advice and program of a trustworthy professional in outlining the precise program/ schedule that you need, and follow it completely.  Don't think that just because a horse has training that it can teach you anything.

I don't have a huge budget but I want a super horse.  What are my options?

If you need to work with a limited budget but have talent, potential and goals that requires an exceptional horse there are a few things you might consider.  First of all, BE REALISTIC.  If you are trying to buy something that the rest of the world wants, you have almost 0 % chance of buying it way below market value.  You need to understand how you can step far enough around the "most sought after" horse description, to get a better price.

Consider buying a horse that is a bit older.

For instance, if you want a 3rd level horse that is 6 or 7, it will be quite expensive.  To buy that same horse when it is 10 to 12, the price will normally be cheaper.  To buy a 4th level horse when it is 11 will be easier to find at a reasonable rate than a 7 year old 4th level horse.  Buying a younger horse is also a possibility.  This strategy should not be used by young and inexperienced riders unless they are prepared to have an experienced trainer ride the horse on a regular basis.  At Graemont, we help our customers solve these problems.  Learn more about Graemont.

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