Have you ever noticed that at the approach of some birthdays, you, for the lack of a better analogy, find yourself kicking your butt into high gear to accomplish things long held dear?
Welp, I did.
After years of working and scrimping and driving a 20-year-old truck that required a tetanus injection before operating, finally the funds were available to embark on a bit of horse shopping. Over the pond.
Wait, what? "Why aren’t you going to Holland?" cried friends, "Or Germany? Why would you go to England?"
"Simple," I replied. First of all, I speak the language (although not fluently) and I have no trusted contacts in Holland and secondly, Brexit has become a U.S. horse buyer’s best friend in that the pound has plummeted against the dollar in frantic anticipation of what will become of England and the EU come October 31st.
There are also some top-class breeders in England as those who follow Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin's success will note the names ‘Mount St John’ and ‘Hawtins’ in the names of their dressage horses. My research over the last year found quite a few respected importers in Britain that bring over youngsters from the Continent on the cheap, back them and sell them a year later at very affordable prices. After looking for a solid two years in the U..S I have to say with conviction that the horses selling over here for $35,000 and up go for nearly half that across the pond. Even when you add up shipping and vetting, you still come out thousands ahead.
I, with my partners in crime Stefanie and Dale, traveled over and while it was an intense few days of grabbing trains and rushing from stable to stable, we had a fantastic time. The weather was on our side, the pubs offered amazing fare and afterwards we split up and took a three-day holiday which was really rather needed.
I will tell you the quality of the horses we saw was high and because I enjoy promoting those who deserve it, I would highly recommend Woodcroft Stud in Cambridgeshire and Froxfield Dressage Sales in Hampshire as professional, honest and worth your while. They both have excellent, long-standing relationships with honest dealers in Holland and that’s reassuring.
At Froxfield there was a real pocket rocket mare, far too small for me as it appeared I was eating her as I tried her, but a hind leg and shoulder out the wazoo…
Woodcroft was good enough to round up a couple of other young prospects besides their own yummy offerings but once again, Gigantor dwarfed them all!
I did find one very nice 6-year-old that I felt that all-important ‘connection’ with as soon as I got on. But as I dithered because there were other horses to see, I may have waited too late as two other people later stepped in to consider him. Not only did he take up my leg (and torso and arms and neck) but he had an exquisite canter that I could have ridden to Rome. Such an active hind leg. Not the best photo in terms of clarity, but you get the general idea.
However, if I’ve missed my chance, then so be it (but if you try to move in on him I’ll cut you). As Stefanie and I often repeat to each other when we feel frustrated: ’There is ALWAYS another horse.’ Always. And besides, here we are in October when the airfares plummet in the off season, along with the AirBnBs and so a return trip is fine with me. If only for the fish and chips!