We began our journey approximately 1 year prior to the purchase of our Hanoverian gelding. At that time we were primarily shopping in the U.S. for a young dressage prospect. Our goal was to find a horse with potential that we could enjoy developing and furthering to the fullest of his abilities.
Living in the Southwest we found that there were few breeding farms in our areas dedicated solely to developing dressage horses. Thus, our search began by extensively visiting local stables, exploring local word of mouth and sales ads, and exhaustively researching online. While we found many beautiful horses we didn’t find our “dream” horse. We were looking for not just a fancy mover but a horse that was bred for dressage with exceptional athletic ability and most importantly intelligence and a desire to work. Like many people shopping for horses we found it exceptionally difficult to find a horse with the desired movement, as well as a horse with the desired intelligence and work ethic, to have such a horse pass a vet test, and finally to keep within our desired budget. So we began our European journey not because we couldn’t buy in the U.S. but because after several months of searching we decided to alter our methodology which would hopefully improve our success rate.
Growing up I rode at a dressage barn that silent auction donation ideas frequently had German judges, trainers, apprentices and most importantly German Horses visiting. While I loved my Thoroughbred I developed an appreciation for the German horse breeding industry and based on this background we decided that we’d alter our search to take us to Germany for the dream buying experience of our life. As I often tell friends, “this was our one crazy moment!” So we were by no means experts in European horse shopping and certainly not horse brokers. Therefore, we had to become thoroughly educated prior to our visit. I found to my disappointment, that there were few if any helpful guides on the internet and basically only brokers offering to find a horse for you.
The first step in our horse search was to find and develop a relationship with a local dressage trainer. We chose Gintara Slavinskas because of her kind nature and desire to not push a young horse but to encourage that young horse to develop to his best with only positive reinforcement. Therefore, we consulted extensively with Gintara on our decision to shop in Germany and in short order we were all very excited and ready to hop on the next plane. Common sense took over however, and we decided to wait a few more months while we developed some contacts, chose a Verband or horse auction to attend and basically educated ourselves.
In this process we learned that most of the German warmblood registries offered several auctions throughout the year and luckily they are all now offering online viewing and information on the selection for the upcoming auction. We settled on researching the Oldenburg, Westfalen, and Hanoverian registries. All of their web sites can be found at horse-gate.com and be sure to select the small British Flag below the menu on the left for the English version of the page. After finding hose-gate we then explored all the Verbands we were interested in. At horse-gate these are found under the auction menu item. Select this button and you will find further options for Hannover, Holstein, Oldenburg, Wastfalan, and ESI
So once we chose our breed (Hanoverian) we began watching the online auctions and results for that breed. The Hanoverian Verband has 12 auctions a year so we had the opportunity to monitor a few prior to our visit. The auctions are all a little different in the field of horses offered and quality/pricing of these horses so I suggest you explore their web site early to determine what auction is best for you.