Buying a top dressage horse

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    Although British buyers may be reluctant to buy from domestic horse dealers, abroad it is another matter, and many of the British use European “agents” to find quality horses.

    Buying horses this way can be painless, especially for the first-time buyer.

    Several British riders now use the expertise of German agent Christian Heinrich, who is based between Hanover and Bremen and has a business in partnership with renowned trainer Kalman de Jurenac.

    Horses whom Christian has “discovered” include Annastasia, with whom Michel Assouline won the French national championship title last year, former British team horse Legrini, Isobel Wessels‘s intermediaire I kur champion Leopardo and Suzanne Davies’s world breeding champion ride Keystone Dimaggio.

    Christian does not advertise. “I prefer to receive work through word of mouth. We offer a personal service for each individual buyer. As well as looking for the right horse – age, breed, sex and colour – we will organise the vetting and finances and I will drive the horse over to England.”

    In Denmark, former international rider Hasse Hoffman may have 70 horses of all ages, and although he specialises in dressage horses for sale, he also has show jumpers for sale and event horses for sale. Former British dressage team-member Fiona Bigwood has bought many horses through Hasse and trained with him for three years.

    Fiona, now based in Germany, recalls: “We first used Hasse on the recommendation of Tanya Larrigan, and bought Picasso. As he was such a success for us, we went back to Hasse and he has found us a lot of nice horses. If he hasn’t got what you are looking for, he will keep his eyes and ears open.”

    British internationals Carl Hester, Nicky Barrett, Laura Richardson and Emile Faurie have all used Joachim Arl. His horses are produced and ridden by the German professional champion, Hubertus Schmidt.

    Carl Hester, who competed Argentille Gullit in Sydney, says: “Although there is always a choice of how to buy a horse, if you are looking for an advanced ride most vendors will put a top horse on the market with a horse dealer, and unless you are lucky enough to find and buy direct from another rider, you will have to go to a dealer. Dealers also have the time to find horses and put horse and buyer together.”

    Horse dealers do have scruples. “They all have their reputation to think of. It only takes one bad transaction for that to be ruined,” adds Carl.

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