The Equine Expert

International affairs – Helpful tips on buying a horse overseas.
By Tanja Schnuderl

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Buying a new horse is an exciting experience in itself. Growing up riding, training and showing horses in Germany and being an equine professional here in the US for the past several years, I have experienced the process of buying horses in both countries.
Should you decide to extend the search for your new horse to international markets, things can get a bit trickier. While this new international market segment will provide you with a lot more potential horse candidates to pick and choose from, important factors like the language barrier, not being able to test ride the horse or using your trusted veterinarian, not to mention international transport and import quarantines are just a few added risks to the general adventure of purchasing a horse. Following are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. If you cannot travel to test ride the horse yourself or send your trainer - which is always the best solution -  find a local horse trainer without any connection to the seller and pay them to test ride the potential horse. Explain what they need to verify for you, e.g., perform upper-level movements, gaits and transitions in each direction, overall impression of the horse. Getting honest feedback about the rideability and temperament of the horse is a valuable investment and critical to making the decision on whether the horse is going to be a good fit for you. All test rides should be videotaped, preferably also tacking up the horse to verify proper ground manners. Videos should be reviewed by your trainer and vet.
  2. Find a local veterinarian with no association to the seller to conduct the pre-purchase exam and have him discuss the findings with your trusted veterinarian.
  3. Have all paperwork translated. Registration papers, PPE documents, medical reports, etc. are most likely going to be in a different language and should be translated, so you and your trainer/agent/vet are able to review them properly.
  4. Radiographs should always have the name of the horse and the date on them. If they don’t, having them redone to ensure that those are the appropriate x-rays for your potential horse can be a wise investment.

Tanja Schnuderl is the Director of International Services with The Equine Expert LLC, a multi-discipline equine expert witness and consulting firm with expert equestrians offering legal expert witness and consulting services in court cases and legal matters. Tanja is an expert on Barn Management and Horse Behavior.  She is the Barn Manager for Moon Rising Farm just outside Washington DC and Principal of Sigma Equine LLC, an equine appraisal business. Tanja grew up in Germany and was a paralegal for many years.  For more information on Tanja Schnuderl email, or visit


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