One of the true great pleasures to be had in the horse world is shopping for a new horse. With the exception of one client (who basically wanted me to just show up on her doorstop with her new equine partner), horse shopping evokes cherished memories for my clients and I, laying the foundation for hopes and dreams to materialize in the carefully selected dream horse.
Visions of imports fill webpage after webpage, but when a client approaches me about finding their next partner, I start with American bred horses. Careful selection and matching is of utmost importance to me, and the quality of horses now being bred in the United States is wonderful. Our U.S. breeders should be commended on the quality of horses they are producing year after year.
From large breeding farms to small boutique breeders, my personal belief is that the American breeders are putting great thought and careful selection into every foal they produce. With a smaller market than Europe, American breeders have to monitor competition results, carefully follow trends, and predict what the market will sustain – there is little room for error when choosing a stud for their broodmares. This thoughtful evaluation by breeders is consistently producing very high quality foals.
I count myself very lucky to have purchased from one of our dedicated American breeders, not only for myself, but also for my clients. In fact, my American bred Hanoverian stallion has exceeded my wildest expectations, and is a fantastic representation of the quality horses that are the result of careful, selective breeding. Purchased as a weanling, I’ve participated in large breed competitions with my boy as a yearling, two-year old, three-year old and in both dressage and breed shows as a four-year old.
As a rider and trainer, I am an outsider - that is to say, I am not a breeder. I have viewed, with a trainer’s eye, the quality of horses over the course of the last four years with great appreciation. If I had unlimited resources and a place to keep them all, I’d be “collecting the whole set” without ever setting foot on a plane to Europe.
So, while I know there is an allure to an exotic European shopping trip, I urge my clients to look at home first. I bet you’re thinking “but, all the arguments made for buying in Europe…” – I get it, you will not convert 100% of horse shoppers, but you can combat the perceived advantages, by addressing them. Let’s look at the arguments made for going to Europe:
From my experience, the market for horses in this country revolves around a few key traits, with temperament being at the top of the list. I compete alongside some of the nicest, most well bred horses I have encountered – they are all exceptional in temperament and rideability. Promotion of our successful American bred horses should be a group effort, “the rising tide lifts all boats” as the saying goes. I applaud the USSHBA for their efforts on behalf of the American breeders.
I consider myself lucky to work with horses, and horse people, for a living. As I have gotten to know some of our breeders, I am truly impressed by their unwavering dedication to create the best. I applaud their success and am proud to be a supporter, now and forever.
Joanna Gray-Randle is a USDF Gold, Silver, Silver Freestyle and Bronze Medalist and a Graduate of the USDF “L” Judges Program with Distinction. She trains and competes her American bred, four year old Hanoverian stallion, Royal Tourmalet SPF (“Artie”), in dressage competitions in the Northeast. To find out more about Joanna and Artie, visit her website at www.jemgray.com.
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