Moving horses to France

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13 January 2021
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Hi
Just wondering if anyone has moved to France with their horse? We are looking at buying a property with land and gites to rent out. We also have a mare and foal, my daughter likes to show jump her mare so was wondering if there is much going on in equine terms over there especially with competitions etc. Also is it easy to get hold of horse feed, equine vets there? Thanks
 

Keith_Beef

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Plenty of threads on here that might already answer some of your questions.


Your post makes me think that you already have some idea of whereabouts in France you want to move to. If that's the case, then it's pretty simple to use Google to find feed suppliers and vets within a 20km or 50km radius.

I've ready on here that equine vets and especially dentists are not like their counterparts in the UK, so you will really need to either adjust your expectations or be able to speak French well enough to be able to explain what you expect and to be able to negotiate.
 

Dynamo

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Whereabouts are you thinking of moving to? It varies hugely from one area to another.

I moved in September 2019 on my own with three horses, and moved back again to the UK in October 2020. Finding really excellent vets, dentist, farrier, fodder, feed, etc was nowhere near as difficult as I'd been led to believe, and all the professionals I used and the services they offered were top notch. People are super-friendly and very willing to provide contacts and so on, but it definitely helps if you speak French. I even managed to get things that my neighbouring farmer told me would be impossible - year's supply of small bale straw, for example, in the middle of a straw shortage and a great price. It depends on how well you speak French, how determined and resourceful you are, and how you go about things.

If your daughter does show-jumping there'll be no shortage of competition opportunities, but again it varies between regions. The competition structure is very organised and the best way to access things is to join a club. Other disciplines are less popular, so I'd definitely say it's a bonus if show-jumping is your thing.

One thing I will say though is that I wish horse owners had been more open and honest about the challenges of moving to a different climate and country with horses. Again, it depends exactly where you are thinking of moving to, what you want to do with your horses, and what your horses are like. I completely underestimated just how hard mine would find it. One in particular was so upset by every different sound, smell, sight, and even the different light conditions, that he was unrideable for months. Many of the people I spoke to who had moved with horses from the UK either did so in order to retire them with plenty of their own land, decided to retire from riding after getting there, or else stopped riding their UK-bred horses and bought French or Spanish-bred horses once there. Some people will tell you that it took a year or two for their UK horse to 'adapt', and when you drill down into this, you realise that actually the horse never really adapted, but the owner did.

The single biggest 'deal-breaker' for me regarding the horses was the flies. I thought I knew about fly control and that I had it all sussed, and believe me I tried everything. It is a whole other level in certain parts of France. Again, friends who have retired their horses in France don't find it a problem, and others who have very stoic horses seem to manage ok, and it is definitely not the case everywhere, but near to me I didn't come across anyone who had brought a horse from the UK and actually managed to ride it without some degree of fly-related dramas from March to October, and when I say 'drama' I mean situations in which the horse is a danger to himself, to other horses and to people. If I had known before I went just how bad it would be with one horse in particular, I would not have gone.

Very interested to know where you are thinking of going and happy to provide contacts if it's anywhere near where I was. In summary I would say that the things you expect to be difficult actually aren't that difficult, but that there will undoubtedly be things that are surprisingly challenging.
 
Joined
13 January 2021
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Whereabouts are you thinking of moving to? It varies hugely from one area to another.

I moved in September 2019 on my own with three horses, and moved back again to the UK in October 2020. Finding really excellent vets, dentist, farrier, fodder, feed, etc was nowhere near as difficult as I'd been led to believe, and all the professionals I used and the services they offered were top notch. People are super-friendly and very willing to provide contacts and so on, but it definitely helps if you speak French. I even managed to get things that my neighbouring farmer told me would be impossible - year's supply of small bale straw, for example, in the middle of a straw shortage and a great price. It depends on how well you speak French, how determined and resourceful you are, and how you go about things.

If your daughter does show-jumping there'll be no shortage of competition opportunities, but again it varies between regions. The competition structure is very organised and the best way to access things is to join a club. Other disciplines are less popular, so I'd definitely say it's a bonus if show-jumping is your thing.

One thing I will say though is that I wish horse owners had been more open and honest about the challenges of moving to a different climate and country with horses. Again, it depends exactly where you are thinking of moving to, what you want to do with your horses, and what your horses are like. I completely underestimated just how hard mine would find it. One in particular was so upset by every different sound, smell, sight, and even the different light conditions, that he was unrideable for months. Many of the people I spoke to who had moved with horses from the UK either did so in order to retire them with plenty of their own land, decided to retire from riding after getting there, or else stopped riding their UK-bred horses and bought French or Spanish-bred horses once there. Some people will tell you that it took a year or two for their UK horse to 'adapt', and when you drill down into this, you realise that actually the horse never really adapted, but the owner did.

The single biggest 'deal-breaker' for me regarding the horses was the flies. I thought I knew about fly control and that I had it all sussed, and believe me I tried everything. It is a whole other level in certain parts of France. Again, friends who have retired their horses in France don't find it a problem, and others who have very stoic horses seem to manage ok, and it is definitely not the case everywhere, but near to me I didn't come across anyone who had brought a horse from the UK and actually managed to ride it without some degree of fly-related dramas from March to October, and when I say 'drama' I mean situations in which the horse is a danger to himself, to other horses and to people. If I had known before I went just how bad it would be with one horse in particular, I would not have gone.

Very interested to know where you are thinking of going and happy to provide contacts if it's anywhere near where I was. In summary I would say that the things you expect to be difficult actually aren't that difficult, but that there will undoubtedly be things that are surprisingly challenging.
Hi
Thanks for the reply, it was very informative. It will definitely be the Brittany area, we don’t speak much French but have every intention of learning ASAP. My daughter is sixteen and is very much into her show jumping, we are buying somewhere with land so hopefully won’t have to use a livery yard. My main worries were buying resources such as hay and shavings etc. I’m kind of hoping there will be other teenagers her own age that will have horses that she can make friends with once we find her a university but that’s a whole other task haha!
 

Keith_Beef

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Seine et Oise, France
Hi
Thanks for the reply, it was very informative. It will definitely be the Brittany area, we don’t speak much French but have every intention of learning ASAP. My daughter is sixteen and is very much into her show jumping, we are buying somewhere with land so hopefully won’t have to use a livery yard. My main worries were buying resources such as hay and shavings etc. I’m kind of hoping there will be other teenagers her own age that will have horses that she can make friends with once we find her a university but that’s a whole other task haha!
You will have to learn French, there's no way around it if you want to integrate. You daughter will need to attend a secondary school ("lycée"); the only "International School" (as they are called over here) that I can think of in Brittany is in Rennes: Saint Vincent. The web site is all in French...

For competition, your daughter should find a club and through it join the FFE; she'll need a medical certificate to show she is fit enough to take part in competitions (make sure the doctor knows that it is for competitions, as there is a different certificate for simply lessons and club riding), and then upload a scan of this certificate to the FFE website.

As far as flies go, I think Brittany might be an easier region than many others. Find well-draining land, close enough to the coast to get strong breezes.
 

MissTyc

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When I lived in France, only horses with full papers could compete and the riders needed to pass exams to be allowed to ride in competitions.

Is this still the case? Or maybe it's different for imported horses? I remember someone telling me that if you have a good competition record you can import that in lieu of doing the exam or part of the exam or something?

I was there for 12 years (Alsace). Fab memories and a lot of my riding habits are still shaped by it. I don't recall massive fly problems - seen worse here in Sussex and omg the midges in Scotland! So I think that must depend on the region :)
 

Keith_Beef

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Seine et Oise, France
When I lived in France, only horses with full papers could compete and the riders needed to pass exams to be allowed to ride in competitions.

Is this still the case? Or maybe it's different for imported horses? I remember someone telling me that if you have a good competition record you can import that in lieu of doing the exam or part of the exam or something?

I was there for 12 years (Alsace). Fab memories and a lot of my riding habits are still shaped by it. I don't recall massive fly problems - seen worse here in Sussex and omg the midges in Scotland! So I think that must depend on the region :)
Although Alsace is technically France, it is for many purposes a different country ;)


For OP, moving to France would mean registering her horses with the relevant national agencies, so they would be on the same administrative footing as other horses in the country, anyway.

For the exam, if you mean the different "galop" levels, I think that you can get an approved examiner or riding centre to test you at a specific level, rather than having to go up through the levels one year per level.
 
Joined
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You will have to learn French, there's no way around it if you want to integrate. You daughter will need to attend a secondary school ("lycée"); the only "International School" (as they are called over here) that I can think of in Brittany is in Rennes: Saint Vincent. The web site is all in French...

For competition, your daughter should find a club and through it join the FFE; she'll need a medical certificate to show she is fit enough to take part in competitions (make sure the doctor knows that it is for competitions, as there is a different certificate for simply lessons and club riding), and then upload a scan of this certificate to the FFE website.

As far as flies go, I think Brittany might be an easier region than many others. Find well-draining land, close enough to the coast to get strong breezes.
Thanks for the info, that’s a big help. There definitely seems more to it than in Britain regarding the riding and competing. Next step will definitely be learning the language!
 

tristar

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When I lived in France, only horses with full papers could compete and the riders needed to pass exams to be allowed to ride in competitions.

Is this still the case? Or maybe it's different for imported horses? I remember someone telling me that if you have a good competition record you can import that in lieu of doing the exam or part of the exam or something?

I was there for 12 years (Alsace). Fab memories and a lot of my riding habits are still shaped by it. I don't recall massive fly problems - seen worse here in Sussex and omg the midges in Scotland! So I think that must depend on the region :)

yes and anywhere near wet land is worse with the flies, the marais de cotentin between st lo and cherbourg in basse normandie is bad i found less so nr deauville


if you get started with some basic words, then socialise! with the locals much is learned ever the dinner table, but loads of courses to learn french from
 
Joined
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When I lived in France, only horses with full papers could compete and the riders needed to pass exams to be allowed to ride in competitions.

Is this still the case? Or maybe it's different for imported horses? I remember someone telling me that if you have a good competition record you can import that in lieu of doing the exam or part of the exam or something?

I was there for 12 years (Alsace). Fab memories and a lot of my riding habits are still shaped by it. I don't recall massive fly problems - seen worse here in Sussex and omg the midges in Scotland! So I think that must depend on the region :)
Wow! There’s much more to it than I imagined, just out of interest did you keep your horses on your own land? That’s what we are planning on doing, I’m just assuming it’s like here where you can hack out on the roads etc. I’m not against putting them on a livery yard but until I’m more fluent in the language I think it will be another obstacle.
 

MissTyc

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yes and anywhere near wet land is worse with the flies, the marais de cotentin between st lo and cherbourg in basse normandie is bad i found less so nr deauville


if you get started with some basic words, then socialise! with the locals much is learned ever the dinner table, but loads of courses to learn french from
I can imagine that anything with the word "marais" in it must be pretty bad for flies! My first pony was a Camargue horse. Super star. Miss him .
 

MissTyc

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Wow! There’s much more to it than I imagined, just out of interest did you keep your horses on your own land? That’s what we are planning on doing, I’m just assuming it’s like here where you can hack out on the roads etc. I’m not against putting them on a livery yard but until I’m more fluent in the language I think it will be another obstacle.

Mine was initially in a riding centre - a very common set-up. Full livery (there were not other options back then!) and all training, facilities, etc - everything included in my monthly livery fee; even transport to competition was in a huge truck where we could reserve a space. Then I moved him closer to home on the equivalent of part/assisted livery. He was fed in the morning and mucked out, but I had to do everything else and buy food, etc. I had to do my own entries for competition, which was tricky at first but figured it out. I'd never heard of DIY livery until I moved to the UK as it doesn't or didn't exist in my homeland either! All that may have changed. I lpretty much eft in 2001, although my parents still live there but they're not horsey.

Hacking where I lived was fantastic. We were right by the forest and had neverending well-maintained bridleways. Road riding no problem, either. No access to farmland; that's usually private and no gates etc, but anywhere in France that I have visited I enjoyed the hacking. I lived fro 6 months in Bourg St Maurice in Savoie as well, and there were amazing mountain trails in summer!
 

Rasadi

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It is not hard to find every for your horse here, for competition you need to take your gallop exam but can be assessed for that. If you have horses without breed history they would be registered o/c but they can be competed in club competitions. finding a house with good land in a good place will be the key good luck
 

jokadoka

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Thanks for the info, that’s a big help. There definitely seems more to it than in Britain regarding the riding and competing. Next step will definitely be learning the language!
When I lived in France, only horses with full papers could compete and the riders needed to pass exams to be allowed to ride in competitions.

Is this still the case? Or maybe it's different for imported horses? I remember someone telling me that if you have a good competition record you can import that in lieu of doing the exam or part of the exam or something?

I was there for 12 years (Alsace). Fab memories and a lot of my riding habits are still shaped by it. I don't recall massive fly problems - seen worse here in Sussex and omg the midges in Scotland! So I think that must depend on the region :)
Where abouts in Alsace were you Miss Tyc? We spent 9 years there, in a small village called Cleebourg ( Bas - Rhin), kept the horses at home, flies were not a massive problem.
My main horse, full TB, had no problem settling in at all, never noticed any different behaviour. I had a very good equine vet too and the best farrier I ever had, never lost shoes, yet in UK it was a very regular occurance.
 

HashRouge

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There is a member on here, joosie, who worked as a showjumping groom in France for a number of years and did a bit of competing herself on one of her boss's horses. I'd drop her a PM - she's not that active on the forum but might turn up on this thread if you're lucky!
 

SO1

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I think Brexit maybe a problem as it may be harder to get residence now. My parents live in France and have done for the last 30 year and my 80 year old Dad is having to apply for residency and it is quite a complicated process.

The minimum income now for residency has now gone up. If you intend to set up a business in France you need a working visa and will need to supply information about the financial viability of your proposed business.
 

Dynamo

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Oh you will be fine in Brittany, OP. It's more like Cornwall in many ways. It's a great place to keep horses and you'll have no problem finding everything you need. Join a local riding centre where you can take your daughter and her horse regularly; they will help with all the formalities of competing and it's a great way for you all to meet people and learn horsey vocabulary.

There are lots of individuals who provide help with residency formalities and bureaucracy (for a fee), and a lot of the French services you'll use have English-speaking helplines, plus people are really helpful with sharing information.

Be prepared to provide a business plan for your intended gite business, plus evidence of how you will support yourselves to the minimum income level while establishing the business. I'd definitely recommend getting help with this as the processes in France are infernal compared to here in the UK. I found one of the trickiest things was getting UK vehicles registered and I learned a lot in doing so, especially with the horsebox. Feel free to pm me at any point if you get stuck.

You can open a bank account with Britline, which is a branch of Credit Agricole, staffed by English-speakers. They also provide insurances and other services and are very accommodating and helpful and will guide you with setting up a business account and the requirements surrounding that. Not sure how it is now with Brexit, but it was previously possible to open an account prior to moving. They are not necessarily the cheapest in terms of insurances and so on, but it's a one-stop, easy way of getting everything you need to start you off while you find your feet and then shop around for better deals.

One invaluable tip: make sure you have a good printer and scanner available at all times! I took mine in my horsebox with me when I moved rather than putting it on the removal van. You find you need it every day for the first few months because things that are 'online' are not online in the way we might expect; it tends to be a case of printing something out, completing and signing it, scanning it and sending it back. Honestly, for the first few months you need a printer and scanner in the same way that you need to breathe. It definitely wasn't like this when I lived in France previously.
 
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Does anyone know how dressage scene looks like in France? Which regions are worth looking at, so it is a good base to move to? I do realise it’s probably not stuffed with competition venues like UK as the country is larger, but approx. 2 hours drive would be still be fine.
Last but not least it’s also about having half decent vets nearby as well as farrier. I hear stories it is hard to find good vets and farriers, is it still true?
I can already see feedwise there is definitely less choice (on-line than in the UK but I found some retailers with a couple of UK brands which is good.

Pretty flexible with area as we are looking to work remotely so no constrains on this side, the real constrain is whether we can find a property & land within the budget... so it would be great to know where not to go :)
 

Spirit2021

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The uk isn’t part of the eu so it going to very difficult to move to France 🇫🇷 . Your going to need a visa before you move.
 
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Hi Spirit2021

Myself I am EU citizen and my horse currently is still within EU, was going to move him to UK but as you have mentioned it is really difficult procedure now and quite frankly costs blown me away. So I think for me or my horse it’s fine, not so much for my partner who is in fact British ;) unless we get married haha!
 

Dynamo

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Normandy and Loire and south of Paris, are your best bet for being near to competition centres. There's a good competition scene around Le Mans and around Saumur. The further south you go from there the less there is. Your partner has much the same rights as if you were married, so provided that one of you is an EU citizen, Brexit is not a barrier for you. Parts of Brittany bordering onto Normandy would also be worth looking at.
 
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Normandy and Loire and south of Paris, are your best bet for being near to competition centres. There's a good competition scene around Le Mans and around Saumur. The further south you go from there the less there is. Your partner has much the same rights as if you were married, so provided that one of you is an EU citizen, Brexit is not a barrier for you. Parts of Brittany bordering onto Normandy would also be worth looking at.
Fantastic, thank you so much!
 
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