Moving to the UK (Lakenheath) from the US (with my horse?)

SibeliusMB

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Greetings everyone! My name is Lindsey, I am a member of the US Air Force and just received notice I will be stationed at RAF Lakenheath this coming summer. I am absolutely thrilled as I've wanted to live in the UK for many years and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. I've visited before, but not for long enough to see the country. I have so many questions and I hope the fine members of this forum will help educate me about the horse culture in the West Suffolk/Cambridgeshire areas. I apologize if this post is a bit scattered, my head is still spinning from getting word of the move!

Background: I have been involved with horses for 30 years, and have many years professional experience managing yards, training, competing, teaching, etc primarily in the show hunter/show jumper realm here in the States. I also hunted and ran hunt livery yards for a few years in Virginia. I left my professional riding career behind and joined the military some 10+ years back. I have a wonderful six year old Thoroughbred gelding here in Kentucky who is an absolute superstar. I bought him when he was three and has always been an extremely quiet, easy going boy. He never raced (polo bred...grew too tall!) and has been lovely to develop in the dressage and the jumping, and is just a great all around type (hacks out, lovely to live with, etc). He is just now coming into his own and really showing me consistency, and has been a joy to ride and while not a warmblood, is extremely fancy in his own right. Not at all the ugly stereotype that usually goes along with TBs. He is also a genuine sweetheart who tries very hard to make me happy.

The Dilemma: (which is probably not that much of a dilemma...) The problem is whether I should bring my horse with me to the UK for the next couple of years, loan him out here in the states, or sell. The common sense answer here is probably "sell," and then buy something in the UK. I may get to that conclusion on my own over the next few weeks/months, but it's just hard to part with my young guy when he's going like such a superstar at the moment. That said...is importing a US bred horse only to export again in 2-3 years as ridiculous as it seems? Are Thoroughbreds generally respected in the UK as sport horses, or no? I don't know that I would be interested in competing that much when over there, lots of unknowns at the moment. Loaning him out here or selling him is certainly an option as there is a rapidly growing market for quality sport TBs here in the US. If I were to do that, I would be in the market in the UK for a young-ish (5-9 years) warmblood or ISH with the ability for 1.20m that's also a soft ride on the flat.

Livery Yards: Any recommendations for/opinions on livery yards in the area near RAF Lakenheath? I've found Barrow Hall Stables and Sedgeway Equestrian Centre, both look like they might be a good fit though in two totally different directions. I have corresponded with Sedgeway already and they seem like lovely people (through email, anyway). I would love something with an indoor or covered arena - not imperative, but that would be ideal. Also would love good access to hacking, lots of turnout (year round), and full livery as I do not believe my work schedule would allow for part or DIY livery. As far as living arrangements, those details will have to be worked out closer to my arrival, but I would prefer living closer to the yard than the base.

Sales: anyone you would recommend I contact in the future if I decide to buy a horse in the UK?

I think I'll leave it there lest I begin to ramble more. Thank you all so much for your time and consideration, I appreciate any insight or advice you can offer. I hope you all are safe and healthy over there! Here's a photo overload of my kid because he's so stinkin' cute.
 

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Equi

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It all sounds very exciting :)

As for importing him, it can be done obviously, and the bonus would be you already have a horse you are used to/know and trust..the downside would be the cost for it to be done (i suppose about £3-5000). You could easily buy a few tbs in the UK for the money you would spend on getting your horse here but you are then going to the start and learning to love what you have knowing you can't keep them forever unless you plan to bring a new one back to USA. There are plenty of horses in the UK that would do the job you seem to want but im going to assume here that your horse would sell in the USA for a hell of a lot more than it would sell for here in the UK so selling on home turf may be financially a better decision, leaving you with plenty to buy a horse here. There is also the option here of loaning/leasing a horse who can go back to the owner when you have to rotate to another place again.
 

Abi90

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Most RAF personnel I know that have been posted overseas have loaned out their horses whilst they have even abroad. Shipping horses out and back for the sake of a few years is normally deemed too expensive. If I were to be posted to Cyprus, for example, I would loan my horse

There’s a Saddle Club in Akrotiri.

If I were you I would loan/sell yours then look to loan/buy here for a few years.
 

SibeliusMB

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It all sounds very exciting :)

As for importing him, it can be done obviously, and the bonus would be you already have a horse you are used to/know and trust..the downside would be the cost for it to be done (i suppose about £3-5000). You could easily buy a few tbs in the UK for the money you would spend on getting your horse here but you are then going to the start and learning to love what you have knowing you can't keep them forever unless you plan to bring a new one back to USA. There are plenty of horses in the UK that would do the job you seem to want but im going to assume here that your horse would sell in the USA for a hell of a lot more than it would sell for here in the UK so selling on home turf may be financially a better decision, leaving you with plenty to buy a horse here. There is also the option here of loaning/leasing a horse who can go back to the owner when you have to rotate to another place again.
Thank you for your reply Equi. Yes, the options are:

1. Bring him with (financially doable but scary) and then bring him home with me again in 2-3 years when I return to the US. I'm basically committing to owning him for life given the size of that investment. I did buy him though with that idea in mind so keeping him for life is 100% fine by me.
2. Loan him out here in KY, with the expectation of taking him back when I return. He can be managed by my friend/trainer where I board (livery) him with now. The problem is I am not sure I can afford two horses once I return to the states as I will have a new truck payment as well (selling my current truck)
3. Sell in the US before I leave. I would not be selling him in the UK as I gather the TB market here in the States is stronger.

If I went the loan or sell route, I would buy something in the UK with the goal of importing it to the US when I return. That's why I'd like something under the age of 10 so I can continue with that horse's career after bringing it back to the US. Prices for warmbloods (and ISHs for that matter...anything remotely European) are astronomical in the States and this would be an opportunity to get a lot higher quality horse in the UK than I would could ever afford stateside. It does come at the cost of giving up a really sweet all around horse in my current gelding though.

...and this is why I'm driving myself crazy and I don't even leave for another 5-6 months.
 
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Equi

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If your trainer/friend is happy and willing to loan them and you would be able to afford two horses when you return home then buying a horse here would deffo be the best of both worlds. There are some absolutely amazing bred horses in the UK&Eire you would very likely get along with. With your experience i doubt you would have an issue bringing on a green 4/5yo. The price right now for that type is easily 4-8k but i have no doubt you could double that in the USA Lol

Alternatively buy yourself an irish cob for £50 and sell it for $20k when you get back home. In fact, do that anyway lol (jk)
 

SibeliusMB

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If your trainer/friend is happy and willing to loan them and you would be able to afford two horses when you return home then buying a horse here would deffo be the best of both worlds. There are some absolutely amazing bred horses in the UK&Eire you would very likely get along with. With your experience i doubt you would have an issue bringing on a green 4/5yo. The price right now for that type is easily 4-8k but i have no doubt you could double that in the USA Lol

Alternatively buy yourself an irish cob for £50 and sell it for $20k when you get back home. In fact, do that anyway lol (jk)
The cob thing made me LOL because it's SO TRUE!!! ;) People pay absurd money for them here when they can import them for literally less than half that cost.
 

neddy man

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Add up the figures, money in the bank from selling your horse + the cost of transportation to UK the cost of transportation back to the USA, ditto 2 lots of travel costs if you decide to loan, convert to English £, look on various UK websites to see what you would get for your money. Would your horse be worth much when you have taken 2x travel costs of his value and he will be 9/ 10 yr old and back in the USA. For a bit of a guide have a look on www.horsequest.co.uk == www.horsemart.co.uk ==
www.horsescout.com and click home at the top of page to go to H&H sales site at the moment prices are a little high due to covid. Welcome to the forum.[/URL]
 
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SibeliusMB

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I’m soft. If I had the money I would bring over with me and then take home again.
I would say yes they are respected as sport horses. A fair few of the top eventers are ex racers.
I am the biggest softie!! And that's why I'm struggling with this question where it's probably a very easy "Sell!" to others (on this board and friends I've talked to). I've been through a lot the last couple of years, lost my most beloved partner in Nov 2017 to colic, I got my current guy (Sig) as a baby not long afterward, and he has helped bring me back and kept me going through some other personal stuff. I bought Sig with the intention of developing him and keeping him, and in the last six months or so he's really started to mature physically/mentally and start to seriously impress us with what he can do. He's really surprising me in the nicest ways which makes it hard to let him go. Loaning him is a best of both worlds scenario absolutely, but I think realistically I can't afford two horses when I come back as I'll have a truck payment (selling my current one). So it might come down to selling Sig anyway, just two years later.

Financially bringing him over/back IS possible. The pro side of me knows that $$ is better spent buying a high quality prospect in Europe, so I can live my dream of doing the 1.20-1.30 jumpers.

While I bought Sig with the intention of keeping, I've also never had the opportunity and access to the quality horses you all have in the UK and the continent, because those horses are at least twice (if not 3-5x) as expensive as soon as they step foot on North America. I've never even allowed myself to consider it. So over the years I've had to make something out of TBs, or train everyone else's WBs and very nice ISHs here in the US.

If anyone needs some "light" (read: one or two will make you cry) reading, here are some blogs I wrote for the Chronicle of the Horse. Gives a little more backstory.
 

Caol Ila

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I may have responded to your post on the COTH forum. My online equestrian habits remain bilingual.

If you're someone who can be businesslike and pragmatic about horses (not me), it would not be stupid to sell or loan your gelding (but if you sold him, you could get $$$$$$$$$$$$$), and then buy an ISH or cob here. Two years from now, ship that back to the States, and sell it for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

When I moved out here in 2006, my mare was 13, a straightforward ride with some dressage talent, and she could have sold for a lot. The smart thing would have been to sell her for something silly, then use that to buy a fancy young horse in the UK. To be fair, I didn't know what the horse market was like here (cheaper!), and it probably wouldn't have mattered if I did. I guess the main difference is that I had no definite plans of going back (and I sure as hell didn't when I put the damned horse on a plane).
 

Northern Hare

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Hi Sibelius! Welcome to H&H - and of course to the UK for your future posting!

@BunnyDog on here is based in the US and exported two really lovely show jumping horses from the UK to the US, so the other way to your possible move.

Bunnydog took us all along for her horse search, which was really fascinating, but the amazing thing was the massive difference in horse values - it was jaw dropping to see how many $k’s even a nice riding club type horse would fetch in the US - about 3 times the UK price!

So, what I’m coming around to saying would be to suggest that you perhaps find a good new home for your lovely horse and sell him before you leave for your new posting. Then when you arrive here, look to buy a nice TB x horse that may have a future back in the US in hunter classes or eventing. Then when you’ve finished your posting over here, you can export your horse (and maybe a couple of other young horses!) back to the US so you can sell on one or two when you get home! 😊
 

SibeliusMB

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I may have responded to your post on the COTH forum. My online equestrian habits remain bilingual.

If you're someone who can be businesslike and pragmatic about horses (not me), it would not be stupid to sell or loan your gelding (but if you sold him, you could get $$$$$$$$$$$$$), and then buy an ISH or cob here. Two years from now, ship that back to the States, and sell it for $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

When I moved out here in 2006, my mare was 13, a straightforward ride with some dressage talent, and she could have sold for a lot. The smart thing would have been to sell her for something silly, then use that to buy a fancy young horse in the UK. To be fair, I didn't know what the horse market was like here (cheaper!), and it probably wouldn't have mattered if I did. I guess the main difference is that I had no definite plans of going back (and I sure as hell didn't when I put the damned horse on a plane).
You did reply to me on COTH! And you are so incredibly helpful! :) The more I think on it the more I'm questioning bringing him over, and someone suggested I register here to ask about about yards, and who I could work with if I decided to buy in the UK.
 

Caol Ila

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Nae worries!

People who have actually bought horses in the UK (everyone else on this forum, LOL) will confirm or deny, but I don't think buying via an agent is as much of a thing here as it is in the US. Folk just cruise the horse classified websites and contact sellers/breeders themselves.
 

Kamikaze

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I have no idea about the transporting process but I’m guessing it might be quite stressful and long. So would current horse cope with that twice in 3 years? Like I say I have no idea it is maybe easier than I think!
 

Orangehorse

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How long are you going to be stationed here? I think that is the first question. The second is "are things going to be normal again? i.e. no Covid.

Horses fly backwards and forwards to the States, but it is pricey, they need quarantine both ends, veterinary tests, and I was told, insurance cover in case a test is failed and they have to go back from whence they came, all still in quarantine.

My gut reaction would be to loan out your horse to someone you can trust with the view of having it back when you return. Then come to the UK, see what the situation is and then decide what you want to buy, something to take back to the States, or something you could sell in the UK. If you don't have a horse when you arrive it would give you a breathing space to see what's available regarding livery yards, competition venues, instructors, the local horsey scene, riding clubs,e tc.

Does the RAF have a riding club, sometimes there would be one locally. You know that there are inter-services riding competitions?
 

Orangehorse

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Hi Sibelius! Welcome to H&H - and of course to the UK for your future posting!

@BunnyDog on here is based in the US and exported two really lovely show jumping horses from the UK to the US, so the other way to your possible move.

Bunnydog took us all along for her horse search, which was really fascinating, but the amazing thing was the massive difference in horse values - it was jaw dropping to see how many $k’s even a nice riding club type horse would fetch in the US - about 3 times the UK price!

So, what I’m coming around to saying would be to suggest that you perhaps find a good new home for your lovely horse and sell him before you leave for your new posting. Then when you arrive here, look to buy a nice TB x horse that may have a future back in the US in hunter classes or eventing. Then when you’ve finished your posting over here, you can export your horse (and maybe a couple of other young horses!) back to the US so you can sell on one or two when you get home! 😊

Yes, it was an interesting journey! Looking at the videos - is that one lame? can that one jump? They want HOW much?????
 

Caol Ila

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You don't need to quarantine geldings going into the States (as far as I remember), only mares and stallions.

The quarantine for animals coming into the UK is technically 30 days, before they get on the plane, but there are ways and means. PM for more info.
 

ycbm

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Unless your employers will pay, it will set you back about 20,000$ to import and then export him. (That's twice what it cost one way for someone who exported a horse of mine to Boulder)

Does that focus things a bit :) ?

I'm sure we would all love to follow your story, please keep us in the picture.
 
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Caol Ila

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That's about right for both ways. It cost me $4000 to fly my horse from JFK Airport to Schipholl. It cost me about $1000 on top of that to ship her overland from CO to NY, and then another £800 for overland travel from Amsterdam to Durham. I think the OP might be on the East Coast, so we could probably cut circa $1000 off that estimate.
 

SibeliusMB

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@ycbm yes I was tracking the ~$20K for import/export, that's what I refer to as significant investment in earlier posts. I've received current quotes from companies as I wanted to make sure I was considering the most up to date numbers as I weigh the options. Thank you for the compliment! We don't normally brand TBs in the US, no. He was bred by one of the big racing Thoroughbred farms in the Lexington KY area, but for their new polo program (they brand their polo ponies). He had a growth spurt in his 2 yr old year and he got too tall to actually play polo so jumping it was. :)

Thank you all again for the warm welcome and insights!
 

Kamikaze

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Just a general question but in quarantine who looks after the horses? Do you have to hand them over for 30 days and not see them?
 

chaps89

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It's a head or heart situation isn't it?

Head is sell, make some money, have a better budget to buy something over here which you either take back to the states or sell prior to leaving.

Heart is he was supposed to be a keeper, you're enjoying him, he's going well and even if it is a huge amount of money moving him about you can afford it.

If you can't run 2 on your return to the states, I'm not sure I'd loan him out for the duration of your stay but would look to sell on before you come over, you may as well capitalise on the situation, and horses being horses there's nothing to say he would still be sound and well on your return.

I'm a softy and a 1 horse owner. Horse buying is a PITA, horse owning is an expensive hobby and you want to enjoy it if you have a busy job. So for me I'd stay with the safe option and keep the one I already have, given as I like them and if I truly could afford the shipping costs.
 
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