Any info on horse shopping in and importing from Portugal?

I did some searches but haven’t found much current info. I have some family going to Portugal soon and had the crazy idea that maybe I’d tag along and shop for a Lusitano dressage prospect. Three questions:

  1. Can anyone recommend a good agent over there? Through Google I have found Lusitano World and Lusitano Horse Finder…they both have some pretty pictures and videos but I would love a personal recommendation, though I might be able to find someone more local through family connections.

  2. Any PPE vet recommendations? Seems like a long shot but figured I’d ask.

  3. What are the costs and process of importing from Portugal? I assume the horse has to be shipped elsewhere within Europe first and fly from there. I’m guessing cost for a gelding would be around $10-12k. Does that seem right? I submitted quote requests to Dutta and EquiJet but haven’t heard back yet. This is super last-minute so I’m trying to gather a lot of info as quickly as possible.

I have imported before and do know about the potential risks, including the need for a negative Piro test. Just hoping for some info specific to Portugal. Thanks!

I don’t offhand but know a few people that might. Feel free to PM me.

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It cost me a little over 12k to get my guy from Spain to the US. He flew out of Amsterdam. I have a great transport agent I can recommend, PM me if you want info.

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I imported one from Spain about 15 months ago - my travel costs to Amsterdam - JFK/Newburgh then to Florida ran about $12k, used Dutta and they were excellent. It is a long trailer ride up to Amsterdam.
Edited to add: World Horse Transport BV will fly from Spain - you might want to check with them, Zaragosa airport. It might be easier on the horse.

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Thank you guys so much!! @Mersidoats I may PM you later if this moves forward, thank you!

For anyone who’s interested, I did get a very prompt reply from Dutta with a quote from Zaragoza to NY. The flight is 5,600 EUR (~$6500 currently) and quarantine/fees add about $3,400. So right around $10k not including internal transport from Portugal to Spain (~500+ miles) or internal US transport, which I might do myself like last time.

I put a deposit down to hold my flights so now I have 48 hours to decide if I’m doing this! I have yet to hear back from any of the horse agents, minor detail…

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I am an enabler. I would go, look and have fun. Even if you don’t buy you may make some good contacts. Interesting re Dutta, last year it was Amsterdam or nothing but that probably had to do with Covid. Couldn’t get a flight into Miami either, which would have been way easier for me

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Sadly I don’t think I can do this trip right now because of some work commitments that I can’t manage to rearrange. I can’t rule out a future trip and would still love to hear other people’s experiences and recommendations, but it’s not happening this month.

However, the one agent I heard back from explained that the horses in the lower price ranges are generally not Piro free, so I might not be able to get both the quality and price tag I was aiming for. I will have to look into that more.

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You might also do some research regarding Lusitanos in Brazil. I just purchased a young gelding who was bred in and imported from Brazil. Since I bought him here in the US I can’t point you in the direction of anyone with contacts in Brazil but someone else on this board might be able to.

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This is true in Spain as well. A lot of the nicer horses that have price tags that are seemingly too low for the quality are not eligible for export to the US due to piro.

If you do it, I’d recommend shipping to Amsterdam. I know two people who have used the Spain to US direct flight in the last 6 months and both have had bad experiences.

There is a US trainer who spent many years in Portugal and just returned to the US last month. She might be a good point of contact. Her name is Annie Morris and she’s now in Colorado.

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@joiedevie99 Thank you, that’s all good info!

@happilyretired Thank you too! I’ve seen a bunch of Brazilian horses on FB that do look nice. My coach has said that in her experience the Spanish and Portuguese horses have better brains (due to either nature or nurture, who knows). When I lived and rode in Brazil for a year I saw a lot of questionable horsemanship, so her observations don’t seem crazy to me. I gather you’re happy with yours though? (Congratulations by the way!)

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Libby2563 – So far we’re happy with my new guy although its still early days. Actually a good brain was our criteria #1 and so far so good. And I have a good friend with a Lusitano stallion originally from Brazil who is the bravest horse ever. So as with most things I think it all depends … on the breeder, and the trainers involved.

There is no mounted bullfighting in Brazil. If you are relying on a horse for your life…you want good brains. The Brazilians are breeding to sell into the sport-horse world.

Contact Phil Silva (the shipper) he is from Portugal and has some connections there. And can help with organizing the import etc. You can PM me for his contact info!

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I bought my Lusitano from Casa Lusitana in Boston, He was bred in Brazil, as are many of Jorge’s horses. He is without a doubt the smartest, sanest, kindest horse I’ve ever met.

I’m a nervous rider, and here are some of the things we’ve done recently:

  • Ridden on our own across many acres at a new facility, the day after moving in
  • Canter lengthenings on a 1/2 mile galloping track
  • Hack and then lesson on a cold, windy day in heavy fog at a new facility
  • Ridden while tractor was dragging arena
  • Lesson while a herd of deer ran through the arena

At no point has he ever spooked or given me cause to worry.

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We have a couple of Lusitanos like that in our barn too. I don’t know if that’s a general characteristic of the breed, but they are pretty much the perfect nervous amateur horses in temperament, but with plenty of oomph and buttons to be fun rides

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In general, I would not say the Lusitano is a good fit for a nervous amateur. It also depends on the horse and how nervous the amateur is :sweat_smile: but since they can be sensitive and a bit hot (but not dangerous, IMO) they also need a rider that is mindful, aware of their body/body language, and has a fair amount of confidence. Granted I’ve gone into situations not fully confident (but not nervous, exactly) and it still turned out alright. Otherwise they end up with stress and tension. Sometimes it’s not so obvious to the untrained eye, however.

But as with all breeds, there is some variance.

Edit: spelling/cannot form coherent sentences on my phone.

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I think it depends what you mean by “nervous.” I classify myself as nervous, but I’ve shown through 4th level, am very fit, and have good body awareness. I love the oomph of my Lusitano, and I love how sensitive he is to my seat.

What he DOESN’T have is that feeling of “about to explode” that I’m familiar with from my WBs and TBs. That’s what makes me nervous. Forward with a calm mind doesn’t.

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I would describe both of the ones in our barn as forward but utterly reliable. Enough oomph and an engine to make them fun rides, but absolutely zero spook, spin, buck, or bolt. Not to mention soooooo easy to sit compared to our giant warmbloods. I wish I was light enough to ride either of them because they look like an absolutely blast

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So, this very different European gentleman kind of fell into my lap:

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Clearly not Iberian, lol! Someday I will have one of those, but this Hanoverian was too nice to pass up, and reasonably priced to boot. My dressage coach had an agent looking for her in Germany and she found this one at a small breeder well known to her. My coach loved him but he is slightly too short for her taste (16.1 hh at 3 years old) and she already has a few young resale horses, so after much agonizing she passed the info along to me. I was certainly not planning on importing off video but my coach has known this agent for over 20 years and trusts her implicitly, so here goes! He should arrive in mid-Dec and I can’t wait to meet him! :star_struck:

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He is beautiful! Looking forward to seeing him in action.