So, I booked my ticket to Ireland three weeks ago to meet my coach and her other clients in Ireland for two quick days of trying horses. But, I couldn’t make this trip across an Ocean and not see the countryside and culture of Ireland. Therefore, I booked my flight two days earlier. I took a late Friday flight to land Saturday morning so I could spend the remaining afternoon and Sunday traveling. Let’s get started with the Itinerary!
Day 1: It did not take long to exit the Dublin airport even coming through customs. I met my friend Lauren who was also horse-shopping and we went outside to book an uber. A more educated version would have taken a bus to city center, but I neither had cash or researched exactly how/if you could pay for a bus pass so we used Uber. I will add on the Ireland Uber function you can select Taxi. If you book a taxi, you do pay through a different payment function. I can’t describe how this worked except twice we were asked for cash and froze before they pulled out a card swipe.
Once we checked into the hotel, there was an awkward moment of discovering you plugged your room key into the wall for your power to be turned on. But, we checked in as normal, dropped our bags, and walked by the river up to Trinity College for our first stop. Dublin is very walkable and felt very safe and clean. As my luggage is still in fact lost in space, Saturday we did some shopping for the necessities to get through the week around city center.
Day 2: Day 2 I had pre-booked our bus-tour which had a sharp 6:55 meet time before departing to the Cliffs of Moher. Other than a very early alarm, this was the most-fun. Will I do it again? No. But, I thought our tour guide provided just enough history and information and the stops were well timed. It’s a you need to do at least once bucket item. The cliffs really take your breath away. The bus gave us two hours, and even though there was a periodic light drizzle, I loved walking along the tight-rope of a path along the cliffs. (Pictures below!) The tour also took us to the Burrens and two hours in Galway where Lauren and I grabbed lunch. The bus pulled in fairly late, so we grabbed dinner at a small Japanese restaurant.
Funny enough, it was also Halloween, or the day before. So after dinner Lauren and I did take a little walk around to a pub where we sat and watched some young adults in their costumes, or lack thereof, wait in line at a club.
Day 3: Day 3 was the day! We took an uber from our hotel back to the airport where we met our coach Julie, who had just landed. From there, we popped in a car with one of the riders Fernhill had sent to pick us up and carry us down to Kilkenny. On the way down we made our first stop at a farm. While this farm was meant to show a third rider who had also just flown in as well, the professional pulled out a 5 year-old I was able to sit on and try. It began to rain quite hard, and we had more horses to see so in the car we jumped and kept driving.
Once arriving in Fernhill, Lauren, Julie, and I dropped our bags in Carol’s home where we stayed, poured a cup of tea, and went out to see the horses. Carol Gee is the founder of Fernhill Sport Horses, and internationally one of the top sourcers of Event Horses. So, to meet her in person, I was nervous but liked her immediately. I think any woman who can surpass the men within an industry, esepcially one so small of frame like Carol, is to be respected. It’s quite a blur as horse after horse was pulled out. It was dark outside when the last horse was pulled out. For me, I wanted to find a horse that had the potential to take me to my first Advanced-level event. I was buying the horse 100% myself, with only a few more funds than what I’d made from the last horse I sold. So, I was looking for quality of horse, over experience. We really weren’t pushed to buy or pick certain horses, as they came out Lauren and I would raise our hand and jump out of the viewing room to ride the ones we liked. There wasn’t any fight over who rode who as we had different goals for the horses we wanted to buy.
So, still stunned to speak, my own horse I didn’t think was my own at all. He was older and much more experienced than I imagined would be in my range. But, Julie told me to hop on so I figured I was riding him for a client back at home. It wasn’t until we were galloping over cross-country jumps, that she asked what I thought. “For me?!” Julie looked at me and said this was the horse I needed…. With my dreams in front of me, I attempted to pack that thought to the back of my brain and focus on the other horses and found another I really liked. Once we couldn’t ride any more we jumped in Carol’s car and headed to dinner with the other family and our crew. Lauren and I crashed in our beds after dinner, ready to ride the next day.
Day 4: We woke up early the next day with a packed schedule. The horses we had liked the first day were on our list to ride again along with a few more at Fernhill. Carol had the horses we were to try brought to her yard on the first day. They were owned by various riders, some Carol’s, some other sellers. So after we tried a few at Fernhill, all of us hopped in a small car to go to another farm where our young horses and my big horse lived to sit on a second time. I sat on Swatch again, before Julie hopped on and jumped a few fences at the top of the standards. Then, still focused on the young horses I sat on a few more. We took the car back to Dublin, where we checked into a hotel by the airport.
At Dinner, we all chatted over the horses we’d seen, what the next two weeks would look like between vettings and getting the horses to the states, and listened to Carol narrate Fernhill’s origin story. As an accountant, I knew I liked her. She started in Banking! We discussed my big horse, and I gave Carol my offer who would then take this to the owners of the horse I wanted.
Day 5: I had a late flight Wednesday, but the rest of our group left for the airport early morning. I finally learned to take the bus to the airport and made my way through. My luggage had still not been located so I went through the U.S. customs, bought some makeup that I was told was cheaper, but I’m not sure, then got on a plane and came home! My plan landed about 11:30PM in Atlanta! I think my uber arrived back at my loft around 1A.M. Thursday.
Traveling by myself back, I had a lot of time to reflect on my trip and wait. Had the owners accepted my offer? Should I have focused on other horses instead of falling in love with one?
Of course, everyone knows how my story ends! Carol and Julie worked their magic and secured my horse. I am forever grateful and think using knowledgeable people is the only way to shop overseas. I would think had I made the trip alone, my reputation alone may not have secured the horse. But, having two agents with a long history of sourcing international horses gave us the advantage. His vetting was scheduled a few days later, and then his trip was booked! It took seven days from the horses leaving their barn to arrive in Georgia. The left Ireland via ferry to Belgium. From Belgium, the horses took a plane to New York. Geldings quarantine for 72-hourse before we had them shipped to Georgia.
Logistics of Import
I’ve been asked online the logistics of having the horses shipped and the costs which I’m happy to provided. Swatch’s vetting totaled $1800 including 50 radiographs and bloodwork for U.S. arrival. I did pay an additional $500 to expedite shipping for a full Blood Screen. This is just to check that your horse hadn’t been given sedatives or drugs that would interfere with his vetting. (Oops, I didn’t ask for that until too late. So Swatch was already on his plane when I got the results, they were negative.) I paid $6,800 to Cooper Horse Transport which took care of the shipping, handling to land in NYC. Once the horses arrived in the States I paid Dutta Corp $3,600 for quarantine, USDA fees, etc. Lastly, I paid $1,200 to ship him in a large box from New York to Georgia. Horses can fly directly from Ireland, but it was cheaper for us to fly them from Belgium. When they arrived, they came with the halters they were wearing. I had been warned horses lose weight during travel, but the horses all came bright eyed and looked like their normal selves within a week. I kept my horse at Julie’s for the first two weeks while traveling. Her barn manager and rider, Sallie has lots of experience witht he horses who have just come over so slowly introduced his grain with small portions and lots of hay.
If you enjoyed this blog post! (The next time you are online shopping, ask @clairecumbee for a Link! I make commissions off shoppable links like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Sephora… 100+) Since my luggage was lost, I don’t have my usual shoppable outfits!