Discovering an Elite Sport Horse in Greece, Part II

May 29, 2024

Greece to Glory: Olivia & Deister Z’s Winning Journey

Olivia Stephenson and Deister Z riding to win at the MarBill Hill U25 Grand Prix at tbird in 2022.

Part of building Westminster Sport Horse Sales since we launched in 2019 has been the goal of finding the best quality sport horses to import for resale in the United States. One would think we’d search for horses in the regular horse-breeding meccas—Holland, Germany, Belgium, and France. Interestingly enough, one of our top sport horse imports came from, of all places, Greece!

This is Part II of Deister Z’s unlikely journey. Read Part I, “Deister Z: The Unlikely Import Story of a Sport Horse from Greece,” on our blog for the full story!

Navigating International Import: Deister Z’s Trip to North America

Purchasing Deister was not quite the end of his story. Now, logistics have come into play. How would we get Deister from Greece to the West Coast of North America? Where should Deister Z be imported to, and where should Deister go to compete and be sold?

With the assistance of our agent, we organized overland shipping for Deister to Lieges, Belgium, to catch his flight to Los Angeles International Airport. The overland trip from Greece to Belgium took two full days! Then Deister stayed at the layover barn in Belgium for another three days before loading on his flight to LAX. Once in LA, he had another three days of FDA quarantine before being released to our custody. As long as this trip was for Deister, he emerged from FDA quarantine in high spirits and great shape, minus a few pounds

Debut and Sale at Thunderbird Horse Show: A Star Is Born

We decided that the best show for Deister to attend after his import in June would be the summer shows at Thunderbird Show Park (“Tbird”) in Ft. Langley, British Columbia. Tbird is one of North America’s premier equestrian event facilities known primarily for jumper competitions. We had a fabulous trainer on the ground there to receive Deister Z, so we sent him to Canada in June 2022.

As soon as Deister hit the show grounds, he garnered much attention. His flashy looks, charismatic bearing, and fabulous uphill canter generated a lot of interest and inquiries. Fortuitously, a well-known Canadian trainer for a competitive Canadian junior rider, Olivia Stephenson, was looking for a 1.40m U25 horse for her.

Olivia and Deister Z: Rising to the Challenge of U25 Competitions

Olivia Stephenson hails from the Calgary, Alberta area, where she, her younger sister, and her mother are active equestrians. Olivia was a very accomplished rider at age 15 and was on the verge of outgrowing her current mounts. For Olivia’s first U25 eligible year, she needed a seasoned horse that was scopey and rideable. The minute Olivia tried Deister Z, there was a connection, and she and her family decided to show lease Deister for three weeks as a trial for purchase. We were very excited as we could not imagine a better partnership or home for Deister Z.

Olivia Stephenson and her horse Deister Z, imported from Greece by Westminster Sport Horse Sales.

Here is where Deister’s story gets even better. After a few preliminary 1.20m classes, Olivia and Deister entered the U25 1.35m class. They came in 2nd, which was an accomplishment for a new rider/horse pair. But even more exciting, they entered their first U25 1.40m class and placed 4th out of a very competitive class. With these two classes under her belt, Olivia rode Deister Z to the $15,000 win at MarBill Hill U25 Grand Prix at Tbird, besting a four-horse jump-off!

After only a few weeks, it was clear that Deister and Olivia were a great match, and Olivia’s family purchased Deister. Today, Deister and Olivia are still partners and continued their winning ways last year, taking first in the $5,000 MarBill Hill U25 1.40m Grand Prix and second in the $15,000 MarBill Hill 1.40m Grand Prix, both at Tbird. We look forward to seeing them back in the Thunderbird show ring in 2024!

This is Part II of Deister Z’s unlikely journey. Read Part I, “Deister Z: The Unlikely Import Story of a Sport Horse from Greece,” on our blog for the full story!

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