Discovering An Elite Sport Horse in Greece, Part I

April 28, 2024

Deister Z: The Unlikely Journey of a Sport Horse from Greece

Beyond Traditional Breeding Grounds—Who Buys Sport Horses in Greece?

Part of building Westminster Sport Horse Sales over the last four years 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 horses came from, of all places, Greece!

This is Part I of Deister Z’s unlikely journey.

The Pandemic and Remote Horse Scouting: The Case of Deister Z

We founded our business, Westminster Sport Horse Sales, in the summer of 2019 and slowly began importing horses that year. In the spring of 2020, the pandemic caused horse shows and sales to slow drastically while health and government officials struggled to determine what activities were safe. We knew we would need to travel to Europe to find the quality horses we hoped to import, but the pandemic made overseas travel nearly impossible.

During 2020, I was relegated to watching videos of sales horses sent to me by various European agents, which is not always the ideal way to purchase resale horses. However, one of these videos caught my eye—a chestnut gelding with flashy white socks and a white blaze. Deister Z.

The Risk and Reward of Buying a Horse Based on Video

Deister Z is a stunning 16.3 Zangersheid with a beautiful uphill canter and charisma that oozes from him. In the fall of 2020, Deister was seven years old and jumping 1.30m/1.35m, but we thought we saw potential for 1.50m. I loved everything about Deister—his jump technique, style, look, and canter—so I reviewed the video and talked to one of my most trusted trainers about possibly buying him.

We had a lot of questions about Deister Z. Why was this horse in Greece? Why wasn’t he competing in Europe? Why would someone be selling such an exceptional sport horse from Greece, and why now? As it was the fall of 2020, with the pandemic raging, we could not fly to Greece to try him. With so many questions and unknowns and Deister only jumping 1.30m then, purchasing him based on a video seemed too risky.

Flash forward to late January of 2022. Deister Z showed up on my video feed again! But this time, Deister was nine years old and jumping 1.40/1.45m. He looked even more powerful than the first videos I had reviewed in 2020, and I still loved everything about him. Maybe this was my chance to buy him? I reviewed the newer video with my trainer, and she was intrigued. But he still lived and trained in Greece… what was his story?

Investigating a Sport Horse for Sale in Greece

I obtained the contact details for Deister’s owner from our agent and set up a conference call between my trainer, me, and the owner. As it turned out, Deister’s owner was a former Olympic rider for Greece! This fact gave my trainer and me confidence about Deister’s foundational training and athletic ability. Someone who had been at the top of their equestrian game on the world stage knew how to ride and train top-quality athletes. Not only was Deister’s owner a former Olympian, but he was also a very active competitor and clinician in Europe.

We asked every question about Desiter we could: what was his personality, was he brave, what were prospects for his future ability, had he had any injuries, did he have any quirks, etc. By the end of our conversation and after reviewing multiple videos of Deister flatting, competing, and schooling, I decided to take the risk and buy him off the video. So, I proceeded with the vetting process.

Pre-Purchase Horse Exam

As this potential purchase was riskier than usual due to Deister’s location, we hired a renowned veterinarian from Paris to fly to Greece and complete the full pre-purchase exam (a “vetting”), including ultrasounds on all ligaments and tendons. Deister vetted perfectly! I was so thrilled to purchase this fantastic gelding, one that I had been thinking about for almost two years!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Deister Z’s story, and explore our imported horses for sale.

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