A Quick Guide to Logistics and Costs With Importing a Horse

Photo © Lauren Mauldin


For someone who has never done it, importing a horse can seem like an impossible problem to solve. You’re flying in a horse, from where?

The process isn’t as complicated as one might imagine, although it is certainly more nuanced (and expensive) than driving across the state to pick up a new horse in your two horse trailer. Here are some approximate costs and things to consider when deciding to import.


When shopping internationally, your pre-purchase exam must include some essential bloodwork for export. Horses must be confirmed negative for Piroplasmosis, Glanders, Dourine, CEM and EIA in order to arrive in the United States.

European Ground Transport

Just like a horse bought in the states has to make it to your barn, your new horse needs transportation to a facility before export. Your horse will be collected from its home stable two to four days before the scheduled flight. This allows for the government vet to make health and export papers prior to departure. Kardel Global Equine uses two different facilities. West Coast bound horses wait for their flight at Horse Hotel Holland while East Coast bound horses stay at Gelissen. European ground transport and horse hotel stay is included in your horse’s flight to the US.

Flying Home

Your horse will be transported to the KLM Animal Hotel the morning of its flight and loaded onto its pallet. A standard pallet holds three horses, but you have the option to ship your horse in a stall and a half (two horses per pallet), or a box stall (one horse per pallet) for an extra fee. The cost varies by destination and depending on if your horse is a mare, gelding or stallion. Costs can also occasionally change based on KLM’s fuel costs. Spring 2019 costs for geldings are €5,900 (~$6,700 USD) to LAX and €5,520 (~$6,250 USD) to MIA or JFK. For mares and stallions, it’s €6,200 (~$7,025) to LAX and €5,820 (~$6,600) to MIA or JFK.

USDA Quarantine

All imported horses spend their first 24 hours on US Soil in USDA Quarantine. If you bought a gelding congratulations! This is your last step before taking delivery. Mares and stallions transit from USDA Quarantine to CEM Quarantine, which is explained below. Cost for USDA quarantine is $3,250 for mares, stallions and geldings.

CEM Quarantine

CEM is a sexually transmitted disease in horses, prior to flying your horse will be confirmed negative, but the US takes the extra precaution of quarantine. Mares spend 15 days in CEM Quarantine, while stallions stay for 33. During CEM Quarantine, mares are cultured and tested for CEM several times. Stallions are also cultured and tested. In addition to the cultures stallions are required to live cover two mares, and those mares are tested. Cost for CEM quarantine is $3,400 for mares and $9,700 for stallions.

Photo © Lauren Mauldin

Finally Getting Home

After all the necessary quarantine has been completed, your new horse is ready to go home! Since Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Miami (MIA) are the three major airports that handle imported horses, you will need to arrange shipping from quarantine at those three central locations. Shipping rates depend on the distance and the provider.

Importing a horse is not a quick or cheap process, but it can be worth it for the right match.

Lauren Kardel was born and raised in California, and now runs a sales business in the Netherlands. Together with her partners she focuses on sourcing quality hunters, jumpers and equitation horses for the US market with an emphasis on bringing transparency and ease to the European buying process. 

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