byEditorial Staff| Nov 3, 2017
Given three wishes, most people would probably start looking at mansions, buy an island, or head to the nearest Bugatti dealership. But most people aren’t horse people, and given those same wishes, most of us would probably opt for a horse shopping experience like the one taking please in Maastricht, The Netherlands, in a little over a week.
There, 15 of the finest hunter prospects in Europe will be available for purchase in a one-night-only event—but this is no ordinary horse auction. ‘The Hunt’ is the creation of the family horse dealing team of Chris, Will, and Whitney Sorensen, who have personally scouted out, vetted, and retrained a curated selection of young stallions and geldings for the North American hunter market. In this way, The Hunt is not only creating a seamless transition for future buyers, it’s revolutionizing the way we think about hunter horse shopping, in general.
“As a trainer, you know what kind of horse you would want in your own stable, and what the customers need in terms of willingness, talent, and mentality,” Chris Sorensen told NF’s Tori Repole. By carefully selecting each of the 15 mounts that will appear in the evening auction on November 13th, Sorensen hopes to take the risk and guesswork out of shopping for prospects in Europe—and his team has certainly been thorough about it.
Between the horse selection, vetting, training, and post-purchase logistics, the Sorensen trio has left no stone unturned, with every detail considered down to the horses’ manes and teeth. For more than 15 years, Chris and his wife Whitney have been buying, importing and selling horses from overseas, with Chris also riding as a representative of his native Canada. As Sorensen Stables gradually grew their business, so, too, did they expand their network of connections. Calling on their extensive web of contacts with a keen horse sense and a good eye for breeding, the Sorensen team has scoured Europe to curate one of the most elite groups of hunter horses on the continent.
“The Hunt is an expanded version of what we already do at Sorensen Stables on a daily basis. Now, we’ve thought of a way to streamline the horse purchasing process for buyers. We know that with The Hunt, we can effectively save hours of time and thousands of dollars cutting out the back-and-forth that we all have come to expect with horse buying,” Sorensen explains.
“This is a safer and more effective way to buy horses in Europe for the North American market, because we understand the needs that riders have on the other side of the ocean.”
Horse selection began with a bombardment of more than 1,000 videos that Chris and Whitney sifted through. They narrowed the field to 150 horses, and then devoted thousands of road and airline miles to seeing each contender in person. Armed with strict criteria—quality of movement, jump, conformation, mind, temperament, rideability, and training suitability—the duo meticulously narrowed the field to the top-ranking 15 horses (you can swoon over all of them here).
Each horse then underwent a high-level, rigorous vetting process comprised of full U.S. standard clinical and flexion tests before acceptance into the collection. The horses were examined at the same clinic, and will come equipped with large sets of high-quality X-rays, all of which were reviewed by a world-renowned radiology expert in North America. To ensure that no horse has prompted an injury or another physical issue before the public auction, each animal will be re-flexed and tested immediately prior to The Hunt.
“The idea behind the auction is a turn-key type of situation. It can be a gamble to purchase a young jumper in Europe with the hopes of re-training it to become a suitable hunter, not to mention time-consuming to transport it between continents,” said Chris. “Trainers have to deal with the headache of re-training a young horse while continuing daily operations with their already-established string. The Hunt poses the possibility of seamlessly moving horses into a new program without losing time and money re-training.”
Outside of the vetting process, each potential owner has the luxury of viewing their horse as a hunter-trained mount instead of a jumper-in-transition project. To ensure that auction viewers get the most accurate impression of the horse as a final product, Chris has already managed the jumper-to-hunter transition, teaching the young horses the rideability necessary for a successful hunter career. This includes getting them accustomed to the different balance of a hunter rider, lead changes, and even hunter tack and equipment, such as earplugs.
Teeth floating, chiropractic work, and de-worming on each horse has also been completed. In addition, they have been trained to stand for the farrier and are on a regimented feed and nutritional program that will be simple to convert in their new homes—they’ve even had their bridle paths clipped and their manes trained to lay in the correct direction!
Unsurprisingly, The Hunt has also handled all the necessary travel arrangements for their horses to North America after their purchase. With pre-booked flights, castrations, quarantine, and appointments all available, future owners won’t need to lift a finger to efficiently move their horses from door-to-door, and can even request to have shipping bloodwork completed ahead of time.
In other words, if you happen to be in the market (and have sufficiently deep-pockets) to purchase a future hunter champion in Europe this fall, The Hunt promises to be an evening worth adding to your list. For more information on The Hunt, to view the collection, or to reserve your spot, visit the auction’s website.
-Images via TheHunt2017.com.
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