Report: Holland Horse Challenge and NL-US Horse Trade

The United States (US) represents the biggest export market for the Netherlands (NL) when it comes to horses, over 60% of the export goes to the US, representing 129 million US dollars in 2012.

Dutch horses are known and wanted for their qualities in the dressage and jumping sports. At the moment only high end horses are exported to the US, representing at least $60.000,- per horse, otherwise the costs for exporting are too high. One can distinguish seven market segments; the Dutch are almost only serving segment six and seven which are the segments in which the prices of horses are above $60.000,- (see figure 6 page 5). The biggest market potential for Dutch horses is however to be expected in the fourth and fifth segment; representing semiprofessional riders who perform at a relatively high level which is not the top level.

The current process of horse trade is organized in a highly individualized manner. Often a trainer needs to have contacts with a trader in the Netherlands. They will do business with each other, leaving out other parties. When considering the top segment this is no problem, however, when trying to serve the middle segments a different way of thinking and working is required.

Working together

This study argues that by introducing the supply chain approach into the equine trade sector it might become easier for horse traders and other actors in the equine trade sector to work together. “The supply chain is as strong as its weakest link” leads to the understanding that actors need to work together in order to achieve their goals. Setting up a supply chain approach occurs in three phases. In the phase of exploration of the population of organizations is determined which organizations may fulfil a (useful) role in the supply chain. During the phase of selection of chain partners is decided who can, and wants, to initiate chain formation. The third phase is the connection phase, focusing on how the relations in the supply chain are organized or will be organized. Once this has become clear, the relationships have been shaped and the supply chain will become operational.

The first phase; the exploration of the population is performed by providing a stakeholder analysis. Remarkable is the fact that, despite the individualistic way of working, when considering horse trade there are many representing organizations active in the equine sector in both the Netherlands as well as the US. When aiming at setting up a supply chain approach one needs the two most important actors to work together; the US trainers and the Dutch traders.

Set up a Holland Horse House

When considering the current situation of the NL-US horse trade, the obstacles Americans identify when importing a Dutch horse and the theory of supply chains, a possible improvement could be to set up a Holland Horse House (HHH). This could be a performance center for Dutch horses bringing together Dutch horses and equine producers in order to better serve the American market. The performance center is not solely aimed at selling horses and equine supply. Also knowledge and educational institutions could be involved as well as all other actors interested in doing equine business in the US. Next to setting up a selling station several other recommendations could be made to stimulate horse trade e.g. setting up a combined information campaign or organizing a horse buying trip to the Netherlands. The Royal Netherlands Embassy in Washington DC could stimulate all such activities. However; the Dutch equine sector needs to take the initiative at all times. Final conclusion is that the additional market potential in the US is big for Dutch horses; every investment is expected to deliver return.