India Relaxes Horse Import Restrictions

Regulations affect horses from U.S. and United Kingdom

American breeders and sales companies now have access to a foreign market that had been off-limits to U.S. horses for the last five years due to import restrictions.

The country of India had previously prohibited the import of horses from U.S. and Great Britain because those countries had horses test positive for the disease Contagious Equine Metritis. But now, the Ministry of Agriculture has issued guidelines allowing for the importation of horses from countries where CEM cases have been detected, provided certain conditions are met, much as they are in other countries. Among those conditions are that the horse being imported into India not come from a farm free of any CEM cases and that the horse itself test negative for the disease.

"It is a very positive step," said Chauncey Morris, sales marketing associate with the Keeneland Association who works closely with international markets. "Racing is popular in India and their economy has been performing very well in the midst of the economic crisis around the world."

Morris explained that any sales of horses from the U.S. to India would likely be limited to broodmares and stallions because racing is restricted to horses bred in the country.

Boyd Browning, president and CEO of Fasig-Tipton Companies, said his firm has not had a significant amount of business from Indian-based buyers in the past but will explore the viability of that country as a short-term or long-term marketplace.

"It is obviously of interest and good when the trade becomes easier among other countries and we will know more about it in the upcoming months," Browning said. "We have never had a significant amount of horses sold to export to India or to India-based buyers. We are always searching for new opportunities."


According to the British-based Tattersalls sales company, it has information indicating at least 150 mares were purchased for India in 2009. Tattersalls also said buyers from India spent 1.7 million Euros on 79 mares purchased at the 2009 Goffs November Sales in Ireland, one of the country’s from which India imported horses.

"This is wonderful news for the British Thoroughbred industry and a tribute to years of collective lobbying and hard work," Tattersalls chairman Edmond Mahony said in a statement. Mahony credited several different organizations, including the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association for their efforts to have the restrictions eased.

Morris, who is planning a business trip to India soon, said Indian Thoroughbred breeders and veterinarians had also played a major role in having the restrictions lifted, as had U.S. breeders, sales companies, and diplomats.

"The Indian Thoroughbred breeders worked with their authorities to demonstrate the proper science behind this in order to get the ban lifted," he said. "Credit goes to the Indian veterinary authorities and the Indian Thoroughbred breeders who worked diligently in order to keep their borders safe and open, based on science."