Cultural Exchange…for a Horse!?

The perfect host family for Annemijn

My name is Annemijn and I was a Greenheart exchange student in Colorado in 2016 – 2017.  I live in The Netherlands but in America I lived with my host mom, host dad, and host sister on a ranch in very small town called Gill. We had a lot of animals! About 30 goats and sheep, chicken, dogs, cats, a donkey, a llama, and most importantly horses! I have loved animals my entire life so this host family was absolutely perfect for me.

Annemijn & Skipper the horse

Annemijn & Skipper the horse

In the first week of my exchange year I went on a trail ride with my host family and it was the first of many more to come. That first trail ride, I rode Jain, an older mare. After that ride my host mom told me I could ride Skipper if I wanted, the horse of my host dad. He had another horse and didn’t ride Skipper anymore. I could consider Skipper as my own horse and soon after I started riding him, he really started to feel as such.

My American high school was fine and most of the time I enjoyed going, but I always preferred to be at the ranch and be with all the animals and Skipper. I loved the American horse life which included barrel racing shows, going to the national rodeo in Texas, going on trail rides and just being with the horses. This way of living was what I always dreamed of! I spent a lot of time with Skipper after school and on the weekends. I worked with him in the arena, went on rides in the field next to our house, and I even started jumping with him.

The end of the school year

But all dreams come to an end eventually, and so did mine. After my graduation from my American high school it was time to go home and leave Skipper behind as well. During my last month my host mom told me she considered Skipper as my horse and if I wanted I would take him home to The Netherlands with me! I couldn’t believe she would just give him to me and I talked to my parents about what my host mom had told me. My parents are not horse people and they don’t have a lot with animals in the first place, so not to my surprise they didn’t agree. I did not have the money to get him home myself so I did not have another choice but to leave him with my host family.

Annemijn with her Host Family at her graduation

News from America

The summer after my exchange year, I visited my host family and Skipper again, and later that year, visited again. I have been back in America a few times after my exchange year, which is now about four years ago. Sadly, a year ago my host dad died and my host mom was alone, since my host sister was in college. My most mom had to take care of the animals by herself. By now they had three horses left, including Skipper. After the death of my host dad my host mom told me she wanted to sell Skipper and I knew this was my only chance to get him to the Netherlands. I asked her if I could still have him and to my surprise, she said I could!

Making Arrangements

So I started working really hard and doing research about the import of horses. I found a company in Texas who could arrange the flight and quarantine of 30 days for me. It was a lot of hard work and a bit scary as well, but a year later Skipper is here!

He arrived the 14th of May in Frankfurt, Germany and we picked him up there. After a four-hour drive he finally arrived to his new home in The Netherlands!

Skipper moves to the Netherlands

Annemijn & Skipper the horse upon arrival in Frankfurt

Skipper, the Cultural Exchange Horse

It has been a crazy but amazing adventure and Skipper is doing very well. He is getting used to The Netherlands and me again. He really loves the Dutch grass (lol!). I am almost finished with college now so I will have a lot of time for Skipper.

Skipper in the Netherlands, sampling the Dutch grass.

The last four years I always dreamed that Skipper would be mine one day, but in the back of my head I knew that would probably never happen. Now that he is here I still can’t fully believe I really just did it! It truly feels like a dream. Maybe the American dream did come true for me? Who knows…  I do hope there are many more adventures for me and Skipper to come. And even though Skipper is here now, I can’t wait to visit America again!


THANK YOU ANNEMIJN & SKIPPER for sharing your story! 

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