More and more horses are being transported by air, be it racing, polo, jumping, competition, breeding or leisure horses and ponies. It’s a highly demanding but also lucrative business for freight carriers, airports, forwarding agents, and special service providers such as Peden Bloodstock GmbH, a company running offices in Germany and the UK. They manage door-to-door horse transportation worldwide, as illustrated by the company’s Senior Shipping Consultant Isabelle Atock.
Isabelle, you just coordinated the flight of a horse traveling on board an AeroLogic Boeing 777 freighter from Frankfurt to Montevideo. Why was it flown halfway around the world?
The owners emigrated from Switzerland to Paraguay and wanted to take their horse with them. From Montevideo “Mourey” as the stallion is named, was flown in transit to Asuncion, where he arrived in proper condition after the long trip.
How much does such a transport cost, both door-door and airport-airport?
The actual freight costs from Frankfurt to Montevideo were €13,800.00 (one entire container), excluding any extra charges.
In addition to this, the freight and handling costs for the Montevideo-Asuncion sector amounted to something like US$9,000.00. In total, the owner has paid about €25,000.00 for the entire mission.
In comparison, for a door-to-door transport from Europe to New York or Dubai, for example, customers have to pay something between €4,500.00 and €6,000.00.
Why does it need a groom to have to accompany horses? After all, the animals are accommodated in comfortable stables and are well supplied with water and hay during the flight. What specific qualifications does a groom have to have to be assigned a mission?
Experienced grooms are key
The demands of the airlines are different. Basically, the grooms must be adults, need to have plenty of experience in dealing with horses and of course possess a valid passport. However, some regulators, customs authorities or agents ask for additional personal data, a police certificate of good conduct or a certificate of competence. They should also speak English fluently to make themselves understood wherever their mission takes them to.
If our customers wish to take care of their own horses during the flight or to appoint their own groom, we can usually arrange this, depending on the total number of horses.
There are only 1 to 4, in case of charter flights up to eleven groom seats available on freighter aircraft. So as Peden Bloodstock, we only rely on experienced and trained staff, which we call ‘Pro Grooms’.
That again brings up the question why it needs a groom to accompany horses.
Preventing the use of tranquilizers
Due to their size, horses have to be accommodated on the main decks of freighters. As they are shy animals that can panic easily, their monitoring by Grooms during transports is mandatory, unlike cats, dogs or most other animals.
Grooms are required to load and unload the horses and make them comfortable during the flight. They make sure the animals have fresh water available during all times to prevent dehydration.
Should the stress level rise, caused by turbulences, for instance, the horses will be calmed down again. Usually the use of tranquilizers is not required.
Experienced or professional grooms know exactly how to act in critical situations. Since they are very familiar with flying, the flight equipment and handling of the stalls they can easily adjust the set-up during the flight to ensure the horse gets a little more space for example, if required.
In additions they know many of the airports and procedures worldwide and can support a smooth offload procedure no matter how poor the receiving airport may be designed or equipped for the transportation of these valuable animals.
Turning to the role of airports. Are there any you prefer for managing the handling of horses rather than others?
Liège and Frankfurt are excellently equipped and very suitable for horse transports. Much has also happened at Amsterdam Schiphol and Luxembourg. In contrast, Paris CDG or Brussels are not yet at that level. Generally speaking I can say that some airports are currently better developed and structured than others. They have deliberately focused their attention on horse transports.
No freighters, no orders
Does Peden Bloodstock have any airline preferences?
It is predominantly a matter of routes which airline we pick. If optional, we are happy to choose Lufthansa, KLM-Martinair, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Etihad Cargo, CAL, Cargolux, or Cathy Pacific.
These airlines offer a widespread network, are reliable, punctual, communicative and very experienced regarding the transport of horses.
Which are the most frequented routes used for flying horses?
The United States and the United Arab Emirates are top origins and destinations when it comes to horse transports. But demand from other countries, such as Korea, Japan and China, is also increasing.
Is this a stable or rather growing business and what makes horse transports unique, compared to flying other animals?
International tournaments are spreading with new events and venues added to the programs every year which ups transport demand constantly.
2018 is becoming a very busy year for our team. We supply various endurance competitions in the Middle East and transport roughly 300 horses both ways to show jumping tournaments in Al Ain, but also in Mexico, Miami and Shanghai.
The transport of roughly 70 horses to the Hong Kong Masters was a new project on this year’s agenda last February.
In September the FEI World Equestrian Games take place in Tryon, USA. Peden Bloodstock, being the Official Shipping Agents, will transport some 550 horses from Europe and 80 horses from other continents to and from this event.
Just 4 weeks before that event is being kicked off, our team will be responsible for the safe transfer of horses participating in the Asian Games in Jakarta.
Simultaneously, we take care of the daily business: the transport of individual horses for breeding purposes, leisure, sports or individual reasons like the flight of “Mourey” to Paraguay.
Wrapping it up I can say that it’s a demanding, fascinating and extremely creative business we are in that presents new challenges every day.
Isabelle, thank you for giving us this update.