Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This Week's Shipment to Europe

We are delighted to report that a group of wonderful horses and one adorable mule arrived safely in Amsterdam this morning.  Many thanks to Friederike Gitzel, Petra Varnahova, Olivia Foley and her mother Lorraine, Toni  and Bjoern Kurzrock and Yvonne Kuebeler for choosing EZ 2 Spot Ranch as your quarantine facility.  It was a genuine pleasure working with each of you and with your animals.

Yvonne, it was great that you got to visit the ranch during Dandelion's quarantine.  For prospective exporters or importers, we want you to know that we are always happy to have you stop by for a visit during the quarantine period.  In order to maintain the quarantine protocol, we must follow certain security and sanitary measures - but we are always happy to arrange a visit for you.  In fact, we have a guest house that is available for visitors to use.  Just be sure to let us know when to expect you so we can reserve the guest house for you.

Speaking of visitors, it was wonderful having Quinten Wiersma visit the ranch for a week.  Thank you, Quinten, for flying as a groom on this trip for us.  We look forward to providing many more groom opportunities for you in the future.

Thanks also to Brian Carlisle for serving as a groom on this trip.  We appreciate your help and also look forward to offering you more opportunities in the future.

If you live in Europe and would like to come to Texas for a visit - to experience our culture, learn more about our business and help out at the ranch, let us know.  We always welcome volunteers!  And who knows - there might be a rodeo, a bull riding competition, a barbecue or a country/western music experience just waiting for you.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How Does Shipping Horses Work?

We are often met with open-mouthed stares when we tell people what we do for a living.  Flying horses all over the world is a somewhat unusual profession - exciting, fun and always full of adventure.  But when you get down to the nuts and bolts of it, what they really want to know is  ... How does it  work?

So, this is how it works!

Lets say that you live in Dubai or Dublin or Delhi and you find a horse that you want to buy from a farm in the USA.  What do you do?  How do you proceed?

Step 1.  Make sure that you are purchasing a sound, healthy horse that is in good weight and condition and is going to suit your needs.  Arrange (and pay for) a prepurchase exam by an unbiased veterinarian. If you need help finding a veterinarian anywhere here in the USA, we can get you a referral.  All you have to do is ask.

In a perfect world everyone who sells horses will be honest and forthcoming about the actual current health and condition of the horses they sell.  And most people are.  However, there are some sellers who will present a horse from a photo that is five years old.  Since that time the poor horse has been left out in a field to fend for itself without feed, grooming or medical care.  We always send photos to the new owners when their horses arrive at our facility, and sometimes they are shocked to see what they bought.  So, buyer beware.  Find out what you are getting before it shows up at the quarantine station.  If you buy Black Beauty, it will not magically be transformed into Old Dobbin on the trailer ride from the seller's farm to the quarantine station.

Ask about vaccinations that the horse has received.  If they are due to be vaccinated, please ask the seller to step away from the needle.  There are some vaccinations that can cause serious delays in exporting a horse - and some that can prevent the horse from ever being exported.  Each country has its own requirements about vaccinations.  Your quarantine station will know what is needed and what to avoid - let them take care of vaccinations!

If you are buying a pregnant mare, find out when she is due  - and check with your quarantine station about the last day the mare can safely fly.  There are rules in place to ensure the mare's and unborn foal's safety.  Be aware of this so that you are not disappointed to find out that the mare has to stay in the USA until after the baby is born.

Step 2.  Work out an agreement with the seller about who is going to pay for transfers/export of registration papers to your country's registry.   Also make sure that you are clear about who pays for the coggins and health certificates that are required for transport within the USA.

Step 3.  Contact quarantine stations/shipping companies to find out the costs and procedures.   Make sure that you know what is included in the quote - and what is not.  Compare two or three or more companies before you choose one.  Ask for references in your home country.  Visit the companies' websites.  Talk with other people who have shipped horses with them in the past.

Beware quotes that seem too good to be true.  They probably are.  Some items might be missing in the quote that you won't find out about until it is too late to change your mind. Or maybe you think the quote is in US dollars and then you find out later that it is in Euros or some other currency.

Step 4.  Make sure that you are really, really, really ready to commit to shipping your horse with a particular shipping company  before you sign a contract to book a space with that company. Booking a horse for an overseas flight is not like booking a seat on a plane for yourself.  Flying horses is much more complicated than that - and the ramifications of you changing your mind after the space has been booked are far reaching for yourself, the shipping company and your fellow importers.

Horses typically ship in groups of three.   When you book a space for one horse in a three horse container, the quarantine station/shipping company will coordinate the shipment so that there are two other horses that will fly with your horse.  The price that you are given when you book your horse is based on each horse occupying 1/3 of the shipping container.  The shipping company is counting on your horse occupying that space.  And so are two other importers.

If you decide the day before your horse is to be picked up - or after your horse arrives at the quarantine facility - or  in the middle of the quarantine period - thatyou don't want to ship the horse after all  or that you want to ship with a different company - you have just created a very serious problem.

Our only options at that point in time are :

- pay for an empty space in the container and lose a great deal of money on the entire shipment (Airlines don't give us free space. We pay for shipping the container whether there are horses inside or not)

 - tell the other two clients that their horses will be delayed until we can replace your horse with another one

 - or sue you for breach of contract.

None of these are happy situations - so please understand that when you book a space you are signing a legally binding contract and you are expected to fulfill your part of the agreement.  We take our obligations seriously - and we ask that you do as well.

 Also, bear in mind that there are only a few companies that ship horses internationally.  When we're left scrambling to fill a space because a client has bailed out of a contractual agreement, we contact each other.  We work together.  And we talk.

Step 5.  It should be smooth sailing from the time you book with the shipping company until you receive your horse.  However, when dealing with live animals and international flights, be aware that things can happen to cause delays or cancellations.

For example,if your horse received a vaccination or has had some other condition that causes false positive results in a blood test that is required for shipping, the horse will not be able to leave the USA. Some of these tests cannot be done more than 10 days in advance of the flight, so we won't know until a few days before flight time that there is a problem.  We try to reset the tests or rebleed the animal, but sometimes the time constraints that are put on us by the importing country make that impossible

Horses usually fly on cargo planes - and cargo planes are known for schedule changes, delays and last minute cancellations.  It is important to remain flexible about when your horse will arrive.  We have been delayed by everything from snow storms to volcano eruptions to birds flying into turbines - so you just never know when the flight will really happen.

If you have any questions or would like information about any of these points, please feel free to comment on this blog or send us an email (   We will be happy to help!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Beautiful Bay Mares to Dammam

Three beautiful bay Arabian mares are on their way to Dammam, Saudi Arabia.  They left Houston yesterday, are staying in Amsterdam tonight, and will arrive at the new homes tomorrow.  Thank you, Awad Alqhatani, Thamer Almuhid and Abdou Mohammed for sharing your lovely mares with us.  Thank you, also, to Dhafer Alqhatani for your excellent assistance in ensuring that everything is in order on the arrival side.

We said goodbye to Melanie Alves yesterday when she accompanied the horses on their flight to Amsterdam.  It has been such a joy having Melanie visit and help with the horses for the past month.  It is time now for her to return to Germany and go back to school.  Thank you, Melanie and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Thank you to our dear friend and professional horse groom, Hans van Dyke, for accompanying the horses from Amsterdam to Dammam.  We always relax and know that our horses are in good hands when they fly with Hans.

It is with pleasure that we welcome back our friend Quinten Wiersma from the Netherlands.  Quinten will only be with us for a week this time, but it is so nice to have him back in Texas.  Quinten will fly with horses to Amsterdam next week.

We will be shipping horses again soon to Amsterdam,, the Netherlands, Kuwait City, Kuwait and Doha, Qatar ... and we are gathering horses now for our next quarantine groups for horses and donkeys that will travel to Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, Dammam, Saudi Arabia and Mumbai, India.

We  have spaces available in upcoming quarantine groups so let us know what we can do for you!

Remember that we have a price-matching policy.  If you receive a lower quote from another company, send us a copy of the quote and we will match or offer a lower price, item for item, if it is at all possible.