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WoSJ Exclusive; Guido Klatte - about having horse flights as a profession!

Friday, 08 March 2013

Guido Klatte has been flying horses around the world since 1985.It all started by a coincident in 1985. Guido Klatte was organizing the transport of 45 horses to Egypt through his job at AGRA Export. They experienced difficulties with the people responsible for the flight, so Guido chartered a plane himself and made sure the horses made it to their new homes. The feeling that he could do the job better than the companies already on the market was the start for Guido Klatte Horse Transport.

"I grew up with horses, have always been riding and competing and knew the international business. So I started off by doing a world travel to visit old contacts. I for example drew thru the US alone. I bought a car in Los Angeles for 700 dollar and sold it on the East Cost for 350 dollars after driving through the entire US. It became a really cheap rental car', Guido says laughing.

The people that become clients from Guido Klatte Horse Transport during this time are still customers. Now a day you can fly horses all over the world, but Guido tells us that it has become more difficult as many of the airplane companies are working with hubs. Hubs are places where the goods are reloaded, like logistic centers.

Ready to fly! The horses in their containers during the flight. "Earlier on you could fly from Frankfurt directly to Peru which is not possible anymore. So South America has to fly to Miami which makes the transport a lot more expensive and complicated. The horses has to go from Miami by connecting flight to their destination in South America. But again, new destinations such as Delhi in India and Beijing in China have made their pass into the market, but in general is it more difficult to fly today than it was."

Guido Klatte's company has a huge experience of transporting and flying horses and has been working with 80 countries so far. "Either we have been flying horses to or from these countries or we have been collecting horses that are suppose to fly in these countries."

Different countries require various health requirements and it is a big variety of rules. Most countries asks for export quarantine or export isolation and some countries don't. They are for example the US, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Countries like Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, China, Australia and several others require 30 days of quarantine or isolation. For Korea you need about ten days and for South Africa about twenty days. Mexico is currently in the process of implementing new regulations which tender to be harder. Hopefully the authorities will recognize that the sport horses don't need stricter rules.

Two of Klatte's lorries waiting to be loaded and bring horses to the airport. "We have several quarantine stables here for up to hundred horses in total. The horses travelling to countries without quarantine can also come to our new facility if that is preferable and then go with our lorry to the airport. This place is like a logistics center for the travelling horses," Guido explains.

The horses mainly leave from Amsterdam, but also from Frankfurt, Luxemburg, Liege and Leipzig depending on the destinations.

When the horses are staying in the quarantine it is up to the owners how the horses are being exercised. All the horses get out in a paddock, in the walker or get longed upon the owner's requirements. They also have people who can ride the horses if that is wanted. "But when we ride we only do walk, trot, canter, left and right. We just keep the horses going, we don't school them or jump. If a customer wants the horses to be properly trained they may to send their own rider to take care of the horses. And some do send a rider," Guido lets us know, "specially in case of a big event shortly after the export".

Time to go! The horses go straight from the stable into the lorry. Horses that are flying to Australia are not ridden at all while in quarantine. This is to prepare them for the import quarantine when arriving in Australia where the horses are not allowed to get trained anyway.

"We do have several of the American and Canadian team riders as our customers, most of the top league riders and the American Young Rider team. When the American riders are flying to international shows or championships they mainly receive financial support, but can decide themselves which company they choose to fly with. We have been co-operating with the same agent in the US for the last 20 years and that is really uncommon in this business," Guido explains.

Every horse has a tack bag with their personal belongings.FEI seems to have a lot of impact on the decision which companies to co-operate with for the Championships. "It has been the same company for the last years and I don't know why. At the WEG 2010 we calculated what it would cost us to fly the German dressage horses and we would have been 40 000 Euro cheaper. We could have made the hole transport a lot cheaper than the company holding the contract. Of course we would have liked to do the championships, but we don't need to. We have sufficient work as it is," Guido says without any bitterness.

And they do have a lot of work... Every week Klatte normally has two flights to New York, one to Los Angeles and then two or three times a month flights to Mexico, Toronto and Calgary. Flights to other destinations are scheduled after seasons and needs. "To Saudi Arabia we have a lot of flights during the winter, but not that much during the summer. Miami has a flight once or twice a week during the winter and in the summer it is only about once a month."

Both indoor and outdoor stables can be found at Klatte's.It is not just competition horses that are flying all over the world, it is also breeding horses, hobby horses and family members. Foals that are more than one month old may be shipped at dams side, and after about five month, when they got weaned foals travel together in groups.

There are always grooms travelling with the horses on the planes. "For example KLM has a company groom that flies with the horses and then other grooms thru us also travel along. It can be someone who knows the horses travelling, or someone else with horse knowledge. If the airline company doesn't provide a groom, we have professional grooms travelling with the horses. The groom need to have a very good horsemanship and be able to handle critical situations as well as being responsible. The horsemanship is important as you have to be able to deal with every horse in the right way. It is never one way that works for all the horses. But with that said, we rarely experience any accidents flying the horses."

When it comes to the future Guido thinks it looks good for the business. "Some places might decrease because the market is full, but other countries such as China may rise. Competing horses travel more and more and I don't think that they will travel any less in the future."

One of the quarantine stables. Guido explains that there are two big problems for travelling with horses though:

The first one is the veterinarian rules. "Several countries makes the rules so complicated that it is too difficult to ship the horses, sometimes even impossible. Horses flying to China for example could not come back after an event. (Negotiations are in progress to improve the rules.) Most of the people making the veterinarian rules don't know enough about the needs of the horses and how the show schedule work. There are currently no real differences in the rules if you are dealing with a horse that travels to a show or for other purpose. This is a thing that FEI really should prioritize to be able to make our sport bigger throughout the whole world. For example several countries in the east or south America are spending a lot of money in the sport, but it is too difficult to organize competitions in these countries due to the unfriendly rules. On top many rules do not make sense and are not really supporting the horses well being which should be our al main interest."

The overview of one of Klatte's stables. The second problem when flying with horses are the connections; "If you look at the show in Estoril for example there are no flight connections there so you have to send a charter which makes it expensive. I mean the show is in the middle of the season, and the horses are normally scheduled for a new show the week after. Now the horses from countries outside of Europe fly to a central EU port of entry example Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Liege and then they travel by lorry to for example to Estoril, which makes it a very long journey . The logistics are always a problem. More and more people are riding and more countries are organizing international competitions, but the flight connections rarely fits though and the only way to solve that is by paying a lot of money."

Guido Klatte Horse Transport flies more than 2 500 horses a year. To fly a horse costs about 4 - 6 000 Euro. They also have seven lorries to collect and drive the horses to the airport, and with the possibility to host hundred horses at the same time they are one of the biggest companies in their field. "We always do our very best that the horses shall look better when they leave us than they did when they got here and our customers knows that we take good care of the horses," Guido says and ends the interview by adding that they are planning to build a new stable for more quarantine spaces.

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