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06 March 2010

Finally... an update!! New York to Amsterdam

So, after loading Tate into the shipping container in New York, he traveled on a flatbed truck to be weighed, with his travelling companion in order to figure the placement of the containers within the plane. From there, he went planeside and waited until the passengers had commenced boarding and was then loaded onto the plane.

 As they are closed up in their container, the horses are unaware of the ups and downs and sliding around that is requisite in order to ensure a balanced load. Once on board, though, their “jockey doors” are opened and the head/rump flaps lifted so that the container becomes much like a straight load trailer for the duration of the flight.

Unfortunately, we were delayed on the ramp in New York for over an hour as the plane was de-iced and then cleared for take off. As an on board “groom”, I was responsible for sitting with Tate and his traveling companion in the container for the take off and landing, and then for offering them water throughout the journey. As predicted, the horses do sit down a bit during the take off, but then settle as the plane leaves the ground and starts climbing toward the cruising altitude. All 8 horses were fine with the process and continued to munch hay throughout.

The KLM animal attendant for the flight was fantastic and took over the inflight duties so that the professional groom who was traveling with the Mersant (another equine travel agent) horses and myself could catch a few winks.

We then assumed our positions in the crates with the horses for landing and landed without incidence. In fact, none of us knew that we had landed until we began to taxi toward the gate. I stayed with Tate until his crate was unloaded.

 At that point, the groom and I continued through customs (Wow, a piece of cake in Holland, especially when compared to the UK and the US!!), and on to baggage claim where we had to wait for my 49.7 lb (yep, 50 lbs is the max allowed!) duffel bag to arrive. In hindsight, I probably should've eaten the $50 that would have been in addition to my other airfreight bill and shipped the bag with the equipment, but in my ultimate frugality, I thought I should utilize my one free checked bag.

From there, we lugged my bag for what seemed like miles to the shuttle bus that took us to the Animal Hotel where Tate and his other travel companions waited patiently in their crate to be cleared through customs (2 ½ hours later, apparently in record time!) and dispersed to their respective shippers and final destinations. Tate was the only one continuing to the UK, but he did have one friend who traveled with him to the Horse Hotel, “Boznicht,” for the night outside of Amsterdam.

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