Monday, May 9, 2011

Travel plans

I'm moving to Finland this summer and so is Little Love.  When this decision unfolded, little did I know how hard it would be to find transportation for her.  It seems nearly impossible.  Well, not impossible, but just not easy either.

I have spent the good half of the day talking to different horse transportation professionals.  Ideally I would like Little Love to travel on a big transport with several other horses, because I think she would be more comfortable with the company.  And traveling on a big rig is a lot smoother ride than in a trailer.  Because this is not exactly just a few hour trip.  Let me explain...

There are several routes to take when going to Finland from Switzerland, but the one the horse transporters seem to favor, is the route through Germany and Sweden.  2000 kilometres (about 1200 miles) and a few ferry rides later, the horse is in Stockholm, where the truck drives onto a massive ferry boat and sits there overnight before it arrives in Helsinki harbor.  Sounds like an operation, eh? 
Another way to go would be through Germany and then taking a boat from Travemünde to Helsinki.  This boat trip takes 27 hours, which is about the same time it takes to drive through Sweden AND take the boat from there.   However, if the seas are rough, the boat from Germany can get a bit sketchy, as you can't take the horses off the truck - no matter what.  The seas are much calmer up between Sweden and Finland hence the reason the horse transporters go that way most of the time.
A third and quite interesting route would be through the Eastern European states and then with a ferry from Estonia to Finland, a relatively short boat ride compared to the other two.  However, the roads are not the best in this region and the horse transportation companies don't seem to offer this as an option anyways. 

On top of all this, Switzerland is not part of the European Union, which makes matters a little bit more complicated.  Apparently there needs to be a veterinary control at the boarder.  This means that no European transporter wants to come through Switzerland to pick her up, because it would mean extra stops at the boarder (especially if you have more than one horse).  Finding a Swiss transporter to take her all the way from Switzerland to Finland is not happening.  In any case, this would cost an arm and a leg and she would have to travel the whole trip alone (as she would be the only horse going on that trip) as it's not exactly a common route.

So - I have finally located a person who could possibly take her up to Northern Germany where she could then change to a Finnish transporter.  The Swiss guy is extremely expensive, because there is no other horse sharing the ride (and he is Swiss, everything in this country is expensive).  This also means Little Love is stuck traveling alone for half the trip.  And we all know what a great loader and traveler she is... (although loading into Becky's trailer is looking pretty good...).  In Northern Germany, however, she could be picked up by a transport company with several other horses on the same ride.  This will be a bit better, especially since she is getting on a boat and all that.

Becky offered to drive us over the boarder (it's a 2½ hour trip one way) to Germany, but then what?  Where would we go?  Who could pick us up? (the Finnish transporter won't come down to Southern Germany).  I don't speak German very well, so communicating with some of these transporters has been quite challenging.  At the moment I have contact with one guy who is sending me emails using an online translator.  I'm not always sure I quite understand what he is trying to say...

I can't even begin to explain the amount of anxiety just thinking about this is causing me!  If I could just somehow magically transport Little Love to Finland with some Harry Potter magic, I would.

I still have a few leads on people who transport horses across Europe.  Perhaps one of them will miraculously offer to take her all the way along with 5 other horses that are all calm and composed travelers.   Who knows, maybe we'll get lucky with this...  I'll keep you posted. 


  1. I understand how hard this must be for you. I had to organize a transporter for my two horses when we moved states for a 1300km trip. My filly had only been in a trailer twice for short trips and my old gelding is tricky to load as he panics and bolts. In the end I found a lovely man who transports race horses along the eastern coast of Australia and he took all the time and patience needed. The trip took three days as he liked to take the horses off regularly to have a stretch and graze which was great. On the day he was due to arrive he was four hours late. He apologized for this and said my old boy was finding the travel difficult and was tired so he stayed at the horse motel a few hours longer so my gelding could have more time out in the paddock to graze and relax. Bless him for putting my horses before his profits!

    Prepare Little Love for the trip. Tell her all about what to expect and what will happen and you will find that she will take it in her stride as she seems to do since she has become yours. Good luck!

  2. I don't suppose the transport folks would let you ride with Little Love?! Well, I agree with Kamilla... tell her what's up, you can do this, K... envision the nice patient person, the route, the transport, ferry, etc. Expect all of it to go well, and it will. Good luck!

  3. Thanks guys for the encouragement and the advice! You are right, I need to just keep telling Lilo about the trip. She is strong and has handled way worse stuff in her life.

    I'm not allowed travel with her, but I'm hoping to be there when the "swap" of transporters happens in Northern Germany. It could be that she'll have to hang out at a completely strange barn for a day or so. Once she is on that truck to Finland though, I won't see her until when she gets to the final destination.