All of a sudden the Arabian mare shows a flash of temperament. Huffing and snorting, the animal raises its head high. As her body jerks forward, her stamping hooves make the trailer floor vibrate. “Easy!” commands Vanessa Moreau-Sipiere – and takes charge right away. Keeping a short leash just under the head, she leads the mare further into the trailer, as if nothing had happened. “I grew up with Arabians, and I am especially partial to them,” says the 30-year-old after she has shut and bolted the trailer door. “But really, I love all horses, especially for their personality and their intelligence.” Living and working with Arabians, thoroughbreds and quarter horses is something that runs in the blood of Vanessa Moreau-Sipiere’s family. Her grandparents successfully bred horses – in France initially, and in the United States since the late 1970s. Her parents run the “Centurion Stud” farm in Como, in the northeast of Texas. The stud farm holds way over 100 horses at any time, most of them from their own breeding stock. There are also mares that have been entrusted to the couple by their owners for the purpose of giving birth to foals and rearing them.
"After two to three years the young horses go back to their owners,” explains Moreau-Sipiere while on a tour of the extensive grounds of the stud farm. Many of the animals make the journey under the care of this young lady. After all, she turned the management of horse transportation into her principal vocation in 2016, when she established the company Centurion World Logistics. Most of these animals go to recipients in the Middle East and Europe, where they are used as race or show horses. Not all of the transport runs start out from her parents’ stud farm: “The horses come from all over the United States, but many of the stud farms are located here in Texas,” says Vanessa Moreau-Sipiere. Her clientele mostly are horse breeders and buyers as well as agents. The preferred means of transportation for intercontinental carriage is the aircraft. “I totally rely on airfreight,” explains the logistics specialist. Firstly, it only takes twelve hours to fly from the airport in Houston (which she mainly uses) to Frankfurt, for example, whereas transportation by sea would take many times as long. Secondly, traveling by sea would simply be too onerous for the horses. Ever since the Texan became her own boss, she has used the services of Lufthansa Cargo.
“I realized during our first meeting that they operate a very dense network, and how much this would benefit me.” Around 50 percent of her horses travel on board Lufthansa Cargo. Last year this involved 120 horses, and this year there were 75 horses in the first six months alone. Many of the flights go to Frankfurt, with other key destinations being Riyadh and Dammam in Saudi Arabia, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait City. That is what is meant by “Enabling Global Business” – the very motto of Lufthansa Cargo. During stopovers at Frankfurt, the horses are looked after in the Frankfurt Animal Lounge. “The team there is first rate, they know exactly how to make the horses comfortable,” says Vanessa Moreau-Sipiere. “When we come to pick them up for their onward journey, the horses are well rested and have been given plenty of hay and water.” On board, the horses travel in special containers. Up to 18 animals are loaded onto the main cargo deck of the MD-11F, the aircraft mainly used on the relevant connections. Two staff members accompany all animal transport runs. Their seats are located behind the cockpit.
Because whenever horses are being transported, the presence of grooms is indispensable. This applies at the airport, where the animals are checked by a veterinarian from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and even more so in the air: “During the flight, grooms are allowed to go to the horses in order to water them, and to keep them calm,” says Moreau-Sipiere, who usually does this job herself. “The first time I accompanied a flight I was 20 years old, and I have been doing it regularly ever since.” Back then her father managed many transport runs himself, and his daughter acted as a groom. At that time forwarding companies were commissioned to handle the assignments. “I enjoyed it, so that is why at some point I decided to take over logistics com pletely. I took several courses through IATA where I obtained the relevant certifications as well as my TSA Indirect Air Carrier credentials.” It all led to the foundation of Centurion World Logistics.
Exporting horses requires a great deal of administrative effort. “The exact amount of paperwork depends on the country of destination,” says the logistics specialist. In addition, the horses must go through quarantine before the trip. This is another service the entrepreneur can offer – thanks to the quarantine station her parents established at their stud farm over ten years ago. Starting this fall, the Texan can also handle transport runs from abroad and into the United States, thanks to her recently acquired “customs broker” certificate. “But it will just be an add-on to the export business,” says Vanessa Moreau-Sipiere. Of even greater importance to her is another project she wants to bring to fruition: to establish an animal station – a kind of Frankfurt Animal Lounge – at Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) airport, a mere hour and a half by road from the Centurion Stud farm. “This would be for use by myself as well as other forwarders engaged in exports.” One of the factors in her reckoning here – by no means the least important one – is this: Lufthansa Cargo also operates regular freight connections from DFW.
Photos: Edward Carreon