Preparing To Fly The Flying Gangsters

Saturday, May 18, 2019
Posted by Mary Phelps


Truck to Plane.png

We have competed at The Live Oak International Combined Driving Event the last 4 years. Brook Ledge, one of the oldest equine transport companies in the USA has been a generous sponsor.

Mary and The Flying GangstersThey ship the jumpers from Wellington to Ocala for the the FEI Grand Prix Competition. They also provide the popular hospitality tent for competitors near the stabling with food, live streaming monitors, and comfortable seating throughout the event. Brook Ledge manages all of the shipping and International Transport for the US Four in Hand Team Gold Medallist, Chester Weber, manager of LOI. 

We qualified at Live Oak to be considered to represent the USA at the FEI World Driving Championships for Ponies, which will be held in Ászár-Kisbér (HUN) September 25-29. Regardless of whether we were selected, this was the year to head to Europe and train with one of the greatest families in Driving Sport.

After we were done our awards ceremonies (we finished second in the FEI Advanced Pony Pair Division) we sat by the arena and met Will Phipps the Brook Ledge agent who had been at the show all week. It was then we learned that Brook Ledge also manages Domestic and International Air Transport as well. We also learned of new developments which would greatly reduce travel time from Florida to the airport. We were getting quotes to fly four ponies to Europe in July, to train and compete with Bram Chardon at his family training center in the Netherlands. 

Loading the containers with horses and equipment
Loading the containers with horses and equipment

Flying With Horses

People are fascinated that horses are transported by plane. It happens every day, often on passenger plane with those seated in front having no idea there are horses loaded in the back. Years ago I travelled with HFR Transport, a popular agent based out of New York. I did it for the purpose of writing an article which was a two part story found here titled Flying With Horses . Now I am in the process of of doing it myself, and thanks to HFR I know what to expect.

Brook Ledge Has a Long History

I have know this company since the days in the mid 1970’s when I was a groom on the Standarbred Track. I worked a lot of sales in my early days, and rode in the back of the trucks several times with the horses. Family owned, Brad Gotwalds was the guy back then during the busy sales season, racing circuits, organizing his fleet of trucks and drivers. I knew Brookledge was a nationwide horse transport company, but had no idea they had expanded into Air Travel. 

They say they provide personal service on their website, and they mean it. 

The following week, Bruce’s wife Scarlette and their son Colton came to our farm in Micanopy, Florida. We visited for over 2 hours. Scarlette explained Brook Ledge had acquired, which she manages, providing the complete door to plane to door service for their clients. And we learned something else we didn’t know. For months we were trying to decide on the logistics of do we fly from New York/Kennedy or Miami, which in July had fewer options. Guess what? Brook Ledge now manages flights out of Atlanta, Georgia. 

Carina Crawford
Carina Crawford (CAN) at Live Oak International ©
Traveling With Carina Crawford

As plans begin to shape up we all connected with fellow Pony Driver and breeder of German riding ponies, Carina Crawford, from Aiken, North Carolina. Carina will be representing Canada, and will be training with Koos and Marie DeRonde. We have been in touch making plans, and just last week it was decided we would each bring four ponies and traveling with them. When flying with horses, they are ship in containers with 3 stalls each. With four ponies that leave one empty stall where we can store extra items, like our luggage. 

The Plan So Far

Scarlette, a veterinarian, knows her stuff, and explained much of the detail and options for a three month trip. We have all been communicating, and quotes have been clearly outlined. All my questions and e-mails are answered promptly. It’s not cheap, and with four ponies, as well as the unavoidable import fees, into the USA upon our return, the cost is close to $50,000. We decided to do the full package. 

Brook Ledge will be picking up the ponies at our farm just north of Ocala July 5. Their trucks can also load carriages; my dressage and marathon carriage, equipment, 3 sets of harnesses, grooming and horse show supplies, clothes, blankets, and this big hat boxes. 

Then the ponies spend the night in Newnan, Georgia while the carriages and equipment head to the airport to be packaged and wrapped in plastic. Because we have 3 containers, we are also allowed 3 passengers to accompany a full time professional groom. So Carina, Wayne and I will be headed by Cargo plane.

The Cost

We have decided to do the door to plane service, and having Brook Ledge manage it all. Import fees back into the USA, and possible extra quarantine costs for my mare Kimba (I just can't leave her behind) will be in the 'round trip range of $50,000.

I have a fundraising page set up where we are overwhelmed by the support of all who have followed our adventures, and appreciated the work we do for equestrian sport on (22 years)  

Thank you again to all who have donated to our fundraising efforts, it is appreciated more than you will ever know. 

Stay tuned as we continue to share more, play by play.