Tim Dutta’s Global Horse Transport Business

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Tim Dutta and his son, Timmy, on the polo field.
Tim Dutta and his son, Timmy, on the polo field.

May 20, 2014

By KENNETH J. BRADDICK

Even before the end of the annual migration of sport horses from Europe to Florida and back that almost equalled the history-making armada to the World Equestrian Games in Kentucky in 2010, Tim Dutta’s transportation company was gearing up for a busier summer than ever before.

By the time the WEG in Normandy, France is in the books and next winter’s Florida circuit comes around, Dutta Corp., the company he began with $1,503 a little over a quarter century ago, will have shipped more than 5,000 horses to become a leader in the rapidly growing global circuit of premier horse shows and polo tournaments. It is no longer unusual for top horses to emulate the lifestyle of human jetsetters–compete in America, fly to Europe for a show, then on to Asia and may be stop in western Canada before returning home.

And as the sport has expanded the 48-year-old Tim has been at the forefront of efforts to knock down barriers that until recently did not distinguish between elite athletes maintained at peak health and fitness in highly controlled environments and herds of animals shipped from farms and ranches to markets for food.

While 60 per cent of the business is still transatlantic, South America is growing rapidly.

Some of that is due to Tim Dutta’s years long pioneering work with Brazil to bring into the 21st century procedures that had been in effect for almost 50 years so scores of horses from across the Americas could compete at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 became a template for many nations. As was the case with the Pan Ams in Guadalajara, Mexico four years later, importing and exporting horses from around the world for the Olympics in Rio in 2016 should not be a problem.

His company played a key role in the historic airlift into Kentucky four years ago.

Dutta was not the officially designated shipper but as his company was licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to operate a quarantine facility he was vital to the smooth arrival by air of 753 horses from 53 countries–plus another 157 horses that shipped in by road from throughout North America.

The experience comes not only from big international championships like the Olympics, WEG and Pan Ams but what is commonplace to North America though unusual in Europe–American teams and individuals in all disciplines have routinely shipped horses to Europe for competition for decades while for much of that time has also been the largest importer of sport horses.

That changed with large numbers of Europeans competing at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada but surpassed in recent years by the Winter Equestrian Festival of jumpers and hunters and recently by its companion Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida.

With his longtime partner, Guido Klatte who operates the largest horse logistics center in the world at Lastrup, Germany, Dutta Corp. brought 700 horses into Miami for the 2014 Florida winter circuit. Chartered jetliners took the horses back to Europe at the end of the circuit, logging the largest ever airlift of horses into Amsterdam’s Schipol airport. April marked the biggest month in Dutta’s history.

Horse trailers lined up at Miami International Airport
Horse trailers lined up at Miami International Airport

“We anticipate bigger volume in 2015,” Tim said from his office in Wellington that he opened in 2013 in addition to the headquarters in the New York suburb of North Salem.

“Our corporate culture,” he said, “is that every horse is a champion, every horse represents a dream. Every horse and every dream is family, and each and every one of our 35 employees lives it, delivers it, fights for it and exceeds my expectations.

“For me, the philosphy is simple–I want to do business with your children. On average, our clients have been with us 20-plus years. If we promise something, we deliver beynd expectations.”

(In full disclosure, this correspondent was Dutta Corp.’s fifth customer and remains one to this day.)

The Florida shows are expected to grow even larger as more jumper and dressage riders from around the world prefer the warm weather lifestyle and an increasing number of event riders seek to hone their jumping and dressage skills amidst world class competition.

The World Cup Finals of dressage and jumping will be held in Las Vegas April, the Pan American Games staged in Toronto in summer and the Old Salem show in North Salem is a candidate to host the Nations Cup jumping final.

Tim and his Dutta Corp. have become the largest corporate supporter of dressage in the United States as the title sponsor of the national championships and, separately, the Grand Prix and Intermediate titles, two annual roundtrip shipping of horses from the U.S. to Europe, a founding sponsor of the Global Dressage Festival as well as underwriting the CDI4* that is a highlight of the winter calendar. He does the same for eventing and is also a sponsor of jumping.

Susan Dutta and Currency DC competing at the Global Dressage Festival. ©2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com
Susan Dutta and Currency DC competing at the Global Dressage Festival. ©2014 Ken Braddick/dressage-news.com

Although for many years he and his wife, Susan, have owned dressage horses that she competes on both sides of the Atlantic, Tim recently has had what he calls “a reunion with his first love”–polo.

With his 12-year-old son, Timmy, he has bought eight ponies and formed a team, Grande Gajo, that plays up to medium goal. They are aoached by Reuben Gracida, the cousin of Carlos Gracida who was one of Tim’s closest friends and died in an accident while playing polo earlier this year.

“I grew up playing in India,” Tim said. “It was my first love. Now, after years building the business I can finaly do something for myself that I’m lucky enough to share with my son.”