As one of the more specialised and niche branches of the incredibly diverse road transport sphere, boutique horse transport operations tend to be small one, two or three truck concerns that work on a high degree of trust between operator and clients.
Tim Shute, along with his wife Rebecca, owns and operates Hann’s Horse Transport from their home base at Lethbridge near Geelong and cater for clients in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. They also have a long-standing arrangement with a similarly reputable transporter who handles the Queensland work.
The business was first started in Adelaide in the early 1970s by a harness racing aficionado who built it up based on the patronage of fellow harness racers in the southern state. However, by the time Tim started working for him in 2009 the Adelaide harness racing scene was on the wane.
Sensing an opportunity to broaden their horizons, Tim and Rebecca decided to buy the business in 2014, proceeding to expand operations and branching out into the eastern states and across a number of disciplines including show jumping.
“We don’t really operate on the back of the thoroughbred industry like the bigger operators,” Tim says. “Our client base is mostly the private owners in the performance horse and hobbyist markets including show jumping, endurance riding and show horses. Both my wife and I have been around horses forever – which is what you need to be able to effectively run a business like this.”
As a successful show jumper in his youth, Tim believes he was destined to work in the horse transport industry because he enjoyed taking the horses to events just as much as competing.
Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat unusually, he has an equal passion for both horses and horsepower, which is probably close to a perfect synergy considering the business he operates. As such, when it came time to upgrade from the previous 4×2 to a larger 6×2 truck, he knew exactly what he wanted, and, most importantly, needed.
“I’ve always loved trucks and a nice European cab-over is pretty much as good as it gets for this line of work,” Tim says. “After Mercedes-Benz launched the new Actros prime mover I straight away liked the look of them so I started reading up all about them and eagerly awaited the release of the rigid version.”
After speaking with Tim Blackstock, one of the sales executives at Daimler Trucks Huntingwood (western Sydney), Tim better understood the cost savings over the life of the vehicle due to various factors including the free scheduled servicing for the first 500,000km being offered at the time.
“As we average around 200,000km annually, we were able to bank on free servicing for the first two and a half years of ownership,” he recalls. “Tim Blackstock also emphasised the superior fuel economy of the Actros which we have verified over the first year of its operation. So due to the lower cost of ownership we’re actually in front compared to the previous truck even though it was smaller and much cheaper to buy.”