On the International Trail

International Incident

Traveling to new places lands you in some interesting situations, especially when you are unfamiliar with local laws!

We’ve all done it – gotten to the front of the airport security line and realized we’ve left something in our carry-on bag that won’t make it through security. In my travels with horsemen over the years, my traveling companions and I have been reprimanded by security for leaving spurs, pocket knives and other tools of the trade in our bags. We’ve been met with everything from stern looks to incredulity (like when Thomas B. Saunders V had five – yes five – pocket knives in his carry on in Paraguay), but most of the time airport officials have been gracious enough to allow us to take the items in question back to the ticketing counter and put them in our checked luggage.

This summer I found myself in a similar situation as I was departing Germany from the airport in Munich and traveling on to Dublin, Ireland. I put my briefcase through the x-ray machine and simultaneously remembered that I’d forgotten to put my AQHA Life Member knife back into my checked bag. Now, I was aware that carrying pocket knives was less common in Germany than the US. I was even aware that switchblades were illegal in Germany. So I expected to receive a harsher reprimand from the German airport security than I might in other places, and I was confident that I would lose my knife.

As expected, I was asked if I had a knife in my bag. I replied that yes, I believed I did. The security agent removed the knife and inspected it. As he did, he found the little knob on the blade of our AQHA Life Member knives that makes it easy to open one handed – a very handy feature for those of us that find the need for a knife around the barn or in the arena. As he flipped the knife open, his eyes went wide and he called for the airport police to come over. And that’s when I knew I might receive more than a minor reprimand…

You see, that handy little feature makes our AQHA Life Member knives illegal in Germany, where citizens are not allowed to carry any knife that can be operated one handed in public. I even got a nice demonstration from the policeman about how dangerous I could be if I snuck up an someone and stabbed them with my one-handed knife (which I ensured him I had no plans to do).

To make a long story short, I was detained for roughly an hour, had my knife confiscated, was fined 40 Euros, and barely made my flight to Dublin. I was assured that my “minor offense” would not prevent me from returning to Germany, and I can assure you, the next time I do I will leave my new AQHA knife behind!

Traveler’s Note: Click here for handy information about countries you may be traveling to (including local laws).