Horse transportation around the world

Steve O Speak racing

How does it work?


Horse racing is growing year on year, with prize money continuing to increase. Therefore horses are now travelling around the world to contest for this, with the main targeted races including the likes of the Melbourne Cup, Breeders Cup and Royal Ascot. The work that goes into getting a horse to these events is vast and it is not simply getting them into the trailer and closing the composite doors. Here we cover how it works in transporting a horse around the world.


Many horses adapt differently when travelling for long periods of time, which is why preparing for all eventualities is so important. Preparation is key. Training schedules need to fit around the lengthy flight times meaning the event is planned months in advance. This ensures that it can run as smoothly as possible for the horse, in order for it to be ready to race come the day.


Quarantine is another factor that needs to be taken into account. For example, UK horses must spend time at Side hill stud in Newmarket prior to flying to Australia. This is to ensure they have the correct vaccinations and are fit to travel. This will include all exercise being supervised and checked by vets, and horses having regular blood tests in order to make sure they are fit and well. This is prior to putting them through the task of travelling for long periods of time. This is an extremely important step for connections. This is different for other countries in which the horses will spend time in quarantine once over there, such as for 72 hours in America.

Horses are now being transported in custom built aircrafts and are of course used to travelling in a horsebox so have no trouble getting onto the aircrafts. It can still be a difficult time for them as it is for humans on take-off and landing. Humans are not able to stay with the horses on take-off which can add to the potential problem. Similar to take off, landing is an important step for a horse. Once landed it is important to give a horse a good walk around and to check its temperature is not rising, which would be a clear sign of travel sickness. However with exercising it is a case of small amounts for the next 36 hours, in order to not put too much strain on the horse.

The most important aspect for the flight is keeping horses hydrated. During the flight they are usually offered water every couple of hours and drips and even electrolyte paste’s are used. The vet sitting with the horse must ensure they are showing no signs of dehydration as this could be detrimental looking ahead to their race. This is a similar story with the feeding, as it is important to not overfeed horses as they can develop colic. Which as many know, can even kill a horse in worst cases. It is then the same process on the return journey.



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