For leading equestrians, getting their horses to and from their competitions safely is a top priority. But what does it take to ensure that your horse is safe and comfortable during their travels? We interviewed Jim Welsh from Elite Horse Transport, LLC, an expert in transporting horses via ground, and Tim Dutta from The Dutta Corp, who specializes in transporting horses in flight. Here’s what they had to say:
In for a Plush Ride
According to Welsh, who has been transporting horses for over twenty years, tractor trailers are your best bet when you’re embarking on a roughly 1,250-mile journey from Westchester, New York to Wellington, Florida. Larger trailers provide a better ride for your horse because of the air ride suspension, and are safer in the event of any breakdowns or accidents.
Selecting a Shipping Company
When you are looking for a company to transport your horse, you’ll want to be sure that the shipper has a DOT number, which indicates that they are licensed by the Department of Transport to haul for hire. Companies that have a DOT number carry commercial insurance with higher liability limits. They also carry cargo policies that will cover expensive equestrian equipment, like saddles, in the event of a claim.
Coach or First-Class
When it comes to travel, horses usually have two options. A stall and a half or a box stall. The smaller stall and a half, what Welsh refers to as “coach,” allows two horses to be shipped next to each other crosstied. The “first class” option offers twice the room and allows the horse to have more freedom. Studies have shown that horses travel better in box stalls during long-distance trips.
Horses Take Flight
For Tim Dutta, transporting horses internationally is his specialty. He explains that it is not unusual for clients to fly their horses nine times a year across the Atlantic. From Chile to Amsterdam, no destination is too far for Dutta.
It might be surprising to learn that, just like humans, horses need passports. They are also microchipped to ensure proper identification throughout their journey. In addition, they need to have certification that they have been vaccinated. But all of this preparation is worth the effort, as there are always grooms on board to ensure that horses are safe, relaxed and have access to hay and water while flying.
Horses are ushered into a jet stall before being transferred onto a scissor lift. They are then loaded through either the nose or the side of the plane. The cargo planes that fly horses are often responsible for transporting non-equestrian items as well: everything from tulips to chickens to French wine.
—by Lauren Teneriello