Transport & Equipment

A new study will investigate how to optimize the welfare of horses being transported by air. Horses are among the most travelled domestic species, and although there has been plenty of research into road travel, less is known about how they cope with travelling by air.

Developing guidelines for health and well-being of horses transported by air.

By Mark Andrews

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From The Horse's Perspective - Until recently, no major studies had been conducted about the effect of travel on horses. The best advice most folks could hope for was to glean some pearls of wisdom from the ocean of opinions and tales of other road warriors.

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It’s no secret that the horse transport industry attracts people who think in terms of a fast or easy buck; the rate of start-ups claiming to be “horse haulers” is testament to that. The number of disreputable haulers makes the choice even more difficult. So, what’s a caring horse owner to do when the commercial horse transport landscape is as alien as the far side of the moon?

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When things just don’t feel right, you may experience a hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach, or you might actually manifest physical symptoms such as gastric distress, perspiration, or muscle tremors. In humans and in horses, stress can create a multitude of psychological reactions ranging from mild anxiety to debilitating near panic and severe depression, and reduced immune response which can invite illness. Long term stress can produce ulcers, musculoskeletal disorders, heart irregularities, and create a host of psychological vices.

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With spring just around the corner our thoughts turn to riding, riding, and more riding. While not nearly as enrapturing, save some consideration for that lonely chariot outside, which gets our beloved steeds to and from events, shows, and trails. Every trailer that has been parked or stored for the winter should undergo a methodical inspection and maintenance routine before hitting the road each year. Safety should always be of primary concern, but comfort is important as well – every time a horse has an unpleasant trailering experience, he or she will go through that much more stress on the next trip.

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A Guide to Getting Jack Into the Box - The most common transport-related injuries to horses are from failure to adequately and properly train the horse to load and haul. It’s solely a matter of investing the time and having the willingness to teach the horse in the way he can best learn and accept the concept. Think about the second half of that statement for a moment; as with any form of teaching, if method A isn’t working, there are 25 more letters in the alphabet!

In last issue’s article, A Foal’s Safe Trip Home, the challenge was to get my colt from Innisfail, Alberta to Abbotsford, BC as safely and stress-free as possible. At the time he didn’t lead and had never been in a trailer, and he was weaned the moment we left the property. Under these circumstances, I was concerned that the experience would be a lot for him to take in.

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