Last updated: December 6, 2022
The cost of keeping horses is expensive. Ours often stay at a training center, and we pay someone local to haul them to their races, but this month’s bill made me realize that I needed to find out the going rate to transport a horse.
In general, most commercial equine transportation services charge .75 to 3.00 per mile; the range varies based on the region, distance, and mode of transportation. If you’re flying a horse overseas, expect to pay between $10,000 and $30,000.
There are a few different options to choose from when it comes to horse transportation. In this blog post, we take a look at the various ways to transport horses and outline the approximate costs associated with each option.
So, whether you are looking to move your horse across town or across the country, read on for information that can help make the process simpler and more affordable.
The cost to transport horses.
When most people think of horse transportation, they imagine a truck pulling a trailer. But there are other ways to move horses, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. In this post, we’ll take a look at the different methods of transporting horses, and we’ll discuss the cost of each option.
Not all horses need to travel, but this is likely to be necessary at least once in their life, whether it’s going to the vet, an exhibition, or a change of ownership. Whatever the reason, you must take precautions to ensure that the journey is smooth and comfortable for your equine friend.
Transporting your horse from one place to another is not a simple task. Unlike a cat or dog that fits comfortably inside your car, horses need a special housing unit, such as a trailer, to be transported.
Traveling can be tough on a horse. On average, horses lose 2 to 4 lbs for every hour of travel in cold weather, and these values can worsen in higher temperatures.
Horses can also suffer from immune system suppression, respiratory complications caused by decreased dust clearance, dehydration, food refusal, pleuropneumonia, and colic. Injuries can also occur from driving erratically and failing to have your horse correctly trained to travel – whether in a trailer, truck, plane, or other transport.
The cost to transport a horse can vary significantly, depending on the distance traveled and the mode of transportation used. In general, the more common methods of transporting horses – such as driving or flying – are more expensive than sending them by rail or boat.
How much will it cost to transport my horse by trailer or van?
The most common way to move your horse is by trailer or van. You’ll need to know how much it will cost before deciding which service best suits your needs. But be a savvy shopper and do your homework and only hire a reputable service.
All equine transport companies are not the same. Some use state-of-the-art horse trailers, are licensed with the National Horse Carriers Association, and follow strict health guidelines.
Here is a list of questions you should ask before hiring a horse transport company.
- Are you a licensed transport company?
- Are my horses covered by your insurance?
- What records do you need for my horse? You don’t want your horse traveling with sick or infected horses.
- How often do you stop to give the horses a rest?
- Do the horses get hay and water during the trip?
- What kind of rig do you use to haul the horses?
Some of these questions are more important than others. For example, I don’t want my horses hauled in a trailer that sick horses have been traveling in, nor do I want them riding in an unsafe rig.
Shortly after we got into horse racing, we paid to have a horse hauled from Louisiana Downs to Evangeline for a race, about a three-hour drive. I was at Evangeline waiting on the horse when I learned it was involved in a wreck.
The horse wasn’t hurt, but I found out the accident was caused because the trailer detached from the trucks’ hitch when going over a bump in the road; this should never have happened. And I’ve never let them transport a horse for me again.
Factors that affect the price of hauling horses over the road.
There are many factors to consider when transporting a horse. The equine transport companies usually charge a pre-set fee of $0.75/mile to $3/mile. But factors such as; the transport company’s profile, the distance, and the customary needs of the horse can affect the cost of transportation.
For example, if the equine transportation company is hauling a lot of horses to the same location, the rate is typically discounted. This is customary when moving horses between tracks after a season or to and from horse sales.
However, if you have one horse that needs to be hauled to a race and returned after, expect to pay a premium price. There are other factors that can affect the final cost, so it is crucial to get an accurate estimate before committing.
How much does it cost to transport a horse to Europe?
Transporting a horse overseas is expensive, and costs may vary as there is not always a regular cargo flight to some countries or states, and this forces you to charter flights that are expensive.
Plus, the travel class factor, departure and destination, documentation, and food provided are the few factors to notice that determine the costs to transport a horse overseas.
However, to give you an idea, the average cost to fly a horse to Europe ranges between $10,000 to $30,000, considering the relevant costing factors discussed above.
The video below provides some good insight about flying horses overseas, and towards the end of the video, they mention us – horseracingsense.
How long can you transport a horse without stopping?
Whether you’re transporting a horse to a show, race, or across the country, it’s essential to make sure you take breaks along the way. I recommend stopping and giving your horses a break from traveling every three or four.
So be sure to plan your route accordingly. Stopping for thirty minutes at these intervals will help keep your horse safe and healthy. Remember that horses need plenty of water and food while on the road, so pack water, feed, and hay for the trip. With just a bit of preparation, you can safely transport your horse anywhere you need to go.
Keep in mind that the more time in a trailer, the more likely the animal will develop problems because horses aren’t accustomed to balancing in a moving vehicle. It is advised to stop at least every four hours to water the animals and every eight hours to let them out to spend time walking around and rolling.
How to prepare your horse to be transported for a long trip?
Getting the horse used to get in and out of the trailer, even if you don’t intend to transport it, allows the horse to gain confidence and become more relaxed. This method is very effective if an emergency arises, your horse is ready to load and go.
Before loading your horse check to ensure the trailer is clear and protection rails and gates are secured in the correct open position. Also, the inside of the trailer should be very well lit and ventilated, making a more comfortable environment for the animal.
When you introduce your horse to the trailer, it’s critical they don’t have a bad first experience. A good strategy is to familiarize the horse with the trailer by letting it smell it.
Also, let the young horse watch others load and unload. We often walk our young horses in the trailer and back them out a few times in the weeks before their first trip.
Have your horse vet checked before a long trip.
In addition to this work, which focuses mainly on the horse’s behavior, you must also protect the most vulnerable parts of the animal (the legs and the back of the head). There are shipping boots designed for travel that support horses’ lower legs.
If you decide to use shipping boots, put them on your horse when it’s in the stall to get used to them. We don’t use shipping boots unless the horse has a fragile leg.
The horse can be covered to keep it warm, but it must not be sweating. Everything must be well secured, as the horse can be startled if something falls or hits the walls.
Ensure your horse is well fed and hydrated.
Feed the horse soaked hay during the trip to provide additional water and prevent dehydration and colic. This may sound basic, but never try to lead a horse onto a trailer that is not correctly hitched to an appropriate vehicle.
When transporting a horse, you must drive safely, avoiding sudden acceleration or braking. The trailer stall must have non-slip flooring so the animals don’t skid around when traveling. There shouldn’t be any sharp edges inside the trailer that could injure the animal.
Even when you take these precautions, things still happen. We hauled a horse on a two-hour trip, and it rubbed itself almost raw against a padded wall inside the trailer.
Specially designed box trucks have many advantages when hauling long distances. They don’t move as much, temperature control of the horse area is more manageable, and it’s easier to get the horses out in an emergency.
We live in Louisiana and are forced to haul our horses in hot weather, but you should try to avoid it when possible. The inside of a metal trailer gets very hot. It is more advantageous to start the trip at sunrise or late in the afternoon to avoid the hottest hours in summer. It is vital that the horse stays hydrated.
Do not make stops unless necessary, and if you do, try to stop in an area where you can take the horses out to get fresh air. Leaving horses in a hot trailer with no moving air will cause them to overheat and get sick.
Check out your horse thoroughly at the end of the trip.
Take the horse to the veterinarian for a thorough check-up. Any illness the horse has tends to get worse during long journeys. When you reach the destination, monitor the horse’s condition, and take him to a veterinarian to ensure it didn’t contract shipping fever or any other disease if you notice the animal is acting lethargic or displaying signs of illness.
Shipping fever or pleuropneumonia is a common risk in long-distance travel; this infection can be fatal. Also, give the horse some time to get used to the new location. If the journey was long, the horse might take a few days to regain its weight. There’s nothing better than pasture turn-out time for a horse, even after a short trip.
I wrote a detailed and helpful article on preparing a horse for a long trip that I recommend you read.
If you’re considering transporting a horse, it is helpful to know your options and how much they cost. But the most important factor is your horses’ safety. You don’t want your horse traveling in an unsafe rig.
Meet Miles Henry
An avid equestrian and seasoned racehorse owner, Miles Henry brings his extensive experience to the equine world, proudly associating with the AQHA, The Jockey Club, and various other equine organizations. Beyond the racetrack, Miles is an accomplished author, having published various books about horses, and is a recognized authority in the field, with his work cited in multiple publications.
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