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  1. #1
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    Oct. 28, 2007
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    Default tell me about flying horses (I mean in an airplane, not Pegasuses!)

    This is more of a general question. My friend is thinking of taking her horse with her when she moves to Austria from New Zealand later this year. So we are getting quotes and looking into quarantine, etc.

    But it got me wondering how horses are kept on flights - in box stalls? Stanchions? Are they tranquilized for the flight? Is the cabin heated? Is a vet tech down there with them?

    I realize that Olympics and eventing horses fly to competitions overseas. How long does it take for them to acclimate to their new environment? Has anyone looked at the health consequences of air travel on horses?



  2. #2
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    They either fly in a cargo plane or in the cargo section of a passenger plane. KLM for example uses passenger planes with x numbers of horse containers in the cargo section of selected flights.

    No, no heating in cargo section.

    They fly in containers. Economy class is 3 horses per container (2 dividers), business is 2 per container and first class is one horse per container.
    There's usually one groom (trained to administer sedation if needed) per container or per 3 horses.
    Some agents can arrange for the owner to be allowed to travel with the horses in cargo section free of charge.
    They get hay in the containers and get offered water every couple of hours.
    If you google you should be able to find pictures of how they travel.

    The majority of time horses fly very well, no sedation needed and horses consider it no different then standing in a trailer, other then the noise really. My horses however did not do well, freaked out big time and needed to be sedated repeatedly during the flight.

    Make sure you verify quarantaine regulations for NZ to Europe and start the paperwork early enough. For US to EU for example you need to start no later then 3 mths ahead.



  3. #3
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    EEC Import health regulations equidae from New Zealand
    Group B
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/...0070101-en.pdf


    Interesting article about flying horses in horse.com
    http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=8012

    Picture of horses ready in container
    http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgur...&ct=image&cd=1
    (PS, just my experience, horses over 16.3hh travel better in a 2 stall container rather then 3 stall container)

    And more pictures
    http://www.klmcargo.com/tds/frameset.../fithorses.jsp
    http://www.imbertjeanmarc.com/austra...%20descent.jpg
    http://www.imbertjeanmarc.com/austra...9;en%20bas.jpg
    http://www.imbertjeanmarc.com/austra...%20content.jpg
    Last edited by Lieslot; Jan. 26, 2009 at 04:09 PM. Reason: correction + added more



  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ellebeaux
    Has anyone looked at the health consequences of air travel on horses?
    Heart arrytmia has happened to horses as result of travel stress, remember Courtney King's Mythilus went into A-fib when arriving in HK.

    I think once they are off the plane horses acustom quickly. But weather acclimatization can be difficult when moving from Southern to Nothern climates and vice versas.
    What if you move horses from a winter NZ climate into the EU summer? I've known some Australian TB's coming to the UK for polo and they clipped them upon arrival. They seemed to do well.



  5. #5
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    Feb. 26, 2007
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    We brought our horse from Holland to Canada during the frigid months of winter. He travelled KLM and was quarantined in the U.S. by a company called "Jet Pets". They were top notch. They contacted me as soon as they had him in their possession, advised me of his health upon arrival and kept me informed the total 72 hours he was quarantined. He travelled very well. The only glitch I had in the whole process (which I put together within a 2 week period) was Canadian Customs. The Custom agent I hired lost the Bill of Sale and was not going to let him cross. I was a good 16 hours away from the border. Thankfully the transport company I had hired to bring him across the border was aggressive in getting him across. Amazingly, after some digging, my Custom agent located the Bill of Sale and he was free to go. All in all, I found every agent and company I dealt with was very helpful and professional. The whole experience was painless.



  6. #6
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    Feb. 19, 2008
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    My guy was imported from New Zealand to US almost 2 years ago. He was stressed and had to be tranquilized, by the time he finally arrived to the barn (quarantine in NZ, flight, quarantine in Los Angeles, ride to Bay Area) he was a nut case, lost a lot of weight and it took him about 2 weeks to come down, but he is always a "special" horse. He had nasal discharge which we couldnt get rid of for about two months after the travel. Two years later his is still on NZ seasons change but its gotten a lot better and shedding is finally under control



  7. #7
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    There is never any "sedation" administered pre flight or during the flight. At the high altitudes, it generally has the opposite effect to what you were looking for ...

    Now for those that are saying their horses WERE sedated, I wonder if rules have changed since we last flew a client's horses which was about 8-9 years ago ... it was a huge no-no and the clients had to sign waivers stating that their horses had not been sedated. They end up sitting in the airline warehouse for about 2 hours pre flight anyhow, and then from the time they leave, head over to the ramp and get loaded, that takes another hour, so if any sedation had been administered prior to arrival it would have worn off in that 3 hour period. And I do agree - 99% of them travel well - its usually the owners that are freaking out ...

    The trained grooms carry "Euthanasia Kits" and not sedation. If a 1200 lb animal is flipping out at 35,000 ft and is at risk of kicking through the container and then the fuselage, they are euthanized very very quickly

    We did a lot of shipping for the Canadian Equestrian team and some private horses as well (I owned a freight and logistics company) and the horses were interesting but pretty "normal" to handle. The interesting shipments came from zoo's and wild animal shippers when we got to handle swans, lions, tigers and cheetah's. We quoted on 3 elephants going from Canada to South Africa and back again but the only aircraft that could handle the mature bull elephant was the Russian Antonov and at USD $300,000.00 each way, it was a little TOO pricey for their budgets ...

    With the large cats, the euthanasia kit is called a gun as none of the handlers are inclined to try and find a vein in a freaked out lion at 35,000 ft ...



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrueColours
    There is never any "sedation" administered pre flight or during the flight. At the high altitudes, it generally has the opposite effect to what you were looking for ...
    They often have no choice, I had 3 18hh+ horses starting to break down the container during take off. The flying groom contacted the ground veterinarian on guidelines as to doses, coz sedating at high altitudes affects horses totally different, that's very correct. I have no idea on the substance they used.
    My one horse was trying to rear up and then got his leg and head through the grooms door whilst the groom had to get help from a neighboring container groom to sedate my other two.
    I'm glad I didn't witness it. I had the opportunity to fly with them, but I'm glad I declined. Then when unloading my one guy got stuck again in the grooming door when he saw his mates being unloaded. But once on the truck to quarantaine and all reunited they thankfully settled. And once at their new home they settled as soon as they found carrots & apples in their manger .

    I wonder if mine would have done better if they'd each travelled with a total strange horse, (hopefully better travelled horse) rather then with each other, coz one was separated from the other two and it was sort of mayhem from separation onwards.

    I do have to say the flying grooms are very experienced and are trained dealing with panicking horses.

    Mine flew in spring 2005, perhaps rules changed again. I do know they were 'not' allowed any type of calming or medication prior to flying without pre-approval or being listed on the health document.


    I so hope we will stay in the US and not move back to Europe, as I fear for my boys if they have to be flown back.



  9. #9
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    MOST horses handle the flight pretty well. If they travel well on the road, they usually can deal with the plane ride. And most will tell you it is EASIER on them to fly, when we're talking about fatigue.

    And I have ALWAYS been told that horses get very little chance to calm down if they act up. If it looks like there is a risk of the horse getting bad, they are put down...swiftly. Part of my hesitation to fly with horses...that would be hard for me!



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lieslot View Post
    I think once they are off the plane horses acustom quickly. But weather acclimatization can be difficult when moving from Southern to Nothern climates and vice versas.
    Half of my horses were born in Brazil. The came in by air without any incident. About half went from the tropics to Northern Ohio. The acclimatized pretty easily.

    G.



  11. #11
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    Some things to consider, depending on your shipping company. The horse may have to go to the shipping company's "farm" or a holding facility a few days prior to flying, due to scheduling and/or medical testing requirements. Quarantine on the receiving end can be one week or more. So your horse's trip can be upwards of two weeks of strange places and travel, as well as different food and water. It is good to have the horse gain some weight before traveling as the trip will cause them to lose a good bit of weight.

    Once they arrive, if the seasons are opposite, be prepared to give them a full body clip in the spring as they will start growing winter coats in the spring. They also may not grow a good winter coat in their first winter as their bodies haven't fully adjusted, and may need blanketing in a cooler climate. Everything in their environment is different and can trigger allergic reactions. For the first couple of weeks be very vigilant for respiratory issues. You may want to monitor temperature for the first couple of weeks as well.

    All that said, I had three come from South America to the Mid-Atlantic this past March, and had no major issues. It was pretty traumatizing for them however. Especially if the seasons are opposite, don't expect them to perform up to par for several months if not a full year until their bodies are adjusted. They are fine for a couple of months, then they can crash and not be the same for quite some time.

    Edited to add - if the horse is valuable and is insured, you may need to add a "rider" to your policy for air travel.



  12. #12
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    Default

    Wow, excellent info! I will pass this on to her. I always find travelling overseas pretty exhausting and I know it's coming. I can't imagine what goes on in a horse's brain.

    Thanks all!



  13. #13
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    I'm terrified of flying and the only times I've had good flights are with the horses. These were all racehorses I flew with and never a bother on anyone. There's something calming about horses eating hay very quietly during take off and landing. Best flight ever was a Fed-Ex flight with me, the pilots, one horse and loads of packages. I had great meals and got to sit up front with the pilots. As I explained to them I was afraid of flying, they took the time to point everything out and make me realize it really was safe. At one stage the woke me up to show me the Rocky Mountains. I would take a flight with horses over a commercial flight any time!

    Terri
    COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

    "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.



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