Safely Transporting Your Horse

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Safe Transport

Riding in a motorized vehicle can be frightening and challenging for horses. Transporting a horse in a vehicle should be done safely and with a minimum amount of stress. The horse should not be rushed during loading and unloading. Be patient and calm to minimize stress. Using positive reinforcement and providing a familiar companion horse can help reduce stress during loading and transport.

Horses will be alert to noises, breezes and sudden movement of objects. Even drivers and handlers should avoid abrupt movements.

Horses used for sport and recreation need to be taught to load, unload and be hauled with a minimum of stress.

Inside a vehicle or trailer, a horse should have room to assume a natural stance, with four feet on the floor and a full range of head and neck motion. Its head should not touch the deck or roof of the vehicle.

Straw, shavings and other absorbent bedding materials can help provide the horse with sure footing and encourage urination during transport.

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What does the Code of Practice say about transporting horses?

Each person involved in the preparation of horses for transport and in the transporting of horses by any mode should be knowledgeable about horse behaviour, adhere to the principles of animal welfare and comply with appropriate regulations.

The handler should have easy access to each horse.

The driver is responsible for the continued care and welfare of the horses during transport.

Drivers should start, drive and stop their vehicles as smoothly as possible. They should practice defensive driving to avoid sudden stops. Drivers should negotiate turns in the smoothest possible manner.

The transportation of horses from point of origin to a final destination should be completed as safely and as quickly as possible.

Each load should be checked before departure and periodically during transportation. During roadside inspection, the driver should evaluate all animals for signs of discomfort. When the welfare of horses is likely to be compromised due to further transport, the situation must be promptly corrected.

Transportation is recognized as a potential stress to horses. Horses stressed by transport should be closely observed for several days for signs of ill health.

Vehicles, Trailers And Equipment

Vehicles used to transport horses should provide for the safety of horses and personnel during transport.
Vehicles should be cleaned and sanitized regularly to prevent the spread of disease and allow for regular evaluation of floor integrity.

Provisions must be made for drainage or absorption of urine. Horses should always be transported with  with straw, wood shavings or other absorbent bedding material. Bedding should be used to enhance and ensure the security of footing during transportation. Vehicle floors must provide for secure footing.

Vehicle doors and internal gates should be wide enough to permit horses to pass through easily and without risk of injury. There should be adequate and uniform lighting within the trailer.

Vehicle Specifications

Vehicles should:

  • Permit easy loading and unloading.
  • Be properly constructed and maintained, with proper cover to protect against extreme weather conditions.
  • Be free from insecure fittings or the presence of bolt heads, angles or other projections.
  • Be properly ventilated. A method must be available to adjust the ventilation from outside the loaded trailer to accommodate a change in weather or unplanned delay in unloading; and
  • Be free from engine exhaust fumes entering the trailer or container.


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