The beauty of horse racing is that it takes place all over the world, with some of the richest horse races taking place in far-flung countries from a British point of view. Even those trainers that are based in Ireland face something of a logistical nightmare in getting their horses over to the United Kingdom for competitions. If you add in the possibility of a horse needing to head to Australia or Abu Dhabi in order to take part in a race, you’re suddenly faced with any number of different problems that are more than just getting them in a horse box.
The obvious question that owners will want to know the answer to is what the rules and regulations are around transporting a horse. Is there anything that you need to do, other than making sure that they’re comfortable? What are the issues and problems that might arise as a result of choosing to enter your horse into a competition that is taking place in a different country? From a bettor’s point of view, are there any likely after-effects of being moved from one country to another that might be borne in mind when race time rolls around?
What The Rules Say
The most important thing that owners and trainers must be aware of when looking to move their horse from one country to another is that they have to be moved in a manner that will reduce any possible suffering. If the horse is not fit enough to go on the intended journey, they aren’t allowed to travel. Even the likes of the weather conditions will need to be taken into account before the transportation of a horse can be considered, so if the weather is freezing cold then plans must be put in place for the horse to be comfortable in a horse box.
The vehicles themselves have to be specifically designed in order to transport horses, which is an important aspect of ensuring that they won’t suffer and injuries won’t occur. On top of that, whoever is responsible for the horse during its journey must have access to the horse’s equine identification document, which can be thought of as being akin to the horse’s passport. In order to be considered fit enough to travel, none of the following can be the case at the time of transportation:
- The horse is ill
- Unable to move without assistance
Other rules also apply, such as a mare not being allowed to travel if it is beyond 90% of its gestation period, or if it gave birth a month or less before. Of course, mares in such a situation are unlikely to be asked to travel for racing purposes, nor are foals with a navel that hasn’t healed, but it is important to outline everything. If a horse falls ill during the transportation period, they need to be seen as quickly as possible and kept apart from other animals that are also being transported, until it becomes known what the problem is.
Racing As An International Sport
The simple fact is that horse racing is now an international sport. Locations such as Dubai, Australia and Hong Kong host events that offer the sort of prize money that owners cannot afford to turn down. As a result, horses need to be flown across the globe in order to take part in such competitions, with owners hoping that they can bring home the big bucks that make the cost of flying them around pale into insignificance. A huge amount of preparation goes into making horses ready for such a journey, including figuring out how training will be interrupted.
Most horses train on a regular basis, so a flight to Australia that will take up to 24 hours to complete will see such a training schedule broken up. The horses need to be fed and watered during that time, which must be prepared for, whilst different countries will have different quarantine regulations in place. Such is the nature of taking part in races overseas that the preparation for getting your horse there needs to get away months in advance; this isn’t the sort of thing that can be decided upon at the last minute.
Vets Play An Important Role
As you might imagine, the role of a veterinarian is important when animals are being moved from one location to another. Not only is it the job of the vet to check that they are ok to be moved in the first place, a vet will also be used to ensure that they are fit and healthy at the other end. When in quarantine, for example, horses have nasal swabs done on a regular basis to check for things such as equine flu, with their temperatures also taken daily in order to monitor their general health and wellbeing.
Such monitoring is also carried out on horses in the days building up to when they would fly, ensuring that they are therefore fit to do so. When it comes to the time that they need to fly, horses are usually transported in specialist aircraft. You’re unlikely to have a horse in the hold of the 747 that you’re travelling on for your holiday to the Far East, for example. Once they’re on the plane, they need to be fed and watered carefully in order to ensure that they don’t develop something like colic because of how much they’ve eaten.
There are specific things that happen to a horse after it has landed in a new country. Firstly, a high temperature is one of the initial signs of travel sickness, which is why their temperature is taken so regularly. This will often needed to be treated with antibiotics and that is problematic for trainers, so work is put in to stop it from happening. For the first few days after travel, trainers don’t want to put their horses under too much stress or strain, so it takes a while before the horse is allowed to exercise properly.
It is that sort of thing that needs to be taken into account when planning for a race abroad. A horse that is rushed back into training might do damage to itself, so the organisation includes allow the horse plenty of time to be acclimatised to its new location. It is common for trainers to plan a horse’s first race about two weeks after their arrival, which means that they’ll be given easy work after they’ve landed and in the build-up to a race. After coming home, horses will be allowed to take it easy and sometimes have a break to allow them to recover from their exertions.