Reprinted from The Horse Report with permission from the Center for Equine Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis (UC Davis).
Horses have been transported across continents for centuries for many of the same reasons that they are transported today: competition, breeding, and commerce. They have traveled in ships, horse-drawn vehicles, trains, planes, and trailers and vans. Motorized conveyances were developed in the mid-1900s, and trailers or vans hauling pleasure, show, and race horses became essential in the horse industry.
The first known air transport of a horse reportedly was in the 1920s, and by the 1950s, horses were flying regularly between Ireland, England and France. The 1960s brought the “jet age,” with the first carriage of horses in a Boeing 707. Later, wide-bodied jets like the Boeing 747 could hold greater numbers of horses (up to 112) on charter flights. Throughout history, the management practices and other considerations in transporting horses have changed very little from ships to jets.
For horses that breed, show, or compete in athletic events, transport might be a necessary and frequent part of life. Air transport of horses is an obvious necessity for horses with international aspirations, but also is a viable modality for those going long distances within the United States. A 6-hour flight from New York to California can be a lot less stressful than a 72-hour van ride (five days). While some horses adapt well to transport, others