Transporting Horses

Moving horses from place to place is recorded to occur as far back in history as 3,500 years. At that time, horses were transported by sea and either were confined in boxes to the bowels of the boat or placed in slings on the deck of the boat.

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Moving horses from place to place is recorded to occur as far back in history as 3,500 years. At that time, horses were transported by sea and either were confined in boxes to the bowels of the boat or placed in slings on the deck of the boat. Even then, it was noted that transport was a stressful event that came with inherent health risks, and with a high mortality rate in horses shipped below deck. (Boats of that time were assumed to have extremely poor ventilation below deck.) It was noted that horses shipped on the deck, in the open air, survived the journey better than those below deck. In addition, it appears that the first reported research regarding horse transport was performed by General William Carter of the United States Army Veterinary Corps. Carter, who was in charge of transporting the Army’s horses to the Philippines by sea in the early 1900s, experimented with various methods of tethering. Carter’s studies led to the discontinued use of slings for the support of horses in transit. There is an excellent series of drawings depicting the early sea-transport of horses on display in the museum at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.







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ANNE EBERHARDT


Loading is considered to be one of the most stressful aspects of transportation.

The first accounts of horses being transported by land are in the 1770s. In the 19th Century, horses were transported in horse-drawn vans, with that mode of transportation being replaced in the 1840s as the rail system rapidly expanded. From about 1840 to the 1950s, the main mode of horse transport was by rail. It is documented by veterinarians and haulers that “many horses disliked being loaded and transported, and thus traveled badly.” It can be surmised that the “bad shipper” has existed back to the earliest times of horse transport

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Written by:

Michael A. Ball, DVM, completed an internship in medicine and surgery and an internship in anesthesia at the University of Georgia in 1994, a residency in internal medicine, and graduate work in pharmacology at Cornell University in 1997, and was on staff at Cornell before starting Early Winter Equine Medicine & Surgery located in Ithaca, New York. He was an FEI veterinarian and worked internationally with the United States Equestrian Team. He died in 2014.

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