How Will Brexit Impact British, European Horses?

Horses are likely to experience delays and be refused at border checkpoints during transport, which could compromise health and welfare and economically impact owners, trainers, and brokers, industry experts say.

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how will brexit impact horses
After Brexit, all horses—including high-health, high-performance equine athletes—will have to go through physical inspections (which means stopping and unloading for examinations by veterinary inspectors) at borders between the U.K. and countries in the European Union, industry experts say. | Photo: Courtesy Jon Stroud/FEI

As many as 25,000 horses a year can continue to cross the border between France and the United Kingdom (U.K.) unhindered, following a last-minute extension on the Brexit deadline. Until yesterday, however, equine industries in the U.K. and European Union (EU) had been bracing for a predicted halt in international horse movement as the previous April 12 deadline loomed.

European leaders met late on the evening of April 10 to address the U.K.’s break from the EU—commonly known as Brexit. Following a request for delay from U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, the council granted an extension up to Oct. 31, giving the U.K. time to ratify a withdrawal agreement. Depending on the agreement law makers vote to support, it could streamline trade rules between the U.K. and its former political affiliation, according to political experts. But while the extension buys more time for negotiations, equine transport standstills and pileups at checkpoints remain a risk.

Horses from all walks of life—including race, sport, and show horses and breeding stock—are likely to experience delays and could even be refused at border checkpoints during transport, political and industry experts say, which could have possible health and welfare consequences, as well as economically impact horse owners, trainers, and brokers

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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