BBA Shipping and Transport Ltd — frequently asked questions
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Worldwide shipping of horses requires a team of skilled and experienced professionals who understand the special needs of your horse.

We provide a door-to-door service to nearly every country you can imagine and every shipment is planned and co-ordinated to ensure the safe arrival of your horse at its final destination.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions, which you may find helpful.

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Prior to travel, what kind of examinations must the horse have?

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Depending on the country of destination, horses must be tested for certain diseases. Usually this happens by sending blood- and/or CEM samples to an approved laboratory for examination. The most common are:

  • Equine Infectious Anaemia (Coggins test)
  • Equine Piroplasmosis (C-Elisa test and 'Complement Fixation Test' for Babesia Equi and Babesia Caballi).

A physical medical examination by an official vet 24 to 48 hours before departure of the horse is also compulsory. This is to confirm that the animal is fit and healthy enough for the journey.

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Must my horse go into quarantine?

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This depends on the country of final destination. For example, the United States of America require all horses to complete 3 days in US Department Of Agriculture quarantine on arrival and will then be tested for previously mentioned diseases. When these tests give negative results, the horses will be released from quarantine. Geldings can then travel to the final destination. Mares and stallions will be transported to a CEM-quarantine facility. For other destinations, such as Australia, Canada, South Africa, Japan and Hong Kong, quarantine may be required before departure.

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What documentation must my horse travel with?

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The documents that are to be shipped with the horse are:

  • Original passport, issued by an approved body
  • Health certificate (at least one, on some occasions more)
  • Marking diagram of the horse, signed by an official veterinary authority.

Customs documentation and certain other documents may be required (Thoroughbreds may require other Weatherbys documents.) All documentation is arranged by BBA.

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What should my horse take with him?

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Preferably, the horse will have a good strong leather head collar with two ropes. In addition to this the horse will only need leg protectors and a maximum of 2 rugs. BBA Shipping provides hay nets, water bins and buckets for use on the flight.

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How does the horse get on the plane?

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Horses travel facing forward and are loaded in jet stalls by using a load ramp and are then secured. Most stalls are triples, ie 3 full size horses to one stall. Very rarely horses travel in quad stalls (4 horses to one stall). It is also commonplace to travel ponies loose (without partitions) in a triple stall, allowing up to 5 or 6 ponies to one jet stall. After the horses are loaded in the stall, the container is moved with ‘dollies’ to the aircraft. On arrival at the aeroplane the container goes in using a high-loader. Once in the aircraft the container goes further with a roll-system and is then secured.

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Can I go with my horse on the flight?

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Only on certain routes may this be possible. On all flights professional flying grooms accompany the horses. These grooms are AATA (Animal Transport Association) registered. Certain airlines also require criminal record checks in order for grooms to qualify for flight clearance.

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Will my horse be fed and watered during the journey?

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During the journey horses are fed only hay, in order to prevent colic. They are also offered water on regular basis. Travelling at altitude dehydrates humans and animals. The professional grooms make sure that your horse will not become dehydrated.

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What is the temperature in the hold of the aeroplane?

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On board the temperature is normally adjusted to approximately 18° Celsius. Within the closed stall it is a few degrees warmer, which provides a comfortable feeling.

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Is there a vet on board?

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Normally no, as the professional flying grooms are veterinary grounded and are also very experienced in dealing with veterinary emergencies. In certain cases, eg charter flights, which may have up to 60 horses on board, a veterinary surgeon will be present on the flight.

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Do horses suffer from jetlag on arrival?

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Horses can indeed suffer from jetlag because of the time difference and because of the difference in the daylight. Travel sickness and possible respiratory tract infections are minimised by feeding haylage rather than hay, which may contain dust mites. Experience, however, tells us that horses rehabilitate quickly.

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Can horses be transported straight away on arrival?

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Normally yes, providing that the local ministry/customs instructions are being followed. However, it is advisable to let the horse rest as soon as possible, so that he or she can easily recover from the journey.

BBA Shipping horsebox image

As well as organising flights worldwide, BBA Shipping also runs a fleet of horseboxes. The horseboxes are busy throughout the year travelling horses to and from Ireland/France and around the UK.

In the spring this work predominantly involves Thoroughbred mares going to and from stud, in the summer horseboxes are busy with racing, and in the winter months they are flat out moving horses to and from all major Thoroughbred sales — including Tattersalls, Doncaster, Goffs and Deauville.

Contact us for further information.