The United States is home to more than 7 million horses on farms all across the country. These strong, magnificent creatures are a staple in many cultures, learning complex tricks for shows, participating in races, acting in iconic films and living alongside us as wonderful companions. Sometimes owners need to find horse transportation companies to move their horse long-distances.
Horses and other equids build unique, strong bonds with their equestrians and owners that can last decades. Studies show they are intelligent animals with outstanding memory and the ability to sense human emotion. That’s why when you need to move a horse, it’s crucial to choose horse transportation companies with experience and empathy.
Whether you are transporting your horse to your new farm across the country, purchasing your horse from another state, or taking them to a race or show, horses require specific and attentive care with a handler that understands their complexities.
For this reason, horse transportation is a methodical process. As a larger animal, ground transportation is likely the main route. When looking into horse transportation companies and methods, there are some primary considerations to keep in mind. Here are some tips!
Traveling Across State Borders
The first step in any animal’s travel plans should be a checkup. Knowing the status of your horse’s health will help your transporter better prepare for maximum comfort and care. In addition, you may need some legally required paperwork about your horse’s health upon arrival at your new destination.
If possible, a time frame of 30-60 days is recommended to research the state health requirements of your destination and prepare vet appointments for your horse before their journey. Each state has differing requirements for your horses or equids upon entry. Contacting the state veterinarian offices of your destination will provide more detailed and up-to-date requirements and suggested vaccinations for the area.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) is generally required upon arrival in a new state. This certificate verifies that a registered veterinarian has inspected your horse and cleared them of any contagious diseases or dire health concerns prior to travel. The certificate must be obtained within 30 days of your arrival.
During the appointment, your vet may recommend:
- A Coggins Test.
- Deworming services.
- Additional vaccines (commonly rabies, West Nile virus, tetanus, equine flu).
If you’re having trouble finding a vet nearby, FirstVet’s clinically trained veterinarians can assist you from your home. Through instant messaging or video, FirstVet will connect you with an expert to help you find the right local care for your horse.
Equipment Recommendations for Horse Transport
Horses are among the largest commonly-transported animals, ranging from a couple hundred pounds to a couple thousand pounds depending on the breed of equine. Therefore, a Shetland pony and an Arabian will have very different transportation quarters.
Since equids cannot take to the skies on commercial flights, the main mode of transport is in a trailer pulled behind a vehicle. Being prepared with the proper equipment will be crucial for your horse’s safety and well-being.
Preparing For Travel
Most of us write a list of items we don’t want to forget before we leave on vacation — no one likes the feeling of forgetting something important at home. Arranging a list for your horse ahead of time will bring extra peace of mind and ensure you’re good to go.
Here are some things you’ll want to pack for the ride:
- Copy of certificate of veterinary inspection
- Medications and first aid kit
- Enough water (five to seven gallons per horse) and hay to last the duration of the trip
- Grooming supplies (brushes, combs, hoof picks)
- Halter and lead rope (extras if you have them)
- Tools for manure disposal (broom, shovel/fork, manure bag/bucket)
- Insect spray
- Familiar blankets
- Head bumper
- Extra wraps or boots
The trailer your horse rides in will act as their mobile home for the duration of their travel. Whether you choose to transport your horse in your own trailer, or one provided by your transporter, you’ll want to make sure everything is in good shape.
If the trailer is provided by the transporter, ask for photos or inspect it in person before committing to the ride.
- Is it clean?
- Is there equipment, bedding or hay left from past transports?
- Are there any visible signs of rusting or deterioration such as holes or flaking?
- Is there enough room for your horse to comfortably stand and move around?
- Will my horse be sheltered from sun or rain?
Specific Aspects of the Trailer to Inspect
- Brakes: All trailers hauling animals must have brakes by law because it is crucial to your animal’s safety. This will prevent accidents with other vehicles that may injure your horse.
- Lights: Just like when you take your own car on the road, trailers with animals inside are required by law to have working lights. This includes turn signals, brake lights, and tail lights. Additionally, it’s ideal to have lights inside the trailer for nighttime rides and in case of emergencies.
- Floor: Lift up all floor mats and bedding to ensure that the flooring of the trailer is structurally sound. If constructed of wood, check for rotting. If constructed of metal, look for rust. The floor should be lined with materials that have traction to reduce fatigue in your horse’s legs.
- Hitch Equipment: Check the hitching mechanisms for signs of wear or mal-use. Everything should be securely fashioned.
- Signs of Damage/Wear or Hazardous Material: If there are uneven surfaces or signs of wear such as splintering wood, your horse could injure itself.
- Ventilation: adequate airflow through windows and vents is crucial.
Where to Find the Best Horse Transportation Companies
Horse transportation can have more challenges than the transport of a smaller domesticated animal such as a cat, dog or bird. If you don’t have a horse trailer, or your current one needs some maintenance, it can be an expensive endeavor. Luckily, leaving the journey to a horse transportation company can save you money and create a safer environment for your horse.
There are many avenues to finding reliable horse transportation companies. Let’s assess the options.
Word of Mouth
Your venture to find the right horse transportation company might start by getting recommendations from businesses and horse facilities you frequent. Getting in touch with locals in the industry such as groomers, stable operators, or equipment store owners may produce some leads to check out.
Surfing the Web
An online search may seem like an easier approach to find a horse transportation company, but your search engine may spit out an overwhelming amount of results to choose from. This process can be time-consuming. To minimize stress, be sure to start your search early on in your transportation process.
If you choose to find a transporter locally or on a horse transporter website, you’ll need to do some extra research to be sure the service you’re booking is legitimate, highly rated and has the correct qualifications to transport your horse.
Scamming is becoming more and more prevalent in shipping companies online. Knowing what the red flags are can help you avoid the loss of money or even your horse.
To protect yourself from scams, avoid horse transport company sites that:
- Have suspiciously low prices. You may feel like you’ve struck a good deal, but this is the most common scam. Compare prices to other companies to see what the average rate is. If it falls below by a considerable amount, do further research.
- Have poor spelling or grammar on their website or in their email communication.
- Have a website name, logo, or layout that is very similar to an already established shipping company, but something seems slightly off. This is called a pirate website.
- Ask to receive payment in unusual ways: money transfer (e.g. Bitcoin, Western Union, Moneygram), gift card, or prepaid debit card.
Online marketplaces like CitizenShipper act as a hub for horse owners and equestrians to browse transport services tailored specifically to their horse’s needs. Once you create a free listing for your horse’s transport, quotes from qualified drivers start flowing in within minutes.
Through CitizenShipper’s unique bidding system, all the qualified drivers that match your listed requirements compete to offer you the best deal. You’ll be able to respond to the drivers you’re considering, negotiate with them, and choose the perfect fit.
Equine transportation is a niche industry, but reliable and experienced transporters check in with CitizenShipper every day looking for their next trip to bid on. Before getting behind the wheel, most of our drivers are USDA-registered and all undergo a stringent background-check.
CitizenShipper is the largest and highest 5-star-rated pet shipment marketplace after 14 years of operation and over 100,000 pet transports.
What Makes a Great Horse Transporter?
The transporter should continuously care for and tend to your horse during their journey. As social animals that are very perceptive to changes in environment, it is critical that horses be placed in the hands of trusted transporters to avoid added stress.
The following are indicators of a transporter that will make the transportation experience as easy and safe as possible for your horse.
Experienced with Proper Equipment
It is extremely important that the transporter you choose has experience handling horses or larger animals because their needs differ from smaller domesticated animals like cats and dogs. Asking your transporter about their experience with horses and the horse transportation industry to get a better understanding of how they operate their services.
Some questions you might ask are:
- How long have you been working with horses?
- How often will you stop for exercise, manure removal, watering, etc.?
- How do you plan for overnight trips?
- What can I pack/do to best prepare my horse for riding with you?
CitizenShipper provides the option to message a prospective transporter directly to address any questions or concerns you may have prior to booking their services.
In the digital age, reviews are very telling of a company or service. If a transporter has a decent amount of positive reviews about their service, reading about their successful travels may provide you with added peace of mind.
Prior to booking with CitizenShipper, you can view each transporter’s profile that will detail their:
- Average rating on a 5-star scale.
- Number of completed transports and cancellations.
- Detailed reviews written by past customers.
Communicating with your horse’s transporter is one of the simplest ways to alleviate your separation anxiety and receive updates.
Through CitizenShipper’s internal messaging system, you have access to consistent communication with your pet’s transporter. You may even receive cute pictures of the passenger along the way!
In addition, CitizenShipper has an industry-leading customer support team that helps ensure an easy and worry-free experience from start to finish:
Booking Assurance Guarantee
CitizenShipper offers refund protection, a driver replacement guarantee and full support for your specific needs.
Stellar customer support, all week long
CitizenShipper’s customer support agents respond 324% faster than the industry average and are ready to address any concerns or questions you may have.
Routinely checking the condition of the horse in transportation is critical to preventing health concerns. A knowledgeable transporter will be able to identify the signs of stress, overheating, and discomfort in your animal. Transporters that prepare ahead of time for any possible medical issues are essential.
While en-route to your horse’s destination, all drivers hired through CitizenShipper are well-prepared for health emergencies, should they arise during travel. They have access to 24/7 Televet care for all horse transportation routes through FirstVet. Long-distance travel can be taxing, but having access to a licensed veterinarian can put everyone’s mind at ease.
CitizenShipper transporters have over 100,000,000 miles under their belts, and a genuine love for horses like yours — it’s why they do what they do! Whether you have an exquisite sport horse to transport to a jump show, or a prideful pony to bring home to the farm, there’s a driver excited for your listing!
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Paige Strickland is a content writer with a background in journalism. She is an advocate for animals, the environment, and local issues.