I gained a great deal of knowledge concerning air travel with horses after discussion with several grooms, two of which accompanied horses to the WEG in Normandy, France last August. Horses tend to travel within a pallet on a special livestock plane. Pallets usually contain several horses and appear like a large horse trailer. Pallets are usually covered on top thereby reducing potential equine anxiety. Horses are tied during the flight and often wear a lightweight sheet (like a turnout sheet). Generally they are not sedated, concerned mainly with take-off and landing, but it is recommended that the accompanying groom have Darmosedan for emergent intramuscular (I.M.) not intravenous administration.
Twelve hours or so prior to air travel horses are fed a bran mash containing mineral oil to prevent obstipation, impaction, and possible colic. Hay (the horse’s own) and water only are provided during shipping (the shipper provides buckets and hay nets). Horses, like humans, tend to dehydrate while flying so water consumption is encouraged. (If drinking during travel is a problem “tricks” can be used like flavoring the water with molasses or Gatorade.) A bran mash is offered again after landing.
The most active airport for livestock in Europe is Amsterdam although other airports are used depending on one’s ultimate destination. After landing, horse “customs” can be a long process taking 1-3 hours. All forms (e.g. horse passport, health certificate…) should be confirmed, obtained, and filled out prior to the trip and in the groom’s possession for the flight. This will smooth out the landing procedure. Also, any specifics regarding quarantine possibilities, duration, location and cost should be confirmed with the shipper prior to departure.
Generally speaking, the rider (unless also the accompanying groom) does not fly with the horse. Ground transportation to the destination barn is shipper-dependent and may or may not need to be arranged prior to travel.