How Much Does It Cost To Transport A Horse? – An Expense Guide

Are you looking for the best transportation options for your horse that won’t break the bank? Whether you’re planning to transport your horse internationally for a big show or a relocation, transporting horses is a huge responsibility and can cost you a lot. It has a significant financial impact on you as an owner, especially if you have to ship your horse overseas. 

Transporting a horse involves a range of considerations, both logistical and financial. Personal experience has shown me that these costs can escalate further based on the size of the horse, the type of trailer used, and any specialized services like overnight stays or veterinary checks during transport. When I first needed to move my horse, I found it essential to obtain quotes from multiple transport companies to compare prices and services offered. This proactive approach helped me budget effectively and ensured my horse received safe and comfortable transport. While transporting a horse can be expensive, the assurance of professional care and the smooth transition to a new location make it a valuable aspect of responsible horse ownership.

So, how much does transport for a horse cost? Costs for transporting horses can vary significantly depending on the destination, mode of transportation, and additional services like pre-flight tests. On average, hiring a licensed equine transport company can range from $0.75 to $3 per mile. For international transport by air, costs typically start at $2,000 and can exceed $10,000 for a one-way flight. According to the American Horse Council, these costs fluctuate based on factors like the horse’s size, the type of trailer utilized, and specialized services such as overnight stays or veterinary checks during transit (American Horse Council, 2023).

But what is the most cost-effective mode of transportation for your horses, and how much would you ensure that your horse will arrive safely? We’d love to help you find the answer in this article, so let’s dive right in. 

How To Transport Horses

There are four ways to transport a horse; each method costs differently and has different advantages and drawbacks. Listed below are the most common ways to ship a horse. 

Four Horse Transportation Choices:

Traveling via Airplane

If you need to transport your horse overseas, traveling via airplane is the easiest and fastest way. Therefore, you have to work with companies specializing in equine transportation. A one-way international flight can cost around $2,000 to $10,000, but you can expect to pay more or less depending on your destination.

Horses travel through special cargo planes, usually placed inside a stall. No stewards or flight attendants are on a cargo plane; therefore, you must prepare food for yourself and your horse. You must also keep your horses hydrated and feed them little but often during long flights. 

Transporting by Boat

If you can’t ship your horse through an airplane for some reason, traveling by sea can be an alternative. Before horses were transported via plane, boats were used to ship horses. However, like other animals, a horse can suffer from seasickness due to uncertain and changing sea conditions. And it can be more severe for horses due to their inability to vomit, leading to colic. 

On top of that, transporting horses via boat can take a long time, and there are potential delays before you’re allowed to board the ship. 

Traveling by Road

Since traveling by boat isn’t the best option, you can transport your horse by road instead. It’s a better choice, especially if you won’t need to cross an expanse of water to bring your horse to another country. Equine transportation companies typically charge $0.75/mile to $3/mile, and there are additional fees for layovers and extra care services for your four-legged companion. 

Transporting via Rail

Another efficient way to transport horses is via rail. Unlike traveling by road or sea where the horse won’t be able to sleep and suffer from seasickness. Research has shown that horses are more likely to suffer from motion sickness when traveling by road than rail because the speed and direction of a railway are more progressive. This way, horses can nap and won’t have to rebalance themselves while traveling. 

DIY Horse Transport

If you have the means and budget and need to transport your horse often, investing in a horse trailer can be the most cost-effective option. It might cost around $50,000 or more, but it will help you save more in the long run. So, it will be worth the investment, especially if you travel with your horses several times a year. 

Average Cost of Transporting a Horse Internationally

Bringing your horse overseas via air can be more complicated than it may seem. You must consider the pre-flight bloodwork and testing fees and the mandatory quarantine period. The cost of transporting horses by airplane can range from $2,000 to $10,000 for just a one-way trip, depending on the destination locations and additional fees for some tiers of care and comfort during the flight. This is the most common mode of transportation for equines because it is a quicker and more comfortable option to transport your horse abroad.

The Process of Shipping a Horse Overseas

Transporting a horse overseas involves various processes, and each stage will cost you a lot. Here’s a quick guide to help you determine the cost.

Isolation

Before the exportation, horses need to be transported to a USDA-approved facility and isolated for 30 days, and it can cost you around $1,000 to $3,000. 

Vaccinations and bloodwork

Exporting a horse requires additional bloodwork because it has to undergo a Coggins test to check if it has Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) antibodies. It should be done by a USDA-approved veterinarian and costs approximately $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the horse’s age, gender, and other health issues. 

Pre-boarding

Before boarding the flight, your horse will be transported to the airport, which must undergo an additional 5-hour quarantine. The cost will vary significantly depending on the distance from the isolation facility to the airport.

The Flight

During the flight, you must load your horse into an approved and inspected container, which you can rent for about $1,500. It would be best if you also got an attendant for your horse because it cannot travel alone. The shipping cost can range from $3,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on your chosen airline and the destination. 

So that’s what your horse has to go through before it gets exported across other countries. However, as mentioned above, it should be done correctly to avoid adverse effects on the horse’s health. Consider the following tips to ensure your horse will arrive safely. 

3 Tips for a Safe Horse Transport 

Here are several practical tips to ensure your horse arrives safely and sound at your destination and eliminates potential discomfort. 

Make Preparations Before Transportation

By preparing your horse, you can make long-distance travel less stressful for you, your horse, and the individual in charge of transportation. If it’s the first time your horse has traveled, you can help it by training it to familiarize and load it into the trailer. You can also make the transportation go smoothly by teaching the horse the basic commands in transport. 

Plan and Arrange Layovers During the Transport

Your horse might suffer from stiffness and stress during a long journey, so it would be best to give your horse a break to stretch and nap. It can help your horse stay happy and healthy during transport. 

Allow for a Recovery Period

Just as humans need to relax after a long trip, horses need time to recover and relax because transportation can be quite stressful, even if your horse is used to it. It’s essential, especially if your horse will be competing. So, you must plan for recovery to keep them healthy and happy. 

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