The world’s top-ranked horses are well-traveled road warriors. Regardless of whether they’re shipped over the road or in the air, planning goes a long way in keeping them comfortable in transit. Like their human companions, some horses are easy travelers, others anxious passengers. Planning goes a long way in making horses comfortable for short or long-distance trips, so they arrive in good condition and ready to compete.
“We are really vested in the success of the horses we ship for shows and championship events,” said J. Tim Dutta. Dutta founded the international shipping company Dutta Corp. in 1988.
“We take it personally if they don’t have success but also feel very fortunate of the success,” he added.
Timmy works alongside his father in the shipping business both assisting with clients and preparing his own polo ponies for domestic and international travel. His first big assignment was the 2018 World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina where he worked in airport operations, J. Dutta said.
“Traveling can be stressful for horses so it’s important to plan ahead to make them as comfortable as possible,” Timmy said.
The Duttas offer five tips for transporting horses near and far.
- Hydration is key. Encouraging a horse to drink before and during travel prevents dehydration. Like human athletes, horses need water well in advance to fully hydrate. Electrolytes in advance of a trip may be necessary to encourage a horse to drink enough prior to a trip.
“Dehydration stresses their body and will impact their performance,” Timmy said.
- Know your horse’s preferences. When you travel, do you feel cramped in small spaces? Are you comfortable traveling coach or would you rather travel in business class?
“It may be surprising that some of the biggest horses prefer single stalls and some of the smaller ponies are more comfortable in double stalls,” Timmy said. “It’s all about knowing what a horse likes and making accommodations to make that arrangement happen.”
- Travel with a buddy. Some horses are unfazed traveling alone, others need a partner. The Dutta’s have had sheep, goats, rabbits, donkeys and ducks tag along as companion animals.
“Ducks have been the most exotic travel companion horses have had,” J. Tim Dutta said. “It was amazing how calm and relaxed the ducks were on the chartered plane and how attached the horses were to the ducks.”
- Be prepared. Horses that are fit and in good physical condition are better prepared for the stress of travel. Even moderate exercise builds stamina horses use to support their shifting weight during travel. Preparation also includes having the right health certificates.
“It’s helpful to start with a veterinarian to find out what vaccinations and health certificates are needed for the place you’ll be traveling to,” Timmy said. “We also spend a lot of time with our clients to make sure they have the documents needed for their destination.”
- Remember that there are always risks involved with transporting horses. That’s the same whether by truck or plane, short distances or long hauls.
“We do all we can to mitigate those risks,” J. Tim Dutta said. “The more we know about your horse the better care we can give them.”