Careers with Horses - Horse Transporter
 By mosquito   •   3rd Mar 2010   •   5,501 views   •   5 comments
Sooner or later we all want to take out horses somewhere. It might be to a show, a trail ride, or for a lesson. We might need someone to bring us a horse we’ve just bought, or take one we’ve sold to its new owner. Many people can transport horses themselves, with their own trailer or horsebox. But if you don’t travel your horse often, and don’t want to buy your own trailer, or you don’t have a car or truck that can tow, then hiring a transporter is a good idea. Sometimes a professional transporter is a necessity, because you are moving lots of horses or sending your horses a long distance – even overseas!

This is why horse transportation is big business. Every day, there are thousands of horses on the road, on ferries, even in the air, and their owners are relying on professional horse transporters to make sure their horses make it to their destination happy and healthy. So what does a transporter do? From the time the horse steps onto the truck to when it reaches where it’s going – sometimes days later – the transporter is responsible for its comfort and safety, plus they have to know all the laws and regulations relating to taking horses interstate or internationally.

Horse Transport

Transporters who take horses on long journeys are pretty busy making sure the horses are comfortable. On most long trips you’ll have to stop at least every four or five hours, to give the horses a rest stop of a half hour or so. You will probably stop overnight, to unload and stable the horses at specialist ‘horse motels’ or racetracks. At each stop you need to make sure the horses have water, and maybe hay available. At overnight stops you’ll need to take care of feeding, blanketing, and any boots and bandages the horses wear. Traveling can be stressful for some horses it will be up to you to keep the horses feeling calm and secure.

Many transporters have some regular routes – I’ve shipped several horses north and south across Britain with the same transporter, who goes north one week and south the next. On routes like this you may pick up and drop off horses on the way. Or you might choose a race or event, and pick up several horses all going to the same place. Some transporters set up contracts with large racing or showing stables, and are kept busy just working with the one farm - some top racehorses and showjumpers can fly three or four times a year, and many more travel weekly by road. Whatever business option works out, be assured of one thing – you will work weekends, and you will be on the road a lot!

How do you become a transporter? First, you’ll need a trucking license. In most countries, you need to be 25 years old to take a trucking license test. But before then, you will need to take a course in truck driving, either for large (semi or HGV) trucks, or light (LGV) trucks. If you want to make a career in transporting, a license for both is a good idea. In your course you’ll learn more than just driving, you’ll also learn some basic maintenance and repair. And in the meantime, you need to keep your driving record spotlessly clean!

Next, you need to learn the law. Being able to take care of all the paperwork and quarantines for crossing borders will make you popular with your clients, who don’t want to learn the details of this themselves. If you want to work with air transport, these details are really important, plus you need to form partnerships with the airlines that carry horses. Knowing exactly what you have to do to take a horse from Holland to California will make you very sought after by some fancy horse owners, and you might get the chance to handle some very precious horses!

To get started, you’ll need your own truck, or ‘rig’. In Europe, most horse trucks are all-in-one vehicles, and in the US and Canada they are more commonly a semi- or articulated lorry type. A good start for a business would be a small three or four horse truck or trailer and a big ten horse one, so you’ve always got one the right size. The small ones will cost about $20000 for a used one, and up to about $50000 for a nice new one. Eventually, you can go on to buy more trucks and trailers, and even hire drivers yourself.
Most important, you need to be good with horses. You need to have the skills and confidence to handle a horse you hardly know in a stressful situation.

You need to know how to handle stallions, and mares with foals. This is a skill you can start working on now, even if you aren’t old enough to drive. Try helping out at different stables and riding schools, so you get used to handling unfamiliar horses. You need to know about what happens to a horse physically when it travels, so you can treat common ailments like dehydration and colic. Eventually, some time working on a stud farm is helpful, so you learn how to handle studs and foals. The more confident you are with horses, the happier your cargo will be.

And finally, you need to be good with people – you are taking responsibility for some very precious cargo. Tim Rolfe, the chief transporter for the US horses travelling to the Olympics said it was as hard to keep the horses’ grooms and riders calm on the flight as it was the horses - ‘This is really like a giant baby-sitting job!’

Still not sure? There’s no doubt horse transportation is a tough job with long hours and lots of time away from home. But you will meet lots of new people, lots of new horses, and you might find yourself taking care of some very fine animals indeed! You might even get to travel the world. The best way to find out more – as always – is to talk to a transporter. Look in the yellow pages or on the internet for a transporter based in your area, and go and visit them and talk about what they do. Be sure to ask about interesting stories they have, and see if they’ve ever shipped any famous horses!
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Bright Horizon  
Great news article, not many people know much about horse transportation overseas :)
  Mar 3, 2010  •  3,706 views
North Falls  
I'm considering it for a future job.
  Mar 3, 2010  •  3,761 views
PeT LoVeR  
im cosindering being a vet tec when im in collage
  Mar 4, 2010  •  3,692 views
Esmeralda Elites  
Great article! In the US, regular horse trailers are under 50,000, but the LQ (Living Quarter) trailers are 60,000 to 200,000. I bought my 18' LQ 4-horse trailer for 120,000.
  Mar 5, 2010  •  3,701 views
Little Bitty Farm  
Great article!
  May 9, 2011  •  3,717 views
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