Importing Horses to China andRecommendations for Transporting Horses by Land and Air.
作者／Dr Kathrine B Davis
Transport is stressful for horses. Horses are designed with long legs and huge lung capacity to be able to move themselves using their own “horse-power”. However, we put them in trucks, trailers, ships and aeroplanes and move them vast distances whilst the horse stands relatively still. If they were meant to fly they would have been given wings! But, have you considered what is actually happening to the horses’ body when we move him many hundreds or thousands of kilometres?
The journey from New Zealand to China demands a horse spend upwards of 13 hours direct (16 hours if via SIN or AUS) hours on a plane. He may leave the Southern Hemisphere in Summer and arrive in the Northern Hemisphere’s mid-Winter. This abrupt temperature and hours of daylight are stressful for the horse to cope with, no wonder some don’t acclimatize well. Same vice versa and probably worse to go from NZ winter to China summer.
To compete at the Chengdu or Wuhan races, horses travel for days, 8 hours or more hours per day in trucks. The owner’s aim is for the horses to arrive at the races in good condition and win. To achieve this it is essential that effective management practices are in place to minimise any risks to the horses welfare and, to minimise the trauma that transport inflicts on the horses body.
Horses can be transported more effectively and with lower risk if:
- The preparation before transport is well done.
- Making sure all horses are strong and in good health.
- The horses are handled correctly at all times.
- Staff are competent and experienced people, preferably the same people who handle them daily.
- Horse trailers and horse trucks are designed and maintained for safe transport of horses.
- The journey is planned to ensure prompt delivery.
- Try to arrive in daylight allowing the horses time to settle into their new surroundings.
- Provide appropriate feed, water and shelter during the journey.
- Protection from injury during the journey and quarantine horses once they arrive if disease is an issue.
The risk of injury or the horse becoming sick on a journey is directly related to the experience and competency of the horse handler accompanying the horse and, the preparation of the horses for the journey. Disease and injury risk increase with journey duration, weather conditions, road conditions, truck and horse trailer condition, design of the space allotted to each horse and food and water-deprivation time.
It is also important to observe the horses en-route and take action immediately to remedy any problems. From the horses perspective, the road journey begins a few days before he gets on the truck or trailer and does not end until several days after he arrives in his new temporary home.
Let me explain. Preparing the horses large and complicated digestive system for travel is critical. The transport process means that horses are often deprived of feed and water or the normal routine is interrupted. Prevention of colic should be your top priority and preparation of the digestive system needs to begin a few days before transportation. If you are able, carry enough water from home to supply 100% of your horses needs during travel and competition. If not, then train the horse to drink water from a bucket and disguise the taste of the water with a 20 gram (or thereabouts) of molasses and/or 10 to 20 grams of electrolytes in the water. Some horses like sweet and some prefer a little salty. Water from different sources will taste different and disguising the taste with a little molasses or electrolyte will help the horse drink happily throughout the journey.
Make sure the horse has received good nutritional supplementation particularly antioxidants (eg: selenium, Vitamin E) and good quality electrolytes for the weeks before the journey.
The best feed during transport is good quality hay, not grain. For the day or two before travel decrease the horses’ grain ration and feed no grain or concentrate feed during the travel time. Hay will provide abundant fibre to help maintain gut peristalsis and maintain hydration status. All good preparation for colic prevention.
Whether or not you choose to wrap the horses legs in boots or bandages and bell boots depends upon your horse, truck or trailer design and distance travelled. My preference is for heavy felt (matted wool fibre) and leather specially designed travel boots with bell boots. The sets I bought were expensive but have lasted 20 years and hundreds of journeys so I view them as an investment. I have never had a horse injured whilst wearing them. If you are loading a number of horses in a truck then, at the very least, all should be wearing bell boots to protect the feet and easily damaged coronet band.
是否用马蹄鞋（boots）或绷带及护腕（Bell boots）包裹马腿，取决与你的马、运马车或拖车、以及运输的距离。我倾向于用厚重的毛毡和皮革材质的，为运输而特别设计的马蹄鞋（boots）和Bell Boots。我买的那套装备非常贵，它们服役了20多年，经历了上百个旅途，因此我认为购买它们是一种投资。我的马在穿着它们期间，从来没有受伤过。如果你的运马车上运载了几匹马，那么最起码，所有的马都应该穿护腕bell boots，保护它们的马蹄和容易受伤的蹄冠线（Coronet band）。
Above all, people responsible for the care and management of horses at all stages of the transport process are aware of and are accountable for their responsibilities.
There should be a written record of the following:
- The time that the horses last had access to water; and
- ii) the time they last stopped and inspected the horses and any welfare concerns;
iii) emergency contacts, mobile phone numbers for veterinarians and people responsible for the horses at the departure and destination locations.
Horses and Flight
For humans, it seems a fairly simple process to take a plane trip, with the most complicated involving transportation to the airport or the wait in endless security lines. But what must transpire to get a horse aboard a jet and fly him thousands of miles to China? The details of equine air transport rely on arrangements made by the shipping agent and how flights are contracted.
A horse owner wishing to ship a horse overseas should contact a specialist company. The agent advises the owner of the export requirements and services he/she can provide. Normally a pre-export isolation period (which can be 30 days), so an exporter should factor that into the plans and securing a Chinese import permit is essential. Since economy is achieved by shipping in groups, a horse owner might find it better to wait until a group shipment becomes available.
Paying attention to details relieves some of the stress on horses during air transport. The details of care begin in the weeks and days preceding a horse’s departure from the home farm. You will need a detailed outline of all health requirements for China, including necessary vaccinations and blood tests to screen for equine diseases, along with a timetable for these procedures. Export companies can advise all this and best practice guidelines.
The actual journey starts with the horse being shipped by truck from its home to the quarantine farm for 30 days, that is if the testing all goes well. After release from quarantine the horses are trucked to the holding area at the airport, where they are quarantined prior to being loaded in the shipping crate. All the export documents are checked at the airport including health certificates. They also have “on-farm” testing before going to PEQ
空运马，实际上开始于马登上运马车离开自己的马场，到检疫马场住30天，这是在假设所有检测结果都好的前提下。从检疫马场出来后，马被运到机场的等待区，在那里被载入装载箱中。所有的出口文件，包括健康证明都在机场检查。它们去PEQ（Post Entry Quarantine入境检疫）前，它们还有“on－farm”（在马场）测试。
Loading the Plane
From the quarantine area, the horse is transported by truck to the airport or aircraft and loaded into the air container (like a packing crate) and onto the aircraft. Each crate holds 3 horses and the horse stays in this crate for the entire journey.
The flight time from Auckland to Shanghai takes only No direct flight currently so approx. 16 hours, but the entire journey from leaving the home farm to arriving at the final quarantine station in China can take over 22-24 hours. So, one must consider feed and hydration status through this lengthy period and also the stress incurred by every horse. In each 3 horse container, it helps to stand horses next to compatible companions to limit bickering, and so that each horse has another horse to rely on for emotional security. A well-traveled horse is a good role model for the uninitiated. Hay, water and supplements (like boost paste) are given to the horses in transit by grooms (again best practise guidelines)
Because horses flown in airplanes are confined in tight quarters for a lengthy time, any horse undergoing this experience should be well acclimated to a stable environment. It is asking for disaster to take a horse from a 10 acre grassy paddock in New Zealand and put him on a plane. Realistically only if they are very inexperienced – well travelled horses can sometimes be worse. Managing the transition is important and will ensure the horse has a good travel experience. Also, they should be able to stand quietly next to other horses without feeling claustrophobic or displaying aggressive behavior. Flying young Colts are ok – serving stallions are the difficult ones. thoroughbred stallions together is perhaps the most difficult group to manage. Expert preparation at the home farm ensuring they are comfortable whilst close together in confined stables is essential. Without it the horses will likely “fall apart” on the journey and not be able to cope with the transition. Certainly mating horses up in groups of three does help before the flight for fillies.
It is critical when a horse is moved from a shipping van into an air container that he is well handled, will load easily into a trailer-sized stall, and that he is willing to go backwards straight into a narrow space.
Shipping Container Logistics
The shipping containers resemble horse trailers without a hitch or wheels, and each can hold three horses in side-by-side single stalls (economy class) or two horses in double stalls (business class) The containers are enclosed so it can get hot in the containers in the cargo bay. Consequently, leg wraps and horse blankets are a bad idea since leg bandages hold in heat and might get wet with sweat or splattered urine. Travel boots or bandages on the rear limbs are risky because if they fall down, it can be very difficult to reach that area to remove them. In the containers there is very little extra room for a person to move alongside. However, if leg protection is still a goal, well-designed boots can be a good alternative, and I believe bell boots might be the single most useful piece of leg protection. The horse’s travel halter should be light and comfortable, as it will remain on him for the duration of the trip.
集装箱就好比是没有挂钩和轮子的拖车， 一种集装箱能并排装载三匹马（经济舱），还有一种是装载两匹马的（商务车）。集装箱是封闭的，因此在货仓的集装箱内部的温度可能会变热。从这个角度看，在腿部包绷带，让马穿马衣，都不是好想法，因此它们不利于温度的散发，或许会因为马流汗或尿液而变得潮湿。给马的后腿穿Travel boots（马的运输鞋）和绑绷带会有风险，因为假如鞋和绷带脱落了，马工够不到那个角落，很难将其移除。集装箱里几乎没有供人移动的额外空间。然而，如果马主仍然希望保护马腿，选择“设计优良的马鞋”是一个折中方案，我相信，bell boots或许是最有用的，保护马腿的工具。运输期间马全程需要带马笼头，因此所用的马笼头应该选择质量轻且舒适的。
The pilot will attempt to keep the cargo bay at a constant temperature around 17°C, although sometimes this temperature is kept colder at 10-12°C, depending on the cargo, the plane, and the pilot. Optimal temperature between 7-12° (C) helps reduce bacteria proliferation and other health risks from developing quickly in the horses’ environment and lessens the chance that the horses will become overheated. Three horses in an aluminum box produce a fair bit of heat.
Shipping fever (pleuropneumonia) is the most common problem experienced by flying horses and anything we can do to help reduce the chances of this deadly condition is implemented. We have now discovered allowing horses to get their heads down to mimic natural grazing behaviour and allow their lungs to drain down the trachea is the best shipping fever prevention remedy.
空运马里最常见的问题就是运输热（shipping fever －胸膜肺炎pleuropneumonia ），我们必须实施任何我们能做的工作，降低这种致命状况的发生几率。研究发现，让马能低头，模拟它们的自然吃草行为，让肺部黏液能流入气管，这是预防运输热的最佳措施。
The biggest emotional and physical concern for flying horses centers upon just a few events:
1) The jostling of the containers as they are lifted from the tarmac into the belly of the plane, then slid along the floor of the plane on rollers to be locked into the designated spot, and when unloaded similarly at the arrival end. This container movement and bouncing is probably the scariest part of the journey for the horses, and each handles it differently.
2) The take-offs and landings. In a cargo plane, the take-offs and landings are relatively benign since a cargo jet is so weighted down it must leave the ground and head back to earth at a far gentler incline than what we experience on a passenger jet. A careful pilot will put the plane down and brake so gently that the horses will hardly know they’ve been up or down in the air. While en route in the sky, there is little muscular effort to balance unless the plane enters turbulent air. The small container provides the horses with sufficient room to stamp and move, but also gives them something to lean on in the event of rapid acceleration or deceleration.
3) Unexpected dangerous cargo. Although very unlikely when flying from New Zealand to China, there is the possibility that someone else is shipping something that may upset your equine cargo. I heard of a shipment of horses from the US to the Middle East who had the misfortune to be scheduled on the same cargo flight as 3 tigers! The shipment went ahead and all was well but I can imagine if the horses caught the scent of large carnivorous tigers they would have been very upset.
Professional grooms and veterinarians always accompany a shipment of horses, and it is these capable people who assist in loading and unloading the horses, who offer water and food en route, and in general look after the well-being of the horses during the journey. Usually one groom per container, or group of three horses and with larger shipments you need at least four competent individuals on board to deal with emergencies.
As for on-board crises, they are very rare due to good equine preparation, experienced staff and professional airline management.
Grooms have relatively free access to the horses on strictly cargo aircraft, while on the combi-planes (carrying part cargo, part human passengers), they must be given permission and are accompanied by airline personnel to enter the cargo hold.
If personnel are allowed in the cargo hold during take-off and landing, the grooms can offer carrots or peppermints to reassure the horses during these periods.
What and How to Feed for Airplane Journeys
A little more preparation is required than for road journeys, it’s a good idea to withhold grain several days prior to flying. Grain is a highly fermentable feed that can create gas build-up in the bowel, with the potential for gas colic. Anti-ulcer medications, when appropriate, should be started the day before transit, then given daily while en route. Excellent quality hay should be provided in a hay bag, and extra hay can accompany your horse with a simple request to the shipper. One doesn’t want to suddenly change feeds, so make sure they have hay from home adequate for the journey. It is a good idea to feed the same grain mix at their destination that they were used to at home and in the quarantine stables to minimise digestive disturbance which can be caused by sudden feed changes. Try to provide the least-dusty hay possible to reduce damage to your horse’s respiratory tract and immune system.
Hydration is key to safe long-distance travel. Training your horse to drink happily from a bucket with the molasses and/or electrolytes in the water can improve water intake during flights. While on board, water is offered by the grooms as often as possible, although there might be limited amounts until the supply is replenished at connecting points en route.
Light exercise or hand walking in the days preceding travel keeps muscle tissues loose and blood flowing to minimize the incidence of tying-up syndrome. Ensuring the horses have all received nutritional supplements for the month before flying of important antioxidants ( eg selenium and Vitamin E) will also help protect the muscles whilst journeying.
Once your horse has arrived at his destination, he will undergo some of the same jet lag and changes in diurnal (daily) rhythms.
So, the more you can do in advance to minimize the stress of travel and to maintain his food and water intake, the less likely the journey will have adverse effects on his performance.