horse transport UK

Advice For Transporting Horses And Ponies

For your peace of mind you should be able to ask your horse transporter any questions relating to the rules and regulations, or to see their registration documents and certificates, or their transport logs.

Don’t be shy your horse depends on you.


On the 5th January 2007 a new EU Regulation came into force for the transportation of horses or ponies and other domestic equines.

These new rules are intended to improve the welfare of equines during transport; these rules affect people who are in business who transport horses and other associated animals for financial gain.

The regulation requires anyone transporting animals on any journey should make sure that:

  • No one shall transport animals, or cause them to be transported, in a way likely to cause them injury or undue suffering.
  • Journey times are kept to a minimum.
  • The animals are fit to travel.
  • Those handling animals have been trained and are competent.
  • The vehicle and its loading and unloading facilities are designed, constructed and maintained to avoid injury and suffering and to ensure the safety of the animals.
  • Water, feed and opportunity to rest are made available to the animals as appropriate, and sufficient floor space and height is available in the transport vehicle.
  • For non-export journeys, documentation is provided which shows the following: origin and ownership of animals; place of departure and destination; date and time of departure and expected duration of journey (usually referred to as an Animal Transport Certificate).

Short journeys

  • Journeys over 40 miles (65km) and duration up to 8 hours must hold a Type 1Transporter authorisation.
  • Must be in possession of a certificate of competence
  • Must have appropriate staff and equipment to transport horses

Long Journeys

  • Journeys over 8 hours must hold a Type 2 Transporter authorisation.
  • Vehicle must be inspected and approved.
  • Must have plans for emergencies.
  • Must complete a journey log for unregistered horses and ponies that are being exported.

Journey Times

The maximum journey times for horses and ponies in a basic standard vehicle is 8 hours, in a higher standard vehicle is 24 hours (with feed and water every 8 hours) an un-weaned foal in a basic standard vehicle is 8 hours, and only 9 hours in a higher standard vehicle, with 1 hours rest period.

Journey time is from the first animal loaded to the last animal unloaded, time spent in specialist livestock vessels stalls or pens do not count towards journey time, time on aircrafts does not count towards total journey time.

On the Transport Vehicle

The temperature of the vehicle must not fall below 0 degree centigrade during a journey of more than 8 hours.

Partitions must be strong, and withstand the weight of the animal, have fittings that are quick and easy to use, fitted so separate compartments are formed, and are adjustable for varying sizes.

Horses and ponies must wear a head collar – unless they are unbroken or are less than 8 months old.

On a roll on roll off vessel (ferry) horses and ponies must be transported in individual stalls, except a she mare may travel with her foal together, unbroken horses must not be transported in groups of more than 4 animals.

Long Journeys

Unregistered horses and ponies must be over four months old, except if accompanied by their dam.

Unbroken horses and ponies must not be transported on long journeys.

During long journeys, foals and young horses must be able to lie down.


Horses and ponies need to be separated from:

  • Tied and untied animals
  • Animals hostile to each other
  • Sexually mature males from females
  • Breeding stallions from each other
  • Horses and ponies of significantly sizes

Space Allowance

  • Adult horses: 1.75m2
  • Young horses: 1.2m2
  • Young horses: 2.4m2
  • Ponies under 144cm: 1.0m2
  • Foals: 1.4m2

For your peace of mind you should be able to ask your horse transporter any questions relating to the rules and regulations, or to see their documents and certificates, or transport logs, don’t be shy your horse depends on you.

Other Sources Of Information

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Animal Welfare Team
Area 8B
9 Millbank c/o Nobel House
17 Smith Square

Tel: 020 7238 5907


National Assembly for Wales
Office of the Chief Veterinary
Officer (OCVO)
Cathays Park
CF10 3NQ

Tel: 029 2082 3059


Scottish Government
Rural Directorate (SGRD)
Pentland House
47 Robb’s Loan
EH14 1TY

Tel: 0131 244 6482
Department for Agriculture and


Rural Development in Northern Ireland (DARD) Room 728, Dundonald House
Upper Newtownlands Road

Tel: 028 9052 4950