Tack n' Talk

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Want To Bring Your Horse With You Overseas?

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Story By:  Larissa Cox

Shipping a horse overseas is not the daunting task that it may seem, but it does take planning, coordination, scheduling and lots of time to make sure that the horse makes that smooth transition.  So, what were the obstacles I  faced  and how did I make my decision to take Rio with me to the UK?

Initially, I had to do the research to establish the cost and the requirements necessary of shipping a horse to the UK. The United Kingdom requires that any equine being imported from the United States spend 30 days in an approved isolation facility which meets federal standards regarding space, sanitation and proximity to other animals.  As my horse would be shipped from the United States to the UK,  an USDA  Equine Approved Isolation Facility would be used as the United States government requirements for maintaining the integrity of the isolation are very specific and stringent.  This facility would be subject to unannounced inspection by the USDA personnel at any time during the isolation period which made me feel very comfortable that the facility would follow the specific standards necessaryin maintaining my horse.  However, would this facility provide that “personal attention” my horse deserves and to me THAT was a very important factor.

I contacted many facilities to enquire about their routine and their staff and I was extremely fortunate to locate EZ 2 Spot Ranch, Dianne and Terry Nielsen owners, a USDA facility and international shipper located in Texas who personally oversee each and every one of the horses.  As I started this process months in advance of my shipping date, this allowed me enough time to organize and formulate my shipping plan.

Now that I knew the costs and the procedure involved, the next question on my mind was it really necessary to ship my horse to the UK, and if so, which horse?  Making that decision to ship a horse overseas was not an easy one and took days of careful thought and discussion.   In my case, I weighed the pros and cons of keeping my horse home or taking him with me.  If a horse would go, which one would it be, as I have three lovely companions.  If I kept all three at home, what would they be doing…would they continue training or would they be out to pasture for the entire duration?  What would the downside be of keeping them on pasture for the three years that I would be gone.  If they were not out on pasture, who would train them?  Would my family be able to spend the time taking care of my horses?  Based on the cost, it was  established that I could only take one horse with me, so which one would it be and why?  It was decided that Rio would be coming with me as Rio was the one that needed the consistent, strict training regime in order to develop the trust and communication necessary in a competitive dressage horse.  My other horses would stay at a full board facility, and would get regular exercise from a friend, who is a kind and gentle rider.  My family would also be able to stop by on a regular basis to check up on my two geldings back home.

Now that a decision was made to take Rio with me, what next? EZ 2 Spot Ranch was contacted and a confirmation was made for shipping,  however, that was only the beginning.   I knew that Rio was being shipped early September, that meant he needed to enter quarantine early August, so arrangements were made not only for shipping Rio from Washington State to Texas, but also his preparation for travel, his 30 plus days of non-work and his entry into the UK and UK transport.

In May, Rio started his slow conditioning down process which meant his training schedule slowly decreased weekly leading up to his Texas shipping date.  His grain  portion was slowly decreased in conjunction with his conditioning down schedule.  Remember that Rio would be in quarantine for 30 days with no work what-so-ever!  Over the next several months, there was a decrease in riding and/or lungeing.  Not only was the length of the ride time decreasing, but so was the frequency of daily rides.  This could not be done suddenly, but over time in order to provide Rio with the proper conditioning down.  A change in supplements were also taking place.  As the grain decreased, there was an increase in the multi-vitamin supplement he received.  As well, during the month of July, Rio was started on a calming Chinese Herbal supplement to prepare him for the stresses of travel.  The transition of farrier services was also considered.  Rio’s shoes were removed allowing him the time to get used to going barefoot in preparation of the quarantine period and travel.

Conditioning down...a slow process

Conditioning down…a slow process

How do I get Rio to Texas and what about transportation over the pond?  Not only did I have to coordinate the  international shippers, but  a national shippers had to be contacted to make arrangements for Rio to be transported to Texas.  Hubbard Horse Transport, a service I used many times in the past, provided the Washington to Texas  portion ($1200).

Once Rio arrived in Prestwick, Scotland, the horse transport company that I selected was Boothroyden Horse Transportation Service.  Rio was to be shipped in a personal carrier for his 8-hour trip from Scotland to Gloucestershire (500 Pounds).

Rio's transport from Scotland to Gloucestershire

Rio’s transport from Scotland to Gloucestershire

What about horse insurance?  Rich Maggard of West Coast Equine Insurance Services was a HUGE help in providing me with the assistance to organize Rio’s travel insurance within North America and abroad as well as helping me with Rio’s medical and surgical insurance needs while he was in the UK.

The vet appointment was made for Rio’s Coggins and Health Certificates and we waited for confirmation of the shipping day!

August 4th was departure day so the day before , I prepared a “travel bag” for Rio which included daily probiotics for his trip, SmartPaks for his 30 day quarantine period, a fly sheet and fly mask, fly spray and a feed bucket.   Rio’s Coggins and Health Certificates along with his insurance information were placed in a water proof binder along with his Passport, which is a requirement for the horse to have when in the UK.  The farrier was called and Rio was trimmed the day before he left.

The organization was done, Rio was shipped, so how did it all turn out?

After 7 days of travel, Rio arrived at EZ 2 Spot Ranch and began his quarantine period with 6 minature donkeys, who were to be his travel mates!  Dianne Nielsen slowly introduced Rio to his new travel friends and he travelled with them very well.

Dianne kept in touch with me during Rio’s 30 day quarantine, sending me updates and pictures of how he was doing.  On September 9th, Rio was loaded into an equine cargo container with his donkey buddies and made the trip to Scotland calmly arriving in Prestwick, Scotland at 1pm September 10th.  Rio and the donkey’s were escorted by a member of EZ 2 Spot Ranch to make sure that they made the trip without problems. 

Contact Dianne at EZ2 Spot Ranch for your International Shipping needs and tell them that Larissa Cox at Tack and Talk referred you!

EZ 2 Spot Equine Cargo Containers

EZ 2 Spot Equine Cargo Containers

Aside from a little weight gain and long, chipped feet, missing fly sheet and fly mask, Rio arrived a happy and calm boy.  Now to start the conditioning up process….but hey that’s another story.

Quarantine and airfare to Scotland:  $5000
Overground shipping:  $1200 (US) Washington to Texas, and   500 Pounds (UK)  Scotland to U.K.
Cost of having Rio with me:  Priceless

Happy Riding, Larissa

Update:  May, 2012

Well, both Rio and I are now back home.  I must say that the organization of the trip back home for Rio was very simple.  JetPets took care of everything!!

We actually started the organization process for Rio’s return a month before his anticipated departure date, which was to be at the end of April, 2012.  However, there was a container leaving early in April and they had room for my big boy.  Vet checks, travel to Amerstam and the flight home on KLM airlines was done very quickly and efficiently, all within a few days. 

Rio was in quarantine for 3 days after arriving in L.A. on a Wednesday.   He was back home in Lynden, Washington by Saturday afternoon.  I must say that JetPets, for the return flight home, was amazing.  Thank you Lindley for all you have done.

Return cost:  $11,000.

KLM Aircraft that brought Rio home!

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[…] Want To Bring Your Horse With You Overseas? « Tack n’ Talk tackandtalk.wordpress.com/2009/10/01/want-to-bring-your-horse-with-you-overseas – view page – cached October 1, 2009 at 5:08 am · Filed under Uncategorized and tagged: Horse Transport, Overseas Travel — From the page […]

  Christy B. wrote @

Thank you for the information. Very interesting. You are certainly a devoted horsewoman!

  Sarah Friend wrote @

Hi Larissa,
I met Rio when I collected my Rio – the miniature donkey from Prestwick Airport, must stay he seemed to like his little donkey friends.
Hope all is well.
Best Regards

  tackandtalk wrote @

I had a picture of Rio and little Rio, but unfortunately my computer system crashed and so went the picture. It was priceless to see Rio 17.2 hh and his little minature donkey friend! Sarah, would you have a picture of the two together?

  Dianne & Terry Nielsen wrote @

Hi, Larissa,

We just were contacted by a person who wants to take his horse with him when he moves to Germany … and he learned about us from your blog post. Thank you so much for sharing the story of Rio’s shipping experience with us.
Best regards,
Dianne & Terry
EZ 2 Spot Ranch Equine Isolation Facility
Bigfoot, TX

  tackandtalk wrote @

Hi Dianne. That’s great! I just wish that you were able to bring Rio back home!! You took such good care of him on his trip to the UK and, he still misses those miniature donkeys!

It’s good to hear from you! Larissa

  Brianna wrote @

Thanks for writing all this information, it was so helpful! I want to take my made with my to Germany one day perhaps to live and I feel better knowing the process.

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