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Welfare of Horses During Transport


Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 is implemented by The Welfare of Animals (Transport)( England) Order 2006, which came into force in January 2007. While the title of the 2006 Order suggests this applies only to England - Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each implemented parallel legislation with effect from January 2007. For further geographic information, you should contact the respective governing body, listed at the foot of this page.


For the purpose of this information, the term ‘horse’ shall be used to refer to horses and ponies.


Welfare of Animals During Transport

Current legislation came into force on 5th January 2007 and may be referred to as the ‘ Welfare of Animals (Transport)(England) Order 2006 ’ in other reference materials.


Who do the rules apply to?

The current Regulation applies to anyone transporting live vertebrate animals in connection with an economic activity.


So we are back to the commercial versus pleasure rider debate again. If you transport horses in connection with your profession, as part of a business or commercial activity, which aims to achieve financial gain, these transport welfare rules apply. Again, if you are unsure if this applies to you, please contact the respective agencies as listed at the foot of the page.


The regulation does not apply to the transportation of animals not in connection with an economic activity or to anyone transporting horses to and from veterinary facilities. However, for those outside of these rules, i.e. the amateur and pleasure rider, there is much useful guidance that might prove useful…please read on.


The Regulation requires that:

  • No one shall transport horses, 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 horses are fit to travel
  • Those accompanying and handling the horses are trained and competent
  • The vehicle and its loading and unloading facilities are designed, constructed and maintained to avoid injury and suffering, and to ensure safety of the horses.
  • Water, feed and rest stops are available, and that sufficient floor space and height are available
  • For non-export journeys, documentation is provided showing: origin and ownership of animals, place of departure and destination, date and time of departure and expected duration of journey (normally referred to as an Animal Transport Certificate).

The regulations set out additional requirements if horses and ponies are transported on journeys over 65km (approx. 40 miles) and up to eight hours.

  • Transporters must hold a Type 1 transporter authorisation
  • Drivers and attendants must in possession of a certificate of competence
  • Transporters must demonstrate that they have appropriate staff and equipment to transport animals in a proper way, and have no record of serious infringements of animal welfare in the preceding three years
  • If a transporter can prove that he/she meets all the conditions, authorisation will be valid for a period of five years

The regulations set out further requirements still for journeys over eight hours:

  • The transporter must hold a Type 2 transporter authorisation
  • Vehicles used for transporting horses must be inspected and approved
  • Contingency plans must be in place for emergencies
  • A Journey Log must be made where unregistered horses and ponies are being exported

To apply for Type 1 or Type 2 Transporter Authorisation, you will need to contact/visit the website of the appropriate body (according to your location) and complete the necessary application form.


The requirements explained


Journey Times

  • Journey time is calculated from the loading of the first horse, to the unloading of the last horse
  • Time spent on Roll-on/Roll-off vessels counts towards the journey time
  • Time spent in stalls or pens on specialist livestock vessels does not count towards journey time – provided certain conditions are met
  • Time whilst on an aircraft during air transport does not count towards total journey time

Maximum journey times (hours)


Basic standard vehicle

Higher standard vehicle



24 (with water and food provided every 8 hours)

Unweaned foals


9 hours travel

1 hour rest

9 hours travel


General points

  • Horses older than eight months must wear halters/headcollars during transport – unless unbroken
  • If horses are transported on a multi-deck vehicle, they must only be carried on the lower deck, with no other animals above them. In these circumstances, the compartment height must be at least 75cm higher than the height of the withers of the highest animal
  • When the vehicle is on a Roll-on/Roll-off vehicle , horses must be transported in individual stalls – exception is made for a mare and foal
  • Unbroken horses must not be transported in groups of more than four

Long journeys – over eight hours

  • Unregistered horses must be over four months old, except if accompanied by their dam
  • Unbroken horses must not be transported on long journeys
  • Horses must be transported in individual stalls, except where a mare may travel with her foal

Ramp Angles for Loading and Unloading

The Regulation stipulates a new maximum ramp angle of:

  • 20° or a 36.4% slope
  • Ramp side gates may not be needed if horses are halter led during loading and unloading
  • Vehicles/trailers built and in-use before 5 January 2009, which comply with previous angle requirements, may continue to be used within the UK until 4 th January 2012 if it is impractical/uneconomical to convert or alter

Registered Horses

A registered horse means one that is registered in studbooks or with international organisation managing competitions – this does not mean having a horse passport. Exemptions for registered horses, if accompanied by a dedicated attendant and if the journey is with the purpose of improving the health and welfare, permit:

  • Mares to be transported during the final 10% of their gestation period
  • Mares to be transported within one week of giving birth
  • Foals with unhealed navel to be transported with their dam

Exemptions in the Regulation for registered horses on a journey of more than eight hours (unless being transported to a market or slaughterhouse) permit:

  • Transport without requirement for a Journey Log
  • Transport without being restricted by water and feed intervals, journey times and rest periods as set out for unregistered horses
  • Transport for horses of four months without being accompanied by their dam

Space allowances


Area (m²/animal)

Adult horses

1.75 m²

Young horses (6-24 months old) for journeys over 48 hours

1.2 m²

Young horses (6-24 months old) for journeys over 48 hours

2.4 m²

Ponies (under 144cm)

1.0 m²

Foals (0-6 months)

1.4 m²

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


Temperature within the transporting vehicle

The temperature within the area the horses are stalled in must not fall below 0° during a journey of more than eight hours.


Vehicle Partitions

The Regulation does not stipulate dimensions for partitions, but they must:

  • Be strong enough to withstand the weight of animals
  • Be fitted with catches and fastenings designed for quick and easy operation.

On vehicles used for journeys of over eight hours, the partitions must be:

  • Fitted so that separate compartments can be formed/used
  • Adjustable to suit the size and needs of the horses being transported.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

Animal Welfare Division

1a Page Street



Tel: 020 7904 6576



Scottish Executive Environment and Rural Affairs Department (SEERAD)

Pentland House

47 Robb’s Loan


EH14 1TY

Tel: 0131 244 6482



National Assembly for Wales

Office of the Chief Veterinary Officer (OCVO)

Cathays Park


CF10 3NQ

Tel: 029 2082 3592



Department for Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland (DARD)

Room 728, Dundonald House

Upper Newtownards Road



Tel: 028 9052 4950


Last updated: 25/06/2010
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