Kentucky Equine Networking Meeting Offers Insight on how to Transport Horses Safely
Lexington, KY (March 3, 2020)- An array of equine owners and enthusiasts gathered at The Red Mile Clubhouse in Lexington, KY, last week for the winter meeting of the Kentucky Equine Networking Association (KENA) hosted by the Kentucky Horse Council. The audience, which included equine business owners, students and personnel of colleges with equestrian programs, and individual horse owners, was interested in learning how to keep horses safe during transport as well as what rules and regulations they needed to follow when transporting horses.
Dr. Laura Werner, DVM, MS, DAVCS, a surgeon at Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington and a FEI Veterinary Delegate at many of the top three-day eventing competitions in the United States, is well-versed in keeping elite competition horses on top of their game, whether they’re shipping just down the road or across the country. Dr. Werner spoke of how difficult travel can be on a horse’s physical health. Because of this, if a horse is prone to stomach upset while being transported longer distances, she recommends he receive gastric ulcer preventative medications a day before and a day or two after his travel plans.
Additionally, Dr. Werner noted that horses can become dehydrated while on a long trailer ride, either because they don’t have the opportunity to drink or they choose not to while on the road. To overcome this condition, she recommends oral fluids be delivered to a horse that is shipping for longer periods of time. Dr. Werner typically delivers these fluids through a nasogastric tube before the horse travels.
Lance Hayden, a lifelong horseman, has a varied equestrian career; now a driver for Creech Horse Transportation and manager of their Lexington office, Hayden offered insight into how commercial shipping works. He highlighted all of the safety checks Creech vehicles and trailers go through to ensure they are road safe: All vehicle and trailer lights and tires are inspected daily; wires, bearings and brakes on each trailer are checked twice a year, and the brakes on each vehicle are inspected every 30,000 miles. Each of these checks is significantly more detailed than the once-over most personal trailers receive, he noted.
Dr. Werner and Hayden both recommended that horses being shipped more than six hours be transported in a box stall; if that isn’t feasible, it’s imperative that the horse is shipped in such a manner that he’s able to put down his head to clear his lungs. “Shipping fever” is a condition that horses can develop if they’re forced to hold their heads at such an angle that they cannot clear dust, debris and bacterial particles from their trachea. These items enter a horse’s lungs and cause pneumonia.
In addition to allowing a horse to clear his airway while in the trailer, Dr. Werner suggests taking the horse’s temperature every 12 hours once he has arrived at his destination; this should be done for the next 48 to 72 hours to ensure he hasn’t contracting shipping fever while in transit.
Sgt. Jason Morris, Public Affairs Officer for the Kentucky State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, spoke to the diverse crowd about agricultural exceptions and exemptions. Many people in the audience were unclear about what requirements they needed to follow when shipping horses, both commercially and for personal use. He noted that those who haul their own horses as recreational riders are exempt from the regulations. Those who are hauling horses as a business, which includes trainers, farriers and for-profit transport companies, are subject to the regulations when the vehicles being operated exceeded 10,001 pounds physical weight or gross vehicle weight rating. Those same persons would be required a CDL when the vehicles exceed 26,001lbs physical weight or gross vehicle weight rating.
Additionally, he explained the difference between a “private” and a “for-hire” carrier is. A “private” carrier hauls only his own goods and commodities, meaning his own horse, tack, hay, etc. A “for-hire” carrier hauls someone else’s horses, hay, etc. Under this definition, there can be absolutely no money exchanged for movement of horses on a “private” trailer; Sgt. Morris reiterated that this means money in any manner: in the form of fuel, meals, check or cash. Additionally, like other legal issues, a state law can be more stringent than a federal law, so Sgt. Morris encouraged all those who haul horses across state lines be familiar with the laws in the states in which they are traveling. To find these laws, simply search “FMCSA Horse Hauling” in any search engine.
The three KENA panelists offered attendees advice on how to stay compliant with Kentucky state laws regarding hauling horses, as well as how to ensure that their mounts travel safely and arrive at their destination in good health.
The next KENA meeting will take place on April 21 at the Red Mile Clubhouse. Hosted by the Kentucky Horse Council, sponsors of the educational series include Dinsmore Equine Law Group, Neogen Corporation, University of Louisville College of Business Equine Industry Program, Kentucky Equine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Center (KESMARC) and WesBanco.
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