Van Leer photo
cost of ownership
transporting your horse
role of veterinarians
horseshoer or farrier
do I need insurance?
reading a catalog page
racing is a highly mobile industry with all the players, equine
and human, constantly shifting from race meet to race meet, from
track to track, from farm to track and back again, from one state
to another, and, with increasing frequency, from one country to
another. As with all travel, certain risks are inherent, not to
Shipping horses from one track to another track, shipping horses
from a farm to a track (cost depends on mileage charge which is
fixed by the Interstate Commerce Commission's "Household Carrier's
Guide"), and shipping new purchases from a sale to a farm or a
Most transport companies are within $10-$15 of each other, with
some kind of price break offered depending on the number of horses
being shipped. In California another cost break to the owner results
from the racing association's "shuttling" policy. If a horse is
stabled at a track that is currently "dormant" but ships to
another that is conducting live racing, the association that is
"up and running" will pay the shipping costs both ways as long as
1) the horse actually runs in a race and 2) the horse returns to the
track it was stabled at within a week.
Every time a horse is shipped to race, it must be accompanied by
its Jockey Club Registration certificate, its racing silks and a
hand-signed, written, original binder proving that the trainer's
Worker's Compensation Insurance is current. When shipping a horse
to race in another state, its owner/trainer will be required to
take out a license in that state before the horse is allowed to
start. The state you are shipping to race in must also receive a
detailed health certificate for the horse, including a negative "Coggins"
test for Equine Infectious Anemia. It is the trainer's
responsibility to ensure that the necessary documents go with the
horse. Your trainer should assist you in getting the documents
necessary for your out-of-state license in advance of the race.
When your trainer or his/her representative signs the bill of
lading that is required before a van driver can load your horse
onto a van, you automatically accept the transport company's
liability limit of a mere $2,000 per horse. To acquire more
coverage, you usually would have your horse covered under a
regular mortality policy.
There are two options here--via a charter airline which specializes
in large animal business or via commercial airlines, using "air
cargo" rates and terms.
Charter airlines lease planes on an as needed basis and specially
outfit them to carry as many horses as possible. They usually
operate after a large sale or at times of the year when a group of
horses all going to the same destination can be assembled. They
charge an owner a flat rate per horse and are usually direct
flights. (This per horse rate can be dropped substantially if the
company is trying to "fill" a given flight.) The average "single
stall" rate for air-shipping a horse from Los Angeles to Lexington
is $3,800-$4,500 one way, which generally includes one groom for
every three horses but does not include ground transport to and
from the airports.
Because charter flights are limited and more and more horses are
shipping to specific races, domestic cargo shipping is used. Commercial airlines such as FedEX and Emery contract with
shipping agents that provide special containers (Airstables) that
hold three horses and lock onto a standard shipping pallet. The
horses are offloaded from a regular van at a quiet place at the
airport into the Airstable which is then moved by truck to the
plane and moved into place in the cargo hold by cargo elevator.
The price depends on whether or not the pallet is full and what
your final destination may be. Commercial flights often are routed
through a hub city so the travel time may increase substantially.
The rate to ship a horse out of the country varies substantially
depending on the distance, entails a great deal of detailed
paperwork, possibly a period of quarantine, and usually is
packaged with the ground transportation. Insurance for air
transport outside of Continental North America is extra.