Shipping via international air transport
This section covers perhaps the most daunting and complex aspect of buying a horse overseas.
Although there are several horse shipping agents in New Zealand, we use the world's most experienced company, International Racehorse Transport (IRT). With over 25 years in the business we believe they will take the greatest care of your horse. As part of our service we co-ordinate with IRT on every aspect of your horse's travel arrangements, from collection at the vendor's property to delivery at your port of entry and quarantine clearance (if applicable). Therefore you do not have to worry at all about organising transport for your new horse.
They manage all the necessary paperwork and co-ordinate with all organisations and government departments that need to be involved, ensuring that your horse's journey is as smooth and stress-free as possible. This includes:
- Commercial invoices
- Pre-export and entry certification
- Health documentation
- Airline documentation
Please note: We are not a horse shipping company, so please don't ask us if we can ship your horse from Tallinn to Beijing, or Timbuktu to Warrnambool, because we can't! We regret that we cannot reply to e-mails requesting shipping quotes.
Most countries require blood tests to provide proof that the horse is not carrying any infectious diseases. These blood tests are organised by us in conjunction with IRT so that you do not need to get involved. The tests are conducted by a MAF vet three to seven days ahead of the flight date. The cost for these tests is included in the shipping price. If you have not already been to the veterinary inspection page, there is more information there on status of New Zealand's horse diseases.
There are regular horse flights from New Zealand to Australia, North America, Europe and Asia. Virtually all flights depart from Auckland International Airport with a few Australian flights out of Christchurch in the South Island. It is not possible to fly horses out of Wellington.
A few points to bear in mind
- It is not possible to travel with your horse.
- Stallions may occasionally travel on the same flight as mares.
- Some flights carry an experienced vet and all flights carry an in-flight professional groom, trained to provide the best possible care and attention.
- Contrary to popular mythology, horses are not normally sedated during flying.
- This is to ensure that the effects of any drug do not mask their health status. Sedation is used only in special circumstances, such as if the horse is in danger of injuring itself.
- It is immaterial whether the horse travels with shoes on or off.
- In the past horses were loaded across the plane ('east-west') and a horse with shoes on could do great damage to the boxes and even the aircraft itself. Today, boxes are made from stronger materials and all horses are loaded 'north-south' so they cannot damage the sides of the plane.
- Watch out for possible respiratory disease.
- We will provide you with specific advice regarding the possibility of respiratory disease.
- Your horse will most likely incur some weight loss during the flight.
- Therefore, if you are travelling horses from New Zealand to any country other than Australia you should be prepared to notice some weight loss on arrival. Most horses seem to hold up pretty well for the first two or three weeks but then go through an adjustment period that lasts a few weeks before they return to their former self.