Horse Transportation Cost: Everything You Need to Know

How much does it cost to transport a horse?

Expense Guide for Transporting Horses

Transporting your horse is a huge responsibility. Not only does it have a financial impact, but it can also negatively affect your horse if it is not done correctly. Whether for a big show, a cross-country move, or even an international relocation, most equestrians will need to hire someone to help transport their horse.

Understanding various transportation options, as well as the costs associated with them, will help you to better prepare for the next time you need to acquire transportation for your horse. 

So, how much does it cost to transport a horse? Transportation costs will vary depending on the type of move, the distance, and other factors of your situation. On average, however, hiring a professional equine transport company will cost between $0.75/mile and $3/mile. International transport by air for your horse will cost somewhere between $2,000 and $10,000 for a one-way flight. 

As you can see, there are significant costs associated with transporting a horse. However, working with a professional equine transport company is oftentimes the best way to ensure the safety and health of your horse. In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about relocating your horse and the expenses associated with it.

Ways to Transport Your Horse

There are many ways to transport your horse. Each of these methods has unique costs and benefits associated with them. Below are listed just a few of the most common transport methods.

DIY Horse Transport

If you need to transport your horse often, investing in your own equipment may be the most cost-effective option. A horse trailer can cost anywhere from a couple of thousand dollars to $50,000 or more. 

Purchasing a vehicle or trailer that enables you to tow your own horse is definitely an investment. However, this investment will save you money in the long-run if you are transporting your horse several times each year. 

Professional Horse Transport Companies

Many horse owners choose to hire a professional horse transport company to safely transport their horse. This is often the best method of transporting your horse during a cross-country move or other long trip. Horse transportation companies typically charge a set fee per mile of the trip. There are also additional fees for layovers or additional care required for your horse.

Transporting a Horse by Airplane

If you need to transport your horse internationally, you will need to work with a company that specializes in this type of equine transportation. International air travel can be especially stressful for your horse. In certain situations, air transport may be used for domestic travel within the country as well. You can expect to pay between $2,000 and $10,000 for a one-way international flight for your horse. 

Average Cost of Transporting a Horse

Horse in transit

The most important thing to realize about the cost of horse transportation is that there are many variables that will affect the final cost. Things such as layovers, special care requirements, accommodation needs, and trip distance will all factor into the end cost. 

Cost of Hiring a Transport Company for Your Horse

There are many professional horse transportation companies that will ensure that your horse arrives safely and in good health. Because transporting a horse is such an investment, it is important to work with a reputable transportation company that you can trust. 

One of the best ways to find a trustworthy horse transportation company is to ask other horse owners for recommendations. However, there are also many resources available online for locating professional horse transporters.

Most horse transport companies charge a set fee based on the mileage of the trip. This fee typically ranges anywhere between $0.75/mile to $3/mile depending on the company. There will also be additional fees such as layover fees which run anywhere from $150/day to $300/day. This often covers anything your horse would need during the layover and while they are being transported.

It is best to research several equine transport companies before arranging for the transport of your horse. Most companies will be able to provide an estimated fee either online or through the phone. This will provide you with the information you need to make a wise decision regarding the transport of your horse. 

Cost of Transporting Your Horse Internationally

International horse transport is a much more complicated situation. It is important to note that there may be times a horse is transported by airplane within the United States. However, this is not very common as road transport is typically cheaper and safer for the horse. For this reason, we will be focusing on the international air transport of horses.

There are many variables that impact the investment for international air transport of a horse. Just like any airline ticket, the final cost will be impacted by the departure and destination locations. Many companies also offer various tiers of care and comfort which will affect the cost of investment. As mentioned previously, it is safe to estimate that international transport of your horse by airplane can range anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for a one-way trip. 

When you are transporting your horse internationally, you must also consider the fees associated with pre-flight bloodwork and testing. There is also a mandatory quarantine period that will add several thousand dollars to the final cost of transport.

Tips for Safely Transporting Your Horse

There are several steps you can take to ensure the safe and healthy transportation of your horse. Thinking through each portion of the transportation process will eliminate the potential for discomfort for your horse. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, here’s my article on 20 Essential Tips for Traveling With a Horse. 

Prepare Your Horse for Transport

By preparing your horse before their transportation, you can make the trip less stressful both for the horse and the individuals in charge of the transport. Knowing your horse is prepared for travel will help calm your nerves during the trips as well. 

If your horse has not traveled before, or if they have not been transported recently, it is a wise idea to familiarize them with a travel trailer. Teaching them to successfully load into the trailer and ensuring they know the basic commands necessary for transport will make the process go more smoothly for everyone involved.

If you’re not sure how to train your horse to board a horse trailer, here’s my step-by-step guide for training horses to board trailers.

Plan for Layovers During Transport

Another way to ensure the happiness, health, and safety of your horse is to arrange for layovers during long trips. These breaks in travel provide your horse with the opportunity to stretch and eliminate any stiffness from their time in the trailer. 

Allow for a Recovery Period

No matter your reason for transport, it is important to plan several days for your horse to recover and relax after their trip. It’s vital you keep this in mind if you’re transporting your horse to compete in a competition.

Transportation is often quite stressful, even for horses that are accustomed to it. Because of this, a recovery period is crucial to ensure your horse is healthy and happy after their transport.

Final Thoughts on Horse Transportation

Transporting your horse is a complex task. Whether you are transporting them using your own equipment or you are hiring a professional transportation company, there are many factors to think through. Proper planning before transportation will eliminate the potential for errors that cause discomfort for your horse. 

Additionally, by planning ahead for the transport of your horse, you may be able to eliminate some of the costs associated with equine transportation. Finding transportation last-minute will force you to pay top dollar for services. 

Any horse lover will tell you that owning a horse is an investment. Because of this, it is important to take care of the animal you have invested so much time, money, and love into. Providing them with high-quality equine transportation is the best way to ensure they are safe and healthy, even when transportation is necessary.

In my experience, I have found that it is important to work with an equine transport company that truly loves horses. By interviewing several horse transport companies, you will be able to find one that will care for your horse as their own while it is under their watch. This will allow you to relax while knowing that your horse is being loved and cared for while you are separated.

Related Horse Questions

How long can a horse stay in a trailer?

If you are transporting your horse a long distance, it is important to follow some general guidelines to ensure optimal health and safety. As a general rule, it is important that your horse spends no more than eight hours in the trailer. Following these eight hours, they should have eight hours outside of the trailer. 

Although your horse will be okay in the trailer for up to eight hours, it is wise to stop to check on your horse every two to four hours. During this time, you can ensure that they have sufficient food and water for the remainder of the trip. 

How much does it cost to own a horse?

It’s no secret that owning a horse is not cheap. On average, you can estimate to spend around $4,000 per year as a horse owner. Some of the fees you will encounter may include food, medical care, boarding expenses, riding lessons, and competition fees. There are certainly ways to save money as a horse owner, many of which I have implemented. 

At the end of the day, the yearly cost of your horse will depend greatly on the type of horse you own, your boarding accommodations, and the type of competitions in which you participate. 

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