With the horses back into full work following their end of year break, I am now only 6 weeks away from my first trip of the year to Europe.
I’m just starting to plan our travel arrangements and although after doing the trip a lot over the last few years it can still take some planning and organising to make sure nothing is forgotten and for those who have never done it before it can seem a bit daunting and complicated.
I get asked a lot about the logistics of taking my horses over the channel to compete or train so thought it would be good to share the whole process from start to finish……
My number one piece of advice is to plan everything as far in advance as possible and make a check list that you can tick off when you have booked/organised each step.
Depending on how far the destination is from home, I will chat with my groom and the transport company for suggestions of overnight stabling (if necessary) that are easily accessible. Then we make a plan of each days driving so I know my groom won’t be over her driving hours on the tacho (a 45 mins break is required for every 4.5 hours driving, max 9hrs a day)
1. First step is decide where to go!! Then you can confirm your destination stabling/show address (if you are going to compete, read step 2 if you are not skip to step 3)
2. Get confirmation from the BSJA (or your national federation) that your entry is accepted to the show you have applied to. Then double check you have an up to date FEI Passport for each horse competing including vaccinations within the FEI rules and that both the horse and rider have an up to date FEI registration.
3. Book transport across the channel which can either be on the ferry or Eurotunnel. To book the crossings on either, I always use Shelley Ashman travel (01884 849008) but there are lots of companies who offer a similar booking service.
EUROTUNNEL:- You will receive a booking departure time and you have to arrive at least one hour before that time. My preference would be to book my horses onto the tunnel as its quicker (only 30 mins) and will run despite any harsh weather conditions. But to be able to take your truck on the tunnel, there are certain things it must have i.e fans, no drainage holes in horse area, thermometer….. so double check before booking if your truck is viable for the tunnel.
FERRY: – Positives of the ferry as cross channel transport is its quite a lot cheaper and the beauty is that you can turn up whenever you want and slot into the next sailing time.
4. Whether you are going to compete or just to train the horses travelling to Europe (Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany etc.) will require an export licence and a health certificate click here to get the list of requirements for travelling TRAVEL.
Travelling to France is slightly different as you can enter the country using a DOCUM if you are going to an FEI show, details can be found here.
5. A ministry vet needs to come out to see the horses leaving the country approx 24 hrs before departure to sign off health papers so best to call your local vet and check they have someone registered with the government to do this and book them for the day before your intended departure date. If you are using a transport company to do all the papers, they will send this to your local vet of choice for them to bring out with them.
6. For the horse truck, I always get European breakdown and a GREEN CARD from my insurance company. Check that you don’t already have it included in your policy and it can be good to shop around to get the best price for the breakdown. If you are travelling to Belgium or even driving through on route to another country you have to have to pay the Belgium truck tax details can be found here – SATELLIC
7. Then the packing fun begins!! Obviously the amount of food, hay, bedding, rugs, tack etc you take will heavily depend on where you are going and for how long but an obvious tip is always pack more food than you think you will need in case you get stuck somewhere!
8. Apart from packing everything you will need for your trip, you will also need to pack food, water etc for the actual journey. My horses get hay whilst travelling but its a personal preference if you offer constant food or just on stops. While the horses are on the ferry/eurotunnel, they will have a small feed and I use the Pavo Slobber mash as you can add water to make sure they stay hydrated and they love it! Don’t forget to put the food and buckets in an easily accessible place so you don’t have to be digging around to find them on the stops/stop overs.
9. On arrival at any stop or the destination, we always try to handwalk the horses where possible as they have been standing in a confined space whilst being driven and always take temperatures at regular intervals throughout any journey just to check they are healthy and happy within themselves. Good tip is to take the horses temperatures before leaving home so you have reference of what a normal temperature would be, simple I know but my horses normal temperatures can vary massively from horse to horse.
10. Last but not least……If you are planning to return back to the UK within 10 days then your health papers will still be valid and you can travel back without having to organise a new set. However if you are going to be returning to UK after 10 days or will be going on to another country, you can request health papers at the show to be completed by the FEI show vet. If not at a show centre, then contact the national federation for details.
Good luck on your travels!