What is the law on the transportation of horses?

Which laws apply?

The transportation of horses is covered by the following legislation:

  • The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 or, in the case of Wales, the Welfare of Animals (Transport) (Wales) Order 2006;
  • The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999;
  • The Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995;
  • The Animal Welfare Act 2006.

The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Orders

The regulations apply to anyone who is transporting an animal in connection with an economic activity, i.e. where animals are transported as part of a business. The regulations, therefore, apply to those who move horses as part of a professional riding, livery or stabling business.

The regulations contain detailed provisions in relation to the following matters:

Protection of animals during transportation

The regulations impose an obligation that anyone engaged in the handling and transportation of animals must do so in a way that does not or is not likely to cause undue suffering or injury to them.

Means of transport and transport policies

There us a requirement that transport used for the transportation of animals is designed, constructed, maintained and operated so as to avoid suffering and injury and to ensure the safety of animals. Amongst other things, this includes:

  • anti-slip flooring;
  • lighting;
  • loading and unloading facilities. The regulations set out specific ramp angles required for horses;
  • sufficient floor space and height for the animals;
  • cleansing and disinfecting;
  • the requirement for horses older than eight months to wear halters during the transport (there is an exception for unbroken horses);
  • the prohibition from the transportation of horses in multi-deck vehicles in certain circumstances;
  • the requirement for individual stalls (except for mares travelling with their foals);
  • limits on the number of unbroken horses that can be transported

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For more information on:

  • Fitness of animals to travel
  • Feed, water, journey times and rest periods
  • Competent and/ or trained handlers
  • Treatment of sick animals
  • Transport authorisations
  • Journey logs
  • Navigations systems for exporters
  • Exemptions for registered horses
  • The Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Regulations 1995
  • The Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences) Regulations 1999
  • The Animal Welfare Act 2006