Flying High: New Study To Develop Guidelines For Horses Traveling By Air

Horses are one of the most frequently transported domestic species in the world; they are frequently moved by vans, ships and planes. Horses that travel between locations are at risk for disease, injury and welfare issues. Many studies have been done on how to alleviate the stresses caused by traveling by road, but little is known on how horses handle traveling by air.

A new study funded by Morris Animal Foundation and spearheaded by Dr. Barbara Padalino, an associate professor of animal science at Italy’s Università di Bologna, will investigate what factors increase or decrease the risk of health and behavior issues.

The findings of the study, which involves both stakeholders and researchers, will be used to develop protocols for flight associations like the International Air Transportation Association (IATA). Currently, protocols focus on air safety and cargo requirements, not on equine welfare issues; they are based on experience, with little scientific backing.

It is estimated that nearly 30,000 horses are flown each year. A recent study used 81 flights to Hong Kong and found that for every 100 horses flown, about 11 percent got pneumonia from the flight and 60 percent of flights had at least one horse affected; horses flown in the spring were particularly at risk. That study concluded that flight duration and time of year were risk factors for horses getting sick.

Padalino and her research team hope to use 2,000 horses in their study; these horses will be flying between the United States, Europe, Japan, South Africa, Hong Kong, Australia and New. The study will involve asking questions regarding horse’s welfare before, during and up to five days after the flight. This will include questions about heart rate, alertness and body condition scores, among others.

Padalino hypothesizes that horses with less transport experience and training will be more at risk of transport-related problems, as will those horses who have different temperaments. She is hopeful that the study will assist in the creation of protocol to increase the welfare of horses shipping by air, as well as provide an economic benefit to horse owners by reducing health complications.

Read more at Morris Animal Foundation.

The post Flying High: New Study To Develop Guidelines For Horses Traveling By Air appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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