There are a wide variety of horse transporters who make regular trips to Normandy. Start seeking quotes well before your journey as prices vary widely (typically around £300-400 per horse). If you only have a few horses to bring across it may be possible to share with other owners to make up a load and thus keep costs down, although you may have a little less say as to when your horse will arrive and your horse may have to do unnecessary mileage to drop off to other owners on the way. As with many things in life, you tend to get what you pay for, and the highest quality doesn’t always come cheap. It pays to be suspicious of cheap quotes.
It is absolutely critical to enquire about travel times and welfare issues. Before making your final choice, try to speak with someone who has used the transporter before you to hear first hand his or her experiences. Many of the Anglophone equestrian websites have postings from people who want to share their travel experiences, and whilst they may not openly ‘name names’ of transporters who have given them a bad deal, a private message can often bring forward a wealth of information that might avoid a costly and heartbreaking mistake!
Make sure you are well informed about how often water will be supplied, how many stops will be made for leg stretches, hay, etc and how much experience the drivers and grooms have with horses. Ensure that the transporters have the appropriate commercial insurance. Sadly, accidents do happen from time to time – a foot through the floor or a broken leg can be distressing enough, but it will be ten times worse if you find that you are personally responsible for the cost of any vets bills and repairs. Make sure you use a reputable, registered transporter (you can check operators licences via VOSA). Ask about the type of lorries used and what condition they are in, as well as how much space your horses will have. Check too which way the lorry is partitioned so that any braking and accelerating on a long trip doesn’t put too much strain on joints.
Many people bring their horses across using their own horseboxes and most opt for a short crossing, even if it means a slightly longer drive at the other end. You are not able to bring your horse through the tunnel as the air pressure is unsuitable for horses. Many yards will offer a stop over facility for those facing a long trip – search for those advertising ‘lairage’, ‘horse hotels’ or ‘pension’. Charges can vary from 10-20€ per horse for those needing to overnight.
It may sound obvious but ensure that your horse is well protected for the journey with boots and tail guards – tales abound of horses crammed into lorries and arriving at their destination with tails rubbed raw. If your horse is a difficult loader make sure that you inform the transporter in order that they allow extra time, and everybody is less stressed as a result.
Before exporting your horse, speak to your local vet, and don’t forget to make sure that all your paperwork is in order. For passport information take a look at www.horsepassportagency.com
Peta Morton, www.franceequestre.com