Can Horses Fly on Planes?

Posted on 20th Jan 2020

It’s probably not something you’ve ever considered but there are thousands of racehorses that need to fly between countries every year. Horse races take place all over the world and there’s only one practical way of getting the horses where they need to be - an aeroplane. However, transporting horses by plane isn’t simple. It requires far more planning, paperwork and accessories to transport a horse than to transport a human.

How Do Horses Travel Overseas?

Equine air transportation is serious business and requires the dedication of specialist teams to ensure the horses arrive safely. 

The journey usually begins with the horses loaded into specially designed stalls. Like humans, horses can travel in different categories - 3 horses pers stall, 2 horses per stall or a single horse in a stall. 

For horses travelling to Australia, a 14 day quarantine period is required on either side of their flight.

During the flight horses have plenty of hay and carrots to snack on and will be watched over by a group of specialist vets, grooms and farm managers. They recieve four-hourly water checks from attendants who also make sure the atmosphere is calm.

Transporting Horses By Air: The Complications 

Horses are generally not sedated unless there is a problem. For example, if horses get agitated and start kicking and upsetting the other horses they will be given a low dose of sedative. Sometimes the groomers are able to calm them down without the need for sedation. 

Shipping fever, a form of pneumonia, is the most common problem horses develop when flying. According to Horse and Hound UK, one in six horses will suffer from this condition on a long-haul flight. Fortunately, it’s rare for a horse to die or experience long-term complications.


Overall, horses make good airline passengers just as they make good road passengers. If you need your horse transported in Australia, talk to one of Australia's most experienced horse transportation companies - Darwin Horse Floats