Transporting horses

Transport of Animals (Cleansing and Disinfection) (England) (No 3) Order 2003 

Any person transporting horses shall ensure that:  

  • They are loaded onto a means of transport which has been cleansed, and where necessary disinfected  
  • Any soiled litter and excreta are removed as soon as practicable 
  • There are no exemptions for transporting your own horse in your own transport.

Driver Licensing 

If you passed your driving test before 1 January 1997 - You’re usually allowed to drive a vehicle and/or trailer combination up to 8.250kg. 

If you passed your driving test after 1 January 1997 - You can only drive vehicles up to 3,500kg.

If you are unsure you should contact the DVLA 


All vehicles in excess of 7.5 tonnes must be fitted with a tachograph which must be used for all journeys.

Horse Identification Documents / Passports 

It is an offence to own a horse without an identification document / passport 

Identification documents / passports must accompany the horse during transportation 

Foals must have a microchip and passport / ID document by the 30th November in the year of its birth or within six months of birth, whichever is the later.

Transporting horses for personal recreational purposes – how the law applies to you… 

The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 

Horses shall not be transported in a way which causes or is likely to cause them injury or unnecessary suffering, e.g. vehicles must be of sound construction, have non-slip floors, no sharp projections, and have adequate space to allow the horse to stand in their normal position. 

A horse shall not be transported unless it is fit for the intended journey. A horse shall not be considered fit if:  

  • It cannot move or walk unassisted 
  • It is ill, injured, fatigued, has a severe open wound, or has given birth during the previous week  
  • It is new born and its navel is not completely healed  
  • Is a mare which is beyond 90% of its gestation period (unless, the journey is to improve the health and welfare conditions of the birth) 

The above do not apply if the horse is transported direct to the nearest available place for veterinary treatment or diagnosis under the advice of a veterinarian. A horse may not be dragged or pushed by any means, or lifted by a mechanical device unless under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon. 

Where horses are not led into, or out of a vehicle, the loading ramp should be provided with protection on each side, sufficient to prevent them from falling off or escaping. Ramps must not have an angle exceeding 20 degrees and must be fitted with foot battens or otherwise to prevent slipping. Partitions should be fitted to support the horses and prevent them being thrown about by the motion of the vehicle. 

If you transport horses as part of an economic activity, you also need to comply with… 

Economic activity will include farmers, hauliers, those who move equines in connection with their business – racehorse trainers, professional riders etc. If you employ a groom to drive your vehicle, you will almost certainly need to comply with the following.

For journeys over 65km and under 8 hours  

  • Hold a transporter authorisation (Type 1) issued by Defra  
  • Ensure that drivers and attendants are in possession of a certificate of competence 
  • Complete an animal transport document (ATD) 

For long journeys over 8 hours  

  • Have a long journey transporter authorisation (Type 2) issued by Defra  
  • Ensure the vehicle used has been expected inspected and approved  
  • Ensure that contingency plans are in place in the event of an emergency  
  • Complete a journey log for journeys going outside the UK (this does not include registered horses)
  • Complete an ATD if journey is within the UK
  • Ensure that drivers and attendants are in possession of a certificate of competence.


Sharp edges – Vehicles must be free from sharp edges, projections and gaps which could cause injury to the horses.

Secure and escape-proof - barriers or straps must be used to prevent horses falling when the loading door is open.  (Trailers when used for transporting loose horses must have top doors shut or another means of barrier).

Access - must be available to enter and inspect each horse.

Roof - must protect the horses against any adverse weather.

Floor - strong enough for the weight of the horses, must be free from obstructions (uncovered spare wheels etc.), and anti-slip.

Ventilation - sufficient for 'worst case' situation. e.g. when the vehicle is stationary in hot weather.  A proportion should be adjustable.

Partitions - strong enough to withstand the weight of the horse, easy to move.

Ramps - road vehicles must have a ramp for loading and unloading, not steeper than 20°00’ for horses (36.4% slope, equivalent to a rise of four over distance of 11).

Lighting - must be provided to allow inspection of the horses.

Cleansing and disinfecting - the vehicle must be able to be adequately cleansed and disinfected.

Identified - vehicles should be marked to show they contain horses (unless obvious).

Separation / partitions

Horses should be transported separately from;

·   Other species

·   Horses of significantly different sizes or ages

·   Adult breeding stallions from each other

·   Horses that are hostile to each other

·       Tied animals from untied animals


  • Horses may not be transported in a vehicle with more than one deck.
  • Minimum internal height shall be 75 cm higher than the height at the withers of the tallest animal.
  • When transported in groups, horses older that eight months must wear halters (unless they are unbroken).
  • Unbroken horses shall not be transported in groups of more than four individual horses.
  • Horses must be transported in individual stalls (individual partitions) when the vehicle is loaded onto a RO-RO vessel and they must be halter broken.  (Unbroken horses are defined as those that cannot be tied or led by a halter without causing avoidable excitement, pain or suffering).

Redwings Loading /Training

 This information is intended for guidance and is not an authoritative interpretation of the law.  Further information can be obtained from Defra, Animal and Plant Health Agency or your local authority.

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