7th June 2022
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Moving To France with HorsesSince January 2021 the UK officially left the EU meaning and it now enjoys “third country status”; this brings with it new rules and regulations, for people, their animals and when transporting horses to the continent.
Owners now have to ensure that their horses have: pre-travel residency or isolation, blood tests and export health certificates (EHC) and customs declarations or carnets. British Equestrian has compiled a helpful checklist of pre-travel checks. The first step in all of this is to book an appointment with your official vet (government approved) to get blood tests done to check for infectious diseases, most importantly equine infectious anaemia and equine viral arteritis. When moving permanently this needs to be done within 30 days of travel. You then need to apply for an EHC as the official document to confirm that your horse is fit to enter France.
For pre-travel residency and isolation the horse(s) needs to be registered to an EU-recognised studbook or a national branch of an international racing or competition organisation. Any other horses would be classed as unregistered. The two types means a difference in isolation process and travel documents required. Registered horses can use a horse passport (industry-issued equine identification) for export. However, unregistered horses would require a government-issued supplementary travel ID from Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), if currently in Great Britain. This can be sourced from the official vet alongside the EHC. These documents need to be kept with the horse during the transportation process.
A customs declaration form also needs to be completed before reaching the EU border. Make sure when independently transporting, or transporting through a company that the horse will be going through and inspected at an EU border control post (BCP). Check the BCP that your horse will be going through accepts your horse, some accept both registered and unregistered but there are others that do not, which could cause delays to the journey and welfare implications for the horse. All of the above information can be found in more depth on the UK Gov website here.
Now that the red tape is out of the way… there are other important things to look at when moving your horse to a different country. Firstly, the type of transport used. There are different ways to transport horses to France; ferry and the Eurotunnel. You can do this independently or pay for a reputable company to transport your horse. If you are going to choose a company to transport your equine you want to make sure they have the animals welfare at top priority, ask them to outline the transport process. Ask relevant questions about the journey: whether the horses will have breaks during the travel, how often they’ll be fed and watered, how long the journey will take, what type of box is used to transport. See if they have got any reviews online and/or get reviews or recommendations from people you know personally that have used the company.
On the other hand, if you are going to do this alone there are some things you will need to take into consideration. Cost. Is it cheaper to transport via Ferry or Eurotunnel? How long will the journey take? Will you be able to stop for breaks? Do you already have a horse box or will you need to buy/rent one? Is it up to specification to transport your horse for long periods? Do you know the legal specifications each type of box/stall requires? Does it allow proper ventilation and adequate lighting? What forms and applications will you need to fill out? These are all the types of questions you would need to research into before considering doing this independently.
Moving is a hard task when its within the same city, moving to a whole different country is a different story and if it is made easier by paying someone to transport your horse then, I would choose the easier and relaxed option.
Secondly, acclimatisation is another factor when moving to a different country. France, compared to the UK has nicer weather. That’s not to say that it doesn’t rain or storm there. However, the sun tends to actually shine in France. Looking at properties when moving with horses does need research into the geography and climate. Western France regions (Brittany, Normandy, Western Loire, Loire Valley) have more rainfall on average, which means more flies so stock up on fly spray! Moving to these regions would be an easier transition as the temperature tends to be cooler also, most like the UK, compared to the other regions. In Eastern and Central France (Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace) seasons are very much as you would imagine. Summer is hot and winter is cold. So make sure you take plenty of sun cream and rugs. The climate in Southern France (Provence and Côte d'Azur) is not very conventional in terms of seasons. Summer is traditionally hot and dry, but rains from October to April. Again, stock up on the fly spray!
In the hotter climates you won’t want to work your horse as you would in the UK as the difference in heat will cause your horse to sweat more and become dehydrated quicker, as well as fatigue quicker and have a longer recovery. Instead, start with light work and see how your horse copes and gradually build up the exercise to previous levels. Some horses acclimatise faster than others, its completely on an individual basis. In the cooler climates, horses should be okay to exercise at a more moderate level to begin with, but again, it’s how your horse and its body reacts to the climate. Just as it is with us, we wouldn’t go for a run in the blistering heat when used to running in a cool, cloudy climate. We would most likely end up fainting or with sun stroke.
The main message as always is carry out your due diligence. Research is invaluable, knowledge is power. Educate yourself on where you’re moving to, the climate you will be living in, the local amenities for your horse (for schooling, vets and feed) and how to get there safely and efficiently, there are many such related articles on this blog. For instance you also need to be aware of SAFER and pre-emption Rights on equestrian and farm properties with 2 acres or more.