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Exporting a horse

The only option at this point is to export horses via Mauritius

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]any of our top riders source horses overseas and import them to South Africa to compete at the top level of local equestrian sport. While bringing horses in is fairly painless, exporting a horse is an entirely different story with a far more delicate process in place. The majority of our horses who are exported are sent for sale purposes. A very small portion of horses being exported are because the owners are emigrating and want to bring their beloved horses with, or are taking their horses to compete abroad.

In last year’s international issue (HQ113), we covered the topic of importing a horse. This year, we talk to Candice Hobday, owner of Hobday Equestrian Enterprises. Candice has over 20 years’ experience in the industry and is personally involved during every shipment.

Why can’t we export directly to other countries?

Currently South Africa can’t export directly to the European Union due to African Horse Sickness (AHS). The World Health Organisation sets up protocols on moving animals around the world. Part of the legislation is that you can’t have had AHS within the free zone (the Western Cape) within a two-year period in order to export a horse.

In 2011, there was an outbreak of AHS in the Western Cape and there has been one almost every year up until last year. They’re not outbreaks like in Gauteng and Natal – they’ve been movement-control issues. Somebody will vaccinate their horse when they shouldn’t and then the vaccine has a reaction, the horse develops AHS and the disease spreads to the midges that way. If you want to take a horse to the Cape, you can’t have vaccinated within 40 days of transport, because in those 40 days, there could be a reaction to the vaccine, and then when the horse reacts, it exposes all the midges in the area to AHS. Every time there’s an outbreak of AHS, the two years start again. When that two-year ban is up, you apply for an audit, and it can take up to nine months to get an opportunity for an audit. They will then give the go-ahead if all is fine. So you’re looking at a three-year period from the time that there is no AHS.

Why Mauritius?

Horses munching on their grass and ready to travel

Our option is to send horses via Mauritius. There is an agreement that you can send horses from South Africa to Mauritius and then send those horses to Europe. They can’t at this point go anywhere else directly. They can’t go from Mauritius to Dubai or from Mauritius to Australia – they have to go to Europe and then from Europe to the relevant places. However, horses can go directly from South Africa to America, but it is 60 days of quarantine and the horses are locked inside stables for 60 days. They are not allowed to be turned out or hand-walked whatsoever. They also have to spend an additional two weeks doing CEM (contagious equine metritis) testing in quarantine if they’re stallions or mares.

The plus side of things is that from America they can go anywhere in the world, but it’s about double the cost of transporting to Europe. You can’t send a horse to America who is positive for piroplasmosis (biliary). Although our Thoroughbreds are quite clean, nine out of 10 of our polo ponies, our Warmbloods and our endurance horses will test positive for piroplasmosis. They may not necessarily be sick with biliary (they have it sub-clinically), but they’re not accepted into America, and that means that we then don’t have enough numbers. You would have to do a charter of a minimum of 18 horses, which will cost around $45,000 (R580,000) to go to America, and we can’t find 18 clean horses – so America’s not really an option. Mauritius is the only way to get horses out at this point.

Text: Hobday Equestrian Enterprises

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The full article appears in the International issue of HQ (August 125) > Shop now