Trailering across the country

What should someone hypothetically need to know before shipping a hypothetical new horse across the country? If price were no object (welcome to Fantasy Island), and health of the horse was your priority, would you even look at a horse who would have to move all the way across the country at age 17? Pacific Northwest to New England, so some hypothetical climate/forage changes for the hypothetical horse, too. Hypothetical horse ideally would travel in a box stall via commercial shipper, but still.

My trainer would say that one could find the same horse within the same time zone. My spouse doesn’t know a damn thing about this whole conversation. :slight_smile:

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I live in California andI don’t give a second thought about hauling across the country, the main question for the hauler is how long do they drive before they offload. Ideally I like to stop every 500 miles (10ish hours), however often times I can stretch it to 750 miles (14ish hours). It just depends on where your layovers fall. In the event of bad weather last year I got stuck driving for 26 hours and the horses were eager to get out but were none the worse for wear. I don’t like to haul more than three days in a row. Many haulers have a layover point out half way across the country and will typically “que” horses there till they can get a full load going your direction. But basically it boils down to what you want to pay.

Just one additional note about hauling horses across county the worst part of it is that it is expensive, and you really can never recoup that cost, a $5000 horse that cost $2500 to ship is still a $500 horse
But to summarize use a good reputable hauler and you probably won’t have any issues


put it on an airplane

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This past February, a 26 yr old Dutch Warmblood and retired show jumper traveled from SoCal to my farm in Middle Tennessee for retirement. He has an old splint bone fracture, a mild case of kissing spine and a very ugly hock.

He came via one of KC transport’s air ride vans. He made the trip in three days, being taken off the trailer for one night somewhere in New Mexico or Texas - I forget. He was on “standby” waiting for a tie stall so it was not as expensive as you would think to travel in a Lamborghini, lol.

In spite of his old leg injury and his arthritis, he came off the van none the worse for the wear but his ulcers did flare after arrival. He left a lifetime of city life for the quiet country life in a 19 acre pasture. He only knew occasional hand grazing. My 28 yr old TWH thankfully is being a good companion and showing the new guy the country ropes.

I moved my own horses myself, cross-country twice. The older ones were 16 & 17 on the second trip. It took me five days & four nights, and I had pre-arranged layovers each direction. My horses made both trips in excellent health. They all lost a few pounds going west but coming back East they knew the drill and didn’t lose any weight. No ulcers, nothing - just show us supper, lollol.


Yes, that’s exactly what I’m afraid of. :slight_smile:

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OP are you looking to hire a shipper or haul yourself? Hypothetically of course. My own experience, I’ve used Brookledge many times for cross country moves and I have been more than happy. The most I have paid was 4500 in the off season, trip planned around me basically, for a box stall. All of my horses came off the trailer looking great!

Ask me about over seas and I can’t help you! I left her state side

I used Brookledge five or six years ago to move my retired, elderly pony (age over 30) from Colorado to South Carolina. I wasn’t going to move without him. I paid about $3,000 for a box stall. He came off the trailer in South Carolina acting like it was a grand adventure, and where was he going next?

He had no monetary value, but I was not going to abandon him when he got too old to drive any more. He loved living in South Carolina, and is buried near his former pasture.



A friend just moved a 30 something QH gelding, via Equine Express, and he came off the trailer looking great. She was moving households, and we were the ones meeting the old boy on this end; it was a relief in this heat to see him doing so well after that journey.

I’ve used Equine Express several times, including for pregnant imported mares cross country, and a horse two weeks out from bone chip removal cross country. Have always been pleased about the condition of my horses in the past, although I haven’t had the need to use their services lately.


Not always exactly true… a horse in one area might be worth quite a bit more (or visa versa) depending on the demand of the local market.

If you’re looking at buying something, it is worth considering whether or not you can find something comparable in your local area and factor in the costs of travel to see the horse (or risk if you are going to buy off of a video) and shipping it. Sometimes, the purchase does still make sense even with the added costs and risk.

I’ve shipped horses to Calgary and back from the east coast and sold a mare from VA to CA and they all traveled very well and there were really no issues. The horror stories I’ve heard have always involved unscrupulous shippers and I don’t know anyone that has had a bad experience shipping cross country when using one of the well-regarded carriers like Brook Ledge. This isn’t a trip to bargain shop, but with a good company and an experienced hauler, I think it isn’t too terribly hard on most of them.

Some horses travel better than others and it is important, I think, to give them time to adjust to a new environment, climate, food, etc. Most, if not all, will benefit from gastric support on the trip and I think plenty of turnout and walking and some massage/body work is really good for them after a long trip like that too.

FWIW I recently got a quote of $5k for a box stall from WA to GA from one well known shipper and $6550 for a box stall or $3951 for a stall and a half from another.

ETA: Flying might also be worth looking into. Depending how close you are to hub airports (too much travel on either side makes it less of an advantage from both a time and cost perspective), sometimes the prices aren’t far off and in my experience horses fly very well. I’ve only flown mine internationally but I know people who have flown theirs domestically with good experiences and I found this blog post from someone who did as well:

I trailered my own horses 2000 miles when I got married in 1991. My gelding was 15 my mare 3.

Was it stressful? Yes-- on all of us but he did just fine ( as did the mare).

We opted to stop overnight at horse motels every 500 miles and I don’t know if that is better or not.

Other long distance moves we made were done with long days and the occasional one overnight stop if we had to. All horses did just fine.

I have hauled my horse across the country a few times and he was in his late teens. He did just fine. The first time I sent him with a hauler and then I hauled him myself after that. The horses were never injured and never seemed overly stressed.

I recently received a 23 year old boarder who had been shipped across the country. She sauntered off the trailer like she’d just been for a quick trip up the road. I would ship in a box stall, put a poll bumper on that horse and no boots or wraps - those seem to do more harm on long hauls. I would not ship in hot weather, even if the trailer has air conditioning because things go wrong and being stranded in the heat is brutal.

I would not be inclined to purchase a horse that needed to be shipped across the country because there likely is a comparable horse much closer to home and there is always a risk of injury or other mishaps. It’s a bit different if you are moving across the country with your favourite horse. However if this horse seems like your absolute dream horse, go for it! We all know that there is very little room for logic when it come to horse ownership - the heart wants what it wants :wink:

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I shipped my horse from PA to AZ when he was 20. I used a commercial shipper out of Colorado Springs, All State Horse Transport. Air ride in a normal stall right next to the box stall where there was a scared weanling that he baby-sat all the way to CO.

(Off topic, but I was just so proud of him: The drivers said my horse was a godsend. The weanling, newly weaned :roll_eyes:, was picked up in NJ and screamed the whole way to western PA, wouldn’t eat or drink. My guy was the next horse loaded and immediately reached over and touched the weanling’s nose. The weanling instantaneously calmed down and started eating hay. At that point, my horse decided it was his job to make sure the baby was okay. They tied him so he could continue to reach down to the baby, and they were both happy as clams).

Back on topic: They stopped a couple of times between PA and CO at farms with separate grassy paddocks where they could stretch their legs for 3-4 hours. Other than that, they drove straight through. They called me every day from the road with an update on where they were and how he was doing.

He was then at the home farm in CO for 4 days waiting for a load for the Southwest. The office personnel there (all horse owners) loved him. (I’ll admit he was Mr. Personality Plus. :grin:). They would go out to the stalls, feed him carrots and call me with an update every day.

He arrived in AZ bright-eyed and in good condition. He was an OTTB, so he did drop a little weight which I had expected. He was a busy-body type who found everything more interesting than his food.

I transported this same horse 1000 miles when he was 30, and he did great then, also. All that to say, if the horse is relatively healthy, there shouldn’t be a problem no matter the age.

Oh there are people who will tell you horror stories about Brookledge, but they’re the ones who were literally angry that their horse got upgraded to a box stall for free, and wanted Brookledge to explain - in great detail - how their horse managed to skin about a 1" x 1" piece of hair off their face.

My eyes could not roll any harder.