All in a day’s work: quarantine manager

  • Hanno Joubert works for International Racehorse Transport as a quarantine manager and takes us through a typical day preparing horses for flying

    Hanno Joubert started his career in the Thoroughbred industry in 1997 when he worked for Tommy Stack in Ireland.

    He then travelled to the US to work at Considine Farm, a quarantine farm, where he first came into contact with International Racehorse Transport (IRT), and also at Questroyal Stud in New York. He then moved to Australia, working at Vinery Stud.

    He joined IRT two years ago as quarantine manager in the UK.


    I go straight into the barn to say hello to the horses. Most of them greet me when I walkin, which no doubt has something to do with the feed I am about to give them!

    The challenge of this job is the myriad breeds, disciplines, sizes and characters I get to look after.

    I feed and inspect each one and then have coffee to kickstart the day. I check what has been happening in Australia keeping in touch by e-mail with our other quarantine managers and the IRT offices.


    Fillies and geldings are generally turned out in small so that they can make friends.

    Colts are turned out alone into smaller paddocks or yards and stallions or difficult horses are hand walked or turned out into paddock cages.

    We try to send the horses to Australia next to their “friends” to reduce stress.

    If the vet is due in to take blood or swabs to comply with the Australian health certificate, the horses will stand in for a few hours.

    There are many different vet checks needed over the course of quarantine before these horses will qualify for import into Australia or New Zealand.

    Once the horses are turned out, the boxes are cleaned and the yard is tidied.


    Paperwork takes over. I keep the Newmarket office informed of any change of a horse’s status.

    Each horse is weighed and photographed when they arrive and again when they leave.

    This is also a time for completing my daily log of their behaviour and eating patterns, anything which I think will be of use to the new owners or help us on the journey.


    Lunch and 20 winks!


    Any youngsters are handled and taught to walk properly in-hand. They get used to a bit in their mouth to aid loading at the airport, which can be busy and noisy.


    Dinner time for the residents.


    One last check around the stable to make sure all my charges are OK and have cleaned up their dinner. Then it is off home to relax.

    On a flight departure day, the routine is similar, except there is packing to do and we don’t go to bed!


    The unusual activity means the horses sense something is up and are on their toes.

    None could possibly guess that in a few hours they will be at 35,000ft and, by tomorrow, landing in sunny Sydney.2am

    Water containers are filled for the journey and the loading process starts.


    Arrive at Heathrow. Horses are usually settled and calm now. We all go through the strict immigration, customs and security checks, which are a necessity these days.


    We move the horseboxes to the loading area, while Gillian from our office completes the paperwork. I stay with any horse which may be unsettled with all the noise.


    Loading into the airline’s stalls is generally a swift procedure because the flying grooms and airline staff are very experienced. With some horsehage to nibble on, the horses tend to relax really well.


    The main cargo doors close and we prepare for take-off. The day has just begun.

    Read the full story in this week’s Horse & Hound (11 July 2002), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.

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