Horses arriving at British airports are treated like freight, and may be kept waiting for as long as 15hr, claimed speakers at the recent International League for the Protection of Horses (ILPH) international transportation conference.
While controversy continues to rage over travelling conditions for horses destined for slaughter, it emerges that even valuable competition horses may be at risk because of inflexible customs regulations.
Heathrow, the world’s busiest airport, is cited as the worst offender, with the main problem being delays in processing paperwork.
By contrast, the United States already has a system whereby paperwork is filed in advance, so horses arriving at US airports, which are quarantined as a matter of procedure, can be processed much more quickly and humanely.
Henry Bullen of International shipping agent Peden Bloodstock explains: “There are too few stables and they aren’t ideal. Most of the delays are down to excessive bureaucracy – horses should get priority treatment or be pre-cleared.
“Stansted is a lot better, although still not ideal. We do accept that Heathrow is a busy airport and our customs brokers are in dialogue with its officials to try to improve the situation, so we are hopeful that this will change in time.”
However, Jane Hutchins of transporter Ventureneed Ltd feels that British airports are still ahead of some other European handlers.
“We fly horses into Stansted and Heathrow, and at least in England you have access to a vet 24 hoursa day. You do sometimes have a long wait for customs at Heathrow, but overall, the service has improved in recent years.”
Read the full report in this week’s Horse & Hound (24 July), or click here to subscribe and enjoy Horse & Hound delivered to your door every week.