Advice for horses from Valencia, the Sunshine tour or elsewhere on the way to the Netherlands

Travelling with potentially infected horses is in principle strongly discouraged, but other priorities seem to exist at the moment. Also, given that it is not possible or very difficult to find reliable overnight addresses, the mandatory travel and rest periods are unfortunately often not followed.

This means that trucks with potentially infected horses will arrive in countries that have actually travelled far too long. This can not only exacerbate the possible Rhinopneumonitis infection (EHV1), but can also give other 'travel diseases' a chance. Think of 'shipping fever'  (a serious pneumonia due to having to stand with the head up for too long, which makes the trachea less able to clean itself), severe diarrhea (due to the 'getting confused' of the gut bacteria), hooves  (due to having to stand for a long time) and muscle tightness  (due to lack of movement in horses that normally get exercise several times a day).

Preventive measures on the road

  • Provide sufficient water and dust-free roughage, very little concentrate food
  • Where possible, give horses a chance to lower their heads
  • Consult with your veterinarian so that he/she is present when the horses arrive at the location in your country
  • Think in advance about how you will organize the measures below

Preventive measures upon returning home

  • Arrange separate storage for the horses from the transport in advance (quarantine = isolation!)

This should preferably be a separate stable, with its own roof (virus can spread through the air in a stable), sufficiently far from the other horses and not accessible to anyone other than the strictly necessary caretakers.

  • Separate care

Viruses can also be transmitted by hands, jacks, harnesses, wheelbarrows, feed buckets etc  and so the 'isolation stable' must have its own belongings and preferably also its own caretakers. If that is not possible, the caretakers must wash and change clothing before going to the non-isolated horses.

  • Immediately after arriving in the country, the horses must be checked by a veterinarian.

In particular, the absorption of breathing, heart rate and temperature are important, assessing the moisture balance (hydration status – assessing mucous membranes and elasticity of the skin), listening to the lungs and intestinal sounds, and assessing the lower feet, muscles and manure.

  • Breathing, pulse and temperature

Count the breathing twice a day and record the temperature of all horses in the isolation unit and record these per horse. The person who does this can also listen to the heartbeat and count it.

  • Giving horses unburdened movement in a different place than where the non-isolated horses are exercising.

Also remember that the virus can survive from hours to several days on the shelves of a paddock or on the fences of a step mill and the like.

  • Ride not sick but isolated horses, relaxed, preferably outside, at a different time than the non-isolated horses
  • After 14 days, have a nasal swab taken twice on two consecutive days for PCR on EHV1. (FEI recommends temperatures and test on days 7 and day 14)
  • Sick = veterinarian

If a horse becomes ill, consult directly with your veterinarian and do not think only of rhinopneumonitis, but also of other 'travel diseases'. In case of fever and suspicion rhino have immediately both a  nasal swab  and an EDTA blood sample  taken for PCR on EHV1.


Everyone will be very tired after all the problems of the last few days/weeks. Try to engage other experienced carers if possible. Fatigue leads to errors in the isolation protocol. If you have any questions, consult your veterinarian and he can always consult with the University Clinic for Horses about sick horses or with the GD Deventer about testing.

M.Sloet 5-3-2021