Monday, May 5, 2014

Checklist for Choosing a Quarantine Facility

Shipping a horse overseas can be a scary and challenging task, especially if you are new to the world of importing horses. We have developed the following checklist in the hope that it will provide useful and helpful information that will enable you to make an informed choice. Here you go! □ 1. Does the facility focus its attention on export only? If so this is a positive sign that you have found a good facility. If they provide training, showing, breeding, sales, boarding, lessons, trail rides, etc., chances are that quarantine is a sideline and not their primary business. Export is a difficult and demanding business and requires a staff that has the knowledge, skills and expertise necessary to meet all the requirements of the task. It also requires a facility that is specifically designed to meet the unique requirements of a quarantine facility and a knowledgeable, competent staff to take care of all the intricacies involved in a complicated process. □ 2. How long has the facility been in the equine export business? If they have been in the business for ten years or more, this is a good sign. Many people think that, because they know something about horses in general, that exporting horses is easy. They try to enter into the field without the knowledge, skills and appropriate facilities to provide the required services. Inexperienced staff can cause significant delays and additional cost due to errors in the timing of testing, administering the wrong vaccinations or failure to provide proper documentation for export services to your country. □ 3. Can the facility provide references in your country? Do the references speak your language and have they experienced the services provided by the facility? If so, this is a good sign. If not, beware. They may either not have the experience they would like you to believe or they may not do a good job. □ 4. Can the facility tell you everything that is included in their quote and answer all your questions about payment and services that are provided and not provided for the price quoted? If they are vague and give you estimates or approximate costs, beware. There may be hidden costs that are not revealed at the beginning, and you could end up with an unpleasant surprise when it is too late to move to another facility. □ 5. Does the facility use a well-known reputable veterinarian to provide the required services for export? Ask about the veterinarian’s experience and credentials. Not all veterinarians are as scrupulous as they should be – and you could be getting into a bad situation if the veterinarian is not one who is committed to a high level of ethical behavior. □ 6. Is the facility designed well for the climate? Will the horse be kept in a large stall with good bedding? Will your horse be given daily turnout time? Can your horse see and “talk to” other horses? Is there good air circulation in the barn? Are there automatic waterers or water barrels that are cleaned and filled daily? A horse who is kept away from other horses in a dark, stuffy, totally enclosed 10 X 10 stall for 30 days or more is not likely to be either mentally or physically healthy by travel day. Enclosed barns with poor air circulation are breeding grounds for illness. Enclosed stalls in a hot climate can create very unhealthy conditions for the animals. Horses are herd animals by nature. Being kept away from all encounters with other horses can be stressful and lead to depression and anxiety. Automatic waterers save the facility time and labor, but the staff can’t tell how much water the horse is drinking. Water barrels are a much better way of monitoring your horse’s water intake – and letting the staff know if there’s a problem before it becomes serious. Some people’s heads are turned by the appearance of a fancy barn that cost a great deal of money. Please bear in mind that the horse doesn’t care how much the barn cost or how impressive it may look to people who can’t see beyond appearances. What matters is the quality of care, compliance with quarantine rules and regulations, the level of safety and the mental and physical health care that the facility provides for the horse. It is quite possible for a A very simple facility to actually be a much better place for your horse than a fancy barn that was built to impress. Look for oversized stalls in the barn. Ask if your horse will have turnout time during quarantine. Ask about ventilation, stall bedding, frequency of stall cleaning and daily routine care. Ask how water intake is monitored. Look beyond a flashy exterior to make sure you are putting your horse in a place that will provide truly excellent care. □ 7. Is the staff knowledgeable about feeding horses? Does the facility have its own feed program? Do they know what to do if a horse is underweight when it arrives at the facility? Do they know how to transition a horse from one feed program to another? Are they willing to modify the feed program for each individual horse? Do they use quality hay? Don’t be fooled by hearing that some big brand name feed is used. All that means is that the feed is expensive – not necessarily good for the horse – and not at all helpful in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to feed properly or who takes your horse’s unique needs into consideration. □ 8. Are you given a price quote that is unbelievably low? If so, beware. Get several different quotes. If it sounds too good to be true – it probably is. Airfreight for horses is costly – so think in terms of buying a regularly priced business class ticket for yourself for the same flight. It is likely to be around the same price. □ 9. What kind of visitation policy does the facility have for owners or prospective exporters? Are you welcome to come and visit your horse during quarantine? Are you welcome to visit the facility prior to choosing which facility you will use for quarantine? If there is a “closed door” policy in place or if you are told that visitors are not welcome because of quarantine rules, beware. They may be trying to hide something – whether it is inadequate or dirty housing, sickly horses, poor quality feed or non-compliance with quarantine rules and regulations. Quarantine barns are restricted areas with strict sanitation requirements. You should be instructed about the sanitation rules and escorted through a quarantine area by a qualified staff member when you go to visit – but your visit is most welcome at any time at a good facility. □ 10. Does the facility have adequate equipment to do the job? Horses have to be transported from the quarantine facility to the airport on the day of the flight. Normally there are are at least three horses in a shipping group – and oftentimes there are six or more. Do you see trucks and trailers that are in good condition and will provide safe transport for your horse? Are staff members qualified and competent drivers so that your horse will have a safe trip? □ 11. What other services does the facility provide? Do they have a farrier who visits the horses regularly and provides hoof trims and/or shoeing as needed? Are you charged for hoof trims? Is the farrier on call for emergencies? Do they provide blanketing as needed? Do they custom feed according to your horse’s needs? Do they provide basic health care extras such as hand walking for a horse who may be recovering from a pulled muscle or treatment for minor cuts or abrasions? Will they recognize and be able to treat minor health issues such as a runny nose or eye irritation? Do they have a qualified and competent veterinarian on call 24 hours a day for emergencies? Do they provide trailer training for a horse with little travel experience so that loading at the airport will be smooth and safe? Shoeing and extra veterinary services will probably incur extra expense for the owner – but daily individualized care, hoof trims, vaccinations and worming should be provided free of charge. Most quality facilities also provide new nylon halters and lead ropes for each horse at no cost to the owner. □ 12. Does the facility owner/manager communicate with you well or do you wait for days or weeks to get answers to your questions? A good quarantine facility is going to be responsive to your questions and needs. They will send you photos of your horse at arrival and departure and inbetween times, if you would like. They will give you updates on your horses’ progress and keep you advised of any changes in schedule or any new developments. They welcome questions and value you as a client. □ 13. Does the facility choose grooms carefully so that qualified, competent, well-trained people are caring for your horse during travel? Do they have a list of qualified grooms from which they can choose? Do staff at the facility fly with the horses themselves when needed? □ 14. Does the facility provide good security? Do staff greet any and all visitors promptly? Do they have a small and limited number of people who regularly enter the quarantine areas? Are they located in a reasonably remote area? Or is the facility on a major highway with lots of traffic and many passers-by who can stop and interact with your horse without the facility staff’s knowledge or supervision? Does the facility provide board, lessons, trail rides, shows or other activities that could allow your horse to be exposed to groups of people and other horses that are not affiliated with the quarantine business itself? □ 15. Does the facility provide information and assistance to you regarding your responsibilities in your home country? Do they provide contact information for a freight forwarder or liason in your country who can help you with your import permits, customs documents, transportation from the arrival to your home stable, etc? A good quarantine facility will have contacts and connections all over the world and will be happy to provide as much assistance and support as you need in order to ensure smooth travels for your horse from beginning to end. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the services that we provide, we would love to hear from you! Contact EZ 2 Spot Ranch by email at or you can call Dianne Nielsen at (001) 210-861-0269 for more information. We always welcome the opportunity to help others learn about our amazing business of exporting horses from the USA all over the world.