Approximately 2000 horses are being used in a study to discover the effects of air transport.
“Right now, IATA’s guidelines are largely based on the experience of industry professionals with little scientific evidence or validation,” said Dr Barbara Padalino, an associate professor in Bologna University’s Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences.
“This is an excellent opportunity to fill significant existing knowledge gaps and identify where more focused research and policy development is needed,” said Dr Janet Patterson-Kane, the Morris Animal Foundation’s chief scientific officer.
While precise numbers aren’t known, Padalino estimates about 30,000 horses are transported, on average, every year for competitions, breeding and sales, and sometimes because of the relocation of owners.
A recent study of horses transported by air on 81 flights to Hong Kong found that for every 100 horses flown, about 11% developed pneumonia. On 60% of the flights, at least one horse was affected. Flight duration, and transport during springtime, were both identified as risk factors.
In addition to improving horse health, the study may provide economic benefits to horse owners.