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Life on the road for Horses

To some Brits there’s no better way of exploring Europe than a road trip.

Around 150,000 people per year travel in either a car, coach or bus. The likes of having an iPad, earphones and snacks in possession can be essential. 

However, not everyone has the luxury of such items. 

Each year, horses travel across Europe to compete at the most famous race courses in the world.

One person that has experienced the ins and outs of ‘life on the road’ is jockey Paula Muir. She exclusively told Tudor the process of shipping horses to Europe.

"I’ve travelled abroad with horses across Europe; they travel in their horseboxes on the road to places like Germany and France. It depends on how many runners you have but if you have one then its two solid boxes or a horse box per horse – that’s what generally happens for the races.

"The way we did it Leyburn, North Yorkshire, we stopped off firstly at Lingfield racecourse by the Euro train down south and it was situated near a horse box. The horse needs time to rest around Lingfield   before continuing the journey. They have some breakfast and get some time to have a leg stretch," she said.

"After three hours into the travel, we pull over after three hours to check on the horses again but it can vary as sometimes the weather can be quite warm and they can get very sweaty so we go and give them some water and throw water into the horsebox to cool them down just to make sure on their well-being.

"The temperatures can get very warm. We spread (the journey) around for two days in total before we get to the race course. During the trip to Germany we stopped off at Cologne race course and rode the horse on the track during the morning before it gets to Baden-Baden a couple of days before racing."

The Irish rider admits some horses can be overwhelmed by the occasion and have minor side effects during their travel. If this occurs, the team have to make a few more pit-stops than originally expected.

"The majority of the horses take it well but some of them can be quite sweaty through being nervous passengers but most of the time they are good, it’s like second nature to them. If they do freak out then we make sure we stop regularly. Sometimes they have a travel companion with some stables taking along a pony to keep them company to make them feel comfortable and ease the nerves," Muir admitted.

For other races in the likes of Dubai and Australia, the horses have no other option than to fly. It may seem a little crazy, right? You never see them at the Leeds and Bradford Airport having a quick breakfast at Weatherspoons whilst waiting to board. So how do they get there?

Muir explained the alternative route to getting the horses to land across to the likes of the Middle East via air

“Going on a plane, they get flew over and get put in a companion crate to get there safely. But I’ve only been on the road with the horses, I was supposed to go to Turkey but the race got cancelled so I didn’t end up going.”

The jockey never expected her career to be involved with racing though.

“I originally wanted to work in the police force but you have to do so many years beforehand so I thought being a jockey could be my job. It progressed from when I was younger. I did a nine week course in Doncaster to become a jockey. This season I’ve had 64 races and won six so I’m 10% of the way there,” she concluded.

The prime season for horse racing will continue through the winter throughout the UK. Popular destinations include Cheltenham, Newcastle and Nottingham.



 

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