New Guidelines for Assessing Welfare of Equids for Transport

Earlier this month the European Commission welcomed the publication of practical guidelines on assessing the fitness for transport of equids (horses, ponies, donkeys, and their hybrids).

The guidelines were produced through a collaboration of agri-food, transport, veterinary, and animal welfare organizations and supported by the European Commission. The document was produced following extensive research and consultation by the stakeholder group coordinated by World Horse Welfare and Federation of European Equine Veterinary Associations.

The guidelines are designed to provide clear and simple methods of assessing the fitness of equids for transport to support a number of objectives including;

  • Helping to maintain good health among animals and humans;
  • Reducing the risk of disease transmission; and
  • Preventing animal suffering.

The guidelines also provides support to transporters, with information on avoiding penalties, financial losses, and withdrawal of the transporter’s authorization or driver’s certificate of competence. They also provide information regarding the enforcement and understanding of European Union Regulation 1/2005 which states that “no animal shall be transported unless it is fit for the intended journey.”

In addition, the guidelines offer a health and transport checklist and a quick reference guide to assess vital signs and health concerns. 

Andrea Gavinelli, head of unit for official controls and eradication of diseases in animals, welcomed the guidelines: “These guidelines will be an essential resource for anyone involved in the transportation of horses, donkeys, mules or their hybrids and I am pleased that the Commission has been able to support their production and dissemination,” Gavinelli said.

The guidelines also received recognition from Bernard Vallat, DVM, who served as the director general of the World Organization for Animal Health for 15 years before recently leaving the position.

“It is my pleasure to commend this visual guide to health conditions that may impact on the fitness of animals to travel,” he said. “This clear and simple guide will help all those involved in animal transport to quickly and easily assess the situation and understand what course of action to take.”

The guidelines are available from the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe’s website at

The guidelines are currently available in English with Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Romanian, and Spanish versions becoming available in the next few months.

The stakeholder group includes Animals Angels, Animal Transport Association, Austrian Federal Chamber of Veterinary Surgeons, Animal Welfare Indicators, Belgian Confederation for the Horse, European Farmers and Agri-Cooperatives, Eurogroup for Animals, Italian Equestrian Sports Federation, Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, French Equestrian Federation, and European Livestock and Meat Trades Union.

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