What makes horse transport good horse transport? That is the question Marcel Jordan asked himself when he started his horse transport company in 2007. Transporting horses with the least possible stress, preventing motion sickness and making the journey as comfortable as possible is the main priority. Together with his wife Bea, Marcel successfully runs his company Marcel Jordan Horse Transport and they are happy to offer us a glimpse into their unique concept and their vision on how to transport a horse well.
“Transporting horses is much more than just bringing a horse from A to B. It really is a trade”, says Marcel smiling. And that the method developed by him works well, is obvious when we arrive at his place in Meijel, in the Netherlands’ most southern province, Limburg. In the stables we see a number of horses that arrived the previous evening after a long journey from Spain; they all look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, without any restlessness.
Good horse transport to Marcel means transport with the least possible stress. How is that accomplished? For that, Marcel looked at the natural position of a horse in a paddock. “When you look at horses in the paddock, they spend most of the time eating or drinking, with their heads down.” That was the starting point for Marcel for the transport of horses: they need to be able to eat and drink all the time and are not tied up, but stand loose between the partition boards in the truck.
Feed and drink
The importance of sufficient roughage during a trip is regularly underestimated, according to Marcel. “Horses produce gall but have no gall bladder, allowing gall to seep into the stomach. The only way to neutralise the acid is through saliva, which is produced by chewing hay. This is why horses always need to have access to roughage, also during transport.” In the truck, the high-quality roughage is provided to the horses in a hay bag and never in a hay net, as horses could get stuck in that.
The horses also have continuous access to water. Bea explains: “Often, during transport, people only offer their horses water during a break. Then they will hold a bucket in front of them for a few minutes, and if the horses do not drink quickly enough, the bucket is already taken away. When we look at the horses on the camera screen in the cabin, we see that the horses drink very regularly. So just keeping a bucket in front of them for a few minutes, does doesn’t suffice.” During the transport, special buckets are used which are flat at the back, preventing them from moving during driving. Horses tend to drink easily up to 30 litres of water a day during transport.
The three basic conditions of Marcel Jordan are: always hay, always water and always ample wood shavings
There will always be a thick bed of wood shavings on the truck floor: “Horses need to be able to urinate without the urine spattering from the floor onto their legs. They do not like that”, says Marcel. And Bea adds: “Even if we need to drive for only five minutes, we always make sure that there are ample wood shavings in the truck and that hay is available. By doing so, the horses learn that being transported is nothing to worry about. Perhaps you will not notice the effects of the small things on short drives, but with long journeys, you will notice the difference.”
Less chance of motion sickness
When transporting horses over a long distance, it is important to reduce the risk of motion sickness as much as possible. “Motion sickness in horses is not the same as in people”, explains Marcel. “In our trucks, the horses are not tied up, but stand loose between the partitions. This allows them to move their heads down. This is not only because this is a relaxed position, but also to prevent motion sickness. Each horse has fluid in its lungs. Usually, horses stand with their head down a large part of the day; sometimes drops of fluid will enter the windpipe, and the horse will snort. That snorting is like spraying and this actually cleans their lungs.
Now when you tie up a horse in a truck for a longer period of time, and it cannot move its head up and down freely, the fluid will remain in the lungs and form a culture medium for bacteria that cause infection. Often motion sickness is not recognized as such and dismissed as a slight cold.” For Marcel, this scientifically substantiated theory is the reason to transport all horses loose. Do you never encounter any problems? “No, but sometimes, when we do not trust the situation entirely, we tie up the horse for a short period of time. However, after some time, during a long trip, any horse can stand untied.”
Prepare your journey well and travel safely
Safety too is an important aspect of good horse transport. In addition to the driver’s driving style, other things play a role too. The trucks of Marcel Jordan Horse Transport have been specially designed; they have higher partition boards than usual and they can all be adjusted when it comes to width. Marcel not only provides the previously mentioned hay bags and wood shavings, he also makes sure that the hooks used to hang buckets and hay bags are manual locking carabiners. “Never use the hooks that open just like that; just imagine if a horse got near and got stuck to it.”
Furthermore, the drivers always have a number of standard spare items with them, which, according to Marcel, everyone travelling with horses should carry with them: a spare halter and rope, rugs, lunges, wound spray, a thermometer, and should a horse become very nervous on the road, the drivers always have syringes of Primeval Stressless paste with them. A calming free of doping herb-based paste that ‘removes the sharp edges’ without affecting the muscles.
During the journey, the driver will stop regularly to check the hay and water supplies and if it is a very long journey, he will stop at night at known addresses where the horses will be unloaded and stabled. “We have good, reliable addresses in, for example, Spain, France and Germany.” Travelling across borders with horses often involves a lot of paperwork. “For private individuals, that can be quite challenging. So it is best to always ask for advice first. For example, in the Benelux and France you are allowed to cross the borders to take your horse to a competition, however, the situation is different when you sell a horse. Then you have to have the right documents and the horse must be checked by a vet first. When travelling to Germany, the horse always has to be examined by a vet. It is a maze of rules and regulations and we are happy to take care of everything for our clients.”
Marcel Jordan Horse Transport is specialised in long-distance transport of horses and transports horses all over Europe and neighbouring countries. Whether the trip is a long or short one, the basic conditions will never change: “The well-being of the horse always comes first”, are Marcel’s final words.
Marcel Jordan Horse Transport
Marcel Jordan Horse Transport transports horses through all of Europe and neighbouring countries. The company now owns three large 10 horse trucks and a 2 horse truck. Marcel established his business in 2007 and since 2009, when Bea joined him, they have built up the company together. “Currently we have a very good group of employees. Both on the road and in the office, everyone shares the same values. Without these people, we would not be able to run our business”, says Marcel. www.marceljordan.com