top of page


Travel Stress

While transportation is stressful for the equine species, there are many instances such as breeding, veterinary care, and racing/athletic events where travel is necessary. Stressors can include:


  • Loading/unloading;

  • Trailer movement and sounds;

  • Poor ventilation; and

  • Abnormal group pairings or isolation.

Travel can impact multiple psychological and physiological factors, including:

  • Significantly increasing stress hormones (e.g. cortisol) levels;

  • Significantly decreasing cell-mediated immune responses, which could contribute to an increased risk for the development of gastrointestinal and respiratory problems; and

  • Increasing inflammatory cytokine levels.

As such, it is important to allow horses time to recover after shipping and watch for signs of illness, including:

  • Decreased appetite;

  • Increased temperature (fever); and

  • Abnormal nasal discharge.

It is also important to implement biosecurity measures to reduce the potential for exposure or introduction of disease, as immune response may be weakened and not able to combat as efficiently after travel. Avoid transporting a horse that is sick (even slightly), especially those with respiratory illness. And, follow general and practical guidelines to minimize stress during transportation with consideration given to:

  • Travel duration;

  • Offering dust-free hay;

  • Providing clean water every three to six hours; and

  • Planning horse orientation in the trailer and avoiding new horse pairings and isolation (if possible).

Our goals are to:


  • Further understand how travel affects horses, both in terms of endocrine and immune function, and how we can best mediate any changes to help horses recover;

  • Find out which management practices related to transport can help reduce stress responses; and

  • Identify non-invasive methods by which to monitor such responses.


Weaning Stress

Weaning is stressful and can impact numerous psychological and physiological factors, including:

  • Significantly decreasing cell-mediated immunity;

  • Decreasing levels of the cytokine interferon-gamma; and

  • Opening the potential “window” of susceptibility to infectious disease and gastrointestinal and respiratory problems.

Our goal is to further research different methods of weaning and how to best minimize weaning stress.

bottom of page