When elite equine athletes head to competitions, they often have to get on a plane to do so. Horses which compete internationally, such as the horses which attended the Olympics, actually get quite used to travel, whether it's by horse trailer or by plane.
While it's fairly easy to load your horse up on a trailer and head off to a local horse show, plane travel adds another level of logistics. As depicted in this video, horses not only must be loaded onto the plane, but they also have to be transported to the airport itself. This often involves long trailer rides, time in an observation facility, the verification of equine passports and health certificates, and more before the horses even get to the plane.
Clearly, managing a top competition horse is no small feat, and that's why these horses are provided with grooms which see to their every need. Grooms know these horses better than anyone, and they know how to keep them both calm and healthy during the increased stress that plane travel brings.
According to "Keeping Horses Healthy While Traveling," by Cynthia McFarland, horses can be subjected to any number of physical issues while traveling - even if no plane travel is involved. It's possible for your horse to contract the flu, a cold, or even shipping fever during transportation, but there are also some important steps you can take to keep your horse healthy.
For instance, consult with your vet to make sure your horse is healthy before you ship him. He should be up to date on all of his vaccines, which can help to prevent him from getting sick. Keeping your horse drinking and well-hydrated on the trip helps to reduce the chance of colic. Adding some Gatorade to his water can help to mask the taste of strange water, encouraging him to drink.
Don't forget to also allow your horse to lower his head at points during the trip. Often, horses are tied with their heads held up during shipping, but they can't adequately clear their airways in this position.
Even if your horse never loads onto a plane, there are still plenty of ways to keep him healthy when he does travel.