Horses Can Fly!

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That's a mothereffing horse on a mothereffing plane. Photo: Mary-Louise Price; Photos: Scott Gries/Getty Images, Creative Commons

No, no, not on their own. They fly in planes. Maybe we're just naïve city folk, but we were completely bowled over when we read this fact, presented incidentally in a Wall Street Journal story today about how Heathrow is coping with pets stranded due to ash from rude, unpronounceable Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull.


The Animal Reception Centre at Heathrow was perfectly prepared to look after the stranded animals, Ms. Perry said. The facility handles millions of fish every year, scores of amphibians and reptiles, as well as quite a few horses.

Emphasis ours because WHAT. With apologies to Samuel L. Jackson, how do you get a motherfucking horse on a motherfucking plane?!?!

They're so tall! And their legs are so skinny! And what do they do once they are in there? We called up veterinarian Walter Woolf, the owner of Tampa-based Air Animal Inc., to find out. Here are his replies to our burning questions.

How big a plane do you use?
"Generally speaking, they're going to use 747 aircraft, or what are called MD11s.

Those are people planes! Does that mean horses are on the same planes as people?
Yup. Two-legged passengers up front, horses in the back.

Are they sitting down?
"Horses can stand without exerting any force from the muscles — they have what are called suspensory ligaments, which allow them to stand without any effort, so they don't sit during the flight. The horses are led into a three-compartment horse stall, kind of like three big aluminum cans, but open on either end. They close the gate in the back, it's cross-tied in the front, and that's that. They're led in facing forward, so that when the plane moves they don't fall. They can right themselves when the plane takes off, then when the plane lands back wheels first, they do have to use a little muscle then."

Next time you hear a whinny, it might not just be the baby behind you.