Transport of horses is common practice, involving individuals and groups of animals travelling over varying distances. When you travel with your horse, the most important thing is that you both arrive safely at your destination. Preparation before you travel will ensure you both travel safely and confidently.
Ensuring your horse is fit for travelling is very important, as well as being in good health your horse should also be up-to-date with all necessary vaccinations and worming. It is also a good idea to make sure you have practiced loading your horse into a horsebox or lorry before you travel, so both you and your horse are relaxed, this will mean less chance of delays or hesitation on the day.
Your questions answered
The following regulations are now in force:
- Horse Passports (England) Regulations 2009
- Horse Identification (Scotland) Regulations 2009
- Equine Identification (Wales) Regulations 2009
- Horse Passports (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2010
All regulations can be read in full on the Office of Public Sector Information (OPSI) webiste - www.opsi.gov.uk. The new regulations require vets to carry out certain actions when administering, prescribing and dispensing substances or medicines to horses.
All equine animals need a passport and all those born after the 1st July 2009 also need to be identified with a microchip implated by a vet.
The passport document contains information which identifies the horse for which it was issued.
- Section I:
- Owner: name of the owner or his agent.
- Section II + III:
- The horse must be identified by the competent authority (includes identification number and, where present, the identifying electronic chip).
- Section IV:
- Recording of identity checks.
- Whenever laws and regulations so require, checks conducted on the identity of the horse must be recorded by the competent authority.
- Section V + VI:
- Vaccination record.
- All vaccinations must be recorded.
- Section VII:
- Laboratory health tests.
- The results of all tests carried out to detect transmissible diseases must be recorded.
- Section VIII:
- Basic health requirements.
- States basic health requirements and lists the diseases which must be noted on the health certificate.
- Section IX:
- Medicinal treatment.
- To record certain medicinal treatments.
All passports must contain Sections I, II, III, IV and IX.
Sections V-VIII must be included in the document issued for horses either registered or eligible for entry in a studbook of a recognised organisation. These Sections can also be included in other passports.
Documents that do not comply with the format and which were not issued by a recognized Passport Issuing Organization are not valid under the regulations.
A vaccination certificate is not a substitute for a passport.
Implications for veterinarians
You can approach your vet to:
- Complete the silhouette details and sign it - your vet cannot sign a silhouette that he did not complete himself. and/or verify the silhouette details and sign it. It is not a legal requirement to have a silhouette, where the animal is also microchipped, however, most breed societies will continue to require that this is completed.
- Microchip your horse.
Section IX - Declaration
- You may also approach your vet for advice as to which declaration to sign on the passport, ie 'Intended for Human Consumption' or 'Not Iteded for Human Consumption'.
Administration of veterinary medicines
Section IX - Declaration
Section IX of your horse's passport includes details on whether or not your horse is intended for human consumption. You must decide if it is or not, and sign the appropriate section.
If your horse is prescribed, administered or supplied with medicine by your vet you must show your vet your horse's passport so they can check if your horse is, or is not intended for human consumption. This declaration determines what action your vet takes and what medicine he can prescribe or use.
In Scotland, the declaration must be signed before the horse moves off the premises for the first time. This means that you must make a decision on the future of your horse at an early stage. In England and other parts of the United Kingdom, you can opt to leave the declaration in Section IX blank for completion at a later date; however, you must then treat your horse as if it were to enter the food chain and record medicines as directed by your vet.
Horses intended for human consumption
Your vet will need your horse's passport to record the medicines that have been prescribed/administered/supplied. An 'intended' declaration does not mean you definitely have to elect for abattoir euthanasia, but it does mean that you will have kept open that option should your circumstances change in the future. If the 'intended' declaration is signed, or neither declaration has been signed, it will be necessary to keep a record of veterinary medicines administered to the horse, regardless of who administers them. Certain medicines must be recorded in the passport itself.
Horses NOT intended for human consumption
No record of treatment in the passport will be necessary. This declaration is not reversible and once your horse has been deemed 'not intended for human consumption' he or she cannot enter the food chain.
Horses without passports
Your vet will give you a written record of the treatment your horse receives. If your horse is intended for human consumption, or the declaration is not signed, this information must be recorded by you in your horse's passport as soon as it is available.
If your horse does not have a passport you must apply for one immediately.
All horses must have a passport, regardless of age or type, with no exceptions other than wild or feral horses living on Dartmoor, Exmoor or in the New Forest (special regulations apply to these groups of animals). Any equine-animal, horse, pony, donkey, ass or mule born after the 1st July 2009 must also have a microchip inserted by a veterinary surgeon.
It is illegal to buy or sell a horse without a passport and you should contact your local trading standards office, if you have any concerns over the legality of a horse passport, the sale or purchase of a horse.
Your vet will not refuse treatment without viewing your horse passport but there are restrictions on which medicines that can be used or prescribed.
Foals should have a passport by the time he or she is six months old or 31st December in the year the foal was born, whichever is the later date.
The owner must return the passport to the Passport Issuing Organization within 30 days of the death of a horse, indicating the date of death, so that the Organization's records can be updated and the passport cancelled unless the horse was sold to a slaughterhouse. The Passport Issuing Organization may agree to return the passport.
Useful websites and contact information
For comprehensive details on equine passports in general, including guidance for horse owners, Passport Issuing Organisations, veterinary surgeons, applying at slaughterhouses, Local Authority Inspectors, auctioneers and the National Equine Database visit:
The National Equine Database will eventually have a record of every horse in the United Kingdom - www.nedonline.co.uk.
Please note that web links are subject to change.
The DEFRA helpline number for passports is Tel: +44 (0)845 933 5577.
The Veterinary Medicines Directorate is the government body responsible for the use of medicines in all species of animals and the VMD can be contacted on Tel: +44 (0)1932 336911.
Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs)
An up-to-date list of organisations and associations authorised to issue horse passports is available on the DEFRA website - www.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/farmanimal/movements/horses/documents/horse-passports.pdf.
As well as the main breed societies, a number of general horse societies and companies also issue equine passports to all types of horses, ponies and donkeys, including: