Horse passports: who should keep them?

  • Should horse passports be held by the owner or kept at the place the horse is stabled? Obviously if your horses are at home this isn’t a problem, but for those stabled away from home, this is less straightforward.

    According to Defra the passport should be with the horse at all times, so unless you are travelling, this means at the yard.

    Lee Hackett from the British Horse Society says: “We understand some owners are worried about leaving the passport. However, remember it’s not a legal proof of ownership, but it is vital that a vet can access it.”

    Passports are needed to ensure horses treated with certain medication don’t end up in the food chain and to stop stolen horses being sold on.

    Essential for vets
    Vets need to check a horse’s passport before it is treated. Any drugs should be recorded, unless the horse has been signed out of the food chain.

    Once a passport has been checked initially, many vets keep records of passport details on file, but it is essential that the passport is there the first time the horse is examined.

    H&H vet adviser Karen Coumbe stresses that having a passport to hand speeds up treatment.

    “Being well organised and keeping your passport in a secure place on your yard will benefit your horse and save you time, hassle and money, while keeping within the law, too,” she says.

    Julian Marczak, of Kings Barn Equestrian in West Sussex, keeps all passports, for both riding school horses and liveries, at the yard on the advice of his vet.

    “Every passport is in the office, in case we have a sick horse who needs emergency treatment.”

    The concerns
    One owner admits to H&H that, although she keeps her passport at her current yard, in the past she has not been so trusting, preferring to leave it at home.

    John Shenfield of the British Hanoverian Horse Society — a passport issuing organisation (PIO) — understands that people can be wary about parting with their passports.

    “If you have a horse from the EU, it can be an expensive process to replace a lost passport,” he says. “But common sense says the passport should be near the horse.”

    Karen adds that clients often keep a photocopy of the passport, which can be left in a safe place at home, while the original remains at the yard.

    The full Ask H&H article about passports was first published in H&H magazine (27 June 2013)

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