DEFRA makes plans for ‘incomplete’ passports

  • DEFRA is drawing up new rules to allow horse owners to have “incomplete” horse passports cancelled and replaced. The move is designed to help owners whose pedigree animals have generic “ID only” passports when these should have been provided by breed societies.

    Celia Clarke, who chaired the group that produced a British Horse Society voluntary code of practice for Passport Issuing Organisations (PIOs), said: “The problem is quite widespread, especially where horses and ponies have changed hands.

    “A new owner may want to show an animal or breed from it, but finds that because the passport is not from the breed society, it cannot be registered.”

    “Generic” PIOs such as Pet-ID, the Pleasure Horse Society, the Horse Passsport Agency, the BHS and Weatherbys pledged to redirect pedigree passport applications to breed societies. But some have slipped through the net.

    A year ago, Basingstoke-based Samm Bowyer bought 16 foals, with proof of parentage, from the New Forest sales. She made a multiple application to Weatherbys, not realising that she should have gone to the breed society. Including vet fees for completing the markings on the form, Bowyer paid around £50 per passport for the ponies. This spring, she tried to register the eligible ponies in the New Forest studbook.

    “I found my ponies could not be registered because they already have passports,” said Bowyer. “To register, I’ll have to revoke the passports and reapply through the society — at my expense. We’ll miss this year’s showing season while we’re in limbo getting the new passports.”

    A spokesman for Weatherbys said: “We refer pedigree applications on. But if an owner doesn’t tell us about the breeding, we wouldn’t know — and you can’t do much about that.”

    The New Forest Pony and Cattle Breeding Society gets regular enquiries about ID-only passports and welcomes DEFRA’s move to set a procedure for replacing them.

    Chairman Gill Wright said: “We’re glad DEFRA is coming up with definite guidelines. You can’t blame owners for this. Mostly, the problem has arisen through innocent mistakes, and the commercial aspects of some PIOs, who didn’t necessarily always refer applications on to the breed society.”

    In draft rules setting out how passports will be cancelled and replaced, DEFRA defines “incomplete” passports as those where known pedigree information has not been completed. It proposes owners send passports to the “new” PIO, requesting it be cancelled. The new PIO will request that the “old” PIO cancel the passport, update the national equine database and return the passport. The new PIO will transfer the information, add breeding data and issue a new one.

    DEFRA has asked PIOs to comment on the draft rules before tomorrow (20 May).

    To get in touch with the DEFRA helpdesk (tel: 08459 335577).

  • This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (19 May, ’05)

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