Trading standards officers are checking passports during horse vehicle inspections – even though the documents are not compulsory until next year – to get the public used to carrying them around.
Staffordshire Trading Standards stopped Cheshire event rider Anna Blake last month. She was surprised when officers asked to see her horse’s passport.
“It was 6.50am and the motorway was busy with horseboxes,” says Anna. “We were pulled over by a policeman and two inspectors. They checked the partitioning and cleanliness.
“They also asked us if we had documents, and said that from now on we had to carry identification – this was news to me.”
Alison Cowley, animal health officer for Staffordshire Trading Standards, says: “We have been chatting to people rather than questioning them. We ask people if they have got passports and, if not, make sure they have applied – but we have no way of checking whether they have done.
“People who have them should start carrying them to get in the habit. At the end of February 2005, we’ll enforce it.”
Then, the passport must accompany the horse on journeys for competition, breeding, export or slaughter. But no rules deal with transport to the vet or to box to a lesson or to go hunting.
“We spend an 8hr block checking horse vehicles every two weeks,” adds Alison, who rides herself.
“Time allocation hasn’t changed and we have been given no extra resources.”
Trading standards also makes routine visits to farms and riding schools; but Alison expects checks to widen further in time.
“We will probably extend this – possibly to private yards but definitely to livery yards – but, again, we won’t have extra resources.
“In general, we’ve found that people haven’t got passports with them, but we’ve not come across anyone who’s not applied.”
Trading standards has also been enforcing cleansing and disinfection legislation stipulating that vehicles that have been carrying a diseased or dead horse must be disinfected.