When you travel with your horse, you need to carry a number of documents, especially if you're crossing state lines.
Some documents show your horse is healthy. Some will help you if you're in an emergency situation. Others are proof of ownership and registration of your horse, your tow vehicle, and your trailer. Some states require an entry permit and brand-inspection certificate, as well. Do your research well ahead of traveling!
Here's a rundown of key documents you should have when you travel with your horse. Keep the originals of these papers with you, and the copies at home, in a safe place, where someone there can locate them.
In addition to these documents, be sure to carry your driver's license, proof of insurance, and registration papers for your tow vehicle and trailer.
Certificate of Veterinary Inspection
What it is: Also called a health certificate, this legal document certifies your horse's health status, the address where he's stabled, and ownership.
Why you need it: A CVI is required for entry to any state border crossing in the United States. Although many states are lax in enforcement, others have a random checking program. You'll need a current CVI within 10 to 30 days of travel, depending on the requirements of the state or states you'll be traveling through and to. Private equine facilities, trail-riding destinations, overnight-stabling facilities, and organized trail rides may also require a CVI.
How to obtain it:Make an appointment with your veterinarian to examine your horse. This examination should include a general health exam, temperature check, vaccination- and deworming-program review, verification of a Coggins test (see below), and a full description of your horse.
Expert tip: How can you prove the CVI is for your particular horse? In some states, a permanent method of identification (such as a microchip or brand) is required; this is a wise option for you to consider. The CVI can include your horse's microchip identification number.
What it is: The Coggins test, developed by Leroy Coggins, DVM, PhD, in 1970, shows your horse didn't carry equine infectious anemia antibodies at the time of testing. This legal document also certifies the address where he's stabled, and ownership.
Why you need it:This test is required for entry to any state border crossing in the United States. Although many states are lax in enforcement, others have a random checking program. You'll need a Coggins test within 30 days to a year of travel, depending on the requirements of the state or states you'll be traveling through and to. Private equine facilities, trail-riding destinations, overnight-stabling facilities, and organized trail rides may also require a current Coggins test.
How to obtain it: Make an appointment with your veterinarian. He or she will pull a vial of blood from your horse, then send it to a laboratory to verify that your horse is negative for EIA. Also known as swamp fever EIA is a highly contagious, potentially fatal disease for which there's effective vaccination and no cure.
Expert tip:Take photos of your horse, and get a microchip implant, so you can prove his Coggins test paperwork is for the actual animal you're hauling. This paperwork can include your horse's microchip identification number.
Power of Attorney
What it is: This legal document allows an appointed person to make decisions as to the care, treatment, and disposition of your animals.
Why you need it: If you're injured, incapacitated, or die while traveling with your horse, someone else will need to be able to make the decisions outlined above.
How to complete it:USRider Equestrian Motor Plan has a free downloadable PDF on its website that you can use as an example of how your Power of Attorney form should be worded. You can modify the form, as needed. Print out the completed form, and take it to a notary public to be witnessed and signed.
Expert tip:Ensure that the persons you appoint to act as your agents are aware of your intentions. You're asking them tomake difficult decisions concerning the care, medical treatment, possible hospitalization, or euthanasia of your horse. They should know your wishes concerning necropsy and directing the disposition of your horse's remains.
What it is: This legal document allows a licensed veterinarian to assess, treat, and even possibly euthanize your horse. It provides crucial information to firefighters and law enforcement to notify assistance for your animals.
Why you need it:If you're injured, incapacitated, or die in a transportation wreck while traveling with your horse, emergency responders may need to be able to make the decisions outlined above.
How to complete:USRider Equestrian Motor Plan has a free downloadable PDF on its website that you can use as an example of how your Emergency-Responder form should be worded. You can modify the form, as needed. Print out the completed form, and take it to a notary public to be witnessed and signed.
Expert tip:Emergency responders often don't know what to do with a horse after a wreck. Emergency contact information for the horse's home veterinarian, a provider that has horse knowledge, and insurance information are crucial to allow emergency responders to make informed decisions.
What it is: Certain Western states require all horses to be branded. A brand-inspection certificate registers your brand to prove ownership. For instance, in Colorado,the definition of a brand is "a permanent mark on the hide of an animal registered with any State as a livestock brand. Freeze brands are considered permanent marks. Tattoos aren't considered as brands. The most effective and permanent method of identification is the mark produced with a hot iron."
Why you need it: A certificate of brand inspection is required to cross some state lines, particularly if in the West.
How to obtain it: Check with a state's brand-inspection agency as to brand requirements, registration, and certificates.
Expert tip:Easterners are often surprised by these common requirements in Western states. It's far more common to be stopped for inspection in the West than in the East.
Rebecca Gimenez, PhD (animal physiology), is a primary instructor for Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue. A Major in the United States Army Reserve, she's a decorated Iraq War veteran and a past Logistics Officer for VMAT-2. She's an invited lecturer on animal-rescue topics around the world and is a noted equine journalist.