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Traveling with Your Horse?



by Lydia F. Miller, DMV

Whether it’s a short distance or a long trip, you’ve got a lot to think about any time you haul your horse. Getting all the right tests done and paperwork filled out may seem like a lot of extra time and money. However, there are some very good reasons why these examinations and documents are required. In this article, you’ll find out what you need to travel and why. What You Need

There are three broad categories of travel: intrastate, interstate and international (the last is beyond the scope of this article). Although most states do not have regulations governing intrastate travel, or, travel within the state of origin, some do. And depending upon your reason for travel and your final destination, you may again find yourself needing the same kind of documentation that is required for interstate travel, or, travel outside the state of origin.

For example, if you are trailering your horse to a show, more than likely the show officials will ask to see a copy of your horse’s negative Coggins test, the most commonly used means of finding antibody to the equine infectious anemia (EIA) virus. If you are transporting a horse to an auction, the facility may require that each horse be accompanies by a health certificate, also known as a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI). These certificates, which attest that the horse exhibits no obvious signs of disease on the day of inspection and are signed by your veterinarian, are generally good for 30 days.

What changes when you want to travel with your horse outside your own state? Not only is a negative EIA test required for entry into all 50 states, it must be performed at an accredited laboratory (your veterinarian will know which laboratories are accredited). Your veterinarian will also be able to tell you if your destination state requires this test be performed within 12 months of entry, 6 months or, for Wisconsin, within the calendar year (Hawaii requires the test be performed within three months of entry).

Also, with some exceptions that will be pointed out later, all states require that a health certificate accompany horses entering their borders. Some require that the horse’s body temperature the day of examination be recorded on the health certificate and a few even require proof of specific vaccinations. While your veterinarian is obligated to submit the health certificate to the origin state veterinarian’s office prior to shipment, some states require that an approved copy of the health certificate be submitted to the destination state veterinarian’s office after entry.

Horse owners in the states of CA, ID, MT, NV, OR and WA and horse owners in the states of TX, AR, OK and MS have an alternative method of complying with interstate health requirements. These two groups of states have formed a reciprocal livestock health arrangement so that people who travel frequently with their horses between these neighboring states do not have to keep getting health certificates every 30 days. Horse owners in any of these states should contact their veterinarian for details on the new six-month CVI and six-month equine passport. Why You Need It

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) accredits veterinarians to carry out these and other services. Local veterinarians work with their state veterinarian and the Area Veterinarian-in-Charge (AVIC) to protect the health and well-being of both you and your horse by preventing, controlling and eradicating animal disease. In recent years, state and federal animal regulations have protected the United States equine industry from vesicular stomatitis, screwworm, piroplasmosis and, most recently, West Nile Encephalitis.

Just because you do not travel internationally or even interstate with your horse doesn’t mean you are safe from the effects of foreign (or not-so-foreign) animal diseases. Even if your horse does not come into direct contact with a sick horse that has traveled extensively, once any horse shows signs of a reportable disease for that state, equine transportation from that location and sometimes even from that state may be shut down. Complying with our country’s disease prevention requirements helps keep our national equine industry healthy and active.

Finally, complying with animal transport requirements not only serves to protect your horse and the horses he or she comes into contact with, it also lays an excellent paper trail should there be any question of your horse’s disease status. Veterinary examinations, negative EIA test results, body temperature and vaccination records are all in one place for easy retrieval.

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