by Casie Bazay

Traveling With Horses? Here’s What You Might Need

Traveling With Horses? Here’s What You Might Need

Summer has arrived and many people will find themselves traveling with their horses during the upcoming busy show season. Whether you’re a practiced equine traveler or possibly new to the horse world, we thought we’d share a checklist of what you’ll need to have on hand as well as what you’ll need to plan for before you leave the farm.

Essential Paperwork 

Certain paperwork is needed for interstate (between states) equine transport, but the type and date range of this essential paperwork may vary from state to state or possibly be dependent upon ongoing disease outbreaks. For example, if there is an outbreak currently occurring in your home state or the state you’re traveling to, you may need paperwork clearing your horse for that specific disease. 

However, the following types of paperwork are necessary for all interstate travel with horses: 

1) Proof of Negative Coggins 

A Coggins test, named for the virologist who invented it, is what veterinarians use to screen horses, donkeys, and mules for the potentially fatal disease, Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). 

This test is required for travel into all fifty states, and documentation showing that your horse is negative for EIA is also required for most equine events. Coggins papers are typically good for one year. However, some states vary in their requirements, so ask your veterinarian if your destination state requires a Coggins test be performed within 12 months, 6 months, or possibly fewer of your planned date of entry. 

Even if you’re not planning to travel out of state, routine Coggins tests for horses are important because some animals can carry EIA without showing symptoms. Others may have severe symptoms such as irregular heartbeat, weakness, swollen abdomen and/or legs, high fever, anemia, abortion, or possibly sudden death. 

A herd outbreak of EIA can have catastrophic consequences. Because there is currently no vaccine for EIA, testing is crucial to prevent spread. 

2) Health Certificate

A horse health certificate, or Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), is also needed for interstate travel with horses. In some instances, it may also be needed when participating in a big show. 

A health certificate provides proof that a veterinarian has recently evaluated your horse and, at the time of evaluation, had no obvious signs of illness. Health certificates for horses usually expire after 30 days, though in some states, they may allow extensions for up to six months. 

Health certificates are used to help prevent spread of equine diseases such as EIA, strangles, equine herpesvirus, vesicular stomatitis, and piroplasmosis. Requirements for a health certificate depend on your state, your show, or your destination state, as well as current disease conditions. It’s also important to note that in areas where an infectious disease outbreak has occurred, some health certificates may only be valid for 72 hours after inspection. 

3) Brand Inspections

Even if your horse doesn’t have a brand, a horse brand inspection can establish proof of ownership. They are also required if leaving certain western states including South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, California, Nebraska, and Washington. 

Brand inspectors are state officials who are tasked with reducing and intervening with cattle and horse theft. You can find your closest Brand Inspection Office by going to your state’s government website under the Department of Livestock or Department of Agriculture section. 

Brand inspections may be valid for a limited time or they may be permanent for the life of the horse, so long as ownership doesn’t change. Frequent travelers in brand states can benefit from getting a Lifetime Brand Inspection Certificate, which is available in some states. 

Other Paperwork That May Be Needed

Always check with your veterinarian about other paperwork that may be needed for travel, especially if it’s out of state. In some states, there may be additional paperwork needed such as negative EVA tests for breeding stallions. 

For horse shows operating under United States Equestrian Federation rules, show management will also likely ask for proof of compliance with the USEF Equine Vaccination Rule GR845 which requires horses older than 7 months have documentation of Equine Influenza Virus and Equine Herpes Virus within six months prior to entering the show. 

Other Travel Considerations

1) First Aid Kit

Another necessity for travel of any kind with horses is having a first aid kit on hand. This is even more important if you’re staying away for several days. You can either buy a kit ready made or make your own, but the following are some essential items to include:

  • Vet wrap
  • Gauze pads
  • Cotton roll
  • Bandage scissors
  • Thermometer
  • K-Y Jelly (to lubricate the thermometer)
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Betadine 
  • Wound ointment
  • Vetericyn spray 
  • Paper towels
  • Duct tape
  • Large syringe for giving oral medications
  • Small syringe and hypodermic needle for injections
  • Stethoscope
  • Pocket knife
  • Diapers (for hoof injuries)
  • Liniment
  • Bute paste or powder
  • Banamine paste
  • Flashlight

2) Feed and Supplies

When traveling with your horse, always bring more than enough feed and hay for your trip because you never know if it might be extended due to truck or trailer problems or other reasons. If you’re expecting to travel for three days, bring enough feed and hay for six. 

Don’t forget your horse’s regular supplements and things like loose salt or electrolytes to encourage your horse to drink while on the road. Some horses are picky about new water, so bringing water from home to either mix with other water or to use alone might be needed. Large camping jugs can work well for this. 

You’ll also need feed and water buckets, hay bags, and possibly your own shavings if the show isn’t providing them in stalls or if you’ll need to add more to your trailer for the trip home. 

Travel–especially over long distances–is stressful for horses and can result in colic or ulcers, so it’s also a good idea to give a probiotic such as Fullbucket’s Equine Probiotic Paste both before, during, and directly after travel. 

3) Overnight Lodging 

Finding places to stop when traveling with horses isn’t as easy as finding it sans animals, but fortunately, there are a number of places that do cater to horse people. Several websites can help you locate horse-friendly lodging: For example, Horsemotel.net allows you to find lodging along the interstate highway you’ll be traveling;  HorseBnB is another option for finding lodging by state. 

Before you head out, it’s a good idea to check for any outbreaks of equine illnesses on either Interstate Livestock or the Equine Disease Communication Center

By knowing exactly what paperwork you’ll need to bring with you, as well as being well prepared with all the necessities of equine travel, you can save yourself the headache of not having what you need and possibly missing out on your upcoming show or event. 

Happy horse travels this summer!

→Highly Recommended: Our Equine Probiotic Paste is the perfect travel companion for your horse’s gut. Protect your horse from the inside out before loading up the trailer← 

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