Being the owner of a horse brings with it responsibilities. Before deciding whether to buy a horse you should understand what ownership involves and the costs involved including obtaining a horse passport.
Horse ownership can prove both expensive and time consuming. As well as accommodation for the horse in a suitable stable, there are many other costs associated with horse ownership including insurance, food, general maintenance, lease costs for a field to graze, tack, veterinary fees and grooming to name a few. There are also fees associated with training a horse.
As you can see the costs soon mount up.
Horses are usually bought through an auction or by private sale. However, it is very important that you carry out your own checks to make sure that the horse you have chosen to buy is healthy.
When purchasing a horse, there are two key factors that are crucial to understand. The first is to make sure that you read the terms and conditions associated with the sale. You should only enter into agreement when you are satisfied that your own rights are protected and the obligations of the seller are sufficiently fulfilled. The second is to make sure that the horse is carefully examined before entering into any commitment to purchase. It is strongly recommended that the horse is checked by a vet.
If the seller is reluctant for you to do this, this should raise concern.
New Owner Horse Passports
When you make the decision to purchase a horse and you are happy with its condition, you will need to obtain a horse passport. This is a document which you require to officially own the horse. Ideally, a horse passport should be transferred to the new owner at the point of sale because this will contain important information about the animal. If you receive a horse passport when you buy a horse you will need to get this updated. You will have a time-scale of 30 days to ensure that the passport is updated from the date that you buy the horse.
The relevant Passport Issuing Organisation should be notified that you are now the new owner. If the horse does not have a passport you will need to make a new application to obtain one.
The importance of horse passports
Horse passports are important documents. Usually, the passport includes information about the horse such as its age, appearance and breed. The booklet will also act as a log that details all of the medication which has been administered to the horse in its lifetime. It is strongly recommended that you obtain a horse passport because it can help reduce the risk of it being stolen and then re-sold.
Furthermore, passports also ensure that a horse which has received certain medication is not later sold on for horse meat.
This is because some horse medications may be harmful to humans if horsemeat is consumed.
Obtaining a Horse Passport
A passport will need to be obtained from the relevant Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO). To receive a passport, you must complete an application form. The majority of these PIOs are well known, trusted and respected breed societies who only issue passports for particular horse breeds.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) will be able to advise you on the current list of approved Passport Issuing Organisations.
The second stage is to consult a vet with experience in looking after horses and ask them to micro-chip the horse. Vets who specialise in the care of horses can be found on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons website.
When completing the application form, pay particular attention to Section IX. Within this section you must state whether the horse is meant for consumption by humans. The vast majority of horses in the UK are not meant to enter the food chain. This will mean that when a horse dies, its meat will not be used in food products for humans.
The declaration within the application form is important. If the horse has been treated with certain medications, this declaration ensures that the horse meat is never used in food products. Once you have made the declaration that the horse meat is not intended for human consumption this cannot be changed at a later date. You can be prosecuted for making a declaration that later turns out to be false.
If the horse is intended for human consumption, the vet who is taking care of your horse will carefully list all of the medication that has been administered to the horse. Vets should always check the declaration before treating the horse with certain medications because some can be poisonous to humans.
A list of medications which must be documented are provided by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.
Your passport will be issued within five to fifteen working days. Once the passport has been issued, it is valid for the entire lifetime of the horse.
Unique Equine Life Number
When the passport is created, your horse will be assigned a Unique Equine Life Number. This information will be uploaded to the National Equine Database. This database stores information about the different types of horse throughout the UK.
Horse owners are personally accountable for ensuring that horses have up to date passports. This makes the process of identification much easier.
Without a valid passport you will not be able to:
- Use your horse for competitions such as racing
- Export or sell the horse
- Move your horse to new premises
- Use the horse for breeding
A horse owner can be asked at any time to present the horse’s passport by Trading Standards. Failure to produce a valid passport could result in a fine of up to £5,000.
Replacement passports for lost documents can be obtained by contacting the PIO who issued the passport. A replacement passport will be issued and marked ‘Duplicate’.
Horse owners should only hold one valid passport for each horse. Where there are multiple passports you must take reasonable steps to ensure that only one passport is valid. There are several ways that you can do this.
If you have a duplicate passport which was issued after January 1 2007, the original horse passport must be retained.
Any passports which are surplus to requirements should then be returned to the PIO who will receive and cancel the duplicate passport.
There are many reasons why you may wish to import a horse. If you do so and the horse is from a country within the European Union, the horse will need a valid passport. However, this passport must have been issued by an authorised Passport Issuing Organisation within the European Union. Where a passport does not exist, a new application must be made within 30 days of importing the horse into the UK.
As you can see from the above, owning a horse is a big decision. There is much more to owning a horse that you might think so it is strongly advised that you take into consideration the costs and requirements of buying a horse before you commit to anything.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team and posted by Lloyd Barrett. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.