By Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA, Medical Director/Staff Veterinarian, SmartPak
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). Depending on your reason for travel and your final destination, you may need the same kind of documentation for intrastate travel (travel within the state of origin) that is required for interstate travel (travel outside the state of origin). It is important to remember it is the state of destination which sets the health requirements for horses entering their state.
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.
For horse shows under United States Equestrian Federation rules, expect show management to also ask for proof of compliance with the USEF Equine Vaccination Rule GR845 which states at Federation licensed competitions horses, more than 7 months of age, entering the grounds must be accompanied by documentation of Equine Influenza Virus and Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumonitis) vaccinations within six months prior to entering the stables.
If you are transporting a horse to an auction, the facility may require that each horse be accompanied 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, although some are limited to just 72 hours. The time frame a certificate of veterinary inspection may be valid is influenced by the current disease situation in the area or in the United States
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 approved laboratory (your veterinarian will know which laboratories are EIA-approved). Your veterinarian must also be accredited with the United States Department of Agriculture to complete the EIA Test Chart (also known as a Coggins form). As states can vary in their requirements, your veterinarian will also be able to tell you if your destination state requires this test be performed within 12 months of entry, within 6 months (or less), or within the calendar year.
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, others require specific statements about the current status of a specific disease, and a few even require proof of specific vaccinations or additional testing. Your veterinarian is obligated to submit the health certificate to the state veterinarian’s office in the state of origin and the state of destination.
In addition to the health certificate, some states require an entry or import permit. This is a free document or import number that is obtained from the state of your final destination by phone and sometimes online.
Horse owners in certain states have an alternative method of complying with interstate health requirements through the use of an Extended Equine Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (eeCVI) which is valid for 6 months The eeCVI requires the veterinarian to conduct the initial examination of the animal and verification of current negative EIA Test. Then prior to each movement the owner is responsible for entering the information online to obtain the eeCVI movement document. For more information or to see which states are currently accepting the eeCVI for equine movement visit: https://www.globalvetlink.com/eecvi/
Finally, even if your horse does not have a brand, he may still need to undergo a brand inspection to establish proof of ownership. Contact a state brand inspector through your state department of agriculture or state police if you live in a western state. Frequent travelers in these brand states should inquire about a Lifetime Brand Inspection Certificate, available in some states.
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 wellbeing 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, West Nile Encephalitis, and other equine diseases of concern.
Just because you do not travel internationally or even interstate with your horse does not 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 may be shut down.
On the Equine Disease Communication Center website https://equinediseasecc.org/, owners can sign up for alerts about outbreaks of diseases such as EHV-1 or Equine Herpes Virus – 1 and learn where quarantines are in place. 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.
Reviewed and updated by Drs. Katie Flynn and Angela Pelzel-McCluskey in 2020.