What documents do you need to travel with your horse?


And by travel, I mean travel across state lines.  Be it for shows, clinics, trail riding, sales, vacation, or any other reason, your horse need proper documentation before you load up.  Your Veterinarian must prepare an ICVI (Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection) for your horse to travel.  You and your Veterinarian must check with the Department of Agriculture of the state that you are traveling to to confirm specific requirements.  


The ICVI (aka Health Certificate) does not necessarily require proof of vaccinations, it depends on the destination state and their requirements. All states require proof of a negative Coggins - some states accept them within 12 months, most states require them in the last 6 months, and Hawaii requires the test within 3 months of travel. 




Some states have a reciprocal "Six Month Equine Certificate" aka an Extended Validity CVI or an Equine Passport for frequent travel between neighboring states.  These frequently require that you log various aspects of your horse's health to stay current.




Additionally - you need to do your homework and research before you load up.   This will help you be prepared when you land at your final destination.  Some things to deal with before you hit the road: 


  • Vaccines.  Many horse diseases (such as Potomac Horse Fever) are regional.  If you are going into an area with a disease that your horse is unvaccinated for, you are taking major risks.  Some vaccines need boosters, and need to be administered weeks to months before you travel.  Plan accordingly.


  • Showground requirements.  Many horse shows DO require vaccination histories, as given by your Veterinarian and not by you.  Same goes for most boarding facilities.  Carry all of your Veterinary vaccine records with you, just to be on the safe side. 


  • Feed stores.  Where are you going to find hay and fortified feeds when you land at your final destination?  A quick internet search and a few phone calls can tell you where you can find your supplies.  If you find yourself in the situation of moving to an area that doesn’t have your horse’s current hay or feed, factor in a seven to ten day transition to the new food and hay.  Maybe even longer as travel can be hard on your horse.  This means you will need to pack a boatload of hay and fortified feeds. 


  • Veterinarians.  You may not need booster vaccines for your horse anytime soon, but finding a Veterinarian in your new area and establishing a relationship will help you in the event of an emergency.  Most shows have a Veterinarian on call, but if you are moving start finding a Vet before you depart!   


  • Farriers.  This is a little bit like finding a Veterinarian - it’s a good idea to have one lined up before you arrive!  You may want to ask around, but if you are going to a show most of them have a Farrier parked at the show grounds for last minute stuff. 


  • Boarding stables/on the road stables.  You can find overnight stabling for your horse while traveling on or similar sites/books.  You can also bunk with buddies or find horse friendly camp sites.




One more thought about traveling with your horse!  This is stressful for your horse, and this may affect his immune system.  Stay on top of your horse’s TPR and be sensible about using reasonable handling methods when you are at new barns.  You don’t need to pretend your horse lives in a bubble and go all crazy with isolation procedures, but avoid nose to nose contact, sharing buckets, and petting new horses.  Also stay on the lookout for shipping fever, a sickness common to traveling horses. 


What’s your best tip for traveling with your horse?