Horses are part of an ever growing industry, with over 600,000 horses in the UK, 1.4 million riders and 5 million people with an active interest in the equine industry*. Most people acquire a horse out of choice, so if you make this decision you should think carefully before going ahead. A horse needs lots of love and care, including regular worming, vaccinations and dental care. Owning a horse is time consuming and can be costly; not only will you will need to consider where you will keep your horse, you must also consider the ongoing costs of owning a horse which include accommodation, bedding, feed and healthcare.

In the unlikely event that your horse goes missing it is going to be very difficult for anyone to know who it belongs to, unless your horse carries some form of permanent identification. It is wise to get your horse microchipped or freezemarked, this will avoid heartache in the long run, should your horse go missing or is stolen.

Horses are herd animals, and thrive on being together with other horses. Don’t forget that your horse will need somewhere to graze, a stable for warmth in the winter time, a constant supply of water, feeding daily and regular exercise. It can cost hundreds of pounds a month to care for a horse, including accommodation, food, veterinary care and insurance; there will be other costs, including buying tack and rugs and extra livery charges when you go on holiday.

Horses can live into their thirties, over this time your horse will need lots of care and attention. Being able to provide all of this will ensure you and your horse make the most of your time together.

* Research conducted in 2004 by the Henley Centre for DEFRA and the British Horse Industry Confederation.

Equine passports (USA)

If you are unsure about the requirements for equine passports, then read on. Passports contain important information about your horse, including details of who owns the horse, identification (including identification number), vaccination information, and much more.

General information

The Fédération Equestre Internationale horse passport (FEI passport) is a document containing information on identification, health and proof of ownership. Your horse should have a passport which must remain with the horse throughout its life.

The passport is intended to identify horses for FEI competitions as well as facilitating the passage of horses across national boundaries. 

An FEI passport must accompany your horse at all times and should be available on demand to customs and health authorities.

It is important that your horse's FEI passport is extended every four years.

The passport

The passport document contains information which identifies the horse for which it was issued. 

Passport information includes:

  • Owner: name of the owner or his agent must be stated 
  • Identification: the horse must be identified by the competent authority (includes identification number)
  • Recording of identity checks: whenever laws and regulations so require, checks conducted on the identity of the horse must be recorded by the competent authority
  • Vaccination record: all vaccinations should be recorded (FEI rules only require that Influenza vaccinations be recorded, but it is strongly suggested that all vaccinations be listed)
  • Laboratory health tests: the results of all tests carried out to detect transmissible diseases must be recorded
  • Basic health requirements: states basic health requirements and lists the diseases which must be noted on the health certificate
  • Medicinal treatment: to record certain medicinal treatments and to document those situations where the horse has been treated while at a competition.

It is important to keep your horse's vaccinations up to date.

Influenza vaccinations must be updated in your horse's passport every year. There must be no lapse in vaccination, if vaccination does lapse (even for a day), then the initial vaccination series must be repeated. This sequence requires an initial influenza vaccination followed by a second vaccination given no sooner than 21 days and no longer than 92 days. This requires you to stay on top of your horse's vaccination schedule.

Implications for veterinarians


Veterinarians may be approached by owners to complete and/or verify the description and diagram in the passport, and sign it the horse must be present when the description and the marking of the diagram in the passport is completed.

Only USDA/State approved veterinarians are authorized to complete the description and diagram.

Implications for owners

As the owner (or the individual accompanying the horse), you must retain the passport.

The passport, however, must be returned to the National Federation for endorsement in the following situations:

  • Renewal of influenza vaccination following lapse in yearly sequence
  • Change of ownership the new owner must send the passport to the National Federation for re-registration
  • Registration of new/amended leasing agreements
  • Horses name change
  • Changes to the description/diagram
  • Death of the horse

Duplicate passports

If you need a duplicate passport you must send your horses passport to the National Federation. A duplicate passport can be obtained in the following cases:

  • When there is no remaining space in the current passport
  • If it is lost or damaged

A passport marked Duplicate will be issued by the National Federation following the normal procedures for obtaining a passport. Your horse will retain the original passport number.

National passports

The completion of an approved National Passport must be done in the same manner as an FEI passport. To allow horses with National Passports to compete internationally, the passport must be approved with the addition of an FEI plastic cover and recognition card.

Passport extensions

Passports must be extended every four years.

Passports are checked by Veterinary Commission/Delegates at international events. If your horse's passport is not extended every four years you will be required to purchase an extension stamp within the following 30 days. If the passport is not extended during this period and it expires, your horse will no longer be permitted to compete in international events.

Further information

  • International Horse Sports Confederation (www.horsesport.org), incorporating the Federation Equestre Internationale (www.fei.org) and International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (www.ifhaonline.org).
  • United States Equestrian Federation, the National Governing Body for Equestrian Sport (www.usef.org)