Welfare of horses: horse passports

It is a legal requirement for all horses, ponies and donkeys (and other forms of equidae) in Northern Ireland to have a passport identifying the animal.

Horse passports

All foals born after 1 July 2009 and older horses not previously identified must be microchipped by a vet and the number inserted into the passport. For foals, all applications must be submitted by the end of the year of their birth or within six months of birth, whichever is later.

The passport must accompany the horse during all movements with a few exceptions most notably when moved on foot or in an emergency situation. Owners and keepers with primary responsibility for the horse (for example full livery yards or transporters) must make sure that the horse is correctly identified before accepting the animal into their care and make the passport available for inspection.

One of the purposes of horse passports is to record all medicines that each horse receives. It is therefore essential that the passport is available whenever a vet treats your horse so they can record the medicines given.

How to get a horse passport

Find out about where to get your horse passport from. Once issued, the passport is valid for your horse’s lifetime:

Medicines not permitted for the human food chain

If a horse is given medicine that's not allowed in the human food chain, your vet must make sure that section IX (which states that the animal will not be slaughtered for humans to eat) has been signed by the owner or the owner’s representative or the keeper.

This means that the horse can never enter the human food chain so you should think very carefully about what the implications of such a decision would mean at the end of your horse’s life. You should discuss this matter with your vet if you have any questions or concerns.

Information about owning a horse

For information you need to know about owning a horse, follow the link below. It includes a suitable environment, how to protect horses from pain and suffering, diet, disease and your duty of care:

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