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Don’t Forget Your Horses’ Paperwork

horse paperworkIt all started as I was getting ready to take my daughters and their two horses out of state (South Georgia) for another youth rodeo. I spent most of Friday morning running around town, filling up my truck, going to the store for drinks and snacks, and making a quick stop at the feed store to get more hay. It was when I got back in the truck from picking up Coggins papers and health certificates at the vet’s office I realized I needed to stop at the bank to get some cash. I went through the drive-thru at the bank and as usual the teller put the cash in an envelope and sent it back through the tube. I placed the envelope in my center console and headed off to pick up the girls.

When we got home, the girls started packing their stuff and I hooked up the trailer. We were going to Jakin, Georgia about a four hour trip and needed to get on the road. We loaded the horses and checked one more time to make sure we had everything: Coggins and health papers, tack, feed, hay and food we needed for the weekend. It’s a funny thing, but once we actually get on the road I start to relax. The horses are munching hay and the girls are either sleeping, watching a movie, listening to the radio or doing homework. Our first stop would be in about two and a half hours just west of Live Oak at the I-10 Ag Inspection station.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services operates Ag Inspection Stations on almost every road leading out of state. Anyone transporting livestock or any other agriculture commodity out of or into Florida is required to stop and show the proper paper work. Just like every other time I’ve stopped at an Inspection Station, I grabbed my Coggins papers, health certificate and wallet and walked to the little hut where the Ag-Law officers make copies of everything. I handed one of the officers my papers and as she was scanning them into her computer she asked me for my driver’s license.

I felt like a “deer-in-the-headlights” as I stood there in front of those officers holding my wallet that did not have my drivers’ license in it. One of the officers noticed my reaction and asked me what was wrong. I said, “It’s not in here!” He asked where I had seen it last and I remembered the teller asking for ID when I cashed my check. I told him my license was in the envelope from the bank, and he followed me to the truck. When I opened the envelope, the cash was there, but no license.

The officer wrote down the plate numbers from my truck and trailer, and we went back to the little hut. He told me to call the bank to see if they had my license, and asked for my address and social security number so they could check for outstanding warrants.  Thirty minutes later we were able to confirm, the bank did have my license and there were no warrants. Though it wouldn’t substitute for a driver’s license, the officers were helpful and gave me some official paper work I could use to get through the inspection station when returning to Florida.

As with most professions, horse ownership and management requires a certain amount of paperwork. If not submitted correctly by the assigned due date, some paperwork such as transfer of ownership, foal registration, race nomination, and breeding contracts can become quite costly. Other paperwork, like Coggins tests, health certificates, proof of quarantine, negative blood tests or cultures, is time sensitive.  Failure to complete these requirements in a timely manner could cause a horse to miss an important appointment such as a race or breeding.

Maintaining records of individual animals helps horse owners and managers keep track of dates and vaccinations administered as well as any medical treatment(s) plus farrier and dental work.  Additionally, many horse breeders rely on teasing, breeding, and foaling records to help establish seasonal and lifetime breeding patterns.

From foal registrations and race nominations to breeding contracts and shipping documents, no job is complete until the paperwork is finished. And, when you go to the drive-thru at the bank be sure to get your license back.