Preparation to Ship
Commercial horse carriers must be registered with the DOT if they travel interstate (between states). Many states require carriers operating intrastate (within one state) to register with that state’s appropriate agency. A properly registered carrier must meet stringent safety standards and carry required insurance. Their vehicle must be posted with their D.O.T. number and their M.C. (motor carrier) number. It is important to contract with a properly registered carrier to insure your own horse insurance will be valid.
Q: Will my horse be transferred to another carrier mid-trip?
Since many carriers are regional, it is common practice to transfer an animal to another carrier during the trip if the horse is traveling a long distance. Since this must be arranged In advance, make sure you know what carrier(s) will be handling your horse, where any layovers (horse motels) are located, what the total charges are, and how you can contact the appropriate carrier(s) if need be. You should also supply your carrier with pertinent information such as your phone number, directions (to pick-up and delivery points, if necessary), emergency numbers, and phone numbers at destination.
Q: Cost considerations?
The rates charged for service are determined by several factors, including the amount of miles, stall space utilized, and the number of horses shipped. A larger stall will allow your horse more space for movement on long trips. Particular needs should be discussed with carrier. If you have the flexibility to travel when your carrier has other horses going to your destination (known as carrier’s convenience), you may save money. Payment for services rendered is due when the horse is delivered to the carrier for shipment, unless credit arrangements have been made in advance. Owners of horses are responsible for payment of shipping charges if the person making the shipping arrangements fails to pay the carrier.
Q: To what services am I entitled?
Your carrier will supply the vehicle and the driver(s). Unless it is requested, the carrier will not supply an attendant. Some carriers will recommend an attendant, particularly if you are shipping young or fractious horses. If you request an attendant you will be charged an attendant fee. You and/or your shipping agent should be prepared to load your own horses. The driver will periodically (every 4-5 hours) stop and check your horses, offer water, and refill hay nets. Many trailers are equipped with cameras that enable the drivers to monitor the horses during transport. Any special feeding requirements, or care, if layovers are required, should be discussed in advance with the carrier. If the carrier stops at a layover barn you will be charged a reasonable and customary rate for the time your horse is in the barn. Likewise, if during shipment your horse requires veterinary care, or other medical attention, these charges will be passed onto you. Attempts will be made to contact you should your horse require medical attention.
Q: What health documents are required?
Check with your veterinarian and/or carrier to determine what health requirements must be completed prior to travel. A negative Coggins test is a must. The coggins test is valid for not more than one year, or 6 months in Canada. It takes at least one week for the papers to be processed, so don’t leave testing until the departure date. All states require a health certificate; these are good for a limited time, so have these signed (legibly) and dated as close to the departure date as possible. Check with your destination official to determine the length of time your certificate will be valid. The driver must carry the originals, and you must maintain copies. Health inspectors will only accept originals, or in some cases notarized copies.
Q: Can I also send other horse equipment?
If you are sending anything with your horse – a trunk for instance – make sure it is noted on the carrier’s bill of lading so it will be off-loaded with your horse. (The bill of lading is your shipping contract and should be carefully read by you and your shipping agent.) Keep a record of the contents of the trunk, as your homeowners insurance may cover any loss. Make sure your items are labelled with your name, your horses name and your contact information. Your carrier will usually supply bedding, hay, hay nets, and water buckets for the trip, but check first. If your horse has any special requirements, discuss this with your carrier prior to shipment. If you are sending quantities of hay and grain through “agriculture” states, you may have to demonstrate these are free of disease by producing invoices. There may be a limit to, or an extra charge, for the amount of equipment allowed with your horse(s). Check with your carrier.
Q: What if I have a “problem horse” that does not ship well?
If your horse is a problem shipper, tell your carrier. If your horse wears shoes, make sure they are appropriate for transport. Your carrier cannot administer drugs prior to, or during, shipment. The carrier will not wrap or re wrap your horse. If your horse has been given drugs, please inform your carrier. Advise your carrier of all injuries and illnesses affecting your horse. These will be noted on the bill of lading.
Q: Do I need insurance?
Properly registered carriers ship horses with minimal declared values to coincide with low shipping rates. The declared value for each horse must be noted on the carrier’s bill of lading. Make sure you inquire about the carrier’s declared value limitations. If it is not sufficient, contact your insurance agent in advance of shipping about insurance for the trip.