What is involved in owning a Horse

How to officially own a horse?

The first thing one should consider before buying a horse is its maintenance cost. Keeping a horse is an expensive pursuit both in terms of time and money. Apart from accommodation, other costs include feeding, maintenance, insurance, grazing (if you have to lease a field), tack, grooming, veterinary fees for spaying or castrating the horse, training, etc.

Horses are mostly bought and sold by way of private sale or auction. There are two important pre-requisites before you buy a horse. Firstly, take great care to read all the conditions of sale. Enter into any purchase with due regard to your own rights under a contract of sale, as well as the obligation of the seller. Second, before buying or bidding, examine the horse carefully or endeavour to have it checked by a vet.


Once you have decided to buy a horse you need to make sure that it has a passport in order to own it officially. Ideally, one cannot sell a horse without a horse passport as it needs to be handed over to the new owner. If you have been given a passport by the last owner of the horse, you will have to get it updated. Within 30 days of the purchase, you should let the concerned PIO (Passport Issuing Organisation) know that you have taken ownership of the horse. And, in case, the horse did not already have a passport, you will have to apply for a new one.

What is a horse passport and why is it important?

A horse passport is a small booklet containing details about your horse, including its breed, age, appearance and all the medications it has been given.

It is important to get a passport for your horse in order to prevent it from being re-sold via theft. A passport also makes sure horses that have been treated with certain medicines do not make it into food intended for humans.

How to get your horse a passport?

First step is to get an application form from an authorised Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO). Most of the PIOs are renowned breed societies. They may only issue passports for a particular breed of horse. A list of approved PIOs and their contact details could be found at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website.

Second step is to get a vet who is experienced in working with horses, to get your horse micro-chipped. You can search for a horse vet on the website of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

You will receive your horse’s passport in the post, which normally takes between five to fifteen working days. Once issued, the passport is valid for the horse’s lifetime.

Your horse will also get a Unique Equine Life Number (UELN). UELN details will be added to the National Equine Database (NED). The NED holds details of the number and the various categories of horses in the UK.

Completing Section IX of the passport

In Section IX of the passport, you will need to state whether or not your horse is meant for human consumption. Most horses in the UK are not meant for human consumption. This means a horse’s meat would not make it into the food meant for humans after it has died. It is important to complete the declaration in the application form in order to prevent horses treated with certain poisonous medicines entering the human food chain.

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For more information on:

  • What if your horse doesn’t have a passport?
  • A lost or duplicate passport
  • Importing a horse