As the summer season comes to a close and riders are focused on getting ready for competitions across the nation, they sometimes forget to consider the horsemen behind their horses' journey, including the men and women who power the equine transportation industry. Enter the National Horse Carriers Association (NHCA).
The NHCA was founded in 1960 to encourage and promote the highest standards in the horse transportation industry. The eleven companies that signed on as charter members have established much of the groundwork for transporting horses in an equitable, safe, and responsible way that horse owners have come to rely on.
Boasting many of the top equine transportation companies with members stretching across the United States, shipping your horse to an array of destinations can be safe, easy, and bring you peace of mind knowing that your horse is in the most professional care possible, because above all else NHCA members are horsemen, like the people they work for. For nearly seven decades members of the NHCA have worked together on various issues relevant to modern day shipping of all equines, no matter their breeding or discipline and maintain a standard of excellence among its members unequaled in the horse transport industry and all NHCA members go through a rigorous interviewing process to ensure the continued safety of its precious cargo, no matter how large or small the transport.
Based in 17-different states and in most regions of the United States the NHCA can provide transportation to every corner of the nation. Every member has met the filing and insurance requirements of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and those of relevant states, as well as meet strict safety standards set forth by the DOT. In addition, many members offer a variety of stall spaces from single stalls, to stall and half, to box stalls, allowing the customer to choose the comfort level of their horse while being shipped.
With travel plans being made for the upcoming winter season the NHCA would like to leave people with what they think are the top three tips for arranging their horse’s transportation.
Tip #1 Make sure your horse is healthy and that the carrier has all supporting documentation.
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.
Tip #2 Know in advance whether a layover is planned and what that entails.
Since many carriers are regional, it is common practice to transfer a horse 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 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.
Tip #3 Make sure the carrier you plan to use is properly registered and insured.
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 display on the truck its D.O.T. number and their M.C. (motor carrier) number for everyone to see.
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.
Once you have made sure your horse is healthy, discussed travel arrangements with the shipper, your horse will be on its way with its well-being left largely in the hands of the shipping partner you have chosen. It is critical to take great care in selecting the right transporter from the beginning to minimize the risk and insure the comfort and safety of your equine partner. The best way to do that is to make sure that you choose a shipper that is a part of the National Horse Carriers Association.