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First Time Towing A Horse Trailer? Make Sure You Have The Proper Documentation

by Daniel Herrera

If you have purchased your first horse trailer with plans to haul your horse to shows, there are a few important things to take care of before you hit the road. First, consider what your intentions are when attending the events with your horse. If you intend on making a profit or winning horse shows, then your requirements may be different. Here's what you need to know.

Is horse riding a hobby or business?

Determine if you are a hobbyist or a business owner. The biggest difference and how you can make the determination is if you plan on earning a profit in some capacity. Hobbyists generally do not have interest in turning a profit. Of course, if you participate in horse shows you probably want to win or place.

After all, that's the biggest reason why you spend so many hours and a lot of money in getting yourself and your horse ready for each show. Therefore, if your intention is to win horse shows, and earn money as a result, then you should consider yourself as a business owner.

Taking care of your horse and getting it ready for shows can be expensive, but if you operate as a business it can be tax deductible. If you plan on deducting expenses when you file your taxes, you'll need to make sure you meet several other additional requirements, including having a commercial driver's license and commercial vehicle insurance.

Commercial driver's license

If your vehicles meet the weight regulations for a commercial vehicle, you will need a commercial driver's license (CDL). According to EquiSpirit, hauling your horse with the intent of profit-earning is considered as commerce and you will need a commercial driver's license, especially if you travel over state lines.

If a police officer pulls you over for a traffic violation or to check your credentials, the burden of proof is on you as to whether or not you are a hobbyist or operating a business. However, if the police officer determines that you should be operating with a CDL and you don't have one, then you and your horse may need a towing service.

Insurance policies

In addition to a CDL, you will need commercial vehicle insurance. The commercial vehicle insurance will cover your towing vehicle but, depending on your insurance company, the trailer and the horse may or may not be included in the policy. It's a good idea to include trailer insurance and insurance coverage for your horse.

Should you ever get into an accident, the first thing insurance companies will do is determine if you had the appropriate type of insurance policy and driver's license. Even if you transport a friend's horse for a few dollars it could be considered as earning a profit, in which case a commercial policy will be required for coverage of damages. It's safest to go ahead and obtain commercial insurance.

Now, you may be wondering if it would be worthwhile considering yourself as a business and obtaining a CDL and commercial insurance. Sometimes, people would rather not deal with the additional expenses and end up choosing to enjoy the definition of a hobbyist.

Health documents

Before you can legally haul your horse, you'll need to have your horse examined by a veterinarian. The horse needs to have a negative Coggins test and a CVI – certificate of veterinary inspection. Keep this paperwork in the trailer or in the glove box in case you are asked for it by a police officer. If you don't have these documents, the police officer will not allow you to continue transporting your horse.

Each state has different requirements regarding how long these documents are good for. You'll want to check with your veterinarian before you hit the road. Some states require a CVI within 10 days before hauling the horse into the state. Also, your insurance company may require you to keep these records updated with them.