Running the gauntlet of my Young Rider show career consisted of many obstacles. A few months before my first Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) competition, my coach asked me the simple question: "Do you have your FEI passport?" Apparently to show at the international level (including Young Riders) you need a document proving that the horse you entered is, in fact, the same horse you brought to the show.
With that simple question, I was given the seemingly insurmountable task of understanding this complicated process. It soon had me trying to figure out when to use a black pen and when to use a red one, because if it wasn't right--if I filled out this small red booklet incorrectly in any way--it would affect my path to the perfect set of three-tempi changes!
Steps to Complete Your FEI Passport
When applying for an FEI passport for your horse, the first issue to address is nationality of the horse. The citizenship of the owner determines to which national federation the owner applies for his horse's passport. If you are an American citizen, you apply to the U.S. Equestrian Federation (USEF), but if you are a citizen of Poland living in the United States, for example, you must contact the national federation in Poland.
When applying for an FEI passport, USEF Passport Coordinator Rachel Michaels recommends budgeting four to six weeks to allow enough time for the complete process, regardless of the time of year you apply. She also notes that those entering the FEI Young Horse classes do not have to obtain an FEI passport, unless the horse is competing in a championship competition.
Here are the steps, if you are an American citizen:
- Get an application form. You can download and print one from www.usef.org. Once completed, return the application to the USEF with the appropriate fees.
- Once the USEF has processed your request, your horse's new FEI passport is mailed to you with limited information entered.
- The veterinarian and the owner, or agent, fill out the passport, which includes a detailed drawing, written description and influenza vaccination record.
- The owner sends the passport back to the USEF for approval. If there are any errors in any section of the passport, including if the owner forgets to sign on the ownership page, the passport is returned to the owner with a letter noting where the errors occurred. This is more common than not.
- Once the errors have been corrected, the owner sends the passport back to the USEF for approval. If complete, USEF validates the passport and copies are kept on file at the the USEF and FEI. Then, the original is returned to the owner.
The passport expires every four years, but, luckily, renewal is a fairly simple process: The owner fills out a form, pays a fee and receives a validation sticker.
Owners occasionally realize their horse's passport has expired at a very inopportune moment, such as at a horse show. Not to worry. Bring your passport to the show as you are allowed to show for 30 days on an expired passport, and you will receive a warning stating that you must revalidate. "Many people assume the passport is no good once it has expired and do not bring it to the show or when the horse leaves the country," Dr. Tomlinson said. "It doesn't turn to ashes. Always bring it along."
Paying the Price of Competition
To compete at the FEI level in dressage events in the United States--Prix St. Georges, Intermediaire and Grand Prix--your horse needs an FEI passport, and you need the correct memberships and to pay certain fees:
- FEI horse passport application, $300; $60 Pony
- Life recording fee for FEI Horse or Pony Passport, $200
- FEI horse revalidation sticker (every four years), $175; $40 Pony
- FEI horse and rider registration (annual), $15/ horse, $15/rider
- USEF International High Performance membership (annual), $200 Senior; $100 Junior
- USEF membership (annual), $40 Senior; $30 Junior
- USEF dressage dues (annual) $62 senior, $35 junior
- U.S. Dressage Foundation (USDF) membership (annual), $42-$62 Senior; $35 Junior
There is a U.S. national passport, but at this time it is optional for dressage. An FEI passport and all of the above memberships are valid if you reside in the United States and wish to show in Canada.
Read the complete article in the April 2006 issue of Dressage Today magazine.