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U.S.A.: Horse Identification Information
Posted on Saturday, October 01 @ 21:37:25 CDT by donna

Horse Tips and Suggestions

Why do we need horse ID? -
Is it important to identify your horse? If you had to prove a horse at the sale barn was yours could you? What if the horse had registration papers for a horse with the same markings as yours? Without specific identification information about your horse, is is difficult for helpful search volunteers or law enforcement to remove your horse from the person with possession. Be prepared to supply positive ID if needed.

The information below belongs to Stolen Horse International,, the first and only 'one of a kind' 501c3 organization. Dedicated to victims of theft, your will find theft and horse ID educational information and horse identification contacts and products. Home to the Idaho Alert for missing horses and the NetPosse Volunteer network...visit today!
copyright (c) Stolen Horse International 2003 All rights reserved. SHI's information may not be copied in any form without permission

Freeze Brand - Protect Your Horses With A Brand

Choosing a brand is the first step in protecting your horses. Select a brand that is unique and easily recognized.

The more simple the brand, the less likelihood of it's blotching and being unattractive and difficult to read. What should you consider when picking your brand?
  • Select a brand as simple as possible.

  • There are so many two character brands that you may need to consider using three letters. Check with your state registry to see what has been used already. The older single and two figures brands are often sold with ranches and may need the original owners.

  • When selecting the characters, avoid "closed" characters since they are more likely to create imperfect results on your horse. The smaller the closed space, the more chance of a mistake, or blotching.

  • The letter U is an open character. So is the character "_" or bar, "/" or slash are open characters.

  • The letters A and B and the number 6 and 8 are examples of closed characters.

Don't forget to check with your state's brand inspector's office when selecting a brand to make sure you brand is compliant with current brand laws and not a duplicate of another's brand. Be sure to record your brand in your state's brand inspection office. Unrecorded brands offer a small amount of protection and add uncertainty. We hope this helps you make you decision to brand, or not to brand. To do it yourself, or hire a professional.


The AVID® microchip system is used around the world by veterinarians, animal owners, and regulatory entities. Each microchip contains a unique number. Think of it as an injectable social security number for the animal. Chip numbers are registered to you upon purchase. Your records will indicate which animal has which chip.

Delivery systems are safe, accurate and reliable. Scanners are universal and will allow you to read any brand of microchip.

1. Why should I microchip my horse?
The tiny chip provides a permanent “inside” social security number for your horse. The number can be used for all things important. As direct correlation with genetic work, for positive ID in cases of disaster, loss or theft, and at inspections, events, and when buying and selling. The chip is there to say the horse is the horse. If your horse has a microchip, he is always traceable back to you because his chip is registered.

2. How can the microchip help if my horse is stolen?
The chip number provides law enforcement the equivalent of a ‘Vehicle Identification Number’ for your horse, and provides you with proof that it is YOUR horse. In combination with AVID’s published Hot Sheets of stolen ID numbers, not only is the public alerted, but thieves are deterred. We also offer signs to post at your barn or on fences, letting visitors know that your horses are permanently identified with registered microchips.

3. What about an emergency, a fire, flood, storm, etc? Will the chip help save my horse?
AVID currently works with national emergency preparedness groups in America. These groups have hundreds of members who travel to emergency areas to save animals. They are equipped with universal AVID scanners, and scanning for microchips is their ideal and preferred method of locating owners. When a microchip is found in a horse, he is a phone call away from being reunited with his owner. Owners of microchipped horses are found immediately when chips are traced through the database. Non-chipped horses typically take much longer, or just never get returned to the owner.

4. The chip is invisible. How can it benefit my horse?
Your social security number, also invisible, is tied to all you do throughout your life. It identifies you and what you do. Similarly, microchips provide the most reliable form of instant permanent ID. And the chip is unalterable and always there. The number can be checked and verified immediately. Correlated with the appropriate document (DNA, registration documents, event entries, etc.), the chip provides an instantaneous confirmation that the horse in question is the correct animal. Microchip numbers can be used as proof-positive when transporting, buying, selling, breeding, recordation, insuring, and protecting from disease by way of veterinary paperwork.

5. Does the chip cause pain when injected? Will it interfere with my horse’s performance?
No. It takes only seconds to do, a simple injection. Most horses don’t even flinch, and their performance is not compromised at all. Once the microchip is injected it is anchored and a think layer of connective tissue forms around the chip. The microchip does not pass through the body and requires no attention.

6. At what age can my horse be given the AVID microchip? Can the chip be felt by hand?
Any age. No, you cannot feel a properly implanted microchip, nor can your horse.

7. How long does the chip last? Does it wear out? Can my horse feel anything when he is being scanned? How does it work?
The chip has no power supply, moving parts or battery. it is designed and guaranteed for the lifetime of your horse, usually around 25 years. It will not wear out or fade. The horse feels nothing at all when he is being ‘scanned’. The chip reader sends out a radio wave signal to the chip. Within milliseconds, the tiny microchip sends back it’s number to the scanner to be displayed in the viewing window.
8.Where is the chip implanted? Can it be removed?
The chip goes into the nuchal ligament just below the mane about half way between the poll and withers. The microchip is normally injected deeply under the skin. No, it cannot be removed without surgery, and even then, the task would be daunting. A scanner is used read the chip through the skin of the animal. The tiny chip sends back it's number to the viewing window of the scanner quickly.

9.How is the chip traced back to me? Who keeps the registry of microchips?
AVID chips are always registered when they are sold or put into an animal. The database is kept by AVID (American Veterinary Identification Device), the largest supplier of microchips in the United States. Your vet’s information is recorded along with the chip number. If you want to take it a step further, you can register your horse in a 24/7 loss and recovery network, called PETtrac. This takes the chip out of the vet’s name and registers it directly to you. In this way, YOU receive the call when your horse is located. Many horse registries also use the chip in their own record keeping. A microchip number is very much like your social security number. Your SS number correlates to all you do, belongs to you, and is used by everyone you deal with when documenting who you are.

10. Can I microchip other animals?
Not usually. Most states require you to be a veterinarian to do invasive procedures on animals that do not belong to you.

11. How does the scanner work?
The scanners are held close to the implant site while scanning. It then sends a safe radio wave signal to the microchip. Once the microchip obtains the signal, it sends the chip number back to the scanner and is displayed in the viewing window. The scanner beeps when looking for the chip and once the chip is identified. The scanner also has a low battery indicator. The range of the handheld scanner is approximately 3 inches. The larger commercial scanners have a range of 6-20 inches depending on the specifications.

12. Is sedation required?
Anesthesia is not required. The injection is like other injections or vaccinations.

13. Is there a chance of rejection?
Since the chip is biocompatible and smooth there is little chance of any allergic reactions if the chip is properly injected.

14. How do animal shelters know who to call if they have my horse?
Educational programs have been provided to animal control employees. They should know how the microchip works and the procedure of the microchip identification process. Most have universal scanners and scanning lost animals should be routine. If the horse is registered with Petrac the shelter will be given the pet owners contact information. If the horse is not registered they will be given the contact information of the person or organization that sold the chip or did the injection, such as a veterinarian.

*Do it yourself microchipping may not be for everyone. If you do not have experience giving injections to your horses it may be best to have your vet do so on your next vet check. There is a small risk of injury with improper insertion. Most states require you to be a veterinarian to do invasive procedures on animals that do not belong to you.

Lip Tattoo

All racehorses are required to have a lip tattoo for identification purposes prior to racing. Any of the racing breeds can have a lip tattoo if they were raced. This tattoo positively identifies the horse and its owner through the horse's registration papers.

We suggest that a professional do your tattoo, especially if you know nothing about the process. This is not our only means of identification. However, should you decide to do it yourself, tattooing kits are available through vet supply catalogs and can either be applied by a veterinarian or by the horse owner.

Lip tattooing is another form of "branding" a horse and involves having a tattoo made of letters and numbers put on the inside of the upper lip. The downside regarding lip tattoos are that they are not visible without flipping the lip up, they can fade with age and many times they are not readable due to mottling on the horses lip.

Through the use of a distinctive parallel cluster lip-tattoo die brand designed by the TRPB and registered as a Certification Mark in the United States and Canada, the TRPB has, since 1947, provided the Thoroughbred industry with the single most effective, secure, practical and economical method of horse identification available today. The utility of this lip-tattoo identification system for racing purposes is demonstrated daily by attentive identifiers conscientiously following established guidelines and procedures in varied racing situations at Thoroughbred racetracks throughout the United States and Canada.

Hoof Branding

Hoof Branding is a form of hot iron branding and is not a permanent mark. The owner's chosen information is branded onto the horse's hooves which is a painless process.

The postal code is often used in Australia and Europe which helps identify a horse to a specific area of the country. This is a good method if identification for horse traders who do not want a lasting mark and one that can be easily used for herd control.

The problems with this seem obvious when you first hear about this method. If the brand is left on too long there could be damage to the hoof. It only takes seconds to brand the hoof.

Can you see the brand in mud? A little water will fix that problem.

The continual hoof growth requires the brand to be re-applied approximately every six months.

When done properly this can be a very useful identification method. We would use it in conjunction with another permanent method. This process is easily carried out by your farrier, who knows his hooves, two or three times a year.

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