Trivia Challenge: Are You Savvy About Horse ID?

Answer the questions, then check at bottom for the key. For more great information about horses, read H&R’s ‘The Ride’ newsletter. (Not getting it? Sign up below—it’s free!)

1. How many horses are stolen every year in the United States, according to estimates?

A) 10,000

B) 20,000

C) 40,000

2. True or false: The practice of hot branding is banned in Denmark, Germany, Scotland, and The Netherlands.

T / F

3. True or false: From the horse’s perspective, the microchipping process isn’t much different from simply being vaccinated.

T / F

4. True or false: In the confusion of an emergency evacuation, positive ID on a horse doesn’t actually make that much difference in terms of being reunited with its owner.

T / F

Rough Stock: The Southern Arkansas University Horse Theft Case

HOW’D YOU DO? (Answers below.)

1. C is correct. Although it’s hard to find accurate statistics due to inconsistent reporting of these types of nonviolent crimes, rescue organizations estimate approximately 40,000 horses and ponies might be stolen annually in the U.S. Having some form of “positive ID” on your horse not only helps deter horse theft in some cases, but also can be critical for recovery—especially if your horse ends up in an auction yard on his way to a slaughterhouse.

[HERE’S HELP: 10 steps to reduce horse theft.]

2. T is correct. Hot branding is banned in these countries because it can cause third-degree burns and tissue damage. Proponents of hot branding say it’s inexpensive, permanent, visible, and extremely useful for deterring theft. Freeze branding provides a less painful, less tissue-damaging option that’s also permanent, visible, and theft-deterring.

3. T is correct. Microchipping is simple, quick, and painless. Only the most needle-phobic horse is likely to require sedation. The identification provided is unalterable and specific to each individual horse. Scanning the horse for a microchip is also simple and takes only seconds to complete. Most companies that manufacture microchips offer a registration service where your horse’s information can be stored. The cost of a microchip and placement is typically less than $100.

[RELATED: All about equine identification methods.]

4. F is correct. In a natural disaster, safe barn space fills up quickly, and carefully laid emergency-evacuation plans can fall apart. Records show that horses with some form of positive ID (such as a brand, tattoo, or microchip) have a much better chance of being reunited with their owners than horses that did not. It’s also advisable to use a livestock crayon to write your contact information onto your horse’s coat, braid a luggage tag into his mane, or affix a neck band holding all relevant information.

[READ: 10 steps to developing emergency evacuation plan for horses.]

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