Protecting your horse

Rural Watch logoThis section provides general guidance on a wide range of security measures covering horses, tack, trailers, horseboxes and stables.

Horse security

Identifying your horse

The law states that all horses must have a passport issued by an authorised Passport Issuing Organisation (PIO). The passport is a small booklet that identifies your animal by its height and species. You will need to show a horse passport on demand from a local authority Enforcement Officer, like a Trading Standard Inspector; when you sell or give the animal to someone else; or when a vet examines or treats your animal.

It needs to be kept with the animals at all times, e.g. if you keep your animal in a livery stable the passport must be kept at the stable. We therefore recommend keeping a photocopy of the passport at home in a safe place in case the original is lost or stolen.

We also recommend that you take colour photographs of your horse in summer and winter. Take photographs of the side as well as the front and behind. If the horse has a peculiar mark or scar, photograph that as well and make sure you can identify where on the horse the mark or scar is. Ensure that the photos are saved on your computer and on a memory stick as a backup, so that they can be easily circulated if your horse is stolen. Ensure that any marks, whorls etc. are shown. If in doubt, have a drawing completed by a veterinary surgeon.

If your horse is stolen having all of these documents easily available will make it easier for police to be able to look for and identify your horse if found.

Apply for a horse passport

Security Marking

Have your horse security marked. Experience has proven that marking your horse, as well as your tack, does deter thieves. Ensure that you check your horse at least twice daily and vary your times. Do not set up a pattern for the thief to use to their advantage.

If your animals are grass kept, do not leave a head collar or a lead rope dangling at the gate because this could help the thief take your horse.

Recognised methods of security marking

Freeze branding

This is a visible deterrent, where a unique number is branded onto your horse either on their withers, shoulders or saddle patch using a chilled iron. Records of freeze marked animals are kept and registration papers are issued to owners.

Hoof branding

This involves having your postcode branded on your animals hooves. You purchase the branding irons and have your farrier apply the brand. It requires periodic renewal as the hoof grows.

Microchip implant

Although not a visible deterrent, having your horse micro chipped allows anyone with a scanner to identify your horse. The RSPCA and certain other organisations also have transceivers which can detect the signal from the microchip if the horse is stolen. It is implanted in the animal’s neck and has to be done by a qualified vet. All horses born after 2009 have to be micro chipped by law as part of the Horse Passport Scheme.

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