Why to Microchip Your Horses

This blog post is a big jump from colour genetics to horse identification. I follow several horse groups such as; do people recognize a horse they own or do people now where a former horse they owned now is. I also follow Stolen Horse International/Net Posse where an alarming stolen and missing horses are reported each year. This has encouraged me to make this post about microchips and why you should microchip your horses.

Registration papers serve as a very helpful form of identification and tracking the whereabouts with horses. However, papers get lost, not transfer, not sold with the horse, etc. Hot and freeze brands a great forms of identification however they do not give much information and it can be near impossible to find the owner of a brand years down the line. Microchipping horses gives horses an identification method that does not require people to properly keep track of such as with papers and more in depth information then branding.

Microchips serve as an excellent source of identification. Microchips can assist identification in several different scenario such as stolen horse, lost horse, displaced horse from a disaster, purchased a horse with unknown history, etc.

A microchip is a Radio Frequency Identification device that when scanned with a microchip reader it relays back a number. This is a non-duplicated number that is usually 10-15 numbers long, the first few numbers generally indicate what country the chip is from and what organization the chip is registered with. The microchip is very small and it is injection into the horse’s neck. Specifically it is injected into the horse’s nuchal ligament. Being in the nuchal ligament it is less likely to migrate as is known in smaller animals where the chip is merely placed under the skin. The injection is not considered painful as horses rarely react when the chip is implanted. There is a form to be filled out with owner and horse information to go along with the microchip number. This form is sent into the organisation that registers the microchip attaching information about the horse with the chip number. The chip is not helpful if the number is not associated with any information.

Currently, when a microchip is read all that is read is the number. You then must use a website to pull up the horse’s information connected to the microchip number. The Thoroughbred industry in the UK and soon to be US (new Jockey Club rule for mandatory microchips in 2017) are working/planning on improving microchip reading and the information connected to microchips. The goal is to be able to read the chip and automatically pull up the horse’s profile on a computer connected, linked or synced to the scanner. The hope is to have a high information profile all linked to the microchip such as health records, training records, sales records, etc. The microchip has the potential to become a huge wealth of knowledge and information about the horse. Imagine buying a horse with an unknown background to scan the chip and have years of history right at your fingertips!

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