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Identifying your horse Ask The Vet

W by daniel h. grove, dvm

e all love our horses. We invest time and money into their care and upkeep. I think it is natural

for us to want to protect the emotional and fi nancial investment we have in our horses. This month I am going to discuss the various forms of identifying our horses.

Registration Paperwork Each breed registry has its own meth-

od for identifying the animal for which they produce papers for. Pictures, writ en descriptions, and drawings are found on these diff erent documents. They usually also include the parentage of the registered horse.

Hot Branding Hot branding has been around since 2700 BC. An iron brand fashioned in a distinctive shape is heated and then applied to the specifi ed area. It leaves a permanent mark that can be used to at least identify where the horse is from. Areas that I have seen branded are the shoulders, hips, each side of the tail, face, and necks. Certain breeds like

mustangs have a defi ned place (the side of the neck) that they are placed.

Freeze Branding Just like with hot branding, it makes a per-

manent mark. This has become more com- mon in today’s world. It is less painful for the animal. The “Iron” is usually made out of copper, brass, stainless steel, iron or some blend of metals. The irons are chilled either in liquid nitrogen, or there is a method that uses dry ice.

Tat oo While get ing “ink” has become quite the

craze in society today, horses have been ahead of the fashion world for some time. Just as with their human counterparts, hors- es can be tat ooed to give them a permanent mark. It is most commonly done in the racing industry. It is performed on the inner side of the lips, most commonly the upper lip. The characters usually start with a let er that corresponds to the year the horse was born followed by a unique number. When

With developments in technology, we now can identify a horse from DNA. If you suspect a foal is not from the parents you were told, DNA will tell the truth.

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done properly, you can get a very nice legible form of identifi cation. Unfortunately, they are commonly challenging to read.

Microchipping Now we are get ing into some techniques

that have come about because of newer tech- nology. With microchipping, a very small RFID chip that is about the size of a grain of rice is placed in the horse. The standard location is in the nuchal ligament of the neck on the leſt side of the animal, midway between the poll and the withers. It is placed in this ligament to minimize the chances of the chip migrating. A simple wave of a microchip reader over the area and a unique number pops up on the screen.

DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid is what makes us

who we are. Four diff erent nucleic acids (Thymine, Adenine, Guanine, and Cytosine) are arranged in a particular order for each of us. The variances in the order is what makes each of us diff erent. This is a very simplistic description of the way that it works. With developments in technology, we now can identify a horse from DNA. If you suspect a foal is not from the parents you were told, DNA will tell the truth. More and more breed registries are requiring DNA to minimize falsehoods on papers.

Well, summer is here so make sure your horse has its ID and get out there and have some fun! Happy Summer everyone.

A monthly column by Daniel H. Grove, DVM

Got a question for Dr. Grove? Send your inquiries to vet@horsetrader. com, and it could be answered by Dr. Grove in a future column. Dr. Grove is based at West Coast Equine Medicine, headquartered in Fallbrook, Calif. , where he lives with his wife Kristen.

–Dan Internationally Known Animal Communicator LYDIA HIBY


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