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UNCOVERING YOUR HORSE’S


True Identity Is your horse By Ann Daum Kustar


and narrow his eyes, studying the shape of the hooves and length of back, or the particular proportion of ear to eye. He certainly would notice the brand on the left haunch bearing the distinctive crown-over-two-bridges— mark of the Rheinland Pfalz-Saar registry—rather than the sunburst-pinwheel brand of a Belgian Warmblood horse, right? With the constant mingling of blood among


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Warmblood breeds, it’s not so easy to distinguish a Hanoverian from a Holsteiner, not to mention a horse from one of the smaller registries, based on conformation, type and movement. Many of today’s sport horses have been imported, so Americans can feel helpless to research a horse’s history. But before you call an equine detective, a little sleuthing can uncover a wealth of information about who your Warmblood really is and where he came from.


who you think he is?


magine Sherlock Holmes studying a Warmblood horse. Show him a gray stallion being sold as a Belgian Warmblood, and he may purse his lips around his pipe


Problems with Microchips If your Warmblood is microchipped, you may be able to bypass the sleuthing. But don’t count on the chip being there, and readable—many registries in Europe now require chipping, and registry officials are trained to administer the microchips themselves, but here in the U.S. it’s still optional. Even those registries that provide microchips with their registration don’t oversee that the chip is actually injected into the horse and thereby permanently tied to his identity. Keep in mind too that there is not yet any standardized worldwide database of microchips, and chips from different makers or other countries may be unreadable by your local vet. Patricia Donohue, registrar of the American


Holsteiner Horse Association, recalls a rather dramatic case of equine identity theft. Both horses were big bay Warmbloods—one a Holsteiner Grand Prix jumper, and the other an amateur hunter horse. Patricia recalls that a shipper had to stop and lay over the two geldings at a hunter/jumper barn.


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He then accidentally switched the two horses when putting them back on the trailer for the next leg of their trip. The Grand Prix jumper on his way to Florida ended up


in Texas with a lower level A/O (amateur owner) hunter rider. The hunter horse ended up in Florida—and had his trainer scratching his head, as the horse just wasn’t up for the bigger jumps. When a vet was called in to read the horse’s microchip, even more heads were scratched, as the chip came up blank. Finally, a vet with an international chip reader took a look, and discovered the supposed Grand Prix jumper wasn’t a Holsteiner at all—he was Dutch! The switch was reversed (much to the A/O hunter rider’s disappointment), and everyone lived happily ever after. So the moral of that story is to check for microchips first (with every kind of reader you can get your hands on) when trying to identify a paperless horse. Now if you have your Warmblood’s registration papers,


you can simply call or email the registry or his breeder to find more information. But even if you don’t, and he’s not microchipped, but you know his name and registration number, you may be able to find out more about his heritage and history. Your Warmblood’s brand and life number can reveal where and when he was born, and which registry originally issued his papers. The color of your horse’s papers, and even his name itself can give you clues about him, such as his pedigree, or year of birth.


Clue to Identification – The Name The first clue in your search for more information about your Warmblood is actually his or her name. German registries generally name foals after the first letter of their sire’s name, creating recognizable pedigree lines such as the D- or W-named horses from the Donnerhall and Weltmeyer lines. Certain registries, such as the Trakehners, follow the tradition of naming


foals after their dams, and other registries, such as the German Oldenburg Verband, honor mare lines by naming fillies designated for breeding after the first letter of their dams. Oldenburg colts must carry the initial letter of their sire’s name, and fillies not aimed at a


Warmbloods Today 27


True Identity


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