Should you microchip your horse?

A microchip might seem unnecessary, but it’s one of the best ways to identify your horse in the event of theft, escape or natural disaster.

It’s every horse caretaker’s worst nightmare. Your horse enjoys his last feeding of the day before settling contentedly into the barn for the evening. You return early next morning, only to discover that your beloved horse is nowhere to be found. No sign of a broken fence or an unlocked gate, leaving you unsure if he was stolen or broke out on his own. You feel helpless as days turn into weeks with no new answers or leads to explore. Finally, local authorities call to say they suspect a stolen horse discovered in a nearby field may be your missing horse, but they can’t be sure. Thankfully, your horse’s microchip removes any doubt, ensuring his safe return.

This is just one real-life example of how a microchip can ensure your worst nightmare has a happy ending. Microchips form a permanent link between you and your horse, providing a safe and effective way to reunite caretakers with their equines in the event of theft, escape or natural disaster. They are also an important tool to assure positive identification at equine events. And, with more breed and sport associations requiring microchips for registration and competition, they are quickly becoming the norm, with some states requiring that horses be microchipped.

How to get your horse microchipped

The process itself is inexpensive, minimally invasive, and can be performed in a matter of minutes by your veterinarian. The microchip is roughly the size of a grain of rice, and a hypodermic needle is used to easily implant the electronic device in the horse’s nuchal ligament halfway between his poll and withers. Once inserted, the microchip cannot easily be altered or removed, making it more permanent than tattoos, brands, or other forms of identification.

When each microchip is manufactured, it is encoded with either a unique ten-digit alphanumeric sequence or a 15-digit numerical sequence. It is then activated by a scanner that is passed over the area, and the radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays the number on the screen.

The importance of registration

Once the microchip is implanted, you need to register with its manufacturer. Without registration, the microchip number is not linked to any useful data. It is important to keep your microchip contact information up to date should you move, change phone numbers, or if you purchase a horse who is already microchipped and is registered to the former caretaker. If the information is outdated or incorrect, it will be difficult for you to reconnect with your horse, especially during disasters. According to Microchip ID Systems, microchips helped safely reunite nearly 400 horses with their caretakers following Hurricane Katrina.

Microchips have helped reunite countless horses with their people after times of disaster or other unforeseen events. It is a safe reliable way to provide permanent positive identification, and provides unmatched peace of mind to horse caretakers. In short, yes – you should microchip your horse!

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