Should You Microchip Your Horse?

Thursday, November 15, 2018
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WELLNESS

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Microchipping your horse may seem like an unnecessary or foreign concept but it’s largely becoming a standard practice for breed organizations, national governing bodies like USEF, and sport organizations like Jockey Club. But why is it becoming common practice to microchip? Isn’t it overkill? We’ll go over some of the top reasons more organizations are requiring microchips as well as the microchipping process, to help you better understand the need for microchipping horses.

Why Microchip?

Many breed registries have switched from branding horses that make it into their main books to microchipping. Others require microchips but still allow branding as well. For breed registries microchipping is an easy way to identify a registered horse. There’s no confusion about which grey horse is which, where in the past detailed drawings of their whirl patterns may have been the only way to tell. Microchips, while not infallible, would make it less likely to mistake two horses for awards, performance tests, and inspections.

For Jockey Club the reasoning is similar, tattoos are not always clear or easily legible. Microchipping allows for easy transference of records, racing history, and if information is kept up to date ownership records. Theoretically, microchipping horses would also make it harder for people to abandon horses that weren’t money producers. Ownership could be traced and if laws were broken it would be easier to prove criminal activity.

For the United States Equestrian Federation, USEF, it is to keep accurate and comprehensive points data. Horses that are not microchipped will not be able to show at USEF competitions in conjunction with USHJA, the United States Hunter Jumper Association, from the 2019 competition year on. Starting in the 2018 competition year riders and horses will not be able to collect points if their horse is not microchipped. It will help eliminate horses being registered more than once with different owners, incorrect age representations, or misrepresentation of a horse’s wins and losses. It will help give prospective buyers confidence in knowing that a horse has done what their current owner advertises them as.

From a universal standpoint, microchipping will help identify horses in the event of a natural disaster, if a horse is stolen, or if a horse is rescued prior owners may be contacted to re-home the horse. Most people don’t think twice about microchipping their dog or cat, which often leads to a safe return if they are lost or stolen. Our horses certainly are a more expensive investment and just as much a part of our families.

Microchipping Process

The process of microchipping is fairly simple, though does need to be done by a veterinarian. Before a microchip is implanted the horse should be properly identified, checked for any existing microchips, and the microchip should be scanned to make sure it’s readable. Microchips are implanted with a needle on the left side of a horse’s neck. It will need to be implanted in the nuchal ligament, halfway between the poll and withers. After the procedure is done the chip should be scanned again to make sure it is still readable. While it is not required many veterinarians will use a local anesthetic or a mild tranquilizer on nervous or sensitive horses. Once your horse is microchipped you would need to report the 15 digit chip number to the organization requiring it.

For more information on USEF’s microchipping policy, click here.