As you step into the barn on a crisp spring morning, you are greeted by three nickering equines. You freeze instantly - you have four horses. You rush to the stall thinking: cast? colic? The answer is far worse: stolen.
A close friend of mine went through the horifying experience of having her horse stolen out of her four stall barn. He was annonomously returned six months later with a hairline fracture in his pelvis. Before he was stolen, he was nothing special (except to her, of course). He was not a champion nor did he have exceptional breeding. He was a cute little horse who did local schooling shows, and carted her two little children around on numerous pony rides. Unfortunately, my friend will never know why he was stolen and local authorities never found out who took him.
I know that before my friend's experience, I had never even thoguht about my equine babies being stolen. Since then, I have made sure to take as many steps as possible to prevent thier theft, and to properly identify them should they ever go missing. Here are a few tips I have found useful:
Horse Theft Prevention Tips
- Identify your horses -freeze/hot brand, hoof brand, tattoo, microchip, blood typing, DNA typing.
- Put signs up on property, stall doors when boarding or at horse events which state that horses have permanent identification.
- When at horse events - leave a light on, feed horse at the back of the stall, inform barn neighbors to be aware of possible theft and people who will be moving your horses, put sign on door that horse and tack have permanent identification. Do not give complete information on the breeding of the horse on the stall door. This may attract thieves to pick your horse because of the breeding.
- Record identification information with provincial and national registries.
- Photograph your horse in two seasons. Keep photographs current.
- Photograph your horse dirty and clean
- Make a file with all important horse information inside.
- Padlock gates and keep fencing in good shape.
- Install video cameras in your barn and pointed at your driveway.
- Do not put halters and lead ropes by stall doors when you do not have a sign posted.
- Install a driveway alarm so you know when someone is approaching the barn.
- Keep halters off of pasture horses.
- Keep barns away from road if possible.
- If possible, board your horse at a facility where the owner/barn manager/staff live on site. They are most likely to know which vehicles should be there, and those that shouldn't.
- Install security lighting around the barn.
- Keep passports, breeding papers, and ownership papers in your house. If they must be stored in the barn, keep them in the feed room, or an area where they are not easily visible.
- Put no trespassing signs on pasture fences.
- Put security signs on pasture fences.
- Keep a barking dog or other animal that makes noise, like a peacock, donkey, geese, or guinea hen.
- Pay attention to service people on property.
- Start a neighborhood watch.
- Keep trailer out of view if possible.
- Lock up tack.
- Put identification info on tack - the best ID is your drivers license number preceded by the province. You can also put a microchip into your saddle but this will not be recognized like your drivers license.
A lot of this information is from www.netposse.com which is a division of Stolen Horse International Inc. A group which is committed to the recovery of stolen horses worldwide. I also signed up for thier email IDAHO Alerts, which sends me information and photographs of stolen horses so that I might keep an eye out for stolen horses.
I hope that I never experience my horse being stolen. But I find comfort in the fact that I have done what I can to prevent theft, and have properly identified my horses should they ever be stolen.
As for my friend's horse? He now live the life of luxury as a companion horse being spoiled rotten. I guess the spoiled rotten part hasn't changed! :)