How can I mark my horse before I put him on a long trailer ride? Or he is evacuated? Or I need to leave him behind in an emergency?
I think we have all heard these stories of a horse that’s put on a trailer on the East Coast and by the time he arrives on the West Coast he’s changed gender, color, breed, and height. Or, the situations in which a horse is evacuated to a huge center and gets lost in the shuffle as horses come in and go out. These are all situations that are horse owners dread - and thankfully most of us will never have to deal with something like that! There are a few simple things that can be done so that your horse has a very good chance at getting back to you.
- Hone your braiding skills! Use your horse’s mane and tail to braid in a luggage tag with your contact info and other critical information (like allergies or diet restrictions). Make sure the luggage tag is as weather proof as possible. You want to tag your horse and also his halter, which of course is breakaway. Be prepared for tags that come off after your horse has lost/rubbed out/otherwise destroyed his braid.
Luggage tags are great for braiding into manes and/or tails with critical info.
- Buy some livestock markers. Livestock markers and livestock paint are available in weather resistant formulas. They can be used to put your phone number on both sides of your horse should you need to turn him free or if he will be out of your control during a mass evacuation. Also great for long distance travel if you are not the shipper. It’s also a chance to put critical information on your horse, or maybe also draw some flowers or hearts. You should know that some markers are designed to partially rub off - and are used on the chests of intact males so that the female's back is marked after mating has occurred. Find a brand that doesn't come off.
- Even better than a livestock marker is using special grooming paint, such as Show Touch Ups. Do NOT use regular spray paint - this is toxic! Grooming sprays are desinged to LAST - and by last, I mean days or longer. Special instructions, phone numbers, etc. can all be painted on yoru horse. For dark horses, use a white or gray Show Touch Up.
Shapley's Show Touch Ups require shampoo to remove - so your phone number, special instructions, medication info can stay put!
- Have your horse microchipped! This is a quick and easy way for your horse to have permanent information. Be sure your Veterinarian uses the type of microchip that is read by all scanners.
- Keep photos, vet records, and other proof of ownership in a safe place. Your documents can help you prove that your horse is your horse. Remember that identification is not the same as proof of ownership, and the more information that you have that documents both ownership and identification, the better. Have you heard the horror stories about horses shipped coast to coast, only to have a mix up along the way and the wrong horse be delivered? I heard one such story and the shipping company demanded that the owner PROVE they delivered the wrong horse. Yikes.
- If you are shipping your horse across the country, you may also want to tag his halter with a luggage tag of important info. Be sure the halter is leather and can break. You will want to put the luggage tag under his chin or between his cheeks so that he can’t swing his head and get the tag in his eye. This is in addition to the luggage tag that you have braided into his mane and/or tail.
- If you are turning him free for an emergency, naked is best so he doesn’t get stuck on a fence, gate, or tree. You may also want to consider reflective horse strips. You can find these online and secure around their legs loosely so your horse is more visible at night.
How have you “decorated” your horse for a trip or an emergency?