FOUR times as many owners freeze-marked their horses in the month following the horse security scare in June as in a normal month, a company has revealed.

Freezemark Ltd was inundated with people wanting to mark their horses after a spate of text messages circulated among horse owners warning of men acting suspiciously and photographing horses in order to steal them later.

“It seems to have settled down now but for two months after the texts we were overrun,” said spokesman Mary Awre.

“Vets have been encouraging people to microchip their horses and this incident has highlighted the benefits of having an immediately identifiable mark on your horse.

“But people forget very quickly and interest does appear to be tailing off now.”

Farmkey, which also offers freeze-marking, says business has been brisk over the summer.

Company spokesman Jade Kemp said: “We did see a rise in the number of people seeking information about freeze-marking after the stories appeared in the press — and it seems to be carrying on.”

National Horsewatch Alliance chairman Garry Porter said that at the height of the concerns over the text messages he was receiving 40 to 50 emails a day reporting sightings of suspicious people.

He said: “I’m not aware of a case where horses were stolen after being photographed.”

But he added that if the incident has provoked interest in freeze-marking then it did some good.

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (26 September, ’08)