All horses and ponies applying for a Joint Measurement Board (JMB) height certificate from January must be microchipped as part of a bid to crack down on cheating in the ring.

Howard Robinson, who runs the JMB, said that from 1 January unchipped animals put forward for measuring will be chipped on the spot.

“We have had cases this year where we had to revoke certificates due to concerns over the identification of horses,” said Mr Robinson (news, 9 October).

“There is no way to gauge how widespread the practice of ‘recycling’ horses [where a horse is presented for measurement under a new name] is within showing and show jumping.

“But this gives us another string to our bow to fight it. It will also help when horses are stolen and to ensure passports correspond to the correct horse, rather than relying solely on the silhouette.”

He said the JMB measures around 4,000 show jumpers and showing horses each year. JMB certificates are needed when horses compete in classes with a height criteria, for example a large hack showing class or the height classes in pony show jumping.

There has been mixed reaction to the news in the horseworld, with some groups concerned about the expense (approximately £25-£35).

Caroline Noakes, chief executive of the National Pony Society (NPS), said: “We welcome these proposals. The NPS was recently involved in a case where the JMB could not positively identify a pony [for its height certificate] — this will knock that sort of concern on the head once and for all.”

Jan Rogers, of the British Equestrian Federation’s equine development team said it was important that there was “a clear identification of horses throughout their careers”.

But the British Show Jumping Association said microchipping had been forced upon them without consultation.

A spokesman said: “It has come as a bolt from the blue. As much as we may understand the thought process behind microchipping, we are still surprised there have been no prior discussions, bearing in mind the compulsory financial impact this will have.”

And Linda Lodge, chairman of the British Skewbald and Piebald Society, said: “There are plenty of unaffiliated shows that do not need a height certificate and I can see more people choosing to go to those.”

This article was first published in Horse & Hound (4 December, ’08)