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Protect your horse from thieves

Having their horse stolen remains a horse-owners’ greatest fear, but thereare some precautions owners can take to minimise the risk and make their animal less attractive to thieves.

One of the most effective deterants is freezemarking. Detective Inspector David Collings, equine officer for the Hampshire Constabulary, believes it is far more effective than microchipping.

“Because a freezemark is obvious, it provides a much higher level of deterent than a microchip which is not visable.

“Compare identifying a horse to identifying a car. A car without a number plate is a car without an obvious identity despite the fact that it can still be identified by its chassis number.

“Equally an unfreezemarked horse is a horse without an obvious visual identity even if it is microchipped.

“Car number plates can be changed and theives can disguise or hide freezemarks in the short term, but the real freezemark cannot be removed and enables the horse to be much more easily recognisable.”

Act now, before its too late

  • Have your horse freezemarked or microchipped and paint the freeze mark clearly on the horse’s rugs.
  • Taking photographs of both sides of the horse and from the front and behind willhelp you to prove the horse is yours if it does go missing.
  • The photographs should be taken in both the summer and winter as horses can look very different in their hairy winter coat.
  • A description chart – such as the one included on your horse’s passport or vacination certificate – can also be used to prove ownership.
  • Stabled horse are easier to catch than horse kept at grass. Floodlights that come on when movement is detected can be an effective deterent, especially if the stables are close to dwellings.
  • Gates to stable yards and paddocks should be secured with heavy duty chains and padlocks. Reverse the top hindge of the gate to prevent thieves lifting the gate off its hindges to gain access. Check that your fencing is as secure as possible.
  • Try to vary the times at which you check the stables and fields each day. This will make it more difficult for the thieves to decide when to strike.
  • Enlist the help of people living near your paddocks or stables. They may be willing to report any suspicious people or vehicles to yourself or to the police.
  • Contact your local Crime Prevention Office who may be able to give you further advice on how to protect your horse.
  • Know the dates of sales within a 250 radius of your stables. Many horse thieves steel the night before a sale so the horse can be passed on quickly.
  • Check your insurance – not all equestrian policies include theft, although it can normally be added for a nominal fee.
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