Ways to Tag Your Horse Before a Natural Disaster

Hopefully none of us ever have to face the fear of a natural disaster that results in us having to leave our houses and horses behind. But that’s not always the reality, natural disasters occur. A number of wildfires ravaged Central California last summer and left hundreds, if not thousands of animals, both house pets and livestock, stranded. An astonishing amount of this number being horses left without owners. Many of them didn’t have a choice but to open the barn doors and pasture gates and hope they found their horses at a later date. A number rescues and good Samaritans jumped in to coordinate efforts by housing and feeding the stranded horses. I remember the desperate pleas on every news station and social media outlet, there were numerous horses whom hadn’t eaten in days and the rescues were running out of hay and spaces to house them. A number of people in the community stepped in to feed and house the livestock on our own properties. However, despite the efforts of these Samaritans, I can assure you there are a number of horses that never went home. However, by doing your best efforts to appropriately tag your horses, and prove ownership, you can increase the chances of finding your hooved loved ones again.

  1. Microchip your horses- there is some controversy as microchips occasionally can travel away from the original insertion site. But this is a clear way to prove you are the owner of this animal. Also ensure you register and update the information associated with the chip, so when your horse is found they can get ahold of you.  
  2. Braiding a section of mane or tail, and banding and/or braiding in a name tag  with numbers. A number of people got engraved pet tags from pet stores, where I’ve also seen people tie in their personal dog tags to prove ownership.
  3. Sharpie your phone number on hooves. Obviously this can wear off if your horse is traveling long distances but placing it high up hear the coronet band can and placing it on multiple hooves can help piece the puzzle together if numbers get rubbed off.
  4. Shaving your phone number into any visible area of the horse. This being the most fool proof of the methods, you would shave your number in a large area and clearly as possible.
  5. Use livestock marking pens to write names and numbers on horses, non-toxic paint works as well on hooves and coats.
  6. Brands and registration papers-Its always a good idea to take these with you and to have pictures documenting your ownership of the horse. I’ve heard it can be as simple as snapping a photo of you and your horse together. Ensure you get any brands or identifying marks in the photo!

This fire came a little too close to home and left me feeling unprepared. These are just a few tips to help you get your horses home again after a natural disaster. If you have any tips on tagging your horses to ensure they get home safely please feel free to contribute!

Emily Bomgardner

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