Times have changed. Gone are the days of unlocked front doors and leaving keys in the car - for most of us anyway. Tragic news flows from Florida of horses stolen from pastures only to be slaughtered outside the farm gates. Senseless shootings and maiming of horses are happening all over the country. We need to protect our beloved equines. But how? The AgriLIFE Extension of Texas A&M and The Osborn Law Group in New York have ideas on how to minimize theft of horses and equipment. Let’s look at a distilled list of these suggestions.
Freeze brand, microchip or lip tattoo your horse.
Branding is the best deterrent as thieves don’t want to take a horse that’s easily identifiable. However, lip tattoos and microchips are important tools as well. Not only will this help deter thieves from stealing your horse, it will make it easier to distinguish your horse from other similar looking bays or sorrels.
NOTE: Make sure to record this information with your county clerk’s office to avoid duplication.
Evaluate where your horse lives.
If you stable your horses, you could install a perimeter fence around your barn (keep fire safety in mind) to make them less accessible from the road. The more difficult it is for the potential thief to reach your horses, the less likely they’ll bother with them.
If you have your horses pastured:
If you are building a pasture, locate it away from the road, behind your house.
Photograph each horse from the front, sides, and rear.
Focus on any uniquely identifiable markings such as your brands or tattoo, scars or whorls.
Create an Ownership file.
Include the photographs, bill-of-sale or transfer of ownership paperwork, medical records (such as Coggins), and your contact information. Remember to add any registration papers if your horse is registered with a breed association. Store this in a safe but easily accessible location.
Lock up expensive tack.
Think about engraving your driver’s license on the underside of saddles and headstalls. It won’t prevent it from being stolen, but it will make it easier to identify. Maintain a detailed list of tack and farm equipment along with photographs. Focus on any serial numbers, year of manufacture and purchase/ownership transfer paperwork. Keep this with your ownership file mentioned above.
Keep horse trailers inaccessible to the public.
Lock up the hitch on a bumper-pull or gooseneck trailers. Park them in a barn, hidden from the road. Make sure to have the VIN (vehicle identification number) and license plate number in your records. Keep photographs of each side of the vehicle(s). And don’t forget to keep the keys in the house, not in the vehicle.
Install motion-sensor lights or cameras.
Taking into account the influence of illumination on broodmares’ heat cycles or show horses’ coats, place motion-sensor lights in areas where you keep the horses at night. Also keep in mind that you don’t want the farm dog tripping the light as he noses around the barn or field. You can also install monitors or alarm systems that are set to go off if gates or doors are opened.
Display signs and warning posters.
Such signs include “No Trespassing”, Video Surveillance signs (if you use a motion-activated camera), security system signs, Horse owners’ WATCH sign and anything else to let the potential thief realize you are involved and informed.
Form a horse-neighborhood watch program.
Help each other look after your horses, especially if a neighbor is out of town. Be aware of strangers in the area and notify the local police department of suspicious vehicles’ license plate numbers.
Horse shows are not necessarily safe.
Check with the event’s management to see what security measures have been implemented. Make sure to keep an eye on both your horse and your equipment. Lock up your trailer when you’re not in it.
The last tip is to Get Insurance. If your horse or gear is stolen, at least you may be able to get reimbursed for your loss. Give us a call and we’ll help review your policy to see if your coverage is adequate.
As always, Star H Insurance is here to help you. Do not hesitate to call us with questions, concerns or assistance with a claim.
Call us BEFORE you buy that new horse or horse farm.
* The information provided here is intended to be a brief summary. Please contact Star H Equine Insurance and/or review your policy for more detailed information.
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