lost or stolen horses

Top 10 Ways to Keep Horses Safe and how EQR can help

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We invest time and money to protect our homes and property, and often without realizing it, leave our horses vulnerable to theft from home, at shows or while traveling. Most of us personally know at least one person who has suffered the horrific violation of having a horse stolen. It’s time for the equine community to band together and take every step possibly to prevent horse theft. The measures provided can, at the very least, make it very uncomfortable for a thief to target and successfully profit from the theft of YOUR horse.

#10. Brand, microchip or tattoo.

While all three methods are beneficial, we at EQR highly recommend freeze branding. A branded horse is not a good target of theft, and will most often be passed over in preference of an unbranded target.

A brand greatly increases expedient, successful owner identification. A brand registered with your state can be used as proof of ownership. A brand registered with EQR provides a route for national identification and internet search-ability within our database, accessible by the public, law enforcement and animal welfare.

A horse with a brand is carrying his own source of identification which can not only help deter theft, but bring him home in the event of loss or natural disaster.

#9. Truck & Trailer Decals.

Chances are you personally know at least one person or family who have had their trailer stolen from a show, event, camping or even from home. Often, including their precious horses and valuable tack. The personal, emotional and financial loss can be phenomenal.

By adhering vinyl truck and trailer decals, your property becomes much less desirable a target. As EQR members, you may special order decals containing YOUR personal brand, farm name, and EQR emergency contact information, making it easier to identify your trailer from long distances. EQR works with our members and law enforcement in the event of theft to help in identification of property and provide media blasts not only to law enforcement, but to the public as well.

The best defense is to deter theft and make your property the least desirable target. As a second defense, EQR will make it very hard for whomever stole your property to hide!

Members: it is critical to keep your EQR membership profiles current and up to date with photos of your registered horses and trailers so that we BEST SERVE YOU should you need us.

#8. Mark Your Tack.

Marking the underside of your tack can help make identifying your property easier as well as deter prospective thieves. A number of methods may be used to mark your tack, including; permanent marker, leather engraving, identifying conchos and other silver type embellishments. Many of us at EQR prefer branding the undersides of our tack and recommend this method of marking tack.

When you order a branding iron from Pittsburg Foundry, you can also purchase a mini-iron perfect for such tasks. The mini-iron can also be used to brand steaks, wood decor and other items. By the way, all EQR members receive a discount coupon from Pittsburg Foundry saving members $40.00 off typical market price AND includes a FREE truck/trailer decal with your brand.  Now, your horses, truck/trailer and tack all carry your brand!

Visit our friends and sponsors at Pittsburg Foundry: http://www.freeze-brands.com/

#7. When You’re Away.

We often load up one or two horses and haul for a day of riding, leaving the rest of the herd at home. Not to mention long periods of time we may be away due to work or other reasons. These are times when neighbors or passersby may be the only eyes on our horses. What if our horses get out? Or are seen ‘down’ in their pasture, sick or injured? Often our neighbors have no idea what to do or how to handle an equine emergency, and no way to contact the horse owners.

Every EQR member receives a free outdoor emergency sign which can be mounted on a fence post, gate or barn. Additional signs may be purchased at any time. Each sign contains the EQR ‘hotline’ phone number, which is answered 24/7. Anytime an at-home emergency call is made in behalf of one of our member’s horses, EQR will personally contact that member with a report. Your privacy is ensured while a contact number is publicly posted for neighbors, passersby or even the police to be able to get word back to you regarding any emergency at home, through EQR. THAT’S security!

#6. Proof of Ownership.

Establish an organized, easy-to-find proof-of-ownership file. To save valuable time and frustration in proving ownership should a theft occur, keep on file:

a. Registration papers (if horse is registered with a breed association);
b. Dated bill of sale and/or breed association transfer-of-ownership paperwork;
c. Photographs; and
d. Description of mark or brand and written description of all unique characteristics.

All EQR members have the option of privately storing a digital copy of all such papers in their EQR membership profile, as well as current coggins test. All stored documents are for our member’s use only, and can be accessed by logging in to your membership profile from any location where internet is available, by computer, cell phone or other web enabled device. Documents may be printed from your file. Your documents are kept safe and will always be there should you need them for any reason, whether to assist in proving ownership or to temporarily replace lost or damaged originals.  This EQR service is free, and is included in all memberships.

#5.  House Away From the Road.

If you plan to build a barn or corral, locate it away from the road. Place facilities beyond your house if at all possible. They are less likely targets if they are more difficult to access and require thieves to pass a house. Lock gates to pastures that can be entered from the road.

Do not hang halters and lead ropes on stall fronts, corral gate posts or anywhere in the open. Secure halters in a locked tack room or feed room. Never leave halters on pastured horses.

EQR endeavors to provide theft prevention measures, deterring potential theft by publicly informing visitors that your farm and horses are protected by membership with EQR.  While EQR is not law enforcement, we believe that by working closely with law enforcement, sale barns, veterinarians, branding professionals, state brand registration entities, animal control agencies, borders/customs, and all forms of public media, that equine theft can be deterred and thwarted, and that horses may enjoy a life-line of security in an often cruel and unforgiving world.

#4. Photograph horses and keep photos current.

Photograph both sides of the horse as close as possible, being sure to get the entire horse in the frame. Although saddles, blankets, leg wraps and people may look good in a photo, they often impair the photo’s usefulness for identification. Take close-up pictures of any unique, identifying characteristics such as a brand, permanent scar or white markings.

At EQR, we recommend taking side views, both sides, with all 4 feet showing. Front and rear photos are certainly helpful as well. Within each EQR Member Profile, is an area where members are to upload photos of each of their horses, enter identifying marks, brands, microchip info, tattoos, etc. Members may also store digital scans of registration papers, current coggins, health papers, immunization and deworming records, so forth. This is a free service to all our members and a handy way to keep all your important documents and identification photos in one convenient location, accessible from any computer, smart phone or other web enabled device.

#3. Be able to identify quickly and without doubt.

“All my horses are branded and micro chipped. In case of theft or escape, I want to be able to identify mine quickly and without doubt.” Steve Jones, 33 years with LSU and the Arkansas Extension Services and State Equine Specialist.

Horses and equipment are stolen from barns, farms, pastures, boarding and training facilities, competitive events-even from backyards. Tracking stolen horses can be difficult because theft reports are often delayed and stolen horses can change hands frequently and at remote locations.

EQR members have a strong support system, first to assist in DETERRING theft, and second to QUICKLY assist in publicizing theft to the proper sources, media and public, and finally to assist in recovery and return in the unfortunate event of theft. Membership with EQR provides a lifeline to your equine companions and stock!

#2. Lifetime registration with EQR.

Upon joining EQR, members have the option to purchase a Lifetime Registration for each of their horses. Each Lifetime Horse remains in the EQR database as long as he/she lives. Registration is transferable from owner to owner for the life of that horse, and is given as a certificate. Should a horse end up in an undesirable situation years down the road, EQR will contact the person of interest who registered that horse, providing them the opportunity to rescue the horse and bring him back home, regardless of whether that person’s membership had been maintained over the years.

Brooke Ferguson, pictured here, has played a very active role in rehabbing and rehoming rescue horses through her family farm, Journey’s End Horses, where each rescue is given Equine Quick Response’s “Lifeline for a Lifetime”, to ensure they will always have a way back home. 

#1. All of the Above.

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A Cowboy Tradition meets Modern Technology

1883 Wyoming Cattle Brands Book

1883 Wyoming Cattle Brands Book

In times past, livestock owners relied upon branding as a method of identification and even proof of ownership.  Branding books were made to chronicle registered brands, their owners and ranches.  These books are still in use today, and even provided to law enforcement personnel to aide in identifying lost or stolen livestock. We are very excited at Equine Quick Response (EQR) to embark upon a project set to take these noble traditions into the world of modern technology, primarily for the benefit of horse owners.  This technology will allow law enforcement, veterinarians, sale barn attendees, and private parties to simply snap a cell phone or digital photo of a suspect or found horse, as well as a close-up of its brand, and submit to EQR right from their smart phone or computer for identification and ownership confirmation purposes. Membership will place brand, contact and property information into a retrievable national database.  Annual or life-time memberships will be available with EQR, with our database being set to launch this coming February 2014.

monitorMODERN BRANDING BENEFITS FOR HORSE OWNERS

EQR’s national database will utilize modern technology with the tradition of branding.  In addition to being able to register your brand to identify your horse and provide crucial contact information for the safe return of your horse, EQR members will also be able to:

  • Post provided signs and window/vehicle decals serving as theft deterrent for each member; displaying EQR registry with national database and contact information
  • Order decals of personal, registered brand to apply to truck/trailers
  • Register trailers/trucks with EQR and utilize the same identification services offered for horses
  • Order custom branding irons

In the event that a horse is lost or stolen, EQR will initiate a media blast to veterinarians, border/customs, US processing plants and state law enforcement with contact info, side views of horse, close up/location of brand, and contact for specific visual identification.

HISTORY OF LIVESTOCK BRANDING

Yellowstone Monitor., September 10, 1908

Yellowstone Monitor., September 10, 1908

Livestock branding is a technique for marking livestock so as to identify the owner. Originally, livestock branding only referred to a hot brand for large stock, though the term is now also used to refer to other alternative techniques such as freeze branding. Other forms of livestock identification include inner lip or ear tattoos, earmarking, ear tagging, and RFID tagging with a type of microchip. The semi-permanent paint markings used to identify sheep are called a paint or colour brand. In the American West, branding evolved into a complex marking system still in use today.

The act of marking livestock with fire-heated marks to identify ownership has origins in ancient times, with use dating back to the ancient Egyptians. Among the ancient Romans, the symbols used for brands were sometimes chosen as part of a magic spell aimed at protecting animals from harm.

The unique brand meant that cattle owned by multiple ranches could then graze freely together on the open range. Cowboys could then separate the cattle at “roundup” time for driving to market. Cattle rustlers using “running irons” were ingenious in changing brands. Brands became so numerous that it became necessary to record them in books that the ranchers could carry in their pockets. Laws were passed requiring the registration of brands, and the inspection of cattle driven through various territories. Penalties were imposed on those who failed to obtain a bill of sale with a list of brands on the animals purchased.

Free-range or open-range grazing is less common today than in the past. However, branding still has its uses. The main purpose is in proving ownership of lost or stolen animals. Many western US states have strict laws regarding brands, including brand registration, and require brand inspections. In many cases, a brand on an animal is considered prima facie proof of ownership.

Brand Books are used by law enforcement officials, brand inspectors, and association investigators to record and track livestock movement, deter loss of livestock by straying or theft, and prosecute thieves. Brand books are made available to law enforcement for free, while others may purchase from their County Exentsion Agents. Some states have their brand books available online.

Reference:

Library of Congress: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86075153/1908-09-10/ed-1/seq-8/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestock_branding