What can be done to stop thieves from taking your horse
Trying to describe your horse to a police office well enough for it to be identified is nearly impossible. Every year horses are stolen, and one of the main reasons is that these animals were not branded.
The recommendation of the RCMP Livestock Section is that horse owners obtain a registered brand and freeze brand their horses. In Alberta, brands can be obtained from Livestock Identification Services. In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Agriculture Livestock Branch provides this service. British Columbia residents can obtain a brand from Ownership Identification Inc.
Livestock owners must be aware that all brands applied to livestock must be registered with the appropriate service responsible for the inspection in your respective province. It is illegal to design and apply a brand without properly registering it.
Hot branding is a method of permanently marking livestock but it is not as obvious as a freeze brand. A freeze branded horse can be identified from half a mile away with a pair of binoculars.
There have been recorded instances in which stolen horses had been turned loose once the thieves noticed the freeze brands in the light of day. The thieves knew that these horses would have been easily spotted.
All livestock sold at public auctions, going into feedlots and packing plants or transported out of province are inspected by brand inspectors. If a branded horse has been reported stolen, the brand inspectors will identify it and seize it prior to the horse being offered for sale.
Many horse owners do not realize the protection that is afforded them when a horse is branded with a registered brand. Every time the horse is brand inspected and the person who has possession of the horse is not the registered brand owner, that person must produce bills of sale proving ownership back to the registered brand owner. When a horse is identifiable by a brand, a permanent record is kept by the brand inspector.
The RCMP Livestock Section, when asked about electronic identification, would remind you that an electronic implant is not visible to the naked eye and, even with the scanner, one must have close access to the animal.
A brand is not applied to enable the owner to identify his horse. It is applied so everyone else can identify the animal. If a branded horse is stolen, a fan-out bulletin is possible because people have something specific to look for.
The ultimate safeguard would be a freeze branded horse with an electronic implant. The brand makes it possible to find the stolen animal and the implant would assist in the identification, saving the owner the trouble of traveling to where the animal is located.