Thursday, September 15, 2011

Equine Identification and Microchipping

I've been thinking a lot about equine ID lately, especially as I get ready to do more trail riding.

I watched an ACTHA video recently that suggested attaching an ID tag to your horse's mane whenever you go trail riding.  So today I'm dropping by PetSmart to pick up an ID tag to braid into Misty's mane when I go trail riding.  Engraved upon it will be Misty's name, my name, and my phone numbers.  I think I'll doubly attach it to her mane with a leather string and an alligator clip.

Attaching ID to the horse's mane is suggested because tack can break and it is possible for a loose horse to rid itself of bridle and saddle.  Having ID on both horse and tack increases your chances of getting everything back should you become separated from your horse while trail riding.  Heaven forbid this ever happen, but it is good to be prepared.

SaraJane came home last weekend and while she was out for training, her rescue had her microchipped.  She came home with a brand new,  pretty pink halter with her name written on one side and "Microchipped Horse" written on the other side.

This morning I saw the news report below about Willow, the microchipped cat found after 5 years!  This amazing story really presents a good case for microchipping.

Do you microchip your pets or your horses? Do you have identification on your horse when you trail ride?

Colo. cat, missing 5 years, is found on NYC street
By JIM FITZGERALD Associated Press The Associated Press

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 9:21 PM EDT

NEW YORK (AP) — A calico cat named Willow, who disappeared from a home near the Rocky Mountains five years ago, was found Wednesday on a Manhattan street and will soon be returned to a family in which two of the three kids and one of the two dogs may remember her.

How she got to New York, more than 1,600 miles away, and the kind of life she lived in the city are mysteries.

But thanks to a microchip implanted when she was a kitten, Willow will be reunited in Colorado with her owners, who had long ago given up hope.

"To be honest, there are tons of coyotes around here, and owls," said Jamie Squires, of Boulder. "She was just a little thing, five and a half pounds. We put out the `Lost Cat' posters and the Craigslist thing, but we actually thought she'd been eaten by coyotes."

Squires and her husband, Chris, were "shocked and astounded" when they got a call Wednesday from Animal Care & Control, which runs New York City's animal rescue and shelter system.

Willow had been found on East 20th Street by a man who took her to a shelter.

"My husband said, `Don't say anything to the kids yet. We have to make sure,'" Squires said. "But then we saw the picture, and it was Willow. It's been so long."

ACC Executive Director Julie Bank said a scanner found the microchip that led to the Squires family.

"All our pets are microchipped," Squires said. "If I could microchip my kids, I would."

The children are 17, 10 and 3 years old, so the older two remember Willow, Squires said. As for the 3-year-old, "She saw the photo and said, `She's a pretty cat.'"

The Squireses also have a yellow Labrador named Roscoe, who knew Willow, and an English mastiff named Zoe.

"We had another dog back then, too, and I remember that Willow would lie with them as they all waited to be fed," Squires said. "She thought she was a dog."

Squires said Willow escaped in late 2006 or early 2007 when contractors left a door open during a home renovation.

Since then, the family had moved about 10 miles from Broomfield to Boulder, but it kept its address current with the microchip company.

Bank recommended that all pet owners use microchips.

She said Willow, who now weighs 7 pounds, is healthy and well-mannered and probably has not spent her life on the mean streets of Manhattan. But there are no clues about her trip east or anything else in the five years she's been missing.

Squires seemed a bit worried about a possible New York state of mind.

"I don't know what kind of life she's had, so I don't know what her personality will be like," she said. When Willow disappeared, she said, "She was a really cool cat, really sweet."

The ACC and the Squireses were trying to arrange for transportation back to Colorado and health certificates and said it might be two weeks before the reunion. Willow may spend some time with a foster family in New York.

"The kids can't wait to see her," Squires said. "And we still have her little Christmas stocking."


  1. I heard that Louisiana is way ahead with the micro-chip programs and after Katrina, the horses were identified and returned to their homes quicker than other pets and people... Smart to put a tag on Misty. Life is an adventure.

  2. Tucker is chipped but the horses are not. I do think having ID braided into the mane is a fabulous idea. When I was in HS I purchased a new horse. The owner took the horse out for a farewell ride and something happened (bee sting?) that caused the horse to bolt while she was dismounted. My new horse was AWOL. We finally found him in a farmer's field a few days later. The farmer had found him grazing, had untacked him, and left him there figuring someone would come by and see him. It was a scary few days.

  3. Our cats and dog are microchipped, even though the cats are house kitties. I never thought about microchipping the horses, but I think it's a great idea. They microchip Fresians at the breed inspections.

  4. Great Blog! Why not come over to and post this blog link there for other horsey blog writers to follow. You can also see a wide range of equine blogs too. Hope to see you there.

  5. Our horses haven't been anywhere for several years, but I always worry about hurricanes and such (trees/fences down, etc). The last time I looked into micro chipping there were problems occurring with horses at the implant site. I can't remember exactly what they were (infection maybe?), just that it was not such a good idea yet.

    I love the idea of braiding an ID into the mane though; sounds like winner to me :o)

  6. My dogs and horse are microchipped. The information is with my vets and my BO. While my dogs have tags on them for quick identification, it never occurred to me to have an ID tag for my horse. Good idea!

  7. Thank you for your comments. Interesting to hear that so many have their dogs microchipped. Jen, I'll consult with my vet for sure, to see if the procedure has been perfected.

    I did pick up Misty's tag at PetSmart. They have a new machine that makes better tags than when I got my dog tags there. It engraves on both sides and is easy to read the engraving. I do wish they had tags in blaze orange though. Misty's is blue and shaped like a dog bone. I'll braid in some orange baling twine or bright string so it so it is very visible in her gray mane.

  8. New reader here. I wandered over from a link from another blog.

    Something similar happened to me several years ago. Only, I was the one that found a cat. The story goes that a military couple were moving back to the US from Korea. One cat escaped during a plane transfer in L.A. 3 years prior. Somehow, in 2003, this cat got into a trailer of pet food, headed to Alaska (to my big box employer's at the time). It was a 10 day ride for him.

    When he arrived, he was dehydrated and a couple bags of cat food had been ripped open on their pallets. Plus, as usual, a couple cases of canned food were smooshed and popped open.

    After rescuing the cat and getting him rehydrated, we searched for a microchip, and found one! He was reunited with them, once again traveling overseas to Italy once he was healthy enough to go. If they hadn't listed a relative as a secondary contact, he would not have been reunited with his owners!

  9. The ID tag is a fantastic idea!! I've wanted to microchip Chrome since I got him, but I can't afford it right now. Have to get him gelded first lol. When my husband finishes school and finds a job I'll probably get all the horses and dogs done. :)