Horse Identification Methods

Posted by John Brand on

In light of the terrible fires we’ve had in California the past few years, we’ve compiled information on different identification methods available for our horses and other livestock.

At times, owners are not home when a fire or other disaster starts. Horses are sometimes left on their own to figure out an escape. Sometimes friends, family and/or first responders are forced to open gates and let livestock go.  How can our horses be identified and protected 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

Permanent identification methods such as traditional branding and freeze branding are excellent options for identification, when ownership is in question.  However, is branding enough?  If a horse is rescued and placed in a shelter or holding facility, is a brand able to give immediate contact information?  What methods can immediately give rescuers information that will allow immediate contact with the owners?

While we are not affiliated with or endorsing one method or another, here are a few that we found during our research for this article:


Microchip implantation is safe, simple, and inexpensive. The tiny chip takes only seconds to implant with a small syringe by a veterinarian or other trained person. The chip is implanted just below the mane. A handheld scanner is used to read the microchip. The scanner reads the number on the chip and contact information can be located through the chip registry program.

IT IS VITAL… to remember that any type of removable identification used must have an emergency break away feature. 

Below are temporary identification methods for consideration.  All items are BREAKAWAY products with various amount of pressure needed to release the item from the horse.  Never, never, never put nylon halters without breakaway features on a horse for any length of time for any reason!!!  Also, remember to remove fly masks, as they are difficult for the horse to remove and are flammable!

Mane Stay

ManeStay weighs 1.7 oz, and its stainless steel compression spring delivers incredible staying power in the mane or tail.  Its high-visibility yellow color, along with placement high on the horses’s body, means first responders will immediately see that the horse is wearing identification. 

Fetlock Bands and Collars 

Equestrisafe is a company that carries emergency i.d. fetlock bands and neck collars.  As you can see, you can have different types of information embroidered into the band or collar. These bands and collars can be worn for months at a time and hold up well. 

Personalized Leather Halters

Leather halters can be engraved or stamped with an owner’s contact information, primarily phone numbers.  All leather halters, by nature, have a breakaway feature. 

If the horse catches his halter on a gate, fence, tree, etc., the leather will break and release the horse.  Leather halters are available at Buckaroo Leather. 

Barns and horse trailers should have a supply of spray paint and permanent marking pens as well.  Some have found that spray painting a phone number on the side of their horse and/or using marking pens on the hooves can be extremely helpful as well.

We can all think ahead for our specific circumstances and animals.  Let us all be as prepared and safe as possible for any disaster that may strike!



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