Equestrian Blog

News and thoughts from around the equestrian community

Thief Proofing Your Horses and Stables

Horse thefts are rare but harrowing when they happen, fortunately putting some extra measures in place to combat potential thieves is relatively simple and inexpensive. Making sure your horse is passported and micro chipped is a must, as it is a legal requirement now to have a current passport for equines. From July 2009, if you apply for a passport your horse must be micro chipped as well to provide a permanent link between the horse and his passport. This makes it infinitely harder for thieves to re register horses as the passport must be vet approved and they will check for microchips and linking passports. So even if you got your passport before the mandatory micro chipping, you should get your horse chipped and registered for extra caution. You can also get them micro marked, this is a tiny horse shoe mark on your horse which visibly shows that he is micro chipped, sending a warning to thieves before they even try.  Saddles can now be micro chipped as well, adding security to them. To show they are protected, a small stamp is added and a D ring tag attached to the saddle to show it has been chipped, deterring thieves. Yard owners who live on site at the livery yard provide a permanent presence which can be enough to put off opportunist thieves. Added security in the form of CCTV is a highly effective deterrent but can be an expensive option. Fake CCTV cameras can be a good option, they look exactly like real ones but cost loads less, and some even have a flashing red light on them to authenticate them to passers by even more. These can prove a great deterrent, but obviously aren’t going to be as useful as a real camera if anything does get taken. Sensor lights which come on when they sense a movement are good too and if you or the yard owner lives on site, these will alert them to someone outside. Guard dogs can be a great idea, but for safety purposes, if they are genuinely vicious should be chained and kept away from anything or anyone they could do serious damage to, even thieves. Sometimes, a huge dog making a serious racket can be enough to deter someone, as well as dogs being loose on the yard. The thief doesn’t know they’re softies if they’re barking their heads off at him and trying their best to climb the gate to get to him, even if it is just to say hi! SOLID yard gates with secure padlocks are obviously the ideal, even though plenty of places don’t seem to have them. A yard gate that’s falling off its hinges and wouldn’t keep anyone out is clearly no good and will need replacing. Again, you need to have a chat with liveries and yard owners if you don’t own where your horse is. Gates are an easy and effective deterrent; a thief is going to find it a bit harder to inconspicuously jump the padlocked gate on a horse than just walk straight off the yard through an open space or unprotected gate. Whatever you do, don’t padlock your stables though! If anything happened, such as a fire, and you weren’t there with your key to let the horses out there would most likely be a fatality. If you turn your horses out day or night make sure fencing is super secure, something most people do anyway to stop the horses escaping, but make sure it can’t be pulled up easily and be especially aware if your horses field is right near a road. Double fencing, with one solid or wire fence on the outside and electric fencing on the inside makes it harder to just take horses from the field, even better if they’re both electric! Just make sure they’re clearly sign posted as being electricified and read up on law requirements to make sure you’ve complied with them. Regarding tack, rugs and other possessions, as much as it can be unsightly they should be well marked with your identity in a way that is really hard to get off. There are tales of people having rugs stolen off their horses backs in the field which might have been avoided had those rugs been marked with something to identify them. This can even be made to look quite nice, in the form of embroidery of your horses name which even if unpicked leaves a marked patch and if your horse likes a roll, a clean bit! This is removable identification, but is likely to make people think twice about theft. Similar things can be done to head collars, numnahs, travel boots and other minor possessions. Grooming brushes and similar things can be personalised with yours and your horses names, making it clear who’s they are. Obviously, your things should be locked securely up and insured. You can get tack lockers if you don’t have a tack room to padlock, which can be adapted by you to either chain to a wall or bolt to the floor so no one can pick them up and carry them off. If there’s nowhere safe to keep your tack at the yard, make sure you take it home with you as most tack insurance will be void if the tack isn’t kept securely but check your house insurance to see if it covers your tack whilst in the house. It often just takes a phone call to add your valuable equestrian equipment to your home policy. Overall, common sense is the answer to good yard and horse security. Open gates and poorly fenced fields are an invitation to thieves, as are bits of tack left lying about on the yard and unlocked tack rooms and storage spaces. A lot of thieves won’t bother if they can see plenty of deterrents in place; it’s too much effort and risk. Obviously some still will, but by making it as difficult as possible for them makes them less likely to try and more likely to be caught if they do.

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