Markets Home
Livestock Section Home
Horse Section Home
N.C. Equine Directory
About NC Horse Industry
Equine Activity Liability
Hay Alert (Classified Ads)
Stolen Horses


Be Prepared Before Your Horse is Stolen!

20 Steps to Guard
Against Horse Theft
Stolen Horse Links

Being prepared for a theft and taking steps to minimize it and maximize recovery will go a long way toward protecting your horse and getting it back.

Employ the following precautions:

1. Permanently identify your horse with a tattoo, brand or microchip. This proves ownership, aids in a horse's recovery and, if visible, discourages thieves. Kryo Kinetics (602-293-5448) keeps a record of horses bearing their freeze marks. The National Microchip Horse Registry (800-327-8679) provides lifetime protection for horses implanted and registered with AVID chips. Microchips are now USDA-approved. The NMR provides scanners to slaughterhouses and offers $500 to them for recovery of a stolen, microchipped horse.

2. Take color photos of your horse, including head and full body shots (from both sides). Get photos with summer and winter coats, noting any distinguishing marks. "If the animal has just one little piece of white on his coronet band, make sure the photo is large enough to see it," Lohnes says. Choose 5-by-7 inch photos with the horse filling up about 75 percent of the photo.

3. Keep photos, bills of sale, veterinary records, breed registration papers and other documents together in an easily accessible notebook or folder.

4. Know what auctions operate within a 500- to 600-mile radius of your area, their addresses, their phone and fax numbers, and when they hold sales. Says Lohnes, "You can usually find this information through the state department of agriculture or through the state veterinarian's office."

5. Compile a list of regional USDA-inspected slaughterhouses with addresses, phone and fax numbers.

6. Consider registering your horse with the International Equine Recovery Net.

7. Have available how-to publications on recovering stolen horses. The International Equine Recovery Net offers Amelita Donald's The Equine Recovery Handbook for $5.00. Donald's book covers what to do if a horse is stolen; a list of contacts by state, including Mexico and Canada; how to locate additional references; a list of equine slaughterhouses; sources for permanent horse identification; and prevention tips.

8. Remove halters from pastured horses. It is recommended that you don't leave them hanging near stall doors, but this is your choice to make. Many horse owners prefer to leave a halter by the horse's stall in case of emergency and will argue that most horse thieves come prepared with rope or halters anyway.

9. Check your horse regularly, but deviate the routine. "Professional thieves will watch a farm before they go onto a property," says Lohnes, "so vary your schedule."

10. Install lighting with photo sensors or motion detectors around the barn or property gates, or street lights by pastures along the road.

11. If possible, replace wire fencing with board fencing. "Wire fencing is easily cut. With board fencing, thieves have to find a gate," Lohnes says.

12. Keep wire fencing in good repair and as sturdy as possible.

13. Use good gates, heavy chains and padlocks.

14. Use thoughtful landscaping. Plant trees and shrubs between the pasture and road to block visibility of the horses from the road, but keep bushes trimmed or absent around gates and barn doors.

15. Post no-trespassing and warning signs.

16. Consider an alarm system.

17. Keep dogs or loud animals around to make noise when something is amiss.

18. Set up a neighborhood crime watch program.

19. Observe the movements and behaviors of unfamiliar people. If they seem suspicious, report their actions to law enforcement authorities.

20. 1f possible, videotape or photograph strangers who arrive at your barn, and record the license plates and types of vehicles. Warns Donald, "Many people casing your property may come out looking like a happy-go-lucky family with a male, female and a child or two. They may come in an old vehicle, but not necessarily a pickup, in the guise of wanting to pet or feed the pretty ponies. If you have a recorded image or license plate number and shortly thereafter something is missing, you have a lead to provide law enforcement." From the Sept. 1996 issue of Horse Illustrated.

return to top

return to top


Equine Info will provide FREE listings and updates on any stolen horse plus prevention tips and lists of recovery resources. Please submit all available information to

Horse thieves don't understand what horses mean to the people who love them.
Equine Info will publish your story, links to pictures and anything else that will help. Please send all information you have on prevention and recovery methods to be shared with others who need it. Make someone's day; help recover their horse and push to get tougher on thieves!

Just a few of the many horse links:







NCDA&CS Markets Division - Livestock Section, Steven Lathrop, Livestock Specialist II
Mailing Address: 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1020
Physical Address: 2 W. Edenton Street, Room 402, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3130; FAX: (919) 733-0999