Frequently-Asked Questions About Microchips

Frequently-Asked Questions About Microchips

Here are several questions American Quarter Horse owners ask about microchips and the AQHA Microchip Pilot Project.

How to microchip a horse

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Important: The information below does not pertain to racing American Quarter Horses. If you are looking for more information about microchipping racehorses, please visit our frequently asked questions page here.

Why microchip? Microchips are about the size of a grain of rice and contain a 15-digit numerical code unique to that horse that can never be altered. They are very much like an automobile’s VIN number or a human Social Security Number, and provide a reliable way to verify a horse’s identity. Verifying a horse’s identity can contribute to the well-being of a horse and support consumer confidence during horse sales, competition, registration and natural disasters. Getting the microchip is a quick, easy process. To learn more about the process, watch the microchipping video on this page.

Where is the microchip implanted?
AQHA rules do not dictate the location of the microchip implantation, but state that the location of implantation must be provided to AQHA, which will be recorded on the horse’s registration information in the AQHA database.  

Where can I find the AQHA rule for microchipping? 
Today, AQHA will record a microchip number reported for a horse as outlined in rule REG123. At this time, AQHA does not require all American Quarter Horses to be microchipped, however, beginning in 2024, microchips will be used to identify racing American Quarter Horses, replacing tattoo identification as outlined in RAC312. 

Does my horse need a particular kind of microchip?
AQHA will record any microchip reported by the owner, however, AQHA rules require microchips to be ISO compliant for racehorses. This microchip has a unique 15-digit number assigned only to your horse.  Some owners and facilities prefer biothermal microchips, which provide the horse’s body temperature in addition to the unique ID number when scanned.

What does ISO compliant mean for microchips?
ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is a highly recognized accreditation federation for developing market relevant international standards. ISO standards are recognized worldwide. ISO 11784 and 11785 define the standards that regulate radio-frequency identification (RFID) of animals. To be compliant, the microchip must operate at a radio frequency of 134.2 Khz and contain 15 digits.

If my horse already has a microchip, but that ID number is not 15 digits, should I have another microchip implanted? 
Yes. Some earlier microchips did not contain 15 digits and are not compliant. Non-compliant microchips cannot always be read with a universal scanner.

If my horse already has a 15-digit microchip, do I need to implant a new chip for the AQHA Microchip Program?
No, as long as the ID number on the chip that is already in your horse has 15 digits, it is compliant with industry standards.

What should I do if my horse has multiple microchips?
Please report the ID number for each microchip to AQHA, even if some of the microchips are not compliant. 

How does the microchipping process work?

  1. Before a horse is microchipped, it should be properly identified using the horse’s registration certificate and markings.
  2. The horse  should then be scanned with an ISO-compliant microchip reader to determine if other chips have been implanted.
  3. AQHA recommends using a veterinarian to implant the microchip.
  4. After implanting a microchip, the horse is then scanned to ensure the implantation was successful.
  5. Affix the bar code label to the horse’s records for future reference.
  6. Record the microchip number with AQHA.
Can’t someone just take a chip out of one horse and put it in another horse?
Because a microchip is embedded deeply using a syringe-type device, it would be nearly impossible to remove a chip from one horse and re-implant it into another horse. Doing so would disfigure the horse from which the chip was removed.

How do I report my horse’s microchip to AQHA?
You can report your horse’s microchip in the member services section of If you have a racehorse, the identifier will report the microchip at the time your horse is being verified.

How long does a microchip last?
Microchips don’t wear out. They last the life of a horse because the chip “sleeps” most of the time; the chip is only activated when it is scanned. The chip is not a GPS and does not transmit location. It only provides a unique identification number that must be paired with a database that contains the horse’s registered name and number.

When will my horse’s microchip be scanned?
Horses are subject to scanning at any time, such as checking in at an event or racetrack, during a drug test or at a sale.

What information does AQHA read off the microchip?
The only information contained on the microchip is the horse’s individual 15-digit identification number. If the microchip is thermal, it will also provide the horse’s temperature. 

How much does microchipping cost?
The cost of having your veterinarian implant the microchip varies, but generally is in the range of $35-$60. 

Who can I contact for more information?
For more information about microchipping your American Quarter Horse, contact AQHA Member Services at 806-376-4811. AQHA representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central. 


Important: The above information does not pertain to racing American Quarter Horses. If you are looking for more information about microchipping racehorses, please visit our frequently asked questions page here.