angle-left Identification Methods: Horse Microchips

Identification Methods: Horse Microchips

What American Quarter Horse owners need to know about the AQHA Microchip Pilot Project.

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By Becky Newell

Since 1994, Louisiana has required that all horses be microchipped as part of a push to eradicate equine infectious anemia. It wasn’t until 2005 that the state found another benefit to the microchips.

After hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, roughly 400 horses were displaced in Louisiana. Thanks to mandatory microchipping, authorities scanned those horses and returned nearly all of them to their owners.

A microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, contains a 15-digit numerical code unique to that horse. The number can never be altered. The ID numbers are like an automobile’s VIN number and provide a reliable way to verify a horse’s identity. In horses, the microchip is implanted into the nuchal ligament in the neck, using a syringe-like device.

Regardless of where you live or what you do with your American Quarter Horse, the advantages to implanting a microchip in your horse just make sense. Now you have the opportunity to learn more about microchipping, get your horse microchipped and have that ID number added to his permanent record in AQHA’s database.

This spring, AQHA launched the AQHA Microchip Pilot Project, which consists of reaching out to educate members, owners, breeders, trainers, show managers and others on the benefits of microchipping, and teaching how to properly microchip a horse.

Dr. Tom Lenz, a strong advocate for animal welfare, biosecurity and livestock traceability, says microchipping improves consumer confidence and validates breed integrity.  Dr. Lenz is also the chairman of the AQHA Microchip Task Force.

He adds that if a horse is microchipped, then you scan it and compare the chip number to the microchip ID number that’s on its registration certificate and know you’re dealing with the right horse. 

Even if owners who don’t show or race their horses can see benefits from microchipping, such as helping them recover their horses in case of natural disaster or theft.

Is your horse microchipped? Do you have a microchip success story to tell? Tell us about it and your experience might be used for a future article in The American Quarter Horse Journal.