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How to stop the horse thief

by Reid Folsom, Article donated by the mane points horse resource center.

The disappearance of a horse is always a shock. Strayed or stolen horses have been a problem facing horse owners, and the horse industry, since mankind began to domesticate them.

Things have not changed with the passing of time. In early America, horse theft was one of the more serious crimes and our folklore tells of severe penalties for the act. The loss of a horse in those days meant loss of a way to make a living, to get around - even, in some cases, the protection or escape essential to survival.

Today; the penalties set by our society through its laws are less severe. The shock, however, is as great.

Unfortunately, horse theft is on the increase. There are things that can be done to increase the likelihood that a strayed or stolen horse can be found and recovered.

Before the horse is gone

Maintain a file in one place for each horse including:

  • Recent photographs of the horse - front, both sides, rear and a quartering shot. Most importantly include, photos clearly showing distinguishing marks, color patches, brands, scars, and so on.
  • Copies of bills of sale, breed registration papers, Coggins test results, brand registration, microchip registration and other papers that can be used to positively identify and prove ownership.
  • Addresses and telephone number of veterinarians, farriers, trainers, riders, previous owners, and other equine professionals who are familiar with the horse.
  • Addresses and telephone number of the nearest law enforcement organization, state veterinarian, insurance carrier, animal control organization or other animal-related officials.

Maintain a good channel of communication with your neighbors.

  • Talk over unusual sightings.
  • Tell them what you are doing as a routine, and find out theirs.
  • Set up an informal "watch" over the neighborhood.

When you discover the horse is missing

1. DO NOT TOUCH anything. Leave everything as you found it (gates, fence wire, doors, windows, buckets, ropes, tools, etc.). The position and condition of these items are important to a trained investigator and may give important leads to the recovery of the horse.

2. Try to determine roughly when the horse got out or was taken. When did someone last see it? When did someone discover or suspect that the horse was gone? If you can narrow the time to a two-or three-hour period, it helps the investigation.

3. Call your neighbors, particularly those up to a mile away where roads intersect. Find out if they heard loose horses or saw unusual trucks or trailers about the time you think the horse disappeared.

Ask if they have seen horse tracks if they were out and about. Ask if they have seen unusual vehicles in the area the day before or the day of the loss.

4. Quickly prepare a written page noting what you know and what you have done. Do not spend much time, but use this to organize your thoughts.

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