with Horse and Hound

What to Do When a Horse Goes Missing

NormanMany of us know someone who has lost a horse to theft. And whenever it happens we can’t help imagining how we would feel if it happened to one of our own. It’s a sickening prospect, and it strongly suggests we take precautions not only to prevent such an experience but to increase the likelihood of a happy outcome should it occur.

In the event a horse disappears, here’s what every owner should have on hand: bill of sale or cancelled check; registration papers with brands, marks, and scar locations; a veterinary certificate with recent Coggins test and vaccinations; and four good photos (front, rear, and both sides) showing brands, marks, and scars. These photos should be updated periodically.

Report the loss first to the local sheriff’s department, then to the city and the state police. After that, contact your state department of transportation, state and local livestock associations, and neighbors.

If you make flyers for posting, include as much information as you can—photos, descriptions, and markings, your phone number—but not your address. Offer a reward to be paid over for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the thief. Check out area auctions, and post flyers there as well.

Remain in daily contact with the law enforcement people and the auction barns. Contact and place flyers at breed registries, veterinarians, and feed stores. Notify horse magazines and newspapers.

Good precautionary measures to prevent theft are sound fencing and gates, locks, and area illumination. Check with your local extension office for additional helpful information.

Posted May 16, 2011