The horse on the right is just one of the many thousands of nameless, unknown, unbranded horses who die a painful death in slaughterhouses across the United States and Canada each year. The horse on the left is the HorseAid pony gelding "Sammy", the very first recipient of the 'No Kill' freeze brand.
The registered 'No-Kill' brand (and its modifications) is an original design by Enzo Giobbé (IGHA CEO, and HorseAid co-founder) exclusively for the HorseAid equines in our adoption/rescue program.
In late 1996, because of the high failure rate of the freeze brand markings we were getting (around 40% of the brands could no longer be read after just a few years - and the percentage went up as time went on), and because the USDA sent us a policy letter stating that it was illegal to process an agricultural animal (an equine) for human or animal consumption if that animal has had a microchip embedded (making the microchip a sort of built-in anti slaughter safeguard), we went to a 100% microchip ID system for both HorseAid and non-HorseAid equines.
Microchips are less traumatic for the horse when compared to freeze branding, they can be embedded by any large animal veterinarian (no expensive "freeze brand technician" required), and are thus much cheaper. Both systems have minimal downside health issues (chips can migrate, freeze brands can become infected), but the chip has one huge advantage over the freeze brand: No specialized freeze brand technician or expert hieroglyph-type marking code interpretation is required for an accurate ID as is required of the typical freeze brand neck markings, all you need is a universal reader to located and read a microchip.
The IGHA has its own unique and foolproof Equine ID system (used along with exclusive EquiSafe Chip microchip) called "EquiSure". We offer some peace of mind for people who love their horses, even if they might sell those horses later on, by allowing them to safeguard their IGHA registered horses with our exclusive "No-Kill" EquiSafe Chip (ESC) along with a lifelong anti-slaughter sale covenant, which will go with the horse no matter how many times he's sold or transferred.
As of September 2003, and going back to the very first HA freeze marked animal, no HA "No Kill" branded or EquiSafe (ESC) chipped equine anywhere has ever been stolen or gone to slaughter.
Since the IGHA registers
all horses and ponies regardless of lineage, your horse can be registered and EquiSafe
(ESC) chipped -- simply download a
Remember, you'll never get a second chance to make a first impression!
The IGHA Board of Directors put a lot of thought, time and personal funds into developing this brand and having it publicized and registered (we also did our own tests on the various branding/chipping techniques so as to arrive at the most effective, safe and humane system as possible — which proved to by the microchip by far).
This was a well mapped-out, long to arrive at decision, not a whim. The Board, our founders, and our volunteer HorseAid field reps work very, very hard to rescue horses and place them into permanent, loving homes. As for horses that were donated and not rescued, HorseAid is obligated as a matter of trust and contract to honor the donator's wish that their beloved horse will always have a safe home.
We do not want to see any of our horses come
to a bad end. That is why we have such an iron-clad contract. That is why
we always retain a controlling interest in the animal. It's because we
care about horses. Please bear in mind that we do not find horses for people,
we find homes for horses. The EquiSure I.D. system, ultimately, is for
the horses. That's where it begins and ends with HorseAid: the
Unique Identification Methods for U.S. Equids*
In 1997, the largest percentage of equine operations used photographs, sketches or registration papers to uniquely identify resident equids (43.1 percent). About the same percentage of resident equids were identified in this manner. Photographs and sketches are useful to identify individuals on premises, however they are not considered legal proof of an equine's identity. Breed registries issue registration papers for individual horses and generally include a sketch of the equine's markings and information about age, parentage, and ownership. Registration papers are legally transferred to the new owners when an animal is sold and considered legal proof of an equine's identity and ownership.
The next largest percentage of equine operations uniquely identified their resident equids with tattoos (10.6 percent), although tattoo as a unique identification was used for only 6.2 percent of all equines. Tattooing was most prevalent in the Northeast U.S. in 1997 and was more commonly utilized by operations that used equines primarily for racing than for other purposes.**
The hot iron brand is one of the oldest methods of permanent identification. This method is generally used to identify groups of equines belonging to a particular ranch or farm, rather than to identify individual animals on the same ranch. However, some equines have multiple brands, and the more brands an animal carries, the easier it is to identify the individual. An estimated 8.7 percent of equine operations used hot iron branding. While only 5.1 percent of equines were identified in this manner across the U.S., 15.7 percent of equines in the Western region were identified using hot iron brands. Operations that primarily used equines for show/competition and farm/ranch were more likely to use hot iron brands than operations that used equids for other purposes.
Freeze branding is similar to hot iron branding except that the branding iron is cooled in liquid nitrogen prior to applying it to the equid's skin. Some horses are freeze branded under the mane with letters and symbols specific to the individual. Otherwise, freeze branding is used to identify groups of animals belonging to a particular ranch, farm, or breed association. Approximately 7.3 percent of equine operations used this method of identification, but only 2.9 percent of equines were identified using freeze brands as a unique or sole identification. Freeze branding was most commonly used as a unique identification on breeding (15.6 percent) and show/competition (15.1 percent) operations, followed by farm/ranch operations (12.8 percent).
Named for the now mostly outdated procedure of solely examining a horse's brand to determine rightful ownership, brand inspection currently consists of an examination by a State Brand Inspector to confirm ownership by various methods. Generally, registration papers, previous brand inspections, bills of sale, and any of the other identification methods discussed earlier may be used. Some states require a brand inspection to be performed on every horse to be sold on horses traveling more than 75 miles and for travel out of state. After confirmation of ownership, an official brand inspection form is filled out and given to the owner. This form identifies the current owner and includes a detailed description of the individual equid. Brand inspections were used on 4.9 percent of equine operations and uniquely identified 5.0 percent of all equids. However, in the Western region, 19.6 percent of operations and 18.3 percent of equids were identified in this manner.
Like photographs and sketches, halters collars are useful for identification. Because they are easily removed or lost, they are not considered legal proof of an equid's identity. About 2.3 percent of equine operations and 2.6 percent of equids were identified via these methods.
Microchips are tiny devices that may be inserted under an equines skin, generally in the neck region. They are easy to insert and are invisible once in place. Coded information carried in the microchip may be read with a special electronic scanner to individually identify the animal. Some sale facilities have purchased scanners and routinely scan all equines entering sales in an attempt to prevent stolen animals from wrongfully changing hands. In 1997, microchip identification is infrequently used in the U.S. (1.0 percent of operations and 0.9 percent of equids overall).
Finally, 4.1 percent of operations (3.5 percent of equids) used other methods, such as blood or DNA typing, permanent scars, and injuries, to identify their equines.
*Source: The USDA's National
Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS).
**Horses that race under the American Quarter Horse Association, Jockey Club, or the United States Trotting Association rules are tattooed with a unique number.