Compulsory microchipping and passports for your horse.

Since 2005 passports have been compulsory for all horses. From 1st July 2009 all foals born must be microchipped before an owner can apply for an equine passport.

How does this affect my horse?
The microchipping rules do not apply to older horses with an existing passport which were born before 1st July 2009. However, and foal (horses, ponies, donkeys or mules) born after 1st July 2009 must be microchipped when the passport is issued. Failure to correctly identify animals under the new rules could lead to a fine.

Microchipping is also seen as the best way of identifying an individual horse and has its advantages over the other methods of identification because it is much harder to tamper with an implanted microchip.

How is microchipping performed?
First of all the horse is scanned to make sure that there is no existing microchip in the horses neck. The implant site is usually then clipped if required, wiped with an alcohol swab and local anaesthetic is infiltrated into the site. The microchip, a small implant about the size of a grain of rice, which contains a unique serial code, is then inserted into the nuchal ligament on the left side of the horse’s neck. This procedure can ONLY be carried out by a veterinary surgeon.

The horse owners details and the unique serial code are stored on a computerised database which links the horse to the owner. For this reason it is important that the owners details are kept up to date.

Once the microchip has been implanted it can be easily read with an electronic microchip reader. The microchip cannot move or be seen – therefore it is tamper proof and permanent, unlike the more traditional methods of identification such as freeze marking.

Although microchipping is considered very safe there is a very small risk of bruising, abscess formation and, on very rare occasions, migration of the microchip. In some horses a small area of white hair may grow at the implantation site.