I have seen colts freeze branded, and it doesn't seem to be a big issue to them. If I remember correctly, the site swells a bit. Horses tend to forgive and forget minor pain like that pretty quickly.
I think registering a No Kill brand would be the most wide reaching and long term solution. Certainly if your horse is stolen from your property, you can alert authorities pretty quickly, but how about all the heart break we hear about people not honoring buy-back agreements? It wasn't known that Harry was at risk until it was too late. If he had a No Kill brand, the auction or broker should have / could have know he was being sold illegally.
Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you're stupid and you made a bad decision.
The horses crossing the border to go to slaughter are put into trucks which have a seal, which can only be broken (or supposed to be ) when they arrived at the slaughter house. You people are nuts if you think that the microchip, tatoo, hip brand, freeze brand will help identify your horse.
Aint gonna happen. The amount of horses crossing the border is incredible and there is no way the slaughter has enough time, man power or energy to check each horse.
They get off and are destroyed. They are not checked at the border they drive right on through. No need for coggins tests etc.. as they are getting off at the slaughter house.
Our vets freeze brand client's horses at no charge and have a freeze brand twice a year for the public at a nomimal charge, where a state inspector will, if you want, register the brand also.
Our vets can freeze brand easily as they use the same dry ice they use for their reproductive work, so they have some on hand.
Our neighbor had a gray hot branded horse stolen and was called by the inspector to one of the TX plants, as a gray horse with that brand came thru.
They held the horse until he could get there, but sadly, it looked like his horse in the pictures and had a very similar brand, but it was not his horse.
Yes, the inspectors were aware of any horse reported stolen and were looking actively for them and did find matches.
Thieves knew not to go to auctions, where inspectors are also there at every horse sale and the plants directly, although a horse, after passing thru several hands may have ended there.
The general public just didn't know about this, I guess.
We freeze brand, that our law enforcement recommends here and have owned the odd horse that came with a micro chip and the paperwork that goes with it.
Freeze branding is sounding like the best bet... I wanted to go with microchipping instead because of the pain issue, and may still microchip for identification, but I think I will look into freeze branding. Because I want to show hunters... I'm guessing probably somewhere covered by the saddle is my best bet? Maybe withers or ribs? Anyone know what might be a less painful area that isn't visible under tack?
I had my horses freeze branded on the thigh. I also registered the brand with the State I reside in. They are also microchipped.
Pain-wise; I'm sure it was not pleasant for my horses. But the after care was no problem. Mainly keeping vasoline on the scar so that it wouldn't get too tight and crack, thus causing more discomfort.
I once spoke with reps from the slaughter house. He said brand them visibly. He said if a report comes in to find a bay horse with a white sock...how many are there. You add to that "with a R brand on left hip" much more likely to recover horse.
After a rash of thefts in our area, I had my TB event horse freeze-marked on the neck by Kryokinetics, I think it was called? Problems were 1) The mare should have been sedated when the mark was applied. She moved and the mark did not heal clearly. 2) Over the years, the mark blurred, even when clipped. My freezemarked Arab's brand was also unrecognizable. Both were under the mane! 3) Kryokinetics, which I see is still in existence, sort of vanished. I tried to contact them to change the contact info linked to the brand, and no one would ever return my call!
If I were to freeze mark again, I'd just pick something really dumb and easy to describe, like a letter or shape, and brand it big on the shoulder.
Years ago, a friend's horse had an Indian good luck symbol branded on his shoulder. It was VERY big --- and a backward swastika. The nazis took this good luck symbol and reversed it for their use. Well, you can bet that EVERYONE remembered that horse, with the swastika type brand. I'd bet auctions, kill buyers, the slaughter house would all notice and remember a brand like that.
I think it would be interesting to have a brand that would automatically come with a reward. Like if your horse ended up *anywhere* with that HA brand, someone could scan for a chip, get your info and call you and collect their reward. Kind of a permanent return-home ticket for owners who always want to ensure the horse's good end.