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Why do horses have tattoos?

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  • Why do horses have tattoos?

    Why do horses have tattoo's? If you have a TB with a lip tattoo, does it mean the horse did indeed race, or just that the horse was in training to race? If a TB is bred to be a sport horse, would it have a tattoo? Just wanting to learn, so any info would be appreciated.

  • #2
    A horse that is tattooed either ran, or was in training to do so. Usually trainers have the horses tattoo few weeks before their first start, or months before, just depends. A TB that is bred to be a sport horse would not have a tattoo unless someone somewhere intended on racing them.

    The only reliable way to know if a tattooed horse ran would be to look them up under their registered name or tattoo number with a reputable source, JC, Equineline, Equibase, etc.


    • Original Poster



      • #4
        If you truly want to know why, it is to prevent ringers and fraud. Google Lebon and Cinzano if you want to know how that might happen.


        • #5
          I dont know about the JC but Standardbred Canada and USTA encourage freezebranding of ALL registered foals even if there isn't a hope of them racing. It IS a good idea, horse can be recognised by the brand (reg number) and auctions do pay attention to brands over tattooes. But yes, it IS to prevent ringers originally.
          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

          Member: Incredible Invisbles


          • #6
            is it possible that a horse be stabled at track and work out at track but not have a tatoo?


            • #7
              Yes. Some horses do not get a tattoo until very shortly before (days sometimes) before their first start. Most are at a racetrack for some time (months sometimes) before their start their careers. They need the tattoo to race, but not to be at the track.
              F O.B
              Resident racing historian ~~~ Re-riders Clique
              Founder of the Mighty Thoroughbred Clique


              • #8
                To add, the TB foal's registration number on his papers begin with the two digits of the year of his birth followed by 5 more digits. Then when he is tattooed, the first two digits will be changed to a letter, and the other five digits will be kept. The foals of 1997 are A, of 1998 are B, and so on. So if a horse has A12345 on his lip, you will know this is a registered TB born in 1997 whose reg. no is 9712345. This gives an easy way to tell their age, as well as find their identity. The jockey club will search a tattoo as it will coincide with his reg. no. With a registered name, you can find out all kinds of info.: breeder, owners, date of birth, place of birth, past performances, if he/she has been bred to produce reg. TBs, ...


                • #9
                  Because they keep ripping out their piercings & henna just doesn't show up well against dark coats ...
                  Delicious strawberry flavored death!


                  • #10

                    At my track (Finger Lakes), horses cannot get their gate card without a tatoo. Times change and, at one point not long ago, horses running on he NYRA circuit could have one start without a tatoo.

                    FWIW, about 4 years ago or so, I was in the test barn with a horse when the buzz began about the winner (from a big barn) who was not tattooed. Oops and huh!?

                    For the most part, horses that are tatooed have either run or been very close to making a start. But the fact that a horse has a tatoo does not verify its racing life...or not.


                    • #11
                      I tatoo early on. In case there is a mistake on the papers with markings. Waiting to late to get your tattoo , can make you miss a race your targeting if the papers are wrong. Don't ask how I know this