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Lip Tattoo on ISH? ---Update Post #17: Found Him!

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  • Lip Tattoo on ISH? ---Update Post #17: Found Him!

    My trainer (dressage) was given a potential schoolhorse by an old friend (fox hunter) as the horse has arthritis which has ended his jumping career, although he is fine on the flat with minor maintenance. He needed quite a bit of rehab when he came in last summer. His feet were not good and he was back sore from a poorly fitting saddle.

    I started working with him on the longe to get him to work over his back and really like him, so I am planning on starting lessons on him in a few weeks.

    Now--the part that makes me really curious--my trainer was told he is an Irish Sport Horse. Believable as the horse is huge, over 17 hh with big feet. However, when he was vetted, vet discovered a lip tattoo (unreadable) and said he was actually an OTTB.

    Fast forward to last week, when former owner was visiting. We were chatting and I asked her about the tattoo, and was the horse actually a TB. She told me that he was an ISH, that they are also tattooed. Said she got him from a breeder in Georgia, out of a field as an unbroken 6-yr old. She told me the breeder's name but I've forgotten it, as she's into foxhunting and I don't know anyone in that world. She didn't have papers on him.

    I'm not trying to prove the horse is something he isn't, I just really like him and would love to find out more about his background/breeding.

  • #2
    I am certainly no expert on ISH but did breed one and registered him IDHSNA and there was nothing about tattooing him. In fact, looking at their registration guidelines/forms, it's all about blood-typing and DNA so can't imagine why a tattoo would be required. Sounds like a large OTTB to me.
    Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses on Facebook
    Fat Cat Farm Sporthorses Website and Blog


    • Original Poster

      Thanks for that website, a lot of good info on there! The list of breeders shows none in Georgia. I'm thinking, like you, that he might be a TB. Former owner said she was not given any papers, so who knows. Next time I'm at the barn I'm going to see if I can decipher any of his tattoo.


      • #4
        Sometimes if you use a blacklight it can help-- if you can get a partial the jockey club can usually find it. They can also DNA test against all registered horses to see if there's a match, although I think there's a fee.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by Highflyer View Post
          Sometimes if you use a blacklight it can help-- if you can get a partial the jockey club can usually find it. They can also DNA test against all registered horses to see if there's a match, although I think there's a fee.
          Thanks! More good advice.


          • #6
            While technically any horse can be tattooed, a standard lip tattoo screams TB. Another trick to reading them is getting a well lit photo, and then inverting the colours and bumping up the contrast. A lot of the time this will make the ink really pop out from the pink of the membranes.
            Last edited by Katona; Jan. 15, 2018, 07:40 PM. Reason: spelling


            • #7
              Just a general reminder that racing Quarter Horses also have a lip tattoo. Most are on the smaller side compared to some racing TB’s and relatively unlikely to pass for an ISH, but I’ve met exceptions.


              • Original Poster

                Originally posted by Katona View Post
                While technically any horse can be tattooed, a standard lip tattoo screams TB. Another trick to reading them is getting a well lit photo, and then inverting the colours and bumping up the contrast. A lot of the time this will make the ink really pop out from the pink of the membranes.
                Thanks, another thing to try. I am for sure going to try and get a pic of the tattoo!


                • #9
                  You may want to consider posting a picture of the tattoo on the Facebook group "OTTB Connect." There are a ton of "tb detectives" on there!
                  I ride a paint but he looks like he ain't.


                  • #10
                    Whoever told you it was an ISH was taking you for a ride. Unless it was a TB that was imported from Ireland which people title "ISHs" erroneously to get more money.. I have run across sellers that promote imported TBs as "ISHs" when they did not have ISH papers. They'd say "He's an irish thoroughbred" as if that classified him as better than an American TB. There is a (IMHO) false belief Irish TBs are better, sounder, and bigger boned than their American counterparts. I don't find that to be the case especially since several of their top stallions (Galileo, Saddler's Wells, etc) come from US families top & bottom and are usually sneakily US bred horses. There are great horses to come from both, but I don't think one is inherently better than the other and they are still, as far as I can see, a very homogenized breed in that the "Irish TB" has not considerably diverged from the US TB at all, and shares many identical sires/dams.

                    That is very different than the French AQPS, which are often not full TBs at all and usually have Selle and trotter blood further back.. also erroneously called TBs by some people but are not.

                    That being said, not uncommon in any discipline for there to be an identity issue with a nice horse... I remember as a barn worker years ago watching the Very Fancy brilliant chestnut Hanoverian that came right off of the trailer show off in the paddock. Everyone came by to watch him show off and gushed about how fancy he was (and he was!), trainer was saying how he was the nicest Hanoverian she had ever seen, cant wait to compete him, etc etc.. Considering I handled his coggins (required at the farm for all boarders) I saw the old owner's coggins that also said Hanoverian. Anyway you can imagine my surprise when I later saw him doing the flehmen response and transcribed on his lips almost legibly was a tattoo.. Barn girls had a blast looking him up, he was a Meadowlake horse. No less fancy but not a Hanoverian. We tentatively told the trainer, who was in disbelief but when she saw the tattoo was very surprised. We don't know if the old owner was misinformed as well (like in your case) or deliberately lied, but he was a very nice horse.

                    TBs have such variation within the breed and a non-racing TB looks night and day like a race one, even if it's the same horse years apart. My TB has the biggest feet on the farm, fistful of bone and a very cobby head. There is nothing about him that is refined. He's 17h and in no way shape or form resembles a TB, except maybe his eye. His half brother shares many similarities but in delicate, more "TB-like" package.

                    I would not for a minute discount a horse as not a TB candidate just because he had big feet or was over 17hh. Both are very common in race TBs with some of the more trending sires throwing massive height & feet.
                    "i'm a slow learner, it's true."


                    • Original Poster

                      Both trainer and I believe him to be a TB. Trainer's old friend insists he is not, that he was sold to her without papers and was told he is an ISH. I don't think she is lying at all, but I do think the seller was a horse dealer in the old sense of the word and probably decided the horse was whatever he wanted to sell him as.

                      I was able to decipher a bit of the tattoo and was able to find a match on the JC website. I am taking pics of the horse tomorrow to send in for a more definite verification. If it is a match, horse is 18, not 12 as previous owner believed, and was foaled before DNA was recorded. As trainer and I said, whatever he is doesn't change the fact that he's pretty cool.

                      A few years ago there was a backyard "trainer" in our area who sold several gaited horses who were supposed to be from some famous breeder but didn't make the cut and were sold cheaply without papers. She had a good deal going until one buyer noticed a lip tattoo. Yup, pacing-bred Standardbreds.


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by Spotless View Post
                        You may want to consider posting a picture of the tattoo on the Facebook group "OTTB Connect." There are a ton of "tb detectives" on there!
                        Can't get him to keep his lip up long enough to get a good photo LOL! I was able to get enough numbers figured out to get a possible match, though, which I am pursuing.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RatWrangler View Post
                          I was able to decipher a bit of the tattoo and was able to find a match on the JC website. I am taking pics of the horse tomorrow to send in for a more definite verification. If it is a match, horse is 18, not 12 as previous owner believed, and was foaled before DNA was recorded.
                          Something similar happened to me, but thankfully it was only a year older. It's 80% of the reason that I came to prefer horses that come with papers (even if they are only COPs). Suddenly losing 5 years of life is a lot and may change pricing in some cases. I'm hopeful that the new microchipping rules will be another safeguard.

                          Regardless, exciting to hear that you might have a lead on your guy. I've found the Jockey Club to be very helpful every time I've called or emailed, so if you do have further questions, don't be weary of using that resource.


                          • Original Poster

                            I did call the JC and you're right, they were very helpful! I was supposed to go out and take pics of him today, but family stuff got in the way.


                            • #15
                              We have/breed TB's and Irish Sport Horses (reg.) ISH is a good dumping ground "title" for big, strong, quiet horses when they are offered for sale. An ISH only has to have 1/16 Irish Draught blood and most never register them that far our. I have never come across an ISH with a lip tattoo. Enjoy the horse you see!! TB or ISH!!!
                              Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


                              • #16
                                Funny Story: 10-15 years ago, some Eventing Pro friends of mine, imported several horses from Ireland. Upon getting to there barn in the US, they discovered that one of their Irish TB imports had papers showing that he was bred and raced in Kentucky, then exported to Ireland. So their American bred OTTB was much more valuable since he had made a trip across the pond and back! Upon returning to the US, he was an Irish TB!

                                So let's go pick up a few OTTBs and give them a roundtrip flight to Ireland! Cha-ching!
                                Last edited by DrHB; Jan. 27, 2018, 10:39 PM.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Through photos etc JC was able to identify Murphy, I got the verification e-mail today! This is him:


                                  I don't recognize most of the horses up close in his pedigree. He raced 26 times and won $11,000. His last race was in 2005, then he just sort of fell off the earth until my trainer's friend bought him in Georgia. Wish he could talk!
                                  Just for the heck of it, here's a pic of him too.
                                  Attached Files


                                  • #18
                                    Great story! Congrats on the find!
                                    Let me apologize in advance.


                                    • #19
                                      Actually, he's very nicely bred on both ends, his dam sire was pirate's bounty, who was by Hoist the Flag, who I always really liked, and who's dam sire, in HIS turn, was War Admiral, who was of course, by Man o War, and I realize that's going back alot, but he has lovely old fashioned breeding, for sure. In my opinion, he has a really good excuse for having all that bone. I'm sure he's a lovely horse. If you bring him back slowly, and get his feet fixed really well, give him a good heel and keep his toe back, he very well may feel much better and do very well for quite some time.

                                      Good luck, and I for one wouldn't mind coming accross an update about him sometime!
                                      My warmbloods have actually drunk mulled wine in the past. Not today though. A drunk warmblood is a surly warmblood. - WildandWickedWarmbloods


                                      • #20
                                        There is a photo on pedigree query of Truxton King. His dam was the very great race mare Primonetta. What is interesting to me is that I have a mare with Primonetta and her full brother Chateaugay in her pedigree and their dam three times. There is a decided family resemblance between her and Truxton King.
                                        "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                                        Thread killer Extraordinaire