Preventing horse theft
Sadly, horse thefts do happen, but there are things that owners can do to deter thieves.
Things you can do:
Ensure that your horse is freezemarked or microchipped: This is easy to arrange and your horse’s details are put onto a central computer. Most companies will offer discounts on group bookings, so if you’ve got a group of friends who need their horses chipped it's worth getting together because this may be more cost effective.
Keep your passport securely locked away: It is illegal to sell a horse, export a horse or present it for slaughter without a valid passport, so keeping this safe will help protect your horse.
Your passport also contains details of your horse’s markings, which will help the police with their identification process should your horse go missing. It’s worth taking some good quality photographs of your horse for identification purposes too. Make sure you take some at different times of the year – just think how different your horse looks in the summer and the winter!
Keep your horse in a safe place: If you keep your horse at grass, make sure the gates are secure. Many people padlock one side but lots of gates can be lifted off their hinges. Simply putting another chain and padlock at the hinged end may act as a deterrent.
Unfortunately it is impossible to make premises completely secure, but World Horse Welfare Field Officer Jacko Jackson suggests some simple measures which can improve security for your horse:
- Look at where your horse lives. Examine the boundary - is it secure with solid fences and locked gates? Are there other owners in the vicinity who you could create a Horse Watch group with?
- Can you carry out or improve on any of the above? Can the horse be stabled at night? If so, the nearer to home the better. However, if you stable your horse it isn’t feasible to lock your horse in for fire reasons. This means you must look at the perimeter. Lights which are activated by passive infra-red sensors are a good investment.
- CCTV is becoming more cost effective – if your stables are close to home they can be monitored from the house, or you could install an old video recorder at the stables, set to run during the night. This will show you who has been into the yard overnight.
- If electricity is a problem, go to a car breakers and find an old battery, car horn, a door light switch and an old headlamp. Discreetly connect these up to the gates or even the stable or tack room doors, so that as soon as they are opened the lights and noise are activated (remember to fit an isolation switch for the daytime).
- It is also possible to modify a domestic alarm system for stable use, but it is important to use door contacts rather than sensors to avoid false alarms. Should your budget allow, you could consider active infra-red beams covering the approach to the stables; these can be connected to a radio transmitter and provide a silent alarm to your house.
- Last but not least, a dog may not be very high-tech but it can be very effective!