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Microchipping

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Explore the Benefits of Equine Microchipping

The use of microchipping for permanent animal identification has become commonplace for household pets and is rapidly gaining popularity in the horse world. Microchipping provides a permanent, non-alterable form of identification that does not impact a horse’s appearance and is safe and easy to perform. A microchip is a small device, about the size of a grain of rice, with a unique code that is placed into the horse’s neck. It will soon be required by many registries and national organizations.

The process of implanting the chip is safe and takes just 10-15 minutes. First, a vet will scan the horse’s neck to check that there is not already a microchip in place. If none is identified, the microchip to be inserted will be scanned to ensure that it is reading correctly. Your veterinarian will then clean an area on the left side of the neck, about halfway between the poll and withers, and insert the microchip into the nuchal ligament using a hypodermic needle. From the horse’s perspective, this is a similar procedure to intramuscular injections, although it is a slightly larger gauge needle. After insertion, the chip will be read again from the horse’s neck. You then will register the microchip number with your organization (FEI, USEF, etc.) or with a registry, such as the Equine Protection Registry.

It is important to note that while many of the microchip properties are the same as for dogs and cats, you should use a microchip specifically designated for horses. For the purposes of USEF/USHJA and FEI competition, you need an ISO-compliant 11784/11785 microchip. It should have a unique 15-digit code that does NOT start with the prefix 900. Microchips starting with the prefix “900” do not have unique codes, meaning that the same code could be duplicated in another horse.

The FEI has required all horses registered since 2013 to have a microchip number for registration. And for those competing in US Equestrian Federation (USEF) and US Hunter/Jumper Association (USHJA) sanctioned competitions, a new rule has gone into effect. Starting December 1, 2017, the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) requires all horses competing in USHJA classes to provide a microchip number to compete for points, money, or USEF/USHJA programs and awards. This is considered a transitional year. Phase II of the project will begin December 1, 2018, at which point ALL horses competing in USEF-sanctioned USHJA classes must have a registered microchip number (for more information, follow the link to the rules listed below). Once implanted in the horse, the microchip number should be registered with your horse’s USEF and/or USHJA account.

Beyond its future necessity for some competitions, microchipping your horse can have many other benefits. It is a permanent method of identification that can be used to restore horses that have been lost, such as in fire incidents or natural disasters; to reclaim stolen horses; or to provide proof of ownership in cases of travel and competition. It is already used by many breed registries to provide a record of horse identity and ownership. Follow the links below to learn more.

For more information:
• USHJA/USEF microchipping brochure for hunters and jumpers: https://www.ushja.org/programs/rules/documents/MicroChip_brochure_9_17_rev.pdf
• USEF/USHJA Microchipping Rule: HU101, JP100, EQ103 in the USEF rulebook at https://www.usef.org/compete/resources-forms/rules-regulations/rulebook
• USEF Microchipping FAQ: https://files.usef.org/assets/Os98F1mKsaY/microchipping-faqs-pdf.pdf
• FEI microchip information: https://inside.fei.org/fei/your-role/veterinarians/passports/microchips
• Equine Protection Registry (from MicroChipID Equine): https://microchipidequine.com/equine-protection-registry/