Microchipping… A Review.

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 | Filed under Handy Tips

I wrote about microchipping before.  But, I received some information today that made me feel I should talk about this again.

In my last post, I spoke more about the reasons to microchip.  You can read that post here.  But today, I wanted to tell the ‘lost horses of Katrina’ story and then relay microchip specifics that might solve some of the mystery or confusion around microchips, scanners and the registries.


I heard a story today…

Did you know that during Hurricane Katrina, there were 364 displaced horses?  And, did you know that 363 of them were reunited with their owners?  Do you know why the reuniting was so successful?  Microchips.  Yup.  Livestock ID is mandatory in Louisiana and the preferred method is microchip.

In fact, all 364 of those misplaced horses has microchips. Every. Last. One.  Amazing.

The only reason that the one horse wasn’t able to be tracked was because the owners hadn’t registered the chip with a Registry and the vet who installed the chip either didn’t have accurate records or those records were unavailable.  So, if that last horse’s chip had been registered, all 364 would have been identified.  A perfect record.

The lost horses of Katrina are a perfect example of how microchipping works and why it is so important in recovering lost or stolen horses.


A microchip doesn’t lie.  It never runs out (no batteries) and should live almost as long as your horse.  No matter what any thief or natural disaster may have done to your horse, the chip will identify him.  No questions asked.  This chip says this horse is so and so.  Done.

Other forms of equine identity can be altered… like a brand, a tattoo or a distinguishing mark.  But, no one could alter a chip.


Right now in my area, there is a trail horse that has gone missing after a riding accident.  The mount and his rider fell down a hill.  The horse took off and the rider walked many miles back to get help.  There have been several reports that the horse was seen and recovered, yet the rider has never found his horse.

I’m not saying that a microchip would help him find his horse.  But, if they did find the horse, there would be no question about ownership.

(At this point, since there are no moving parts to the chips and no batteries, GPS is not available.)

Disaster Identification


What was never clear to me before today were the technical aspects of the chips and scanner/readers.  Are they all universal?  Can all readers read all chips?  What if your horse is found by a person with the wrong type of reader?…

Well, I finally had it explained to me where it made total sense.

There are two types of chips made by many manufacturers.  The two types fall into two groups with many descriptors.

Type 1:  125 kilohertz, 10 digits, called, “American Standard”

Type 2:  134 kilahertz, 15 digits, called, “ISO”

A chip.


The American Standard is the recommended chip because all readers can read it, and because it was the first invented in America so it is the “American Standard”.  Easy.  So, you are safe if you put that type of chip into your horse because any scanner will read it.


The ISO chip was developed by the NAIS (National Animal ID System) which was the USDA trying to make livestock identification mandatory.  It didn’t work for several reasons but one reason was that there were already a million chips installed in horses that were the American Standard chips.  So, what do you do with those million horses’ chips?  It was hard to buck the already established system.

Basically, both types of chips are available but not all readers will find ISOs /15 digit chips.  All readers will find American Standard/10 digit chips.


You kinda have to get the jargon down, but if you read the brochures, whatever scanner you are reading about will tell you what the scanner can read in one of the descriptions stated above.  Some say “reads 134” or they might say, “reads ISO”… you just have to know what those codes mean and which chip qualifies.

But simply, the scanners that read the 15 chip will also read the 10 chip.  But, the scanners that are made for the 10 will not read the 15.  So, you just have to make sure when buying a reader that you know it can read both chips which is usually a scanner made for the 15 chip.

A Reader/Scanner


It is important to follow through with the second step of microchipping and that is registration.  There are two registries and they do talk to each other.  HORSE TRACE and EQUINE PROTECTION NETWORK.

The wonderful thing about registration is that if your horse if missing, EPN will circle the wagons and send out mass emails to several agencies including the Brand Inspectors in your area, the Texas Rangers, Stolen Horse International, the Breed Registries…  So, you have people behind your plight, working with you.  And at those times, you don’t want to feel alone.

If the recover is simple and the horse is found and scanned, you are just one phone call away from your horse.

One of the popular Registries... the very helpful Dr. John was quite pleasant.


All states except California and Texas require a vet to do the chip insertion.  So, order the kit or have your vet order the kit and then have him administer to this when he is coming out for a farm call.  It is relatively painless and simple.  Reports suggest that the horse may not even feel it.  Dunno.

The chip goes into the nuchal ligament on the left side of the mane, halfway between the poll and the withers.


There are several companies who sell microchips and scanners.  You can Google around.

I went to one site that had a nice list of FAQ so I decided to cut and paste them.  The site if for Microchip ID Equine.  If you want information, click this link and read around.  I spoke with Dr. John (the vet) and was very impressed with his knowledge.

Here is their list of FAQs:

Why should I microchip my horse?
Now you can provide your horse with a lifetime microchip number for a minimal cost.  So, instead of asking ‘Why microchip?…you can now say, ‘Why not!’.  The tiny chip provides a lifetime permanent identification number for your horse.  This number is unique in the world, cannot be altered, and eliminates doubt.  Horse owners use it for many different reasons, such as: Proof of ownership, theft protection and recovery, disaster recovery, health certificates, medical records, farm management, event entries, travel, Registry ID, and sales documents.

Where is the chip implanted?  Can it be removed?
The chip goes into the nuchal ligament just below the mane about half way between the poll and withers on the left side.  It cannot be removed without general anesthesia and surgery.

Does the EquineChip™ have a protective coating on it?
Yes.  The Pro-ID EquineChip™ is sealed with a special coating called ParalyneC ®.  This sealer is smooth, bio-compatible and encourages tissue growth around it.

Will it interfere with my horse’s performance?
Not at all!  From the track to the trail.  Dressage to polo.  Barrels to roping.  From hunter jumpers to that backyard best friend.  Performance is not affected in the least.  Our customers and their veteriarians are the best testimony to this fact.

Tell me about the injection procedure?
Microchipping is a simple injection.  It only takes seconds.  Most horses don’t even flinch as the chip is quickly injected into the nuchal ligament just below the mane.  Once the chip is in place, it cannot be detected by hand.  Only with a scanner.  The horse feels nothing when he is being scanned.

At what age can my horse be microchipped with the Pro-ID EquineChip™ ?
Any age, from birth on.

How long does the chip last? Does it wear out?
The microchip has no power supply, battery, or moving parts and requires no care.  The EquineChip™ can not be erased with a magnet or powerful electricity.  The chip is guaranteed for the lifetime of your animal.

Can the microchip move around or ‘migrate’ after it is injected?
No. Once properly installed, the chip will not migrate or move.  It will be there when you need it. (A study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2003 223:1316-1319) revealed that microchips implanted in the nuchal ligament did not migrate.)

How can I register in the Equine Protection Registry?
The Equine Protection Registry is available to anyone who has a microchipped horse, regardless of the type or brandname of chip. If your horse already has a microchip (from any company), you can still enroll online at your convenience.  You MUST have the accurate chip number that is in your horse, before you can enroll online. When you enroll in the Registry, your number will be verified and you will receive a Wallet Card and a certificate from the Equine Protection Registry.

NOTE: If your horse is not microchipped yet, you cannot enroll online.  Order your chips today or have your vet install the Pro-ID EquineChip.  Then come back and enroll online!

The chip is invisible.  How can it benefit my horse?
Microchips provide the most reliable form of instant permanent ID.  Rather than being on the outside of the horse, where ID can be removed or altered, the chip is safe and secure in the nuchal ligament.  If your horse also has a brand, the chip and the brand can work together for double protection.

The Pro-ID EquineChip™ is always there; able to be checked and verified immediately.  When the chip number is recorded on documents, it immediately confirms… with the pass of a scanner…that the horse on the paperwork is the correct animal.  Microchip numbers can be used as proof-positive when transporting, buying, selling, breeding, insuring, and protecting from disease.

A chip number registered in the Equine Protection Network can be life-saving in cases of theft or natural disasters.

Is the EquineChip™ universal?  Can all scanners read it?
Yes, the Pro-ID EquineChips™ are universal and flexible for use in the United States and elsewhere.    We offer two types: a 10 digit chip, and a 15 digit chip.  Both are universal chips.  If your horse is going overseas, you should order the 15 digit ISO type.  Some Registries also require the 15 digit ISO chip.  The cost is the same.

If my horse is stolen or missing, how can the chip help me get him back?
When a microchipped horse is stolen or missing, report it immediately to law enforcement and make sure they have the chip number.  Then, contact the Equine Protection Registry and place your horse on the Hot List. A number of Equine Protection network affiliates such as brand inspectors, law enforcement agencies, and Stolen Horse International will be contacted and ‘in the loop’ looking for your horse.

What about an emergency, a fire, a flood, storm, etc?
Microchip ID Equine works with national disaster preparedness groups across America.  These groups are equipped with scanners.  In times of natural disaster or emergency, scanning for microchips is the ideal and preferred method of identifying equines and reuniting them with registered owners.

When a microchip is found in a horse, he is a phone call away from being reunited with his owner.


Yes, I hear you… Why should I do this to my horse?  No one would steal him.  And, he would never run off and we don’t live in hurricane country.

Well, my answer is…  You don’t know what might happen and you don’t want to regret not doing something so simple.  I mean, horses have been stolen from all types of shows in broad daylight.  Horses have been let out of pastures by pranksters.  My own horses have let themselves out of stalls…  Heck, a fire could easily misplace a horse if he was lucky enough to escape it.  And, what we don’t like to think about… horse thieves.  How do you prove a horse is yours when markings can be altered?

Also, if you are a breeder who uses embryo transfer, the chip number of the mare is used to identify the embryos.  This is a standard that can be applied.  Very interesting usage, I think.

But back to the recovery aspect…  To me, better safe than sorry.  Microchipping is fast, easy and relatively inexpensive.  A nice little bundle of security and insurance that, if you’re lucky, you’ll never use.

After all, if you bring the umbrella, it never rains…

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

The November Bucket Fund will benefit The Wild Horses and Burros, via DreamCatcher Sanctuary.  We are helping them acquire an additional 20,000 acres to release more captured Mustangs/Burros back into the wild.  To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible opportunity for our Mustangs,  please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)



Click here to go to the Certificate page!

Donation Gift Certificates are here!  Yup, if you donate to help Tullie (the burned horse), Gump (the ugly horse), Dixie (the starved and sick horse) or the Wild Mustangs/Burros (the gathered horses), you can now get  “A Donation has been made in Your Honor” certificates to give as gifts!  You can give them to coworkers, family, friends or even in lost pets’ names… for this Holiday Season. Yay!  INSTANT KARMA!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

Only one comment so far...

  1. Sarah

    My horse was chipped as a yearling in Ireland, and last year (7 years since it was implanted) it abscessed badly several times before it was lanced and removed. Clearly it wasn’t because the chip was placed incorrectly or wasn’t sterile when it was implanted, as nothing happened for so long. The only possibilities are that the chip shifted at some point or that he got bitten/cut by something in the area that infected it. Either way, for 3 months my horse could hardly bend his neck at all. So while microchips are great and all, people need to know that you are putting a foreign object in your horse and that things can always go wrong.

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