By Sharon Rogers
The words horse theft conjure up images of the Wild West for me. I see cowboys and six shooters and the OK Corral. Unfortunately horse thieves are not just a figment of our imaginations, or a scene in a movie. Our beautiful animals are the victims of unscrupulous people all the time. Today I want to spend some time sharing some tips on how you can protect your horse, and yourself from horse theft.
Who Steals Horses, Anyway?
I guess the easy answer to that question is that horse thieves steal horses. I guess a better question would be why are horses being stolen? In some areas of the world, where horse meat is used for human consumption, horses may be stolen and taken to slaughter. The value of the horse would depend on the market price for the meat. While horse meat cannot be sold legally in the U.S. for human consumption, the slaughter still occurs and the meat is shipped to other countries. Horse meat is also used in some pet foods in the U.S. I won’t get into my personal feelings on horse slaughter houses at this time. I will save my rant on that subject for another day!
Many horse thieves steal just because they can. It is often a crime of opportunity. An unprotected horse becomes fair game for someone looking to take what isn’t theirs. Believe it or not there have been reported instances of horses being stolen for joy rides, much like stolen cars. The bottom line is usually money. It is sad that we live in a world where taking something that belongs to others is even a thought, let alone a practice. But because theft is a real problem, it is up to you to protect your horses.
Tips for Protecting Your Horse
- Be aware of your surroundings. Never assume that you and your horses could not fall victim to horse theft. It can happen to anyone.
- Post your barn and pasture fences with signs letting potential horse thieves know that your horses have been permanently identified. Just that simple notification can be a deterrent to theft in many instances.
- Question the unfamiliar. If you see something on your land, or your neighbors, that just doesn’t look right, ask questions. Drawing attention to a person or an activity that seems a little off might well scare the thief away. Most people who plan to steal anything want it to be easy. If you are watching closely they will move on.
- Take good pictures of your horse, regularly. A recent photo can help others identify your horse in the event that it is taken from you.
- Watch your horse’s behavior. If you notice a horse frequently hanging out in a far corner of the pasture, check it out. Some horse thieves will bait a corner where they can easily cut the fence. The bait insures that the horse will be in a convenient place for a quick getaway.
- Move your trailer away from your horses and always lock the wheels. Don’t make it easy for a thief to take your horse and your equipment.
- Lights, cameras and alarm systems that will alert you to any activity after hours can be very helpful.
- Barking dogs can be a horse’s saving grace. A dog that raises a ruckus when someone enters your property will keep you aware at all hours of the day. Obviously, I would never advocate teaching a dog to be mean in any way. Just train your dog to protect your property.
Following these few simple tips can help protect your horse from theft. There will always be people in the world who think it is acceptable to take what they want. Don’t let your horse be the victim. Protect them, and then give them a hug from me!