Reduce the risk of your horse turning up missing and increase recovery chances

Last year a Texas rancher discovered his mare fatally stabbed by thieves who were trying to reach a stash of scrap metal on his property. Local police initiated an investigation into the incident and vowed to step up patrols in the area. But those efforts by law enforcement could never compensate for the loss of the mare.

Discovering that a horse has been harmed or stolen ranks high on owners’ lists of worst-case scenarios. Exactly how many horses are injured, killed, or stolen by intruders annually is uncertain, says Debi Metcalfe, founder of Stolen Horse International and operator of NetPosse, two websites designed to help owners search for and recover missing equines. However, Metcalfe estimates 40,000 horses go missing every year. Some are stolen by strangers, and others disappear from their barns or pastures in connection with divorce and civil disputes. More than 2,000 horses are listed on the NetPosse website currently, according to Metcalfe.

"I’d say we’re getting one percent of one percent of what’s out there,” she says.

Theft Deterrents
Fortunately, owners can take measures to reduce their animals’ risk of turning up missing or worse. Rebecca Gimenez, PhD, president and primary instructor of Technical Large Animal Emergency Rescue Inc., believes making barns and pastures difficult targets for intruders is a key first step to preventing theft.

To this end, Gimenez recommends building barns away from areas where trees or brushy vegetation might obscure the structure