Lions, Tigers and Microchips, Oh My!

Find this article and more HERE in the TPH March 2017 Young Rider Style issue 
By Sissy Wickes 
Datamars executive Cailin Monahan is ready to assuage any fears about the USEF mandate on microchipping of competition horses. As of Dec. 1, 2017, US Equestrian will require an approved microchip for horses and ponies competing in classes that require United States Hunter Jumper Association horse registration. While this rule has sent a ripple of panic through parts of the show horse world, microchipping is a safe and easy method of horse identification. As Monahan explains, “microchipping offers safe, permanent identification for your animal.” Datamars offers an ISO 11784/11785 compliant microchip as required by the USEF. Unique to Datamars is their patented bio-compatible polymer encased microchip, as compared to traditional glass microchips offered by other companies. Datamars is the largest equine microchip provider internationally. The company researches, develops, manufactures, and sells its own microchips and readers. Polymer microchips are preferable in that they are lighter and smaller than traditional glass microchips, making them less likely to migrate and easier to implant. With Datamars chips, a veterinarian is able to use a smaller gauge needle for implantation, causing less stress to the horse. The Jockey Club uses Datamars chips in all Thoroughbreds registered in the United States. A 2013 study published in the Veterinary Record of forty mares microchipped with Datamars Slim chips found no measureable stress reaction during implantation. Generally, horses can be microchipped without sedation or side effects.

The process of microchipping is a simple procedure for a licensed veterinarian. The chip is implanted in the nuchal ligament on the left side of the neck between the poll and the withers. Prior to implantation, the veterinarian will scan both sides of the horse’s neck to verify that there is no existing microchip in place. Next, she will scan the microchip to be implanted to ensure that it is functional and the numbers on the chip correspond to the numbers in the database. The veterinarian will clean the implantation area and insert the chip- which is about the size of a grain of rice. Again, the chip is scanned to ensure functionality.

Your horse is microchipped- and neither of you is the worse for wear! Microchipping is not expensive and provides a host of benefits to horse and owner. In times of natural catastrophe- most often fire or storm- horses are often found loose and far from home. Microchips enable rescuers to contact owners expeditiously. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the state of Louisiana mandated that all horses undergoing a Coggins test must be microchipped. Theft is more easily preventable if your horse is permanently identified. In the current era of EHV-1 outbreaks, authorities can identify which horses were present at infected locations and quarantine them accordingly.
The USEF and USHJA have mandated microchipping in an effort to make the sport more clean and transparent. Myths about a person’s ability to remove a microchip have been debunked. As Monahan states, “it is virtually impossible to remove a microchip without the horse undergoing surgery and having a significant scar.” Microchips will enable owners, sellers, and buyers to verify age, breeding, and show records. Information that was previously difficult to obtain and verify will now be readily and reliably available.
Ready yourself and your horse for the 2018 show season by microchipping early. Comply with the rule now and avoid the rush next fall. Many horse shows, like the Winter Equestrian Festival in Wellington, FL, now offer microchipping services. Ask your veterinarian about microchips and ask them to carry Datamars.

About the Author: Sissy is a Princeton University graduate, a lifelong rider and trainer, a USEF R rated judge, a freelance journalist and an autism advocate. Her illustrious resume includes extensive show hunter and jumper experience. She lives with her family in Unionville, PA and Wellington, FL.

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