July 2016 Issue - page 8

Page 8
July 2016
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
Rescued Horses
Freeze Branded
for Safety
a bit. Over time, the skin will
slough off, and the hair generally
grows back white.
She said that freeze brand-
ing is an effective identification
process. “In the Northeast it is
most commonly seen on the neck
of Standardbreds who have had
some training for the track.”
Because it’s more obvious than
the lip tattoo done on Thorough-
bred racehorses, it’s generally
more readable. “The Thorough-
bred lip tattoo can be difficult
to read due to fading or pigment
of the mucosa of the upper lip,”
she explained. “Lip tattoos can
also be manipulated to change
the numbers, whereas while you
need to know the key to read a
Standardbred freeze brand, they
are far less susceptible to manipu-
lation/falsification.”
Freeze branding was de-
veloped in Washington State,
and has been in use since 1966.
Studies have concluded that
freeze branding is less painful
than hot branding; as freeze
branding only affects the pigment
in the hair follicles. Hot branding
destroys the hair follicles and
leaves the skin scarred; hair does
not grow back. Researchers used
several measurements on cattle
that were branded with hot irons
versus cold irons. They measured
the heart rates, and the amount
of cortisol and epinephrine in
the blood of animals that were
being branded. Increased heart
rate and increased concentrations
of cortisol and epinephrine were
indicative of pain and discomfort,
along with the animals’ resistance
and attempts to move away from
the brands. Animals that were
branded with hot irons exhibited
more of the clinical signs of pain
than those treated with the freeze
brand.
The branding iron is applied
for less than 20 seconds, and
although it may cause discom-
fort, there are likely far more
painful and invasive procedures
that horses endure. The branding
is aimed at protecting the horse,
much as a veterinary procedure
such as scoping or drawing
blood.
Microchips Also Effective
Smith, of Omega Horse Res-
cue, says that freeze branding is
not the only effective means of
tracking the horses she rescues.
“We do encourage microchip-
ping,” she says, but it’s not
as practical as a freeze brand.
“You’d have to have a scanner
on hand; it would be almost
impossible to go into a pen of a
hundred horses and run a scan-
ner.” She said that some rescue
groups had thought about de-
vising a national brand, but “we
decided to do our own thing.”
One group in Texas uses a brand
that looks like a hazardous waste
symbol to indicate the horse had
ingested chemicals that make it
unfit for human consumption.
Last Chance Ranch uses their
LCR logo.
(Continued from page 6)
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