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Wrangling on the Range #94

My horse has been Stolen!



Your horse has been stolen; Now here's what to do; A detailed
action plan

Losing a horse to thieves is an owner's nightmare. Should it ever
happen to you, knowing what to do and doing it quickly can
greatly increase the odds that you safely recover your horse.
We talked to Pete Gibbs and Dennis Sigler, respectively the past
and current extension horse specialists at Texas A&M University.
They outlined key tasks to accomplish should you one day find
that your horse has been stolen.

Here's what they told us.

* Act immediately. The first 24 to 48 hours can be critical in
leading to the recovery of your horse. Don't delay.

* Contact authorities. Report the theft first to the
law-enforcement agency with primary jurisdiction in your area,
obtaining a case number and a copy of the incident report. Then
contact other law-enforcement entities, including state
livestock/brand inspectors, auction/sale yards, etc. (see
"Authorities to Contact").

* Gather documents. Make a working file of the important papers
and photos you'll need to help identify your horse to authorities
and prove ownership, including receipt of purchase, bill of sale,
and/or canceled check; registration papers; brand and other
identification certificates; health records/certificates; and the
best, clearest color photos you have available.

* Post fliers. Don't neglect this "old school" method of getting
the word out. To create a flier, use detailed color photos
showing, if possible, all identifying markings, brands,
or scars. (For security, neither you nor your family members
should appear in the photos.) List your horse's breed, sex, age,
height, weight, and identifying marks.
Include a contact name, phone number, and e-mail address (but,
for security, don't include your home address, unless it's a
post-office box). If you intend to offer a reward, talk to law
enforcement about the correct wording to use and procedure to
Blanket a 500- to 600-mile radius; many thieves think you won't
look past a two-hour drive. Post the fliers anywhere people are:
post offices, gas stations, gro cery/convenience stores. (Always
ask for permission before posting at a business.) 

* Branch out. Enlist family and friends to help send your flier
to an even wider range of entities via mail, fax, and e-mail.
Send to: livestock sales/auctions; breed registries and state
horse groups; equine and largeanimal veterinarians; farriers;
tack/feed stores and farm-supply companies; horse magazines and
farm publications; and showgrounds, rodeos, and racetracks.

* Use the media. Ask radio and television stations to air
public-service announcements about horse theft in general and
your case in particular, with reward information.
Contact daily newspapers to raise awareness of area horse thefts,
again using your own situation and information as an example.

* Attend auctions. Pinpoint sales that handle lower-price
animals. Ask for the names of the regular buyers of these types
of horses, which might be heading to slaughterhouses in Mexico or
Canada now that plants in the U.S. are closed. Look in all pens,
stalls, and trailers, and check for unofficial "parking-lot
sales." Be alert for sellers who show up at the last minute
before the sale begins.

* Check classified ads. Scour horse classifieds in print and
online for traces of relevant information. Although most ads are
legitimate, unscrupulous horse traders also use them.

* Don't give up. There are horses that've been reunited with
their owners even years after a theft.


* City police, sheriff's department. Politely insist that a
report be filed, even if the information can only be taken by
phone. If a "crime stoppers" type of program exists, ask if it
can broadcast information about the theft.

* Livestock/brand inspectors. These authorities know livestock
and frequent the sales where stolen horses could wind up. In
Texas, for example, the law-enforcement branch of the Texas and
Southwest Cattle Raisers Association is the law-enforcement arm
most effective at helping to recover any stolen livestock,
including horses. 

* Livestock auctions, horse sales. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture Packers and Stockyards Administration
( has information on auctions in your area and
throughout the country.

* Your breed association. If your horse is registered, alert the
registry that he's een stolen. An innocent buyer might look for
registration information on him.


Be sure also to make good use of social-networking media to
search for your missing horse. In what was described as a
"bloggers' victory," an enthusiastic Facebook campaign resulted
in the speedy recovery of a child's rope horse stolen from a
Texas roping earlier this year. And at press time, the Web site
of Stolen Horse 'International, Inc. (, was posting
information on a high-profile Quarter Horse gelding taken in
Arkansas in September.

If you're not fluent in online networking, get help from someone
who is ...the Editors

For info on thwarting horse thieves, go to



To be continued from time to time

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