USTA Board Votes To Keep Freeze Brands Optional

Horse in action
Published: March 13, 2022 01:55 pm EDT

At the U.S. Trotting Association’s annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday (March 13), the Board of Directors voted to keep freeze brands as an optional form of additional horse identification. Since January 1, 2022, the USTA has required that all horses be microchipped for identification in order to be eligible for racing.

“The rule change proposals to require a freeze brand in addition to a microchip were discussed at every district meeting and were seriously debated by the directors here at the annual meeting,” said Mike Tanner, USTA Executive Vice President and CEO. “In the best interests of all USTA members that they represent, along with consultation with representatives from Standardbred Canada, the directors voted to keep only the microchip mandatory for horse identification, but strongly encourage all horse owners and breeders that so desire to add a freeze brand to their horses.

“The USTA and Standardbred Canada remain the only major breed registries in the world to offer this option as a second means of identification.”

Microchips are the international standard for equine identification for all breeds. With the exception of Standardbred Canada, which recently changed its policy to allow for optional freeze brands, no other breed registry allows for secondary horse identification, such as freeze brands or lip tattoos.

The USTA has partnered with Merck Animal Health for the use of Bio-Thermo microchips that incorporate temperature scanning as well as horse identification. In addition, coupling the USTA Chip ID app, featuring the EquiTrace horse health management system, consolidates equine health record keeping including temperature charting, logging therapeutic medications, veterinarian records, GPS and more.