Iden­tity Is­sues

Dressage Today - - Arena News -

Hot-brand­ing was long used both in Europe and in­ter­na­tion­ally for iden­ti­fy­ing horses as be­long­ing to a spe­cific breed reg­istry. Tra­di­tion­ally, warm­blood foals were branded at the time of in­spec­tion. The brand sym­bol rep­re­sented the breed and log­i­cally also sig­ni­fied the re­gion or na­tion with which the breed reg­istry was associated. For ex­am­ple, the Dutch Warm­blood brand fea­tures a rear­ing lion, re­sem­bling the Nether­lands’ coat of arms. Like­wise, the Hol­steiner brand closely re­sem­bles the coat of arms for the Ger­man state Sch­leswig-Hol­stein, which fea­tures a ver­ti­cally di­vided shield. And that of the Bavar­ian Warm­blood fea­tures not only a let­ter “B” for Bavaria but also a small cross, apropos for this re­gion of Ger­many with its long and de­vout Catholic his­tory.

In North Amer­ica and the U.K., reg­istry brands for warm­blood horses are of­ten a vari­a­tion of their Euro­pean coun­ter­parts. For ex­am­ple, the in­signia for an Olden­burg reg­is­tered with the Olden­burg Reg­istry of North Amer­ica fea­tures the Ger­man Olden­burg brand, but framed by an “N” on the left and an “A” on the right.

While the brand sym­bols may be in­ter­est­ing and pro­vide a glint of lo­cal cul­ture and his­tory, hot-brand­ing has been il­le­gal in Hol­land for about a decade and in Ger­many since 2012 due to an­i­mal-wel­fare con­cerns. There­fore, warm­blood foals born to­day are much more likely to be mi­crochipped than branded. (How­ever, U.S.-bred warm­bloods are still fre­quently branded.) In fact, Euro­pean law man­dates mi­crochip­ping for foals and in­ter­na­tion­ally many reg­istries also up­hold this re­quire­ment. DNA test­ing at the time of reg­is­tra­tion/in­spec­tion also helps to en­sure ac­cu­rate iden­tity.

Some of the breed reg­istries, such as the Hanove­rian Stud­book, uti­lize dif­fer­ent vari­a­tions of their main brand to dis­tin­guish the sec­tion of the reg­istry into which a horse is reg­is­tered. For ex­am­ple, a Hanove­rian mare reg­is­tered into the Main Stud­book, which re­quires four gen­er­a­tions of rec­og­nized pedi­gree, will be branded with the “H” sym­bol, while a mare reg­is­tered in the Stud­book, which re­quires only three gen­er­a­tions of rec­og­nized pedi­gree, will be branded with the “S” sym­bol. To­day, these brands may not be phys­i­cally placed on the mare’s body due to cur­rent law. How­ever, the mare’s brand will still be noted on her reg­is­tra­tion pa­pers as the dis­tinc­tion be­tween the stud­books still ap­plies. In ad­di­tion, while the brand sym­bols may no longer be as rel­e­vant as iden­ti­fy­ing marks on the horse’s body in many coun­tries, reg­istries still proudly dis­play these sym­bols as an of­fi­cial em­blem and trade­mark.

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