NC Horse Blog Security Around the Horse Barn

— Written By Paul Westfall and last updated by
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As much as we would like to be able to just tie our horses to the trailer to watch a class at the horse show, leave the tack room open all day for ease of access for ourselves and clients, and not worry about the horses kept at the farm a couple of miles away. However, these days, being careful and having a security plan in place can prevent the loss of valuable equipment and even the loss of a horse – otherwise known as rustling.

First the property. Horse barn owners may want to consider placing some video cameras, or even trail cameras, to be able to observe who is coming and going around the barn. Conspicuous camera systems are a good deterrent to theft, as long as they are placed where they are difficult to tamper with. Camera can be on a wireless network, and images/videos can be stored for later review. Cameras should have high resolution even at night in order to be able to identify who is coming and going. They can be set to start recording when a motion sensor it tripped to save time in reviewing and storage space.

Alarm systems can be pretty simple, or can be very sophisticated. They can consist of infrared beams of pressure sensors that will trigger an alarm when tripped. However, around a barn there can be animals moving about that can cause false alarms, so set sensors so they aren’t tripped by raccoon, dogs, or cats roaming around. If there is no one close enough to hear an alarm, it is hard to investigate immediately, but the noise itself can be a deterrent. Be aware that alarms can be tripped intentionally to get an idea of response.

Keep access gates and barn doors locked during hours when there should be no one present around the barn or paddocks. If clients need to get to the barn during off-hours, they should have a contact number to gain access. While a lock keeps honest people honest, they also provide a measure of deterrence to would-be thieves and helps keep valuable tack and equipment, not to mention horses, secure.

Perhaps the most important part of securing property is also the simplest – be observant about who is coming and going any given day. Check references for a new farrier, feed dealer, or even new clients. Ask friends and neighbors about anything unusual that may have happened, and enlist their help in being observant around the neighborhood. Around a busy barn, it may be easy for a thief to grab some tack and load it into a truck or trailer, or just hitch up a trailer and just leave without busy people noticing until it is too late. Again, be observant an ask everyone around the barn to also observe what is going on.

Now for the horses. A lot of the things mentioned above will also protect horses. Having good identification and good photos of each horse, including distinguishing features, is very useful and can be critical in recovering a horse that was stolen. Many veterinarians and others recommend that horses be microchipped for identification and most veterinarians have microchip readers that aid in getting horses back to their owners. Freeze branding is an outward means of identifying horses and will deter theft is there is an obvious identifying mark that is registered to a farm or ranch. Several states record brands for identification purposes.

Horses have been stolen from horse shows and other places off the farm. As was stated earlier, we should be able to tie a horse to the trailer for a short time while watching a class at a horse show without worrying about someone untying the lead rope and walking away with the horse, but this does happen. Be security conscious when at horse shows, trail rides, or other equine events and take turns watching the classes while someone keeps an eye on the tack and the horses. Being good neighbors while at an event helps keep everyone’s property safe and secure.

These are just a few things to consider in making sure that horses tack, and equipment stay where they are supposed to be. Have conversations with family, friends, and neighbors and get other ideas to consider that won’t break the bank, yet will provide a measure of security around the farm a and at events. Implementing a few security measures is less expensive and painful than replacing equipment or dealing with the loss of a favorite horse.