A new law, introduced as of 25th June 2018, requiring all horses, ponies and donkeys to be microchipped by October 2020, should improve welfare and help deter theft, says DEFRA.

With the RSPCA rescuing almost 1,000 horses last year (2017), many of which were not microchipped and therefore not traceable, this new law should help reunite lost or stolen horses with their owners, and also bring owners to justice where they have abused, neglected or dumped their animals.

All horses born after 30th June 2009 are already required to be microchipped, but this extension will ensure that all horses are traceable, regardless of age, and therefore better protected. Local authorities and the police will have the ability to identify neglected or abandoned horses and ensure those who have mistreated them face the consequences.

The Central Equine Database (CED) will hold all microchip, passport and ownership details, and will allow owners to flag if their horse is missing or stolen, which will render them illegal for sale.

“The government shares the British public’s high regard for animal welfare and it is completely unacceptable that hundreds of horses and ponies are left abandoned every year by irresponsible owners,” said animal welfare minister Lord Gardiner.

Welcoming the new law is the British Horse Council who hope it will deter theft and fraudulent sales, as well as helping to manage disease outbreak.

As with the dog microchipping law, owners that fail to microchip their horses by October next year (2020) will be sanctioned and fined. If you are looking to buy a horse, you should make sure they are microchipped and passported, and that these details are updated within 30 days of you purchasing said horse.

Hopefully, the move to compulsory microchipping will mean less heartache for owners who’ve suffered loss or theft, and bring justice for horses, ponies and donkeys that have been mistreated. If you haven't microchipped yet, now is the time to do it, so schedule a vet visit before you forget.

Written by: Hannah Dyball