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Branding Your Horse

Branding Your HorseBranding Your Horse

How to Freeze Brand Your Horse:


Thousands of horses were lost after Hurricane Katrina. Many perished outright, others bolted, only to die later from weather-related injuries or stress. Still others were stolen and never recovered. If more of the nation's horses were freeze branded, less would become victims of thieves and catastrophic events. Freeze branding is a cryogenic identification process that's more humane than using a hot iron, relatively easy and economical.

Things You’ll Need:

    Brass or copper branding iron
    Liquid nitrogen
    Small Styrofoam cooler to hold nitrogen
    Towel to place on cooler to avoid evaporation
    Alcohol in a plastic squirt bottle
    Gloves to handle iron

Step 1:

Choose a brand that's unique, easily recognizable, compliant with branding laws and not a duplicate. You should select characters (letters and/or numbers) that are "open" and not easily blotched, such as "U." When choosing, consider the color of your horse because white or colorless hair, instead of colored hair, will grow in at the brand site.

Step 2:

Prepare the horse and gather three people for the project. One will hold the horse, the second will do the actual branding and the third will time the process. Have your horse restrained in place so the horse won't move while you're doing the branding and you can get a good, even brand. Most horses will need a mild tranquilizer, but a horse handling chute of some sort would be helpful.

Step 3:

Place the cooler carrying liquid nitrogen near your work area. Chill the brand irons in the cooler. You'll know they're ready when the nitrogen stops bubbling.

Step 4:

Clean the area on the horse where you've decided to place the brand. Clip the area into a square to help you get an even placement of the brand.

Step 5:

Squirt alcohol on the site you've selected for the brand. This will remove oil from the horse's skin which will help transfer the cold from the iron to the skin.

Step 6:

Remove the branding iron from the nitrogen and firmly press it onto the brand site. The person branding verbally says, "Go" and the person timing the brand will start the stop watch. Technique is important here; no part of the iron should lose contact with the skin. Once the necessary time has lapsed, the person timing will say, "Stop" and the brander will remove the iron.

Tips & Warnings:

Brand times will vary based on the type of iron used, the color of the horse and thickness of its skin. On average, dark horses will take 7 seconds; light horses will need 12 seconds.
Unless you have previous horse branding experience, you should have an experienced person help you perform the freeze branding or conduct the branding for you.


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