Got an OTTB or a branded standardbred? Want to know more about the horse?
Reading standardbred horse brands is a cinch – if you know how. You can do it yourself and find out more about your horse’s racing history, who bred it, and the horse’s breeding.
Finding the identity of a thoroughbred is a little more involved, but do-able.
For starters, standardbred horses in New Zealand and Australia are freeze branded on the neck (offside). Freezebranding in New Zealand was first introduced in 1970.
New Zealand uses the “TVI” system, in a two-line brand, using the symbols below.
The three symbols on the top line denote the year of birth, and the Z indicates the horses’ country of origin – New Zealand. The bottom line of the brand is a four-symbol number.
For the brand pictured above, the symbols at the top show the horse was born in 1988, in New Zealand.
The second row – shows the registration number – 3370.
To find the name and pedigree of a horse, go to the Harness Racing NZ website, and input into the first box 883370.
This horse is Greener Than.
Another example is:
This means the horse was born in 2001, in New Zealand, and his registered number is 1569. His name is Baltic Knight.
Australia uses “alpha angle” symbols – which are also used by other breeds – and the brands are made of two lines of four symbols each.
From August 1, 1987, all freeze brands had an “S” added, denoting the horse is a standardbred. Thus, the first letter on all brands is “S”, followed by the state ID number, then the horses’ year of birth:
- 2-New South Wales
- 5-South Australia
- 6-Western Australia
In the made-up example above, the horse was born in South Australia in 1991, and its registered number is 8410.
Go to Australian Harness Racing to find out the identity of the horse. Input the horse’s brand into the Freezebrand box on the site.
Standardbreds in the US either have a tattoos on their upper inside lip, five characters long, or after 1995, may have letters and numbers on their neck. Go to the US Trotting Association to input your horse’s brand. For horses born in 1981 or earlier, the first three digits are numbers. The fourth character can be a letter or a number, and the fifth character is a letter indicating the year of foaling. The letters M, N, O, Q, and U are not used in tattoos of horses born in 1981 or earlier. The year letter for horses born in 1982 is “A”, and so on down the alphabet, except for I,O,Q, and U.
Identifying a thoroughbred horse
Thoroughbreds are not as straightforward, as in order to make an identification, you must apply to NZ Racing using this form (PDF). It costs $25. If the search is unsuccessful, the fee is refunded.
Thoroughbreds are usually branded with numbers on the offside – the bottom number being the year. The other side has a cipher brand, which can be a breeder’s mark, or a vet clinic’s brand.
Other breeds are also branded in this way, and breeders can register their brand with specific organisations. There is no central brand database in New Zealand.