Day At The Track

USTA responds to freeze brand letter

12:40 AM 22 Oct 2020 NZDT
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Freeze Brand.jpg

On Oct. 19 Harnesslink received a letter from Lenna Terrill, a former groom and licensed trainer who expressed concerns about the elimination of freeze brands. You can read her letter by clicking here.

The following response was received today from Mike Tanner, Executive Vice President/Chief Executive Officer of the United States Trotting Association. Harnesslink appreciates all letters and responses sent to us and will make every effort possible to see that they are published.

Dear Leena,

Thank you for sharing your feelings regarding microchipping, which we do take seriously.  Microchips were approved at the 2018 annual meeting of the USTA Board of Directors, and first implemented with the foal crop of 2019.  While recognizing the concerns that you raise, the Board concluded that using microchips as the means of Standardbred identification is less invasive and painful to the horse, allows for internal temperature monitoring by caretakers, aligns with the standards employed by other American breeds (most notably the Thoroughbreds) and around the racing world,  and provides the best, most accurate way to identify Standardbreds.    

Every week, our Member Services team fields calls from folks trying to identify freeze brand tattoo numbers that are either obscured or have been deliberately obfuscated. In almost every case, these requests involve horses that are older and have long left the racetrack.

I recognize that no system of identification, microchips included, is perfect.  Moreover, as someone who has visited the auctions to see what goes on there and, along with my wife, owns and cares for a retired Standardbred racehorse, I share your feelings about the need to prioritize aftercare for our equine athletes when their days of competition have ended.    The Association remains committed to working with accredited rescue groups and concerned individuals to assist in the identification of Standardbreds in need, and to help get chip readers into the hands of those who will use them in these efforts.

Best regards,

Mike Tanner, USTA

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