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Microchipping/DNA Testing

Starting in 2019, the primary means of identifying Standardbreds will be with a BioThermal microchip implanted in the nuchal ligament on the left side of the horse's neck. This will be completed at the same time as when the USTA ID Technician pulls hair for DNA testing. For foals, this can be done as early as 10 days of age. The option of freeze branding is still available for those that wish to pay an additional fee for the service.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a BioThermal microchip?

The BioThermal technology built in to the microchip allows you to not only scan with a microchip reader to identify the horse, but the reader will also display your horse's body temperature as well.

Is there an additional fee to microchip my horse?

For foals of 2019 and thereafter, the fee to microchip is incorporated in the registration fee. All horses with an existing freeze brand can have a microchip implanted for a fee of $35 each.

Will all horses need to be microchipped?

By 2021, all horses that are racing in the US will need to be microchipped. All USTA member tracks, including county fairs, will identify horses with a microchip. All horses that have been previously freeze branded and that plan on racing in 2021 and beyond must be microchipped by a USTA ID Technician.

Will pari-mutuel racetracks have readers? What about the county fairs?

Yes, all USTA extended pari-mutuel race tracks have readers to identify your horse. The county fair officials that will be responsible for identifying horses will need to make sure that they purchase a reader.

What if I want my horse freeze branded instead?

Those that choose to continue to freeze brand foals of 2019 can request their USTA ID Technician to do so. The fee is $75 per horse and can be paid to the USTA ID Technician by credit card when they come to your farm. This is in addition to the normal registration fee. However, before the horse races in 2021 and beyond, the horse will need to be microchipped.

Where do I look to see if my horse has a microchip already and where does it go?

The microchip is implanted on the left side of the horse's neck, mid-way from the poll to the withers.


Are there concerns with the microchip moving around after implant?

No! At one time, the glass-enclosed microchips were prone to movement when implanted in the tissue. Today, the provider has solved this problem with their patented Bio-Bond® process. Our microchips are encased in a micro-capsule made of bio-compatible material. The Bio-Bond® enables the animal's tissue to permanently anchor the microchip at the desired anatomical site. Merck/HomeAgain microchips stay where they should, for the health of the animals and for reading convenience.

How can I purchase a microchip reader?

Through our partnership with Merck/HomeAgain, we are able to offer microchip scanners to our USTA members. The Bluetooth model is $279 and a smaller, standard unit is $69. Purchases can be made by contacting USTA Member Services or by ordering via your USTA MyAccount.

What does the Bluetooth reader do?

The Bluetooth reader will communicate with your phone via the USTA ChipID app (available for free on both the App Store® and Google Play®). The app will automatically translate the horse's microchip number to display the horse's basic information (name, registration number, year of foal, color, sex, etc.) on your phone

USTA ChipID

What are the benefits of microchips?

There are multiple reasons that microchips are a superior means of identification. Here a few:

  • Microchips, in general, offer a faster/more efficient and less stressful means of identification from a farm visit standpoint
  • Ideal for both young and pregnant stock
  • Makes preventive care easier
  • Protects the identity and health of your high-value animal
  • Ideal for monitoring temperature during and after surgery or a procedure where minimal disturbance is desired
  • Alerts owner to possible sub-clinical indications of potential infectious diseases
  • Rectal readings can take several minutes; the Merck/HomeAgain microchip can measure a temperature in only a few seconds
  • Provides a safe, unobtrusive way to uniquely identify individual animals
  • Provides a less stressful way to alert owners of health problems through temperature sensing (EHV-1)
  • Merck has agreed to partner with the USTA, for free, a lifetime subscription of their HomeAgain rescue services. They have a proactive network of veterinarians, rescue facilities and volunteers who are immediately notified in an attempt to help locate lost animals. They maintain owner contact information by proactively prompting owners to update it during the annual membership renewal process and through other member communications. This may be deemed desirable for horses that are in need of rescue or connected via our Full Circle program.

When will my horse need to be microchipped and DNA typed? How do I get that done and what is the turnaround time?

Microchipping (or freeze branding) and DNA typing are completed at the same time and can be done as early as at 10 days old. If you are importing a horse from another country with a microchip already implanted, the USTA ID Technician still needs to come pull hair for DNA typing and to connect the microchip to the horse's USTA records.

To contact the USTA ID Technician in your area, click here.

Once the lab receives the DNA sample from the USTA ID Technician, it typically takes 5-10 business days to complete the testing.

Without permanent identification and parentage verification, a horse's registration papers cannot be mailed, ownership cannot be transferred and the horse will not be issued eligibilities to race. This applies to both new foals and to horses imported from another country.