|The Standardbred is clearly identified by the distinctive brand on the upper right side of the neck. The brand is a series of symbols unique to the individual horse and can be used to find information on racing name, age, pedigree and racing history.
What is Freezebranding?
Freezebranding is a method of permanently marking the horse with an identifying serial number. Freezebranding uses intense cold to destroy the hair follicle (colour producing cell) of the horse and, if applied with sufficient intensity, can also produce scar tissue. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze the branding iron (-196°C). The freezebrand causes numbness when applied and the horse does not show any resentment, even in the youngest of foals. Following application of the brand, a raised outline will appear, which will eventually form a scab and lift, leaving the black outline of the mark. As the weeks pass, the new discoloured hair will grow. No treatment or interference of any kind is required to the area, which will heal over completely unaided.
The Alpha Angle System
The code used in Australia (and elsewhere) is the Alpha Angle System, the structure of which can be seen on the right. New Zealand uses the "TVI" system, which has some similar symbols but with different meanings.
Since the freezebranding program provides for branding when the foal is still with the dam, the system virtually guarantees the integrity of the brand. The system was first used in the late 1960's, when a single-line brand was used.
In the late 1980s, Australia started to use a two-line brand: the first line starts with an ‘S' for Standardbred, followed by the digit for the state of foaling (2 = NSW, 4 = QLD, 5 = SA, 6 = WA, 7 = TAS), then two digits for the year of foaling. The second four-digit line is the horse's registration number. This two line method is similar to that used in New Zealand, where the first line has the two digits of the year of foaling followed by a ‘Z' for New Zealand, the second four-digit line being the horse's registration number.
Symbols used in Australian brands.
Symbols used in New Zealand brands.
When you have worked out the brand (you may need to clip the area if the horse has a thick coat), go to Harness Racing Australia (HRA) Online Horse Search, enter the freezebrand numbers and run a search. If the number is not totally clear, you may have to experiment with one or two digits to get a result. The site has remarkably complete information about the breeding and racing history of your Standardbred.