Horses must be suitably identified applicable to their type and the discipline that they are used for.

Schools that keep horses must be assigned a PIC. The school must record the identity of the horses kept at the school and the movements to and from this PIC with dates.

Microchipping of horses must be carried out by a veterinarian.

Approved activities Category
Hoof trimming: cattle and horses 3

Routine husbandry activities for horses that may be carried out by school staff and students include:

  • Internal parasite control
  • External parasite control
  • Vaccination
  • Hoof trimming
  • Clipping.

Information about internal and external parasite control and vaccination for horses can be found in the disease prevention section.


From 1 September 2012, anyone who keeps livestock in NSW is required to obtain a PIC for the land on which the livestock are kept. This includes all horses within NSW. A property identification code or PIC is a unique identifier for land used for keeping livestock. PICs are assigned to individual properties and allocated by Livestock Health and Pest Authorities (LHPA). Schools that keep horses will need to be assigned a PIC and each horse should have the PIC on its registry papers.

Property Identification Codes

Branding is one of the most common forms of identification of horses in Australia. Horses are branded on the shoulder, neck or rump, usually with their stud/breeder brand on the near side and the year of foaling and foal number on the offside. Different breed and sport organisations require branding of horses in addition to microchipping. Branding is also a practical method of identification for station managers as it is easily visible and some sites do not have access to a scanner. Freeze branding is preferred over hot branding on horses.

Branding (freeze or hot) of horses is not included as an approved activity as appropriate and safe restraint is required. This level of restraint for horses is usually only available through an equine veterinary practice or specialised equine technician.

Branding Horses

Since the outbreak of Equine Influenza in 2007, microchipping has increased in popularity as a method of identifying horses. Microchip numbers are used to identify horses that are lost, stolen or escaped and can track movements in the case of emergency disease outbreak. Different registry organisations such as Equestrian Australia require a microchip number in order to register horses. Many organisations will also require a microchip number for registration and competition.

Microchips must be administered by a veterinarian and can be carried out when young horses are weaned as well as at any time throughout the horse’s life if a horse is purchased without a microchip. Microchip numbers are used in combination with PICs so that each horse on a property is recorded and movements between properties can be recorded.

Dental care

Modern feeding practices can be detrimental to dental health as grain/concentrate based diets reduce overall dental wear and promote the formation of sharp dental overgrowth. Horses require attention by a qualified horse dentist at least once a year. Young growing horses or horses with existing teeth problems should be seen to by a dentist up to 3 times per year depending on the dentist’s advice. Some horses will require sedation to have their teeth treated. In this case a veterinarian should always be present and administer any sedation. Some signs that a horse may require dental treatment include:

  • Weight loss
  • Bad breath/thick discoloured saliva
  • Bleeding from the mouth/nostrils
  • Nasal discharge
  • Abnormal eating habits
  • Sipping water frequently while eating
  • Dropping food while eating
  • “Chipmunk cheeks” – packed food in cheeks while eating
  • Large forehead muscles
  • Head tossing/head tilting/bolting/strange behaviour while riding.

The Equine Dental Association of Australia

Hoof trimming/shoeing

All horses require regular hoof trimming approximately every 4 – 6 weeks. Some horses require shoeing if they have badly formed feet or are in heavy work. A qualified farrier will be able to assess whether or not a horse requires shoeing and will also be able to assess how often each horse requires trimming or shoeing.

It is important to consider that horses with access to high nutrient pasture or supplement feeds will have faster growing feet. Seasonal change can also influence hoof growth as pastures become more nutritious during spring months. Horses kept on soft ground or in stables will also need more regular trimming in comparison to horses on harder ground as their feet will naturally be worn away. In some cases where horses have very poorly formed feet, laminitis, leg problems or have been neglected may need corrective shoeing to reduce and problems.

Master Farriers Association of NSW

Image: Regular hoof maintenance is an important part of horse husbandry
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