Stable Security Checklist –Preventing Theft
of Horses and Equipment
Many barn and farm owners like having an open-door policy when it comes to visitors. Curious passers-by may be attracted to the site of a beautiful horse, a beautiful barn, or the simple presence of farm animals. These people drive on to your property, park their car, and start walking around.
While it would be wonderful if we could all trust that nothing bad is going to happen, this trust would be misplaced. In Florida, horses have been stolen for slaughter; in New York, a groom stole dozens of purses from unlocked cars at multiple barns; and in Maine, a group of young men were arrested for shooting a horse with a BB gun. If you can imagine it, it probably has happened to someone.
Below is a checklist of basic steps that you can take to improve security at your barn or farm. Most of these steps are common sense and many of you probably are already using them. The hardest part about properly securing your property is TAKING THE TIME TO DO IT!! It is so easy, after a long day, to convince yourself that nothing is going to happen that night, so you don’t take the time to lock a gate or close a door. And of course, accidents or criminal activity can occur during the day as well, so you need to be vigilant at all times about who is coming onto your property.
- Have a list of horses and current photos. Although a lot of farms use Coggins Exams as an identifying document, it is important to have current photos of each horse. Make sure to take clear pictures of identifying marks, whorls in the coat, or tattoos / brands. Keep all photos with current contact information for owners.
- Have a list of tack and farm equipment. Maintain a current, detailed list of your equine and farm equipment as well as the value. It is a good idea to take photos as well; this will come in handy if you need to report anything missing to law enforcement or your insurance company. Where possible, mark your items with your name. In the case of a saddle, take note of the serial number, year and manufacturer, and keep that information in a safe place.
- Lock it up. Keep your equipment stored in a locked tack room and control who has access to it. Encourage boarders and clients to keep locks on their trunks if stored in the aisle of the barn. When traveling to horse shows or events, remember to keep all valuables locked in your truck or the tack compartment. If you have farm trucks and equipment, such as tractors or quads, keep keys separate from the vehicles. Keep gates closed at entrances and exits.
- Lights, Camera, Action. Floodlights or motion-detecting lights are helpful (and not very expensive). Installing a barn security system with cameras is a good way to ensure that you are able to keep an eye on things. Make sure to post warning signs that the farm is under video surveillance.
- Take note of unfamiliar people and vehicles around your farm. If you are a boarding or lesson facility, it is a good idea to have all guests check-in when they come onto your property. Encourage your staff to report any suspicious activity or persons, and take down a description and license plate if possible. Thieves may respond to sale ads for gear or horses, just to case out the property.
- “Neigh”borhood Watch. If you live in a horse friendly community or neighborhood of farms, set up a neighborhood watch. The more eyes, the better! Anything suspicious, like unusual tire tracks, breaks in the fencing, or gates that are tampered with, should be shared with your neighbors.
- Get Insurance. If you do have something stolen, at least you may be able to get reimbursed for your loss. Be sure to review your coverage and discuss your needs with your insurance agent.