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Freeze Branding

Freeze branding is a very cold branding iron, I prefer the commercially made brass irons. L+H Branding Irons in North Dakota is where I have purchase them over the years. With freeze branding the pigment follicle responsible for the color of your horse can be changed while leaving the growth follicle (hair) intact. After healing, the hair that will grow back will be white in color and give the look of your brand on your horse, which looks particularly good on palominos, sorrels, chestnuts, bays, and black coats.

On light-colored horses, white or grey, leaving the freeze brand on longer than normal will destroy the growth follicle and leave the branded area bald.  This is the only way to see a brand on a white or grey horse.


Preparation and Process of Freeze Branding

Submerge your branding iron in your preferred coolant, I use liquid nitrogen.  Irons must be fully immerged with approximately 1” of coolant above the iron.

Your site will be pre-determined by your registered brand certificate. Carefully take measurement of size of brand, I like to make a template slightly larger than my brand for clean clipping of area. Having a nice-looking area where the brand is applied will look good for the weeks to come during the healing process and hair regrowth. Using clippers and at least of size 40 clipper blade prepared the brand site.

Clean the clipped area well.  I like to use chlorhexidine scrub to ensure all debris and oil is removed.  Wipe the scrub area clean with alcohol several times.

If you horse stood still for the prepping and cleaning of site it is now time to sedate your horse. With the help of another person apply a nose twitch for additional endorphin release.

After iron removal


Prepare the site one last time just before you are ready to brand with 99.9% alcohol. Do not use less than 99.9% as the alcohol helps with the freeze branding process. While area is still wet with alcohol, apply the brand to area and start stopwatch.  Apply firm even 35–40 pounds pressure the whole time, rocking slightly and applying of consistent pressure without causing the skin to wrinkle.  I like to do a circular pressure to ensure the sides are well defined. I have found that 20 to 22 seconds is ideal for my brand and what I want it to look like. L+H Branding Irons has a timing guideline on their website.

When your iron is removed your will immediately see an indentation of your brand. The area will quickly swell within a few minutes. The swelling goes down within several hours and/or days. At some point it branded skin will scab, and hair growth will resume. Do not pick the scab.  Do not apply products to the scab. Leave it alone. White hair will grow in and look good within a few months.


Freeze Brand Post Healing



First 24 hours:

Have a veterinarian perform a newborn foal exam and pull blood for assessment of Passive Transfer (i.e., foal’s blood IgG levels after consumption of colostrum).  Any irregular findings or concerns during this visit can then be discussed and a plan created to move forward with to try and maximize the foal’s neonatal health and long-term success.  This is also a crucial time to identify any limb conformation issues and make a plan for either corrective trimming/shoeing or schedule for re-evaluation to provide treatment during times that maximize the foal’s natural growth periods to correct issues and, in some cases, caught early enough avoid surgery and/or long-term conformation issues that will affect lifetime performance.

Day 1 thru Day 3 of Life:

1 Month of Age: Any questionable limb conformation should be evaluated by a veterinarian, as in some cases such as fetlock varus/valgus (i.e., point of limb angulations starts at fetlock), corrective hoof trimming needs to start NOW.

2-3 Months of Age: Earliest recommended 1st Deworming: recommended deworm with a fenbendazole or oxibendazole.

Consult with veterinarian about starting vaccination of foal early if mare was not vaccinated or vaccination history is unknown, especially for vaccination protection from Tetanus, Rabies, & mosquito born viruses like West Nile, Eastern/Western Encephalitis

4 Months of Age: 1st Vaccines against: Tetanus + Eastern/Western Encephalitis+ Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumanitis) & West Nile virus Vaccine

Foals will need 2 additional boosters of this vaccine combo roughly every 4 weeks for a total of 3 shots; to maximize West Nile antibodies (i.e., protection) it is given as its own shot for initial dose Rabies. Foals will need 1 additional booster of this vaccine

5 Months of Age: 2nd boosters against: Tetanus + Eastern/Western Encephalitis+ Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumanitis), West Nile virus Vaccine & Rabies (FINAL booster for Rabies regime)

6 Months of Age: 3rd booster against Tetanus + Eastern/Western Encephalitis+ Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumanitis) & West Nile virus Vaccine (final)

7 Months of Age: 2nd Deworming (ideally timed around weaning) BASED on FECAL EGG COUNT to determine which product will be most effect (e.g., using the kind of worm eggs present in fecal egg count to decide if fenbendazole or ivermectin or pyrantel is the dewormer of choice.) ***It is not recommended that moxidectin (e.g., Quest or Quest Plus) be given to horses less than year of age as it is very weight specific and easy to overdose resulting in illness and in some cases death of the horse

8 Months of Age: Recheck and revision of management plans for any angular limb deformities at level of the knee (i.e., carpal valgus/varus)

9 Months of Age: Finish up vaccine series if initial boosters were started at 6 months of age

10 Months of Age: Separate Colts from fillies and/or mares if not already done

11 Months of Age: Determine necessary paperwork & procedures for registering foal with Breed Registry if not already performed

12 Months of Age: 1st Annual Vaccines against: Rabies, Tetanus + Eastern/Western Encephalitis+ Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumanitis) + Equine Influenza, & West Nile virus. Recheck Fecal Float and deworm pending what parasites are present; use a product containing praziquantel (e.g., EquiMax which is ivermectin + praziquantel) if this has NOT been previously used in treatment.  ***It is not recommended that moxidectin (e.g., Quest or Quest Plus) be given to horses less than year of age as it is very weight specific and easy to overdose resulting in illness and in some cases death of the horse

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to ask and happy horse growing!

Labor is divided into 3 stages:

  • Stage 1 begins with the onset of contractions and generally lasts one to two hours. Even in a normal delivery, the mare may stand up, lie down and roll several times in an effort to properly position the foal for delivery. During this phase, contractions move the foal through the cervix and into position in the birth canal. The fetal membranes (allantois) may become visible at the mare’s vulva. When the sac breaks, signaled by a rush of fluid, stage one ends.The rupture of the allantoic membrane and rush of placental fluids may be confused with urination.

  • Stage 2 is the actual expulsion of the foal. This phase moves relatively quickly. If it takes more than 30 minutes for the mare to deliver, there is most likely a problem. If there is no significant progress within 10 to 15 minutes after the membranes rupture, call your veterinarian immediately. If labor seems to be progressing, wait and watch. Normal presentation of the foal resembles a diving position, with front feet first, one slightly ahead of the other, hooves down, followed closely by the nose, head, neck, shoulders and hindquarters. If you notice hoof soles up, the foal may be backwards or upside down, and you should call your veterinarian immediately. If you suspect any deviation from the normal delivery position, call your equine practitioner. The most deadly of foaling emergencies is a premature rupture of the chorioallantois, known as “Red Bag Delivery.”  If at any time during stage two you see red/maroon membranes covering the foal as it emerges from the vagina, the placenta must be rapidly torn open. The foal is detached from its blood and oxygen supply. Normal membranes that cover the foal are white or yellow and translucent.
  • Stage 3 labor begins after delivery and is the phase during which the afterbirth (placenta) is expelled. Most placentas are passed within 1-3 hours after the foal is delivered. If the placenta has not passed within 3 hours, call your veterinarian. A retained placenta can cause serious problems, including massive infection and laminitis.

Contributing author Ben Espy, DVM, DACT
Foaling Mare & Newborn: Preparing for a Safe & Successful Foal Delivery


Have your horse “vetted out.”
Your veterinarian should be contacted and requested to perform a pre-purchase examination of any horse you might consider purchasing.  A pre-purchase examination is entirely different from a veterinary examination pertaining to normal vaccinations, deworming, or any other sort of veterinary procedure.  Generally, horses are sold with no warranties, with some limits, and if the buyer elects not to have the horse “vetted out,” the buyer in most cases purchases the horse — AS IS.  That is, what you see is what you get.

Realize your limitations
Even if you buy a well-trained horse that has won numerous championships, there is no guarantee that you or your child will be able to reach the level of performance achieved by other riders with the same horse.  That is not to say that you will not achieve success, but horses are not much different from people in that various personalities get along better than others.  You should assume that your horse will respond differently to you than its previous owner, and we all hope the productivity established by such relationship is greater than that of the previous owner.

Ask questions
Most people hate to admit that there is something they do not know.  Consequently, many people do not want to ask questions that would, in their opinion, make them appear ignorant or less than expert.  The horse industry is very complex and operates under its own rules and traditions, independent of what one may perceive as normal in other areas of sales.  If you do not know something, ask questions . . . we are more than happy to assist you in any manner possible and it is important to us to know that you know what you are getting.  We will do everything possible to help you make a reasonable and rational decision regarding any purchase.  The ultimate decision must rest with the buyer and it is our objective to assist any prospective buyer in formulating and analyzing whatever issues the buyer may deem appropriate.

What you see is what you see is what you get!
Horses change hands from time to time and it is somewhat different than buying a car.  A horse may be injured and suffer permanent damage, or it may be abused from owner to owner causing certain behavioral traits which were apparent at one time and may not be apparent at others.  Realize that each horse-related transaction is different from the others, and each transaction must be evaluated on its own merits.

Through the years, Bandalero Ranch has taught many stallions both young and old to use a phantom mare. Most stallions will mount readily and can be collected successfully with relatively few attempts. It is difficult to predict how a stallion will act until teaching begins. A stallion whose behavior is “quiet” or those stallions slow to breed may take more time due to their timidity, or low libido, however they will eventually use a phantom just as well as any other stallion once confidence and understanding is gained.

In our experience, the average stallion can take one to three sessions prior to a successful collection. Those stallions who have previously live covered mares may take additional sessions since they are initially confused when they are not permitted to mount the tease mare. Once a successful collection is achieved, two to three more collections to reinforce the behavior will provide us some predictability and reliability that he will perform when necessary.

We maintain a mare for teaching and general collecting purposes. This mare is quiet and shows estrus well which encourages each stallion and gives him confidence. Each session takes a team of three people; the stallion handler, mare handler and the collector/veterinarian. .The mare handler strategically places the mare next to our teasing partition, giving the stallion, mare and handlers safe access for teasing. In most cases, this is enough to stimulate the stallion. In special circumstances, the mare is positioned next to the phantom mare on the opposite side from where the stallion will be presented. The stallion has already been prepped and is led up so that he can tease the mare over the phantom. The person handling the artificial vagina must be prepared to collect the semen wherever the stallion mounts. If the stallion is being trained to use an in-line artificial vagina the person then helps the stallion guide his penis into the in-line artificial vagina. A young stallion does not always mount on the proper end and to insist that he does can result in frustration. Stallions are quick learners; once success is attained there will be improvement with each subsequent session.

If you are planning to stand your stallion, this teaching period is an excellent time to test your stallion’s semen for fresh cooled transport. Our 48 hour semen viability test will provide you with valuable information for marketing.

The internet is a remarkable resource readily available at our fingertips, anytime any day.  How do you know what you are reading is accurate?  How do you know if that source can be trusted?  Below are some helpful tips to help interpret the abundance of equine-related articles out there on the internet.

Well known sites:
Start with sites you know and check the date. Anything older than five years of age justifies an additional search for newer material.

Who wrote the article? What are their credentials? Is the information published by a research institute like a university or college of veterinary medicine? If not, do more research.

You have now found several articles on your topic. Now assess the information you have accumulated.  Was a study done on 15 or fewer horses? Conclusions drawn from larger study groups are more statistically reliable.

When searching for information, stay away from absolute verbiage. For example, “Horses with Cushing’s Disease always have long, shaggy coats” or “Laminitic horses invariably stand with a camped-out stance.” Most educators give you several scenarios because no two horses are the same. Also, be cautious of products promoting “The Ultimate Supplement” to cure conditions. No such magic exists.

Pursue looking at research studies on equine-related data. And if that is not something you want to do, then turn to trusted publications like The Horse, which often cites and digests scientific articles into reader-friendly versions. Or ask your veterinarian!

Myths of Equine Dentistry
Written by Carl Mitz, Bandalero’s Equine Dental Provider

These statements are simply not true! All horses require routine dental maintenance, from cap extractions, tooth extractions, floating, molar extractions, incisor extractions, wave complex reduction, and the list goes on. Proving routine dental care ensures the health and longevity of your horse.

Carl Mitz

Certified Dental Provider

Carl Mitz joined Bandalero’s team over ten years ago. Together Dr. Lindholm and Carl make a valuable team for Arizona residents providing routine dental care of equines. Carl brings his dental expertise to Bandalero clientele bi-annually.

Carl has over 35 years in Equine Dentistry and is a third-generation horseman. He has held State Racing Licenses in Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Arkansas, and Florida to provide dental maintenance to racehorses. One of his most well-known accomplishments is his research and development of equine dental instruments and techniques for horses of all sizes and purposes.

Carl was certified in 1992 by the IAEDT and certified in Advanced Dentistry in 2002 by the IAED (International Association of Equine Dentistry). He is a past president of the IAEDT and IAED.

Carl helped published in two Veterinary Manuals- Equine Dentistry: A Practical Guide by Pat Pence, DVM and The Manual of Equine Dentistry by Tom Allen, DVM. He has also been an associate, consultant, and volunteer for many organizations, universities, and registries to promote the need for qualified dental providers to ensure the betterment and health of the horse. In 2011, he was appointed to the Advisory Committee of the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

Carl Mitz is the brainchild behind the EDPA  (Equine Dental Providers of America). Established in 2012, based on the idea of health and betterment of the horse and the need for proper certification as well as an increase in equine dentistry in the USA. The EDPA provides education to veterinarians,  individuals wanting to become and/or continue there skills as equine dental providers and horse owners. The EDPA’s goal is to continue the research and development of methods and procedures with a high standard of care and compliance for all equine dental providers.