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