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How to Read your Warmblood's Registration Number

Have you ever wondered what your horse's brand and registration number really means? To someone in-the-know, your horse's brand and life number can reveal where and when he was born, and with which registry he was originally papered.

In Germany, each breeding district has its own brand, and a numerical code which shows up as the second and third numerals of the horse's registration number. If you look at the map to the right (or download the larger image below), you can see the different brands, region by region. Most regions have more than one brand - these are for their warmbloods, ponies, regional draft horse breeds, specialty breeds such as Haflinger and Icelandics, etc. But each region also has a two-digit number (hand-written onto each region on this particular map) placed at the beginning of each horse's registration number, revealing where that horse was bred .

Registration, or Life numbers, are 15 digits long throughout Europe - with the exception of Holland and Belgium, which use a different system. For a quick glance at a horse's age, look to the first number of his registration number. Horses born in 1999 and earlier have a 3 as the first digit of their registration number, whereas horses born in 2000 and after begin with a 4. All Zweibruckers, whether born in Germany or North America, sport the letters DE before their registration numbers as well - signifiying a German bred horse. Dutch horses' numbers are prefixed with the letters NLD, while Belgian Warmbloods use BEL.

Next come the breed-specific numerals. Zweibrückers born in Germany or abroad sport a "51" as the second and third numbers of their registration number, whereas German-bred Holsteiners, for example, use the numbers "21". Most registries also add the last two digits of the year of bith to the end of a horse's life registration number. So that a horse with the number DE 4515160007104 is known to be a Zweibrücker born in 2004.

Zweibrückers also sport the last two digits of their own registration number ( the "71" in the above example registration number) under their brand. While branding is becoming less common in Germany and micro-chipping is on the rise, the need for regional and breed identification of sport horses remains a useful tool for identification, marketing and ownership. An RPSI registered horse's life number remains essential, both in print form on his passport and in his USDF and USEF paperwork, as well as associated with his micro-chip number, and finally, as the two-digit number branded onto his left hip, below the Zweibrucker symbol and crown. Regardless, knowing where your horse came from, and knowing how to identify him or her in the future, is useful information for breeders, competitors, and owners alike.

Download a full-size PDF of the German Registries and Brands Map