National Quarter Horse Registry ~ Since 1956

Brand, freezemark, or petroglyph?

Sometimes deciphering your horses brand can be as perplexing as looking at petroglyphs. 

The most frustrating part of brand research is the lack of a national brand registry. Every county and state has a multitude of brands registered as well as many that are not. There is no guarantee you will find the information you are looking for but there are steps you can take that might help.

The first step would be to try and decipher your horses brand which can be a symbol, letters, or numbers.

To decipher a lip tattoo the Jockey Club suggests using a black light.

Brands are best seen during the summer months when your horses coat is slick but may also be visible when shaved. 

Many brands are symbols that correlate with a ranch name. In the U.S. brands must be registered with county or state authorities to be recognized. 

If you know the area your horse was raised in you might be able to get information from the brand department in that area. 

Here are a couple images that may help you further decipher your horses brand




There are also several online resources which are not all inclusive but may help

Racehorses must be tattooed on the upper lip and recorded with the Jockey Club in order to race, they can also have freeze brands 

most commonly including three parts:

  • a breeder's distinguishing brand which consists of letters or symbols that meet Department of Agriculture requirements in each State and Territory
  • a sequence (serial or foal drop) number which signifies the order in which the foals were branded with the distinguishing brand, and
  • a year number which signifies the foaling season the foal was born in.

You can contact the Jockey club at:

821 Corporate Drive
Lexington, KY 40503
Phone: (859) 224-2700
Fax: (859) 224-2710

The BLM uses freezemarking to identify wild horses and burros that have been gathered from the public rangelands using the following cypher

The BLM can be contacted at:

Arizona State Office
One North Central Avenue
Suite 800
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4427
Phone:(602) 417-9200


Hopefully some of these tips will aid you in your search. The N.Q.H.R is in the process of creating a database of brands submitted through our registered horses but it is not yet available to the public. We will be sure to come back and add a link on this page when it does become available.