Horse Law: Horse Theft

Historically, horse theft in Missouri was very common – particularly in Clark County, near the borders between Missouri and near Iowa and Illinois.

In the 1800s, horse theft was a big problem. In 1854, the Anti Horse Thief Association was informally organized. In 1859, the Anti Horse Thief Association was formally organized in Kansas. By the start of WWI, there were more than 40,000 members. Other anti horse-theft organizations, in other parts of the United States, were also formed. With the automobile, particularly when car ownership became common, horse theft decreased. With a decrease in horse theft, most such organizations dissolved.

However, horse theft remains a common problem today. Even in modern times, about 40,000 horses are stolen every year. All too often, even today, horses are stolen and end up for sale at horse auctions.

There are at least 3 nonprofit organizations that deal with horse theft, and work to return stolen horse(s) to their respective owners.

  • Stolen Horse International a/k/a SHI a/k/a

  • Anti Horse Thief Association

  • Missing Pet Network a/k/a MPN

None of the above organizations, or fictitious names for them, appeared in a business search at the Missouri Secretary of State website,

Stealing a horse valued at $3000 or more is a Class B Felony in Missouri. The applicable statute is §570.030.1 RSMo. Personally, I do not consider horses to be livestock. However, the definition of “livestock” in §144.010 RSMo includes horses.

Horse & Rider magazine, in September of 2010, featured an article called, “10 Steps to Reduce The Risk of Horse Theft.” I recommend the article. Here are some of the basics:

  • Marks. Permanently mark your horse(s), or at least have microchips implanted.

  • Photographs. Take photographs of your horse(s):

  • From both sides,

  • Front, Rear,

  • Close-ups of any identifying marks

  • Proof of ownership/registration

  • Written Descriptions

  • General description of horse(s) (e.g., breed, height, age)

  • Specific description of any identifying marks.

  • Health records (e.g., a recent Coggins report).


Mary B. Schultz is a partner in the law firm of Schultz &Associates LLP,, 640 Cepi Dr., Suite A; Chesterfield (St. Louis), Missouri 63005, (636) 537-4645. Mary B. Schultz graduated from Northwestern University Law School more than 30 years ago, in 1985, and has been practicing primarily in Missouri ever since. Mary B. Schultz is admitted to practice in Missouri and Illinois.

This column is intended to provide general information only. It does not constitute, nor should be relied upon, as legal advice or a legal opinion relating to specific facts or circumstances.

Reproduction of all or any part of this column is permitted, provided credit is given to Mary B. Schultz.

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