Horses are one of the most popular subjects for tattoos. Everyone loves them (horses that is, not tattoos), they are handsome to look at, and they represent desirable qualities (e.g. luck, power).

Some locations for horse tattoo designs include:

Type of Tattoo

 Tattoos can be permanent, temporary or semi-permanent. Personally, we favor temporary tattoos because:

  • If it is poorly done, you can wash it off and try again. Likewise, if you change your mind about the design or location.
  • Less danger of disease transmission (some of which are incurable). 
  • No pain

Permanent Tattoo Precautions

If you are determined on a permanent tattoo, here are some suggestions:

  • Sterile needles. To avoid infections with diseases (e.g. Hepatitis, Tetanus, HIV), the needles should be sterile. Better tattoo studies will take out a new needle from a sterile container (insist on seeing this) for each client. If an old needle is used, as a minimum it must be sterilized using a method effective against all contagious diseases. Unless you are familiar with sterilization requirements and watch this being done, best to insist on a fresh needle. Professional studios should have an autoclave (a machine that uses heat, steam and pressure to sterilize equipment) and should be willing for you to watch the equipment to be used on you being sterilized.
  • Fresh ink. Not only the needle needs to be sterile, but also anything it comes in contact with. If new ink pots are not used for each client, the ink pots can become disease contaminated, so even if you get a fresh needle you are not safe since when the needle is dipped into the ink it can be contaminated by disease viruses from previous clients. 
  • Fresh pads and such. The same logic also applies to any other items (e.g. blotting pads) which come into contact with blood. They must be fresh for each client to prevent cross-infection.

In general, the more expensive and exclusive studies will give more attention to hygiene and safety. It is also going to be safer to have a tattoo done in America or western Europe than in poorer countries which have higher levels of blood borne diseases and lower levels of hygiene.

The skin penetration and damage done by the needle can result in various skin infections. Aside from the health issues, these can also result in distortion of the tattoo, turning a lovely design into a inky mess. Responsible studios will not only clean the skin before and after tattooing to reduce the risk of infection, but will also advise you on cleaning the skin until it heals (you will likely want a bottle of antiseptic for this purpose).

Some people have allergic reactions to the dyes, which can occur immediately or long after the tattoo has been applied. Certain dyes are more prone to cause allergic reactions than others (reputedly the dye used for red color is more likely to cause this problem). 

If you experience any problem with the tattoo or tattoo area, including itching or a rash, it is best to immediately get medical advise to minimize potential problems.

Make sure that you are happy with the design, the studio and the artist who will be doing the work. Although tattoos can be removed (e.g. by laser treatment), aside from the cost there may be some scaring or other issues. Consequently, one should carefully check in advance that the work will be of a satisfactory quality. It is best to use a tattoo artist which is registered in licensed, if you are in an area where registration and licensing are done.

Temporary Tattoos

With temporary tattoos there are a number of options, ranging from hand painting the skin to simply applying a decal. The various possibilities are discussed in Wikipedia Temporary Tattoos but can be summarized as:

  • Transfer Sheet (purchased). These come as a plastic sheet with the tattoo design on it. The sheet is applied to the skin and then the backing is peeled away, to leave a temporary tattoo. There are a number of ready made designs available on line. 
  • Transfer Sheet (self-printed). One can also buy blank tattoo transfer sheet paper which can be loaded into the printer of your home PC. You can then download and print designs from the internet (modifying them online if you wish) on this transfer paper. Then simply apply the paper in the same way as for pre-printed transfer sheets to get the tattoo of your choice. Even if you are thinking of a permanent tattoo, this is a good way to try out the tattoo of choice first to see if you (and possibly friends) are happy with it.
  • Henna. This is an ancient tradition, where the skin is painted with a natural henna die. As the ink is on the skin rather than underneath it, it eventually fades away but may last up to a month. Make sure that the henna does not contain the substance para-phenylenediamine (PPD) as this can damage the skin.
  • Air Brush. This approach uses a stencil and an air brush to ink the skin. It gives a higher quality result than transfer sheets but tends to be more expensive to apply.

Semi-permanent Tattoos

Semi-permanent tattoos are claimed to fade away after a period of months or years. In some cases this is based on using dyes which are absorbed into the skin while in other cases the technician does not penetrate as deeply into the skin. Unfortunately, in practice this may not work, resulting in a permanent tattoo instead. It is best to investigate closely and check the reputation of the studio carefully before accepting such claims.

Where to Get Tattoos

The best place to get a permanent tattoo is in a professional and reputable studio. For henna and air brush tattoos, these can be obtained at studios but are sometimes also available at fairs and similar attractions.

For transfer sheets, one can get pre-printed designs from certain stores and some tattoo studios. There are also a number of online shops, which can be found with a google search on 'temporary tattoo' or 'temporary horse tattoo' or similar search term.

For self-printing transfer sheets, these can also be obtained in certain stores or some tattoo studios. Good online search terms include 'temporary tattoo paper' or 'temporary tattoo printer ink'.