Buying a Quarter Horse Without Papers
Buying a Horse Without Papers
BUYER BEWARE...Buying a Quarter Horse without papers ...be prepared for trouble and possible disappointment
American Quarter Horse Association "Registration Rules"
We have received many, many inquiries from people who have purchased a Quarter Horse whose registration papers are unavailable. Some reasons are legitimate, and some not. The following information may help you avoid this situation, or offer some help if you are already facing this situation.
First, try to get the names and addresses of all previous owner(s). This may not be easy, because this information may have been forgotten or deliberately being withheld from you. This is your best chance to find out the true identity of the horse. If you are able to obtain the horses name and/or the name of the last owner recorded with the AQHA you may have a chance to locate his papers. This is very important. You should also check for a tattoo number inside the upper lip. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) can identify a horse from that number, which is different from its registration number.
The AQHA rules: When a horse is registered, the registration certificate is issued to the person registering the horse. However, the certificate belongs to the AQHA, and they have the right to revoke or require it's return for sufficient cause. Whenever a horse is sold, the SELLER is required to return the certificate to AQHA along with a completed transfer form showing the date of sale, name and contact information for the buyer. The AQHA then records the change of ownership on the certificate and in their records, and mails the certificate directly to the new owner.
If a seller fails to record the transfer of ownership, as above, their AQHA membership can be suspended, which is a very serious situation; This means they cannot race or show any horse in AQHA events, nor can they transfer any more horses to a new owner. They can not "Stand a stallion", breed a mare, or register a foal, etc. If a horse dies or is sold without papers, the recorded owner must report this to AQHA and send the certificate of registration to them for notation.
These rules are enforced more strictly now than in years past, so once a horse has been transferred several times without having the change of ownership recorded with AQHA, it becomes a ticklish situation. The original seller is in trouble, and he or she may be worried that they risk suspension if it becomes known that they sold a horse without personally mailing the certificate and transfer report to AQHA ... even though it might have been a long time ago.
What needs to be done is to trace back all owners until you find the last owner recorded on the papers. Even if the papers cannot be found, or have been lost or destroyed, AQHA will issue a replacement certificate if applied for properly by the last recorded owner.
You will need to know the full registered name of the horse in order to find out who the recorded owner is (this is obviously not the person you purchased the horse from). If you can learn the full-legal name of the horse, chances are you can find the last recorded owner. You can contact your local AQHA records department for more information. They will give you the name and address of the last owner over the phone. Once you reach this point, "Transfer Reports" should be obtained from each of the previous owners, up to and including, the person who sold you the horse. These reports can then be submitted, along with the required fees, to AQHA. If you are lucky, one of the previous owners will still have the registration certificate in their possession. If not, the AQHA will need to issue a replacement certificate (if they are provided with the proper documentation).
There is no way to identify a horse without a tattoo number or unless you are able to learn the name of the horse and are able to follow through, as above. If the horse has a brand, you may have a possible trail to follow, but you would also need to know what state the brand is recorded in.
Sometimes there are bad reasons why a horse "loses" its papers. Maybe it was never really registered, even though eligible for registration; it could have been obtained by means of a stable lien, or it could have been stolen; it may have been sold on a payment plan and the buyer failed to pay, then sold the horse without papers. There are endless ways this could have happened.
Be very careful about investing in a horse without papers. If having a registered horse is important to you, do not pay for a horse until you see the registration papers and verify their validity. Be sure to confirm that the owners name on the certificate matches that of the person selling you the horse. Also, verify that the horse's description, color, markings, age, etc. match perfectly! If you are still in doubt, ask for a copy of the registration certificate to take home. Contact your local AQHA and verify the information on the "Certificate of Registration" is current and correct. If something does not look or feel right.... walk away!