Transferring an American Quarter Horse's Ownership

Transferring an American Quarter Horse's Ownership

Registration certificates prove pedigrees, ownership and records. These nine tips demystify AQHA transfers.

generic black and white image of an American Quarter Horse (Credit: Vickie Corbett)

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There’s something to be said for a horse’s bloodlines and pedigree. Certain dam and sire names are so influential that they’ve become industry buzzwords.

When you hear, “He’s a son of Wimpys Shining Boon and out of a daughter of Slick By Smart Cat,” your eyes perk up. But is he really a son of Wimpys Shining Boon and out of a daughter of Slick By Smart Cat?

Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. That’s the beauty of a registration certificate – it proves lineage. And, sadly, you can't brag on that pedigreed American Quarter Horse until you have the certificate that proves it.

The first thing professional tie-down roper Stran Smith asks when purchasing a horse is if the horse has AQHA papers.

"The papers help me verify the bloodlines because a horse's pedigree is one of the things I value," he says. "I have American Quarter Horses, and I have the papers to prove it!"

AQHA processes hundreds of thousands of horse transfers each year. Close to 90 percent of transfers pass through AQHA's registration and transfer department without any problems. Of those that aren't cleared, it's usually because the new owners forgot to include the registration certificate or because the date of sale was altered or omitted.

Tips and Facts About Transferring an American Quarter Horse's Ownership

Transferring a horse’s ownership doesn’t have to be scary. To make sure your horse's transfer sails through AQHA's offices:

  1. The transfer report requires the names of the buyer and seller, along with the seller's signature and the date of the sale. Include basic information about the horse to ensure the horse being transferred and the registration certificate match up. This, along with the original registration certificate and the fee, is all that needs to be sent to AQHA.
  2. Neither the seller nor the buyer has to be a member of AQHA to transfer a horse. However, if the buyer is not an AQHA member, he will have to pay a nonmember fee of $105 which ends up being the same amount as the cost of a membership and a transfer combined.
  3. If you buy your horse at an auction, chances are the auction company will wait until your check has cleared the bank before it sends the transfer report and registration certificate to AQHA.
  4. When buying a horse from an individual, make sure you get the original registration certificate with the signed transfer at the time of payment or be certain the seller mails them to AQHA. Make sure that the horse's age, color and markings match those on the certificate.
  5. Make sure the person who signs the transfer is the same person whose name is listed on the registration certificate as the owner. AQHA rules also require that each owner must be recorded on the horse's certificate. If you buy a horse from someone who is not the last owner listed on the certificate, AQHA has to have transfers from each person who has owned the horse up until that time. This can result in lengthy delays in processing. But these issues are certainly surmountable. If you need assistance, call 806-376-4811.
  6. If the horse is in a ranch or company name, call AQHA to find out who is authorized to sign on behalf of that business. In some cases, AQHA might not have an authorization on file. If that happens, AQHA has to obtain an authorization before the horse can be transferred. However, you can send it in to AQHA to begin the process.
  7. If you buy a horse from someone who recently died and you haven't sent in the transfer form, be sure the date of sale was prior to the person's death. Otherwise, AQHA can advise the buyer on the documents that are needed to accept an executor's or heir's signature on behalf of the deceased person. These situations can cause delays in the process.
  8. If you own a mare and use her for breeding, it's important to transfer the mare into your name because the name on the mare's certificate at the time of foaling is also considered the owner of the foal. If the mare isn't transferred at the time of foaling, you'll have to get the signature of the previous owner to register the foal.
  9. The recorded owner or their authorized agent or lessee is the only person AQHA can recognize when conducting business with regard to any American Quarter Horse.