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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Editor's Note: article updated July 8, 2024

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. A transfer may be held up if there is missing information on the transfer or the Certificate of Registration was not included.

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

  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. *For horses born January 1, 2027, the certificate used to conduct business will be digital and the seller can transfer the horse instantaneously on their myAQHA account. Paper transfers submitted for horses with a digital certificate will still be acceptable and processed by AQHA staff.

  2. Only the buyer has to be a member of AQHA to transfer a horse. If the buyer is not an AQHA member, they will be charged a membership fee with the transfer fee.

  3. If you buy your horse at an auction, generally, the auction company will wait until your check has cleared the bank before it sends the transfer report and registration certificate to AQHA. *In the instance of a digital certificate, the auction company will release the certificate once funds are received.

  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. *For horses born January 1, 2027, the certificate used to conduct business will be digital and the seller can transfer the horse instantaneously on their myAQHA account. Paper transfers submitted for horses with a digital certificate will still be acceptable and processed by AQHA staff normally. 

  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 must have transfers from each person who has owned the horse. AQHA cannot complete the transfer until transfers for all owners have been received. .

  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 and ensure they are who signed the transfer

  7. If you buy a horse from someone who recently died and you haven't sent in the transfer form, the deceased person’s signature can be accepted if it was signed prior to their death. For horses sold after their death, estate documents must be filed with AQHA and the authorized signer for the estate must sign the transfer.

  8. If you own a mare and use her for breeding, it's important to transfer her in a timely manner to ensure the foal is registered with the correct owner and breeder.

  9. The recorded owner, lessee, or their authorized agent are the only people AQHA can recognize when conducting business with regard to any American Quarter Horse.

Have more questions? Please call Member Services at (806) 376-4811.