Papers, or the lack there of.....ugh

I found a weanling QH weanling filly I love. She is bred how I like and is built great. The problem is that she does not have papers. The sire and dam are known. The stallion owner didn’t file a breeding report and the mare’s papers are in the former owner’s name. How hard and expensive is it to get papers for her if all parties are agreeable.
I was told with the AQHA, the owner of the foal is the owner of the mare. The papers of the mare have not been transferred to the current owner of the dam.
Should I run? I have no interest in AQHA shows. Mostly trail riding and some sorting. But I would like to have papers for her.

If you are fine with a nice using horse and the price reflects she has no papers and you arent hoping to sell or bred her down the road this could be a bargain.

If you need and want papers don’t go into this expecting to definitely end up with them.


If it were me, I’d be calling AQHA and asking them what is possible. I don’t keep up with all the rules of their registry, which evolve from year to year, but my impression is that they are trying to get as many horses registered as they can.
If you do call, keep track of the names of the folks you are speaking with. You could end up talking to multiple people regarding the filly’s status. I can imagine this one getting “kicked upstairs” to higher-ups in the registration department before you get a final answer.
And thank you for trying to do the right thing by this filly! Good luck.


You can’t ride the papers.

There are a few good reasons to have them. 1) You specifically want to show breed shows and/ or breed events. 2) You want to breed.

Unless you are specifically showing AQHA cattle events like penning, sorting or cutting, cattle events do not usually ask for papers. I showed at NCHA cuttings for years, and did a little team penning through local and regional organizations, and papers were never required or asked for.

As far a ownership, just because the papers have not been transferred does not mean the person whose name is last on the papers is the owner of the foal. A bill of sale, easily found on the internet, should be used when buying any horse. I use one whenever I buy or sell.

I personally bought a 2 year old paint horse this year. He is not registered, although I was given all the paperwork to register him. All I have to do is send in the paperwork with the appropriate fees.

I am choosing not to do that. 1) I am a trail rider, and with trail riding a good horse is a good horse regardless of papers. 2) He is a gelding, so no breeding will be happening.

Would papers enhance his value? Maybe, maybe not- but him having good ground manners, being handy and well broke, being healthy and sound will do much more for his value in the end.


But “a nice horse” v “a nice horse, registered Paint” ?Marketing sells and it is the same with horses. Can I see a good horse? Absolutely. Would I ride the papers? No, of course not. Would I like to see registration papers with a horse? Yes, because at the very least it suggests people have thought about the breeding, have stood by their product, are likely to have invested time and money into their young stock. Buying a horse is always a risk but one with papers, to me, reduces some of that risk.

And for any breed, registered geldings are just as important as the breeding stock because geldings are so often the performance animals. Look at stallion statistics and it is mainly geldings contributing “money won” by his get.

IMO the breeders were at fault for allowing the horse to leave their care without the registration in place.


The main reason I prefer papers for my geldings is proof of age. Too easy for folks to forget how old a horse is. And I like knowing breeding, just for fun. FYI I track all my horses previous owners if possible and write to each (hard copy or facebook) and let them know the horse is with me and send a pix. Some write back, others don’t.

I would clear up the papers now! Trust me, it’s a lot easier to handle NOW than even 5 years from now.


I look at ads that say ‘not registered but papers would be easy to get’ and think ‘if they are so easy to get why did you not get them?’.

If you like this horse for what this horse is, without any papers, then buy the horse. If you then get the papers it is a bonus. Don’t expect getting the papers to be easy or free.


If I recall correctly and the AQHA has not drastically updated their procedures, you will need the ink signature of the previous owner on the dam’s registration papers signing ownership over (much like how paper title states have car titles set up) and the current owner of the mare will have to pay fees to have the mare registered to their name. Then the breeding notice thing filed with AQHA. Then registration papers can be issued for the filly you are looking at. Though they will be sent to mare owner who will then need to ink sign over those papers to you and then you pay fees to have filly transferred to your name.

This presumes the filly is being sold without DNA verified parentage.

Short version, unlikely you will see registration papers on this filly

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My friend bought a half Arab who was registered but whose papers had stalled out several owners back when he washed out of an Arab show career and ended up in a backyard. It turned out it was possible for her to get the papers but was going to cost more money time and bother than she wanted to invest. He’s a lifetime horse, she knows his family tree, and she has no plans to show Arabian circuit.

In general if the papers aren’t up to date and ready for you there is a glitch in the process that can be hard to fix. I’ve seen folks get screwed over with promises about papers, too.

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If all parties involved are local I would reach out to whom ever has the mare’s papers and see if they would do whatever it takes to get this weanling registered ( if you pay all fees). The stallion owner will need to be involved too wouldn’t they?

You need the stallion owner to file a Stallion Breeder Report, stallion owner to sign breeders certificate, mare owner of record to sign breeders certificate. If the current owner of the mare wishes to be listed as breeder, then a transfer will need to be completed to show they were the owner before the mare was bred. Since the horse in question is still a weanling, the registration fee isn’t that much. Was the mare bred via live cover? If bred via AI, then you will also need to do a DNA verification on the foal.


Thank you everyone! Since plans always change, I may want to breed her or sell her eventually.
It definitely sounds super complicated to get her papers even if everyone is agreeable. She was owned and bred out of state. Not sure if it was live cover or not.
Like I said originally, I like this filly A LOT and I may end up buying her. But I have contact for a person in the area who, I am told, can find what I am looking for and she will have papers. So I will reach out to him and see if he has anything.

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If I had to ability to register a horse I would. Not because it enhances his riding but sometimes circumstances change and selling becomes a reality. Having papers could make the horse easier to rehome, many people will look at papers and want a horse with so and so in the papers, will pay a bit more to have a certain name in the papers and feel so proud to own that horse.
Just my two cents worth.


It’s not that incredibly difficult.
First step would be to call AQHA and confirm what steps need to be taken but I believe it would start with a breeding report from stallion owner….once that is in, sure owner would release registration application to the owner of the dam at time of breeding and then they would sign off on it for you.
Possibly in this situation you would need to send in mane hairs for DNA to confirm identity since this is a weird situation.
Papers will almost always be more beneficial than not and I would highly suggest you go through the steps now to get her registered if you plan on buying her. :blush:


Since I didn’t have the seller’s, stallion owner’s or mare’s last owner’s name or contact info (I was going through a friend) and they were out of state, I decided not to pursue the filly. Thank you for everyone’s help!
I am working on buying a cute buckskin weanling with papers! Fingers crossed!


That’s for the best if you wanted to breed her! My rule of thumb is “if it didn’t have papers before going up for sale, you are not going to get them after” because the reason half them don’t have papers is because someone dropped the ball and it was too difficult to pick back up.


If the deal goes through you need to update with pictures. It is required :slight_smile:


Yep. This.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, sometimes, a horse might not be eligible for AQHA registration due to HYPP status. If the horse is Impressive bred, lack of papers is a HUGE red flag. It’s also a reason to be highly skeptical of really nice looking clearly AQHA type horses that show up for sale for ultra low prices as “grade”.


I agree. As a buyer I really appreciate the efforts AQHA has made with the genetic testing and how easy it is to look up a registered horse.

In fact when considering a horse, looking up their AQHA registration is the first thing I do to see if there are any genetic issues, and seeing the owner transfer history is also helpful.

Doing this, I discovered one horse was PSSM positive, which the seller wasn’t disclosing. I also found one who had previously been owned by a really well respected trainer which told me the horse had gotten a very solid start and lots of exposure. So having papers is about much more than just the bloodlines.


Buckskin baby is getting vetted later today. I am super excited. She is cutting bred!