Unlimited access >

Papers? Registration? Pedigree? Help!

So, I’m new to horse buying/ownership, and I have some rather stupid questions that google is not answering for me. Before you think I’m a complete idiot, please know that I do not own my horse (my parents do) and any registration/pedigree/papers etc did not matter at all at the time of purchase. The options were: buy the horse that I was leasing ASAP, or she gets shipped back to Canada and I likely never see her again. The sale contract was looked over by a lawyer, so everything is legit.

I still don’t care if she’s registered, if she’s a grade horse, if I can get her pedigree, or anything else for that matter. But I am curious and would like to know everything I possibly can about her.

What are “papers”? Does every horse automatically have them? Are they registration papers, purchase papers, a pedigree? I have no idea.

Basically, papers are a document, like your passport, that ID the horse, it’s birth date and pedigree. In most cases they are issued by a breed registry with proof of parentage and a fee.

The nice thing about papers is they are proof of ID, parentage and age.

That is the For Dummies version. It can be more complicated but that’s it in a nutshell.


“Papers” generally refers to breed registration documents, which typically include a basic physical description of the horse (color, sex, date of birth) the name of the breeder, the registration ID number, the horse’s immediate family members (sire, dam, dam sire) and a transfer of ownership section noting who has had possession of the horse since it was foaled. Usually, the breeder registers the horse, but it may be done later in life (at increased expense) if parentage can be verified. Breed associations have varying requirements, from parentage to performance testing, that must be met before papers will be issued.

Registering with USEF will simply give you a competition ID number, as well as record the name you would like to show your horse under.

Since you know your horse’s breeder, he/she should be able be able to provide you with a pedigree (a list of names by generation… sire/dam, sire’s family, dam’s family, etc.).

Whether or not someone wants you to breed her to their stallion will depend on the stallion you choose - specifically, the stallion owner’s wishes for how his genes are passed on.

Hope this helps.

1 Like

Not all horses have registration papers, just like not all dogs or cats do either.

Purebred animals have registration papers that identify the animal, and guarantee the parents and ancestors. Some purebred registries also provide got half breed animals as well. Each breed association keeps its own records and rules of admission.

”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹”‹As with dogs, horse breeds are tailored to different functions. Only registered thoroughbreds can race on tb tracks. Other breeds have breed shows exclusively for Arabs, QH, Morgans, Paints, etc.

At the top of the market all horses have known pedigrees and registration papers. Lower down the market, where both OP and I are, fewer horses do. The horse may be a genuine mutt, a “grade horse,” or may have lost the papers through circumstance. I have a Paint mare who went through auction as a young horse. My friend has an Arab that has papers, but it will cost her alot to get them transfered from 3 or 4 owners back, although she knows his pedigree. My own mare is a mystery, I have no idea about her pedigree.

OP, I doubt there is any possible breed registry for your pony. It would however be useful and interesting to get all the pedigree information you can while you can.

As far as breeding, usually breeding an unregistered mare is discouraged but it might be a bit different in pony world.

The problem with mystery mares especially ones from very disparate backgrounds like Welsh and stbd is, even if the components come out well in the mare, you don’t know what she will pass on to the foal. You might get a pony or you might get a pacer.

Registering with USEF is just something you do to track your horses performance history. Nothing to do with pedigree or even ID. No reason to do this until you are accumulating points at shows.

As far as breeding to a top stud, I’m sure there’s someone out there with a decent stud who will be happy to take your money. But is that the best way to spend your budget on your next step up horse? Thats a question to consider at the time.


Depending on what the parents were, you MIGHT have registration options. If one parent was a registered full welsh or registered half-welsh, and there is suitable documentation, it looks like your pony could be registered half-welsh or part-bred welsh. It also looks like there is currently a registration amnesty for older ponies until the end of the year, so you could do it for fairly cheap if you hurry. https://wpcsa.org/registry/registration/ I would start with contacting the breeder and finding out as much as you can. You will need their cooperation and documents in order to go forward. On the other hand, if both parents were just grade horses with welsh thrown in the mix, or welsh but not registered, or the breeder isn’t willing to help, you may be very much out of luck.

You could do something like NASPR, I think. Whether it is worth it financially and whether your mare is a candidate for breeding are different questions.

Yeah, I’m going to be “Debbie Downer” on this. That’s because I once stood in your shoes, thinking of doing what you’re thinking of doing, and an older, wiser lady gave a “dope slap” on the back of my head and spent quite a bit of time explaining to me why what I wanted to do was a bad idea. I learned from that. Over the last 30 years, in both Walking Horses and Mangalarga Marchadors I tried to breed the best to the best. Mostly it turned out that way, but I’ve had to put down a couple of foals that were born with genetic defects. That’s part of the business of breeding. I did some half-breeding in both breeds but it was after a long, considered discussion with people whose judgement I respect as a “check” on my own enthusiasm.

You have a grade horse by most “functional” definitions of that word. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad horse; but it’s not breeding stock. When you consider the question you must look at not only the horse in front of you but every horse on the pedigree. You have no pedigrees!!! This means, by definition, don’t breed it!!!



Most responsible high quality stallion owners will not breed to a mare of unknown breeding who has not had a successful career in whatever job the stallion is well known for, The resulting foal represents their Grand Prix stallion as much as your mare, doubt the mix of Welsh, Stbd and whatever else would improve a Grand Prix level stallions record as a producer of high quality foals capable of winning in the show ring. Sure wouldn’t want to chance the Pony genes popping up.

Just love the mare for what she is and enjoy her. Don’t dream of making her something she’s not. Make her the best she can be at what she is. You will be happier owning horses if you do the latter, love them for what they are.


OP, if you look a bit into genetics, which is very interesting and a developing field, you will see why it’s a risky choice to breed a grade mare of mixed lineage hoping for a great performance horse.

If the mare is a mix of unknown or a mix of very different breeds, like Welsh and Standardbred, she may herself be a nice useful horse, and a good choice for a junior rider. Maybe the mix of genes has lined up well in her so that she has Standardbred height and Welsh scopyness, and good temper and nice gaits from something unknown in her background. But because she is such a mix, you don’t know what genes she will pass on. What if you get Welsh height, Standardbred pacing, and Standardbred personality? And something unknown in her that refuses to jump higher than the height of her own knees (like my otherwise wonderful mustang pony as a kid)?

A very nice stallion, if you can find one and if you can afford thousands of dollars for the breeding, is only half the equation. If people could get excellent performance horses using good stallions on any old mare, then quality broodmares wouldn’t be a thing. It is true that a good stallion bred to any old mare will in general produce a foal that is nicer than the mare. But the foal will never be as nice as the stallion.

This might not matter in some contexts. In the late 19th century, the US government sent good quality TB studs out to ranch country to help breed cavalry remount horses for the army, and good draft horses to raise the quality of horses used to farm, which would increase farm production. In these cases, the studs raised the quality of mediocre mares. At that time, horses filled the function of farm machinery, basic transport, war machine … so raising the average quality would be a huge step, especially since a lot of the farmers and ranchers didn’t have the cash to import high end horses. But today horses are mostly for sport, and we don’t need to breed thousands and thousands of TB cross cavalry horses to go get shot to death overseas. So we don’t need huge crops of good-enough horses.

Now the reason that you could send out a good quality TB or a good quality Percheron and reliably expect him to improve the mares he was bred to, was that the stallion in this case had a long and known pedigree, all of horses of very similar type and purpose. His genetic makeup from both side of his family is very similar, even inbred. But a foal only takes 50% of its genes from one parent. And you don’t always know what they will be.

There is a local barn where I live that has been breeding TB/Percheron crosses for eventing, so there are a number of these out in the local world. It is amazing the difference between them. Some look like smallish plow horses, some look like heavy TB, some look like Andalusians, and one looked like an Anglo-arab to me (she might not have been a 50/50 cross). I’ve got to assume that the heavy TB/ low budget WB horse was what they really wanted for eventing. I don’t know their entire breeding program, so no idea how often they lucked out with that. But it was a real eye opener as to the variety you can get in what’s called F1 crosses of very different breeds. What would happen if you didn’t geld one of these crosses, and bred him to another cross mare for an F2 cross? I think you could get almost anything, again. The foal might be lighter or heavier than both the parents.

Also keep in mind that statistically breeders say that even if you have two nice horses of the same breed, there’s a 50% chance the foal will be as nice as the parents, a 25% chance the foal will be better, and a 25% chance the foal will be worse than the parents (on whatever metric you choose, usually performance). If this were not true, then breeding race horses would not be so tricky.

Also if you are going to breed a foal, keep in mind that first, you don’t know what you are going to get. And you won’t really know until you start riding it at 4 or 5 years. You will need to keep this young horse somewhere for the 4 years between weaning and riding. You will need to have a trainer on board so you don’t make costly and time consuming errors in ground work and riding training. If you have a huge ranch, you can toss a young horse out on pasture and it isn’t a big additional cost (beyond vet and farrier costs). But if you are like most of us, you are going to need to pay boarding fees even to keep the young horse on a pasture (where it belongs, not growing up in a stall).

Then be realistic about the timeline. Where will you be in 5 years? if you are a tween or a young teen, as it sounds from your post, in 5 years you will either be in college or starting your first job. If you are, say, 13 now, you have about 5 years to ride this mare and have fun and make her everything she can be. Then life will get in the way. It’s fine to say now that it won’t, but it does. Where in here would you breed her, what would you ride while she is off being a momma with a foal at foot, and where will you be 5 years after that when the foal is grown up and ready to start training under saddle?

You might be in graduate school or law school, you might be backpacking in Thailand, you might have the offer of a fantastic job in your field in Australia or Alaska, and you might have either rehomed your good mare to another loving teenager or put her on permanent pasture retirement as reward for treating you so well in your teen years. It is probably highly unlikely that you are going to be right there to start sinking hundreds and thousands of dollars into training rides and lessons for yourself to make this foal your next competition horse.

If by some chance you do stay in horses and you do end up being competitive and moving up the ranks in your discipline, and you are a young trainer or working student at age 22: trust me, you are not going to want Sweet Mutt Foal as the horse to make your name with. You are going to have your choice of a wide range of purpose bred horses from your coach or clients, and project horses, etc.

IME, homebred foals very often end up not getting much training, because of time, money, lack of skills, or lack of interest when the time comes around. They tend to become pasture ornaments or problem personalities, depending on the circumstances.

I agree with Scribbler other than the comment about Standardbred personality. I’ve met very few that were not total sweethearts given time to bond to their people. With such an unknown hodgepodge of bloodlines you have no idea what sort of offspring your mare could have. Enjoy and love her, but I wouldn’t breed her. Raising a foal from birth doesn’t mean you are going to bond with it either. My father bought me a mare when I was maybe 16, that was possibly in foal. Turned out she was, and I never really cared for him. Kept him until he was three and don’t think I shed a tear when I sold him. His mother on the other hand, I still miss. They were very different horses.

It is easier and cheaper to buy a foal from the performance lines you want than the breed your mare in the hopes of getting the same thing. I say that as a breeder of 20 years. Meanwhile enjoy your mare, appreciate her for what she is. Live in the moment!

While I wouldn’t recommend breeding this mare either, I would definitely rather Welsh pony genes pop up than Standardbred, if I were breeding for jumpers. I’ve seen some pretty athletic Welsh/TB and Welsh/ WB crosses and some fantastic purebred Welsh ponies.