I’ve seen variations on this theme before. The witholding the registered owners name is a huge red flag. The fact that they won’t let you vet the papers is a big deal.
I have dealt primarily with registered horses, so over the years I’ve heard all kinds of scenarios of “I don’t have the papers BUT…” The fact that the seller refuses to tell you who the previous owner of record is is a HUGE HUGE HUGE red flag. Proceed with extreme caution.
Here are the tales of woe I have heard… all more than once. A lot more than once:
Current owner legit owns the horse, doesn’t have it in their names because the transfer was lost/they never bothered to send it in, so a new transfer needs to be signed. Contact with previous owner still exists, everything is fine, no big deal. This is the best possible scenario. Just lost paperwork. No bad feelings. It doesn’t mean anyone will actually get around to DOING the paperwork… (and no, you cannot compell the paperwork to be done!)
Horse was sold without papers. To GET papers requires additional money. EG, 2 prices: 1 registered, 1 not registered. If you go back to the last recorded owner they will probably want $.
2a) (Variant) Horse was sold without papers due to having some defect or health situation, and the prior owner wants to make sure it’s not bred/shown/whatever so the papers are deliberately not there, nor will you get them.
Last recorded owner is not actually in possession of the papers and gave the same song and dance to current owner. And the actual recorded owner is like 5 owners ago. Good luck with that.
Seller did not finish paying for horse. Previous owner refuses to release papers until current owner antes up. Current owner is selling horse and passing the problem on to buyer.
Horse is not actually registered but is “eligible” to be registered or there is an application to be registered… if a late stallion report is filed etc etc etc. Oh, and BTW, the dam is now dead so no DNA can be done… etc etc etc (these can turn into a nightmare)
This is very, very shady. I have never heard of a circumstance where the current owner refuses to give out information about the prior owner. Normally sellers are VERY eager to give out this information to prove that they’re being honest and secure the value of the horse.
Given that we are going into winter, and this mare is bred, and has no papers, I would be highly suspect that the seller is trying to rid themselves of a problem: a mare they CAN’T get papers on, and a foal that won’t be able to get papers. Seen that before too. Owner thought they could get papers, turns out they couldn’t (pick a reason), tries to unload mare before she foals.
Are you saying that the registry does not have ANY current ownership information for the horse? Or that the current registered owner does not match the person you are dealing with? That would just mean the horse was never transferred to the current owner, which makes sense if the current owner doesn’t have the papers.
If there is NO current owner that’s very strange. I would wonder if the papers had been pulled. Call the registry in that case.
If there’s a name listed, you could try finding that person and contacting them. They may be pretty far back in the chain of custody.
The fact that the seller REFUSES to supply you with this rather pertinent bit of info is very, very sketchy. I would not be surprised if something extremely shady is going on here.
Honestly? I’d just walk away.