Legal Questions and Answers for the Horse Community

Current Q&A / Archives

Rachel Kosmal McCart
Please note that the following information is not intended to be legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. Before relying on any information, you should contact an attorney licensed to practice in your state. See also BAEN's legal disclaimer. To submit a question for this column, email your question to Please identify yourself as well as any other parties involved so that we can be sure to avoid conflicts in interest in answering your question. We will keep all parties? identities confidential. By submitting your inquiry to this column, you grant permission for your inquiry to be published and for your inquiry to be edited for length, grammar or clarity. Due to space limitations, we cannot publish an answer to every question we receive, but we do try to provide an unpublished answer by email or telephone. View previous Q&A's in the Legal Solutions Archives.

What to Do When the Seller is Not the Horse's Registered Owner

Q: I am buying a horse, the seller is not on the registration, but he says he has a signed transfer. It is his friend's horse that the seller obtained in a trade. I'm picking this horse up at 9:00 in the morning. Is it legal for the seller not to have his name on title yet but have transfer paper?

A: You were very smart to look at the horse's papers and observe that the registered owner is not the same as the seller. This situation is very common and frequently it goes unnoticed until the buyer tries to transfer the registration into his or her own name. Most of the time, this is an innocent detail and occurs most often when someone purchases a horse for resale ?they don't transfer the horse into their name because of the time and expense involved.

In other cases, however, it can indicate that the seller does not have clear title to the horse that they are selling. In this case, you should ask the seller for documentation that shows the seller now owns the horse. If the seller cannot provide you with a receipt, bill of sale or other documentation from the registered owner, contact the registered owner yourself. If the seller does not have the registered owner's contact information, the breed registry will likely have that information. The breed registry can also tell you if the horse has been reported to the association as stolen. For more tips on how to purchase a horse, see Tips for the Savvy Purchaser on Equine Legal Solutions.

About the Author: Rachel Kosmal McCart, the founder of Equine Legal Solutions, is a lifelong horsewoman and experienced lawyer. Equine Legal Solutions, the Legal Counsel with Horse Sense TM , offers a full range of legal services for the horse community, including dispute resolution, customized contracts and risk management assessment.
Copyright ©2008 Equine Legal Solutions and the Bay Area Equestrian Network. All rights reserved. The above article is the property of the Author and may not be duplicated or redistributed in any way without permission.