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 Due to space limitations, we cannot publish an answer to every question we receive, but we do try to provide an unpublished answer by email or telephone.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.

Registration Papers vs. Legal Ownership

Q: Can someone legally own a horse if their name is not on the horses registration papers?

A: In a word, yes. Registration papers are not equivalent to legal ownership, but they can provide helpful evidence of ownership. For example, if you sell a horse on installments and the buyer does not complete paying for the horse, you are still the legal owner of the horse if the buyer does not pay you in full (even if the registration papers list the buyer as the owner). Most breed registries consider the registered owner to be the lawful owner of a horse until and unless they have reason to believe otherwise. Accordingly, when you purchase a horse, it is very important to transfer ownership into your name on the breed registrys records, even if you never plan to show or race your new horse. Likewise, if the legal ownership of a horse is in dispute, you should contact the breed registry and inform them of the dispute so that the horse cannot immediately be transferred into the name of someone else.

For more answers to questions about registration papers, see The Difference Between Registration Papers and a Bill of Sale , What to Do When the Seller is Not the Horse's Registered Owner , Getting Duplicate Registration Papers and Obtaining AQHA Registration Papers.

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.