Buying a new horse is an incredibly exciting time. It is very easy to overlook some simple rules that could protect both buyer and seller from later misunderstandings. The old adage of 'buyer beware' is true - it is the Buyer's responsibility to make sure that the horse they are looking to purchase is in fact the horse it is being represented as.

There are some very simple things that buyers can do to protect themselves. Most breeders and sellers are reputable horse people. By purchasing through an established agent or by buying direct from an established breeder, a lot of the grief stories heard could have been avoided. If these steps are followed the purchase of your new horse should be the simple, happy occasion that it was meant to be.

As in any business, a written agreement between the buyer and seller is a wise investment in time to protect both parties. In this agreement you will have the name of the horse, a detailed description, registration number, purchase price, any terms of purchase such as deposit pending veterinary examination and/or time payments, etc. Keep in mind, after any length of time has passed, a verbal agreement is often difficult to remember in correct detail or prove. CLRC put out an excellent article entitled "Protect yourself....Get it in writing!"

1. The Canadian 'Animal Pedigree Act' is a Federal Law which specifies that: "If an animal is offered for sale as registered or eligible to be registered" or is "offered for sale in a manner that is likely to create an erroneous impression the animal is registered or eligible to be registered", the seller must provide registration papers to the purchaser within six (6) months of the date of sale.

There is no provision in the ACT to sign away this responsibility. Unlike other countries, in Canada the responsibility for registration & transfer of ownership lies exclusively with the seller. This is law and will be enforced by the RCMP.

2. The potential buyer should ask to see the registration papers or the Certificate of Ownership of the intended purchase and verify that the horse they wish to purchase is the horse described on the papers, that the papers are in the seller's name, or that the agent has a signed transfer of ownership from the owner/seller named on the papers. Only the registered owner can sign 'the application for transfer' to transfer the registration papers into your ownership.

If the seller of a mature age horse does not have the papers or Certificate of Ownership in their possession, there may well be a problem with the registration. The CWHBA office can help you here by verifying that papers have been applied for and are indeed going to be issued and the process is underway. 

** Currently, CWHBA is in a transition period with the government under the Animal Pedigree Act. There may well be animals without their registration papers while waiting for trace back of their pedigree. Those owners will have a Certificate of Ownership which is a legal document, and the registration papers will follow.


In the case of a weanling or even a yearling, the papers may have been applied for and not yet received by the breeder. The breeder will have their copy of the breeding certificate to verify ownership and parentage, and a Certificate of Ownership. Again, the office can verify that papers have been applied for and will be processed.

A reputable breeder will have no difficulty providing you with accurate information.

3. Even if the owner/seller is not a member of the association, they can still transfer papers at regular fees without becoming a member. This is an agreement between CWHBA and the CLRC to assist transfer of ownership, often of performance stock, where owners are not current members.

The CWHBA is not a judicial body that can intervene between parties. It is the responsibility of the buyer to verify that the horse for sale is correctly represented. The association can assist in determining the status of a horse's registration and can provide information on the approval status of a breeding animal that has been presented for breeding approval in the past.

As a final word of caution: Do not accept CWHBA papers from the seller which are not officially transferred to your name or which have been altered in any way by the seller!

Good Luck with your new purchase! Remember to pay your Membership and check out the CWHBA Awards programs for both breeding stock and performance horses.