New rules for horse and foal registration

Horse ID documents are essential, make sure yours is correct and up-to-date


Whether you are buying a foal or you’re a breeder, or adopting an ageing donkey, or acquiring a zebra for your zoo, there’s an obligation on you to ensure it is registered and that you are registered as the owner. The only exception to the above; are in the case of semi wild horses, e.g. Dartmoor ponies, which are not kept on a farm but living free and wild. Most horse owners and breeders will have been aware of the requirement for their horses to have what was known as a passport. Despite it being called a passport, this document was not required just for travel purposes, but was in essence an identity card.

New regulations, which came into force in November 2018, address this confusion. The new documents are called Identity Documents, with the organisations that issue them now referred to as Issuing Bodies, not Passport Issuing Bodies.

A number of organisations which oversee the different breeds are responsible for issuing the identity documents. We are going to look in more detail at the activities of the American Quarter Horse Association - UK (AQHA-UK), and the American Paint Horse Society (APHA).

The American Quarter Horse Association is a registered charity dedicated to promoting the breed in the UK, and it maintains the breed registry for the UK. The APHA promote, preserve and provide meaningful experiences with Paint Horses. The UK division of PHA has its charter from the APHA and promotes interest in the Paint Horse, in the UK.

Are the documents just a formality?
When your horse or foal is treated by the vet, he or she will ask to see its ID document. One of the reasons for this is that its breed may influence the choice of medication given.
A trading standards officer, enforcement officer or animal health inspector can also ask to see the document at any time. It’s therefore essential you have one and ensure it is correctly maintained. The penalties for not having one are serious, with the possibility of an unlimited fine. The regulations stipulate that the document should be kept with the horse at all times, which means at the stable or where the horse is kept permanently, and then taking it with you when you move the horse, for example to a show. You will always be asked to produce your passport or ID document if you are selling your horse. It will be transferred to the buyer with the horse, who has the responsibility to register themselves as the new owner.

If you are buying a horse it should have been registered by the previous owner or breeder. If you are not given the ID document on purchase, then you should report this to Trading Standards for advice. It is recommended you check this before you buy the horse to ensure that the animal is as described.

When does a foal need to be registered for the first time?
AQHA-UK requires that you must notify them you have bred a foal by 1st of October, and you must register it by 30th of November.

APHA requires that a foal must be registered within six months of birth, or by 31st December in the year of its birth. Stallion owners who submit their breeding reports to APHA by the 30th of November will receive a registration document called a Breeder’s Certificate. This details the sire, dam and breeding information, as well as the Breeder’s Control Number, which is unique to the specific breed and year.

If, as a breeder, you don’t have a pre-printed Breeder’s Certificate, you can use the blank registration application form and provide the information yourself. Make sure that the owner of the sire at the time of foaling, and the owner of the dam at the time of breeding, both sign the document in the relevant sections.

What information is recorded on the ID document?
The horse’s breed will be recorded, which is vital, as inaccurate recording will influence its future value. All relevant information which helps to identify the horse will be recorded, and this includes sex, date of birth, colour of coat, and the horse’s microchip. Photographs must also be provided for inclusion. The owner’s name and contact details are also recorded.

Buying a new foal or horse
The horse or foal should be registered by the previous owner or breeder. Within 30 days of a horse coming in to your care you must transfer details of ownership to your own name. If you are buying a Paint horse, this process has been greatly simplified by the AHPA, the first breed association to offer online registration and changes.

This can be done using the following link:

If you have an online account with the APHA you can link your application to your existing membership. If you don’t have an account you will need to create one. You do need active membership to transfer ownership, so if your ownership has lapsed or you are not a member, click either ‘Join’ or ‘Renew’ to get started.

To register a horse as yours, simply click ‘Transfer’ on the website and follow the steps. As well as current APHA membership, you will need the original registration certificate, signed by the previous owner. A new certificate, recording you as the new owner, will be issued once checks have been completed.

Registering a horse with both the AQHA – UK and the APHA
Depending on the horse’s background you may be eligible to register it with both of these associations which will enable you to enter competitions for both breeds. This will be straight forward where both parents are dual registered. The standard registration form from the APHA would be used to register it as a Paint. Where a foal has two quarter horse parents and only one of them is dual registered, it’s not quite so simple. APHA may not have the quarter horse parent on their books and may not even have a stallion breeding report on file for the conception. We recommend entering both parents’ names where asked; you will need to pay the additional fee of $25 to register them with the APHA, as well as provide their AQHA or Thoroughbred papers.

Depending on the horse’s provenance, the AQHA can issue five different types of ID document. A horse with no breed registration would be issued with a basic ID document. Those with Quarter horse heritage will be issued one of four types, depending on the parentage, ranging from those with less than 50% Quarter horse registration, where neither parent is a Quarter horse, through to purebred Quarter horse, where both parents are Quarter horses.

If your horse dies
In the event of your horse dying you have an obligation to report this to the organisation that issued the passport or ID document, in exactly the same way a person’s death must be recorded. You should write to the body confirming the date this happened and return the ID papers or passport. It will be returned to you, if required, once it has been cancelled.

Keeping the ID document up to date
If there are changes affecting the horse or owner then the document must be updated. Changes affecting the horse would be, for example, a stallion is castrated, or the transponder is changed. Any change in colour or profile must also be reported. A change in ownership must be notified so the horse is registered to the new owner, as well as any changes in name or address of the current owner.


Ensuring horses are registered is crucial to protect horses from illegal sale and theft, and of course to protect us as owners and breeders. There is lots of information available on the websites below. Whilst some of the implications of the new regulations are as yet unclear, (e.g. the penalties for not complying), it is important we ensure that we continue to register our horses correctly, to ensure we do not get caught out.

Useful websites/links