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Buyers Guide

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Guide to buying a Paint Horse

Remember - If you are looking to buy your first Paint Horse, do your homework. If in doubt, or if you have any questions, the Paint Horse office is always happy to help. Phone (02) 6884 5513 during business hours.

What to look for

If you are wanting to ride or show in competition or breed Paint Horses, it is always safer to buy a horse that is already registered with the PHAA. There is a free online studbook which allows you to check whether the horse you are looking to buy is registered with the PHAA and has information on its breeding and registered owner.

Buying a PHAA Registered Horse

When you buy a registered horse you will want to transfer the registration into your name. To do this you will need to have the original registration papers and the transfer section on the back signed by yourself and the current Registered Owner, or alternatively papers accompanied by a transfer/bill of sale form signed by the Registered Owner of the horse. You should check if the seller is the registered owner and if not, make sure the transfer is signed by the correct person. You can check this by sighting the registration papers, asking the PHAA office or by going to our free online studbook. 

The requirements to complete ownership / registration transfer are: 

  1. Original registration papers. You will need to obtain these from the seller and send them to the PHAA office. New ones will be issued in your name. 
  2. A transfer form signed by the Registered Owner as seller and you as purchaser. This must include the date of sale. The transfer form is located on the reverse side of the registration papers or is also available as a separate form. The transfer fee is $66 per horse.
  3. You the new owner, must be a current financial member of the PHAA to transfer the horse into your name. If you are a new member, the transfer of your first horse if free.

Unregistered Horses

There are strict requirements that must be met before a horse can be registered with the PHAA. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Both sire and dam must be registered and meet bloodline requirements. Sires MUST be upgraded prior to breeding and from 1st January, 2012 all dams must have their parentage DNA on file with the PHAA. Considerable fines pay apply if the stallion is not upgraded prior to breeding.
  2. The correct paperwork related to breeding of the horse must have been lodged with the PHAA at the time of breeding.
  3. The correct paperwork must be lodged with the PHAA with the registration application for the horse. Mainly this is the pink copy (Breeder's copy) of the service certificate and the registration form signed by the breeder of the foal, both of which you will need to obtain from the seller. (The breeder is the mare owner which may not necessarily be the seller.)
  4. Appropriate fees must be paid.
  5. To be allowed into the coloured registry, the horse must meet strict white marking requirements. Once again, contact the PHAA office if you are in doubt.

If any one of these criteria are not met, the horse you buy may not be able to be registered.

If you are looking to buy an unregistered horse, the PHAA STRONGLY RECOMMEND that prior to purchase you contact the PHAA office to confirm what may be required to register the horse.

Related Links


The following are simplified answers to questions frequently asked by new members.

Are all horses with white patches, Paint Horses?

No. Paint horses must meet strict bloodline, conformation, minimum colour and breeding requirements to be able to be classified as 'Paint Horses'. Paint horses must have parents who are Paint Horse, Quarter Horse (AQHA) or Thoroughbred (ASB) registered. Horses with other bloodlines - for example Appaloosa, Warmblood, Australian Stock Horse, Pony, Draft, Arab or Standardbred - are not accepted.

How much white is needed to be registered as a Paint Horse?

In general terms, the white on a horse must be above the top of the knee or centre of the hock, or behind a line drawn from the corner of the mouth to the base of the ear.

What about horses with not enough white?

Horses with the correct breeding but insufficient white to make regular registry, are registered into the 'Paint Bred' section of the registry. They are known as 'Solids' as they have a solid body colour. A full range of showing opportunities is offered to Paint Bred horses. Coloured and solid horses compete in separate halter classes but compete together in performance classes.

What is the defference between a Paint Horse and a Quarter Horse?

Very little. Paint Horses are basically coloured Quarter Horses. In fact since the AQHA rule changes which allow horses with excess white to be registered with the AQHA, there are quite a few double registered horses - PHAA and AQHA. Paints and Quarter Horses compete together at Western perfomance shows.

Why do some white markings look different to others?

There are a number of different coat patterns in Paint Horses. Without going into the genetics, the different patterns are classified as Overo, Tobiano, Tovero (combination of Tobiano and Overo), Splashed White and Sabino/Dominant White. Thay all look different and any one or any combination of all theses patterns may be present in a paint Horse depending on its breeding and pedigree. That is one reason there is such a huge and interesting range of coat patterns present in the modern Australian Paint Horse.

What is 'Lethal White'?

Overo Lethal White (OLW) / Lethal White Overo (LWO) / Overo Lethal White Syndrome (OLWS) are all the same thing. It is a condition related to the breeding of two 'overo' horses. If two overo horses (carrying the OLW gene) are bred together there is a 1 in 4 chance that the foal will be born pure white or nearly pure white and will die soon after birth due to a genetic bowel disorder. The PHAA discourages breeders from breeding overo to overo and encourages all breeding horses with overo bloodlines, to be genetically tested to determine their OLW status prior to breeding. Overo patterned horses are completely unaffected and are normal healthy horses. Paint Bred 'solid' horses can also carry the OLW gene. 

I want to buy a mare in foal - what documents do I need?
  1. You should of course have a signed transfer for the mare from the seller so that you can transfer her registion into your name as new owner. The registered owner of the mare at the time of foaling is noted as the breeder of the foal when it is regsitered.
  2. You MUST also be given the pink copy of the stallion service certificate signed by the stallion owner. This will state the name of the sire, the name of the mare and the date of service. Without this, you will not be able to register your foal.
I want to buy a mare in foal - what should I check?
  1. Both parents of the foal must be registered with the PHAA, AQHA or ASB and both should have been upgraded to breeding status - that is be DNA parent profiled and any upgrade fees paid. If the both parents already have registered progeny, there should be no problem. But check with the PHAA office if you have any doubts.
  2. At least one parent should be a 'coloured' Paint Horse - that is registered in the PHAA regular registry. It is also acceptable if one parent is Paint Bred and carries the OLW gene.
  3. If both parents are paint horses - either regular or Paint Bred - you should check their OLW status. If both carry the OLW gene, you have a one in four chance that the foal may be born white and not survive. You need to understand this possibility with two OLW parents.
As a breeder if I sell the horse as able to be registered and pay for the Registration directly to the PHAA should I send the horses Rego papers to the office or with the buyer.

The papers and payment should come as one to the office for processing at the time of sale. A new member will get the horse transferred to them free of cost when their membership application turns up. An existing member should be financial so the horse can be registered in their name and papers will be sent directly to them.