Nov 162012
By Patty Wilber


Yep that’s my brand again, which is only peripherally related to my purported topic: registering horses. But brands help with ID and so does registration…or maybe I was just looking at my pictures, saw the brand and got all nostalgic.  I am STILL not over losing my cows!

I own only registered horses (Well! Are we not SNOOTY?  Wait!  Keep reading!) at this time.

I had a grade (i.e. unregistered) pony named Indy that was sort of like a Daschund –horse size body and short legs.  She cost 175.00 bucks and ended up learning to do flying lead changes, bridleless. Had her for four years before her untimely demise.  Papers (registered) or no papers (unregistered) she was a gem.

She's a reindeer! I look younger. I think that is my real (former) hair color, too. The current box-derived color matches!

I also had a dark buckskin mare that supposedly was a Quarter Horse, dumped without papers in a forty horse group at an auction.  Without papers, she was also considered “grade”. I bought her for $750.


I ended up registering  her with the American Buckskin Horse Association (ABRA).

People that liked buckskin, dun and grulla colored horses got together.  They made a club. With rules.  They called themselves the ABRA.

Some other people liked the same colors and they got together and made a different club (The International Buckskin Horse Association; IBHA).

Naturally, there is some tension between the two!

So, why did I register my horse and why did I pick ABRA?

Because I got a cool certificate thingy (“The Papers”, suitable for framing, or photocopying and keeping in your trailer with your other horse papers in case you stopped by the livestock inspector…) with my horse’s name on it (PW Tres) and it only cost $25!

Well, it is true I got a certificate  but I actually went to that trouble and picked that association because I wanted to show her with the New Mexico Buckskin Horse Association in classes they held  especially for ABRA horses. We don’t have any IBHA events in NM.  If we did I might have registered her there as well.

Eventually, I sold her (for a lot more than I paid), and having her ABRA registration did increase her value.

I have also, since I first subscribed to Western Horsemen back in the ’70’s, always wanted a registered  Quarter Horse.  As time progressed I decided I wanted a reined cow horse type. So, I bought Lacey.

Here she is only a few hours old!

Luckily (or maybe I did this on purpose? Ya think?) she is also registerable in the ABRA.  (I just sent the required photos and my money to get that done this week.)

ABRA is a “color breed”.  Any light (not a draft breed like a Clydesdale) horse (over 14.2 hands–so not a pony) of the right color can be registered. They do have pony and mule divisions, but those don’t compete against the horses.

The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), on the other hand, was formed to preserve and promote the genetics (blood lines) of horses that could run a quarter mile really fast, were versatile, good minded and had a certain look or conformation.

But if you breed your Quarter Horse, you can “out cross” to a  Thoroughbred and still have a Quarter Horse.


Well, you have to call it an “appendix” Quarter Horse, but you can still show it with the “regular” Quarter Horses.  You just have to breed the appendix to a regular.

Naturally, there is a splinter group that does not allow out crossing.

Appaloosas have color but the breed is based on blood lines not color. (Penny for example has no spots at all but is still an Appy because both her parents were). But because Penny is a “solid” (she has no Appaloosa characteristics), if I breed her I am required to breed her to a “colored” stallion in order to register the foal.

Extra money had to be paid to the Appaloosa Horse Club to buy papers that allow me to show her against her colored kin (and the other solids whose owners forked over the dough.)

Apps can be out crossed to Arabians, QH’s and thoroughbreds…

This kind of reduces the homogeneity of breed.

Guess what?  There are splinter Appaloosa groups that do not allow out-crossing.

I have three Appaloosas (Penny, LT and Toots).  I am about to transfer the papers for Toots into my name.

Why have bought I into this bother?

1.  Increased value.

2.  Documentation of parentage.

3. Proof of ownership.

4. Ability to show in breed shows.

5. I’m a sucker for a nice certificate (?).

In order get the transfer completed, I got the original certificate from Toot’s (former) owner and we both have signed the “transfer form”.  This form and the certificate are sent to the ApHC headquarters along with the transfer fee.

With the advent of technology, pictures are now included on the papers, but since Toots looked like this when her papers were issued:

Baby Tootsie Roll

and now she looks like this:

Toots at three. She is making that Not Happy face because nearby but unseen are ALL the other girls, just itching to get in the picture!

"Ears up" is a better look!

 So, I have the option of applying for a “Corrected Certificate” which would have updated pictures and thus be a better reflection of the appearance of the horse.

Appaloosas are known for their changeable colors, so certificate corrections are pretty common.

It costs another 20 bucks and I need to submit new photos: Left side, right side, face, butt.  The idea is to see the markings. Then, I have to fill out a form describing all the markings and THEN draw on some diagrams to ILLUSTRATE the markings.  Maybe it won’t be so bad as she is mostly white now.

ABRA requires the same type of thing for registration, but since Lacey has no white markings whatsoever, it was easier.  (Fortunately, the photos do not need to be suitable for framing!)

Lacey, right side. Penny on the left, supervising. Cometa, top right, sleeping.

My goal for the weekend is to take the last photo I need for Toots so I can get the transfer form and the corrected certificate form filled out and submitted! (and also to write a quiz for Ch 17 for my Microbiology students and buy a new mask and snorkle before we go to Hawaii(!!) as mine are lost in some jetty rocks on Catalina Island!)



  • Will you brand Toots, she is from a line that changes color just about every year?

  • lSharon

    Good article. One small correction – ABRA will not register any horse with the right color. It must be a “light” breed (not draft), and not a pony or mule. They do have divisions for ponies and mules, but never draft horses. For those who don’t know, think “Budweiser horses” when we say draft.

  • Sharon you are so right. I got lazy and didn’t want to explain all that, but with your comment I got an idea about how to say it succintly, so have corrected the text! Thanks!

  • Wendy–I am not sure–it would have to be a hot brand because a freeze brand, which as you know, would be white, would not show up!

  • It probably would not show up and hurt her like heck. Tattoo your brand on. That way the ApHC has not issue with changing the color of the horse. I was going to do her yes because my vet said that would be best for her but the club said no way! I did not want to be suspended to try and help a horse for heavens sake no. Not even with a vet certificate.

  • I like the way you snuck that Hawaii thing in there.

  • Hi Doranna–I was having a hard time finding an ending…!

  • Sherry Meagher

    Gee, this registering stuff takes me back…but it was in a different world. That is, the world of registering Holsteins (cows). Not the kind of cows you’re lamenting. Back in the day, we had to draw the cow’s markings on an outline of a cow… both sides. Any cow that had black touching the entire hoof or black in the switch of the tail was to be labeled “off color.” I used to love to draw the markings of the cow for my mother. She didn’t like it well, so it was a match. Later on, they started accepting photographs. I can only imagine what is allowable now.

    We also had grade cows… without papers. Eventually, all of my family’s cows were registered.

    Very interesting that grades exist in the horse world too.

  • Patty

    Hi Sherry–I had no idea tha there was a color requirement for Holsteins! Or that there was a “grade” designation for cows. Was there a breeding restrinction on the off color cows?

    When I looked at some unregistered cows at place that bred registered cows, they called theirs “market” cows… So much to know! So little time!