If you lost the bill of sale, will your breed registration certificate prove ownership? The answer is, in Oklahoma, maybe.
Case law is sparse on what proves ownership of a horse. A couple very old cases, 1856 and 1909, describe possession and general acts of ownership, i.e. riding, are evidence of ownership. See Barnes v. People, 18 Ill. 52 (1856) and George v. U.S., 97 P. 1052 (1909) According to another very old Oklahoma case, marks and brands are also evidence of horse ownership. Hurst v. Territory, 86 P. 280 (1906)
But what else can prove ownership? A bill of sale, while not conclusive evidence of ownership, is very persuasive evidence. Also, witness testimony and “community belief” can be offered as evidence of ownership. See Equine Law by Frank Becker, pages 1-2.
Going back to my original question, will your breed registration certificate prove ownership? In some cases it may. The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, via the Oklahoma Administrative Code, states a horse ” “owner” means any person who holds, in whole or in part, any right, title or interest in a horse or an organization licensee or any person who is a lessee of a horse and has been duly issued a currently-valid Owner license as a person responsible for such horse.” The Code also states “every Certificate of Registration, Eligibility Certificate or lease agreement filed with the organization and its Racing Secretary to establish the eligibility of a horse to be entered for any race shall accurately reflect the correct and true ownership of such horse…” See Okla. Admin. Code 325:25-1-13, Registration Certificate to reflect correct ownership.
While breed registration certificates may not be proof positive of ownership, a strong argument could be made, at least as it pertains to ownership of Oklahoma race horses, that breed registration certificates can prove horse ownership.
This blog is not intended to give legal advice. You should seek the advice of an attorney who would be in the best position to advise you on your legal rights or duties.