If you are a horse owner please do take the time to read the following. This may indeed spare you heartache and pain in the future. Currently, in the UK there is no, one fail-safe “proof of ownership” system for our much-loved equines. The rule of thumb seems to be “I have the horse, therefore I own the horse.” The whole system is currently the wrong way around. If you say you own the horse that someone else has maybe through loan or theft you have to try and prove ownership, not the person who has it.
There is no “proof of ownership” document in place for you to say you own a horse. Is this right?
Many horse owners believe that the passport is proof of ownership. If owners record their name in passports this can help as it shows they have had the horses passport at some stage. However, passports are essentially what they say they are. They are identification certificates for the horse and a record of medication received and in turn keeping them out of food chain. It is a requirement to inform passport agencies of any change of ownership within 30 days but how many people do this? I fear too few. Reasons being cost implications and fear of passports being lost in the post. Maybe an online register and service is the answer.
Proof of ownership then is not who has the passport. The passport should be with the horse at all times so if on livery it should be stored at the yard safely. If at vets, with the vet and if on loan with loanee. These people do not own the horse. They have the horse in their care.
It is not until disputes arise that people and horse owners realise there is a lack of being able to prove you own a horse. A proof of purchase receipt will go towards this but this will only say you have owned the horse. It is not proof that you currently own the horse.
There needs to be a database or some sort of system in place regarding proof of ownership. This database could include the address of where horse currently resides, notes could include if the horse is on loan. When being sold on or ownership transfer this would need to be recorded within the database. Therefore, there would be a trail of who owns the horse at all times and periods in history. However, this relies totally on the horse community buying into the process and again people will probably not bother, that is until the worst happens to them and someone else claims ownership of their horse. This database would surely also help when purchasing a horse as if it has a passport and proof of ownership then the chances are it has not be acquired by ill-gotten means. It seems that in the UK there is no single proof of ownership document and it is wise that all owners keep as much documentary evidence as possible. Such as microchip details in owner’s name, dated photos, freeze mark paperwork, bill of receipt, vets bills, certificate of insurance etc.