There are plenty of valid reasons why a purebred Quarter Horse might be missing its registration papers. Sometimes it’s as simple as the breeders never bothering to send in the proper paperwork. Or it could be due to a financial matter, where there just weren’t enough bucks in the budget to register the foal. But now there’s another possible reason. As of January 1, 2007, AQHA foals that test positive for carrying double copies of the HYPP gene (meaning they’d be referred to as HYPP-H/H) will be denied registration. These foals, if allowed to breed, would pass on the disease to 100 percent of their offspring. Unscrupulous horse sellers with Quarter Horses that have tested positive for carrying the HYPP gene (for the hereditary disease hyperkalemic periodic paralysis) could simply dispose of the horse’s AQHA papers and sell the horse as being a non-registered or “grade” horse. The buyer then unwittingly ends up with a young horse that will eventually present symptoms of the disease, which includes muscle twitching and paralysis.
How can you protect yourself? The best advice is to be a savvy buyer. Be wary of buying a horse at lower end auctions, especially if it’s a heavily muscled horse of obvious Quarter-Horse type that’s selling as a grade horse. Next, if you do fall in love with a horse whose status is unclear, purchase an HYPP testing kit from the AQHA (and other lab sites). In just a short time you’ll know the horse’s HYPP status. Finally, buy from a reputable dealer or a local, longtime professional trainer or breeder. That way, if something goes wrong with the horse, such as a later diagnosis of HYPP by a veterinarian, you may have some sort of recourse.