Take your time. Don’t rush out and buy the first horse you see (you’d be surprised at how many people do just that.)  Careful consideration of the following will help you select the right horse for you. What do you want your horse to do?

  • Breeding – buying the highest quality is of primary importance here. It must have excellent, sound conformation (no serious faults or defects); fine, natural gait; excellent temperament (good brio combined with a willing and kind attitude); and conform to the breed standard/type. A pedigree that reflects the best characteristics of the breed is also important. Find a pedigree where quality is consistent throughout the line.
  • Pleasure – this horse should be strong, sound, smooth and of a temperament that is a good match for you. It is imperative that you and the horse get along well and are comfortable together.
  • Show – showing can be a lot of fun and offers incentive to strive for excellence. Primary in the excellence category is the horse. It must be a high quality to succeed in the breeding division. It must be well trained and suited to you to advance in the performance division. Remember, if you wish to compete seriously, shows can be expensive. Don’t try to save money on the most critical asset – the horse!
  • Specialized Disciplines – these can include working horses (cutting cattle, roping, etc.) and those used for specific events such as barrel racing, polo, jumping, driving and such. If you occasionally have to jump a log on the trail, you really don’t need a “jumper”; most breeds can clear a log. However, if you have a cattle ranch and need to be cutting cattle day after day – buy the breed bred for decades for that specific purpose! (Individuals of other breeds can often compete – but on the whole, a horse bred for decades or centuries for the conformation, temperament and instinct for a specific activity will give you the best chance for success.) For example, if you wanted a dog to work your flock of sheep, you would seldom want to pick a greyhound. Conversely, if you wanted to race dogs, you wouldn’t selected a Saint Bernard.

The Peruvian Paso has been bred for centuries to provide smooth, reliable transportation with a temperament which combines energy and willingness to please. Peruvians can perform a variety of “special events” but they will seldom outperform a horse bred to be a jumper, cutting horse, driving horse, etc. in those activities. They are, however, the perfect breed for the following: pleasure and trail riding, parades, ranch work (riding fence, etc.), competitive trail riding and the like.

Now that you know what you want your horse to do, begin to research the breed(s) which suit that type of riding. We hope your criteria have led you to the Peruvian Paso as the breed which best suits your needs and appeals to you. Now, do your homework on learning all you can about the breed – it’s standard of perfection, bloodlines, types. NAPHA can help with the Breed Standard, a Judge’s Handbook (which explains the desired conformation, gait and temperament) and Breed Video.

Visit as many owners as you can to see as many horses of the breed as possible. There are acceptable differences within quality horses of any breed. Find out which type meets your needs and appeals to you most. This will give you a mental picture of “your” horse.

Evaluate your own skills as a horseman or woman. If you are new to horses or timid because of past experiences, you will want to purchase a mature, well trained horse who will boost your confidence and give you valuable experience. As a general rule, an inexperienced horseman should not purchase a stallion, unless it is to be stabled, handled and ridden by someone knowledgeable and experienced.

What age horse will suit you? If you are experienced, you might be able to find a good young horse that you can train. Such horses should not be purchased by a novice.

Don’t be swayed by qualities of little importance in the big picture. Those would be things such as color, a pretty head, a long mane. An old Peruvian adage says that “you don’t ride” these things.

Prices can vary considerably depending on the quality of the horse, its age, training, breeding &/or showing record, pedigree, and even geographic locality. If you are not familiar with the market, spend some time looking around and checking out as many different horses as possible. Even the time of year may affect price – most people start looking for a horse in spring as their thoughts turn to the outdoors – and thus prices rise. Try looking in late fall if price is a major concern.

Finding Your Horse
Contact NAPHA for additional information. It has an on-line Membership Directory which lists the Owner/Breeder Members. There is also an online Studbook that is invaluable in searching pedigrees and histories of the various horses.

The NAPHA website: has a list of all shows for the current year and other events planned throughout the country.

Find the owners closest to you and make an appointment to visit. An appointment is not only a courtesy – it could save you traveling miles only to find that the owners are on vacation, at a show or have other visitors and can’t show you around. Visit as many owners as you can. Most are more than happy to introduce you to their horses – even if they don’t have anything for sale!

Evaluating the Prospect
Once you have found a horse that matches your profile:

If you are not a knowledgeable horseman or woman, take one with you when you visit an owner to inspect a prospect. S/he should be able to help you spot any obvious defects – even some not so obvious! Your friend should keep you from buying on impulse.

Watch the horse being handled. Check to see that the prospect is in generally good health. Not too thin, not too fat. Clear, bright eyes. Shiny coat and clear skin. Are his hooves in good shape (no rings or cracks) and of good shape? Are his legs “clean” – without bumps, swelling or heat?

Temperament is critical. Does this horse seem to be calm and sensible – or constantly shying? Does he have good manners? Lead quietly without pulling or pushing into your space? Stand quietly to be mounted? Wait for the rider’s cue to move out?

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. After watching the owner or trainer ride the horse, ask to handle/ride the horse yourself or have your friend do so. Do you and the horse get along well? Are you comfortable with each other? If you are buying a breeding horse, your compatibility may not be most important factor, but if this is to be your pleasure horse, it is certainly one of the critical issues. Also, be sure to ride the horse long enough that it has a good workout. Some horses are fine for a short ride, but become ill-mannered when tired. You don’t want to over work the horse – just see that it is willing beyond a few moments in the arena.

Ask to see the horse in halter and/or under saddle. Does the horse gait naturally? Does it move freely, without any sign of lameness or soreness? Does it move out willingly? Is it high strung or temperamental? Has it been used on the trail and is it accustomed to obstacles?

If the horse is solely for your pleasure riding, it is especially important that you and the horse get along. There really can be “conflicts in personality” – and you want to enjoy the time you spend with your horse. Make sure you feel comfortable with the horse – on the ground and in the saddle.

Spend as much time as you can with any prospect. Get to know the horse and its temperament – it’s virtues and vices. Ride it under conditions similar to those you will be experiencing – not just in an arena. Don’t just ride – handle the horse for everyday tasks: cleaning hooves, bathing, saddling, walking out, loading in a trailer, etc.

The “One”
You’ve found “your” horse – and if you need one, your knowledgeable horse person/friend has agreed that this is the right choice. Now what? You’ve only just begun…

Pre-Purchase Exam
You need to have a thorough pre-purchase exam made by a qualified veterinarian.

Do not use the seller’s veterinarian.

Be sure the veterinarian you select is familiar with the breed.

Tell the vet your expectations for this horse: what you will be doing with it and to what extent. Pleasure riding for some might be an hour ride on the weekend. For others it is a couple of hours a day and 50 miles on the weekend.

Ask the vet if Xrays, ultrasounds or other tests are indicated.

The vet should ask the Seller about any injuries or diseases the horse has had. He should also examine the health records of the horse regarding vaccinations and de-worming.

Depending on the circumstances, a blood test for drugs might be indicated.

If the horse is to be used for breeding, a complete examination for that purpose should be made. For stallions, that can include a semen evaluation – for mares a uterine culture and biopsy. Naturally, the ultimate test of reproduction is foals on the ground.

The vet may take blood for a Coggins test if one is not current. A fecal sample can be run to give an indication of past care.

Spending a little more on a thorough exam may save you thousands of dollars – to say nothing of heartbreak – in eliminating an unsound horse or one not up to the work you will be doing with it.

Remember, a vet can not give you a guarantee – but s/he will be able to tell you if the horse (at present) is suited for the intended purpose.

Written Contract
You should have a written contract for the sale/purchase of any horse. The contract should address several issues:

It should give the name, address and phone # of the Seller and the Buyer. It should state the price and how/when payment is to be made. If payments are to be made, a UCC1 Form should be used to protect the Seller’s interest in the horse. These can be obtained from a Stationery Store and must be filed with a government agency (this varies from state to state.) Any restrictions on the movement or use of the horse until payment in full is made. How and when the horse will be delivered to the Buyer and at whose expense. Any warranties or guarantees or lack thereof should be included in the contract.

The Seller should guarantee that s/he will supply the Buyer with everything necessary to obtain a registration certificate in NAPHA and at Seller’s expense. The only recognized registration certificates in the United States are ones that have been issued by the North American Peruvian Horse Association (NAPHA), The Peruvian Paso Horse Registry of North America (PPHRNA) and the American Owners and Breeders of Peruvian Paso Horses (AAOBPPH). In 2006, all of these registries merged into one registry; NAPHA. Papers issued by any other entity in the U.S. are not recognized in the U.S. or internationally. (If purchasing a mare in foal, the same should apply to the foal except the actual registration fee.)

Risk of Loss/Insurance – to be included if applicable.

Agreement as to what state’s laws will apply.

Agreement that should legal action be necessary, the losing party will pay reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs of the prevailing party.

In cases of payments being made, the Seller should retain the registration certificate until all payments have been made in full. NAPHA has a form which the Seller may execute on behalf of the Buyer – authorizing him to perform certain functions as Agent.

Get a bill of sale, copy of the Certificate of Registration and all of the health, farrier and training records of your horse. If you are paying for the horse in full, the Seller should have you sign the original Certificate of Registration and then s/he should send it to NAPHA with the appropriate fee for transfer to your name.

Registration Considerations
Ask to see the original certificate of registration of any horse you are considering purchasing. If the horse you are considering is not NAPHA registered and is imported, or is from an imported sire or dam, make sure that it will qualify for registration in NAPHA (see the first section under “Importing a Horse from Peru” below.)

Make sure that the person selling you the horse is shown as the recorded owner of that horse. (On the NAPHA Certificate, the Transfer of Ownership form is on the back of the Certificate. The last recorded owner is shown on the face of the Certificate, lower left hand corner where it states “Issued To.” If a transfer form has been completed on the back of the Certificate you are shown, it has NOT been recorded with NAPHA.)

Make sure the horse corresponds with the markings and color as shown on the registration papers. If the horse’s registration is pending, check with NAPHA to make sure that the application is complete without penalties, fines or possible ineligibility. Remember, if you are purchasing a foal, the owner of the dam at the time of foaling is responsible for registering that foal.

If you purchase a mare and she has been bred, make sure that a stallion report covering the breeding has been or will be filed with NAPHA by the owner of the stallion at the time of breeding. You will also need a signed Service Certificate from that owner in order to register the foal and the owner of the mare at the time of service will have to sign the Breeder’s Certificate as well. It is always best to check with the Registry to make sure there should be no problem in getting the foal registered.

Also be sure to register any foal before it’s first birth date to avoid penalties!

Remember, it is the responsibility of the SELLER to transfer the horse to the Buyer and to pay the required fee(s). If you have ANY questions or doubts about the registration status of a horse, you can contact the NAPHA Registrar at
(707) 579-4394.

Importing a Horse from Peru
Make sure that the horse is registered with the ANCPCPP in Lima, Peru and that those papers show at least one generation pedigree. If the horse was registered in Peru after May of 1982, NAPHA requires proof that the horse qualifies for a closed stud book in Peru. (Copies of the papers of the sire, dam, grandsire, grand dam, etc. may be necessary to verify this.) PLEASE NOTE: Horses and their offspring that do not qualify are only eligible for provisional registration in NAPHA. Also be sure to have whatever paperwork necessary in your possession prior to purchase of a horse as a condition of its sale.
When purchasing bred mares, be sure to obtain any necessary breeding certificates and service certificates (along with verification for closed stud book for stallion to which a mare is bred.) Without them, foals will be ineligible for registration.

Be sure to register imported horses within one year of importation to avoid penalties.

This may seem to be a lengthy process but horses are long term investments.
The time and energy put into finding the right horse for you will pay great dividends in the enjoyment you will receive.