Your eyes meet across the barn aisle. Your heart beats a little faster. “There’s the one I’ve been looking for, “ you think. And, suddenly, you’re in love. But before you ride off happily together into the sunset, consider a pre-purchase exam.
One of the best investments you can make BEFORE buying a horse is to have a pre-purchase exam done by a veterinarian* of your choice. While it’s tempting to forgo the cost of another vet visit, it is in your best interest to have the checkup done by a vet that you know and trust. It is insurance for you, the buyer, that you are protected and are getting exactly the horse you were promised.
Talk with your vet before the exam about how you plan to use your new horse. A pre-purchase exam for a broodmare may be a bit different than one for a Grand Prix show jumper. At the exam, the vet will want the horse to be presented right out of the stall, if possible. Ideally, the horse will not have been recently shod. A horse that is warmed up before the vet comes may have lameness issues that won’t be seen. Lameness issues can also be attributed to the new shoes.
The vet will go over the basics of the horse – check the temperature, respiration and pulse, look at the eyes, teeth, ears, nose and many, many more places, including those specific to mares, stallions and geldings. .The vet will also do a flexion test for soundness on all four limbs and will check hoofs with hoof testers. She will want to see the horse move at liberty, best done by free lunging the horse, in both directions. Afterwards, the vet may want to reexamine the horse’s vital signs or flexion. If there are any questions, the vet may ask the owner’s permission to draw blood or take x-rays. While some buyers routinely have x-rays done, it may not be necessary and can help keep the pre-purchase exam costs down. Again, communicating with your vet about how you plan to use the horse is essential.
It is best if you can be present during the pre-purchase exam. The vet will give you her findings as she goes and you can ask questions or request further investigation. You will also be provided with a written report. .Remember that no horse is perfect. Any limitations noted, whether large of small, are to help the buyer find the horse most suitable for the job intended. Remember, too, that the vet is looking at the horse as he is right now. She can’t see into the future and cannot foretell how a particular horse will perform in years to come. Vets don’t give horses a “pass/fail” determination, but will provide you with all the information, good and bad, about the horse’s physical condition so you can make an informed decision
The videos below offer an overview on the pre-purchase exam.
PrePurchase exam (part 1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhBI1gx1sVw
Pre-purchase exam (part 2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuHJTndLdew
*while we know there are many fabulous male veterinarians out there, for purposes of this article we are referring to veterinarians as “she.”
American Horse Clinic
Templeton Vet Clinic