from the Vet Corner Archives

Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 07/02/99; 2:00:00PM.


Veterinary Corner 7/99: The Importance of the Pre-Purchase Exam

by Frosty Franklin, DVM
Edgecliff Equine Hospital
S. 1322 Park Road, Spokane, WA 99212 * 509/924-6069


Proper investigation, planning and precaution are a must when buying a horse. Many horse professionals can evaluate performance characteristics of your mount. However, only an accomplished equine veterinarian can help determine the horse's overall health and condition. Whether you are a first-time horse buyer or have purchased several horses, the pre-purchase exam is an essential step to consider when preparing for the acquisition of a new horse.

A pre-purchase exam is a thorough physical exam of the horse you are intending to purchase performed before you buy the horse. The exam is done to identify existing problems and any potential for future problems and to interpret results of the examination relevant to the horse's intended use. The pre-purchase exam is tailored to the prospective horse and the activity the horse will be involved in. For example, the pre-purchase exam done on a stallion intended for use as a breeding animal will differ from the pre-purchase exam done on a gelding intended for use as a show jumper. Though pre-purchase exams will differ in their focus, the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has outlined some points common to all pre-purchase exams.

  • Choose a veterinarian who is familiar with the breed, sport, or use for which the horse is being purchased.

  • Explain to your veterinarian your expectations and primary uses for the horse, including short- and long-term goals (for example, showing, then breeding). The more openly you discuss your goals and dreams for the horse, the more effectively the veterinarian can evaluate the horse's physical condition with relation to those goals and dreams.

  • Ask your veterinarian to outline the procedures that he/she feels should be included in the examination and why.

  • Establish costs for these procedures.

  • Be present during the pre-purchase exam. The seller or agent should also be present.

  • Discuss the results of the pre-purchase exam with the veterinarian in private.

  • Do not be afraid to ask questions or request further information about your veterinarian's findings. Buying a horse is a big investment and any questions or concerns you have should be addressed prior to the purchase of the horse, not after.

    When buying a horse, it is important to get as much information about the horse as possible so that you can make an informed purchase decision. Equine practitioners play an important role in that decision making process and can help you determine whether the horse you want to buy is healthy and in the condition to handle the stresses placed upon it. The veterinarian's job is not to pass or fail the horse. The veterinarian will provide you with information regarding any existing medical problems and explain the possibility for future problems. With that information you can then make an informed decision about whether or not the purchase of the horse is a good idea. As always, consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions about pre-purchase exams.

    Until next month, Happy Trails!!

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