Pre-Purchase Veterinary Exams for Horses

When making the decision to purchase a house or car, many buyers wouldn?t consider making the decision without having an objective third party complete a thorough inspection.? Buying a horse is also a heavy commitment ? financially, emotionally, and time-wise ? and the purchase of a horse should also be accompanied by a thorough exam to ensure that you as the buyer know what you might be getting into.? Some considerations:

  • Be prepared to pay for the exam.? It is not the seller?s responsibility to hire the veterinarian.
  • Do not use the seller?s veterinarian, as this constitutes a conflict of interest.
  • Get the results of the exam in writing.? This will prevent you from potentially missing something important.
  • Consider having a farrier on hand as well to examine the horse?s hoof.? The veterinarian may need shoes pulled to give a more complete exam, and it will be your responsibility to ensure that the horse is re-shod.? Be willing to chat with the horse?s regular farrier but, as with the veterinarian, hire your own objective farrier for an exam.
  • Prior to the exam, discuss with the veterinarian the criteria that are most relevant to you.? For instance, if you are looking for a trail horse, you will have different requirements than someone looking for a brood mare.? There may be conditions that you are willing to accept.
  • Be aware that no horse is perfect.? It is your veterinarian?s job to point out every potential problem with the horse.? Be prepared to thoroughly study the report to decide what conditions are forgivable, and what will cause you to walk away from the deal.
  • Don?t expect the veterinarian to predict the future.?? A pre-purchase exam can only tell you about the horse on that particular day ? a very small window of time.? Any horse can develop future illness and lameness.? Your goal here is to rule out or understand any current problems.
  • Invest in x-rays.? Your vet will be able to read the results with you and pinpoint such possibly hidden conditions as arthritis or bone rotation due to founder.
  • Be cautious of signing anything with the seller before the exam.? Sometimes a seller will disclose a condition of the horse before the exam, and ask you to sign a contract saying you will accept that condition and proceed with the purchase, provided the rest of the exam comes back positive.? If you do so, be fully aware of what the condition entails.? If you later decide not to take the horse based on this defect, then you have a good chance of losing your deposit money.
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