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So you’ve found your dream horse. It was previously used for low-level eventing but has been sitting in a paddock for the past 12mths. You have a couple of rides and the horse does everything you asked of it. After a few days of thinking it over, you hand over your hard-earned cash and bring your new horse home. You gradually bring the horse back into full-time work but after a few weeks, the horse becomes lame in the left front, and appears to be getting worse the more your ride it. To make matters worse, the previous owners are no longer returning your calls and they’ve blocked you on facebook….
Unfortunately, this is a common scenario we encounter as vets. A disappointed client calls us as their new “dream horse” is lame but, “it was fine when they bought it”.
Clear and honest communication between the buyer, seller and veterinarian, before the exam is conducted is extremely important.
It’s very important to clarify the buyer’s expectations for the horse. This includes a discussion of the buyer’s experience level and intended use for the horse.
I often ask the seller questions about the work history and prior performance level of the horse, its recent work schedule and intensity of that work. I also ask about general care and management, and any known health problems the horse might have had, including prior lameness and surgeries.
Here are some key points to note about a prepurchase examination :
We strongly encourage our clients to have a prepurchase exam performed before buying a horse. Even if the purchase price is low, the cost of owning a horse can be very high! Whilst most people are genuine and honest when selling horses, it is still a ‘buyer-beware’ situation. Buying a horse is an exciting time and many purchases are made because people have “fallen in-love” with the horse and don’t necessarily want to see potential red-flags. It’s the unfortunate fact that many horses are purchased are unsuitable for their intended use which may range from lameness issues, to behavioural and general health concerns.
The purpose of a pre-purchase exam is to help provide the buyer with enough information to enable him/her to make an informed decision as to whether the horse will meet their needs.
Remember, there is no “perfect” horse. If you look hard enough, you will find a problem. The purpose of a prepurchase exam is not whether a problem exists, but rather whether the problem will interfere with the buyer’s intended use of the horse.
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