Thursday Thoughts – The Pre-Purchase Exam

Posted on November 10, 2016

Thursday Thoughts – The Pre-Purchase Exam

Sport horses, performance horses, race horses, high dollar horses all have one thing in common.  Before they change hands, the buyer typically chooses to complete a pre-purchase exam.

This step in the transaction process is quite important–so much so that we recommend horsemen and women consider it for all horses.  Yes, even rescue horses.  Yes, even our horses.  The most important thing to remember about a prepurchase exam is that it is not a pass-or-fail test. It is a snapshot in time that tells you how healthy the horse is on that specific day. It can provide hints as to how the horse will progress, but it cannot predict the future.

At Safe Harbor EVERY horse has a wellness exam, and that exam gives us vitals for that moment in time.  They receive subsequent medical care as needed, but the questions we ask our vets may not be the same questions you have for your vet.  Our vet may have done a soundness exam to assess for soundness at trail, and you need a soundness assessment for jumping.   Our exam may or may not have included radiographs, and you may want radiographs to go deeper into the decision.

What we do want is for a horse adoption to be a commitment.  Parents adopting for children should be showing their children that a horse is a family member and not to be discarded.  Individuals adopting for themselves should be making sure they are committed to the needs of the horse joining their family.  The more you know, the better the informed decision can be.  With that said, keep in mind that no horse is perfect. If examined rigorously enough, fault can be found with any horse. What you are trying to determine is if the horse will be sound and serviceable for the job you intend for him to do and if you are willing to manage existing problems. Discuss any imperfections with your veterinarian, and ask what resulting issues you might encounter down the line and what treating those would entail.

Ask to see the records for the horse you are buying or adopting.  In our world we’ll provide the vet records, shot record, coggins, information on chiropractic and dental care, last dewormer and last farrier date.  All owners should be able to do the same.  If we’ve had radiographs or ultrasounds done we’ll provide you the contact information for the veterinarian who performed the services so you can discuss the exact findings directly with the veterinarian.  Again, in the interest of disclosure, all owners should be willing to do the same.  If you feel resolved that our records constitute a pre-purchase exam, that’s fine!  We aren’t going to push you to go to that step and spend money you don’t feel you need to spend, but we also are not going to discourage you from it either.

Given that, how should a pre-purchase exam be done if you are adopting from Safe Harbor?

  1. Tell your adoption coordinator that you wish to do a pre-purchase exam at your expense, and get it scheduled.
  2. Choose an equine specific vet, preferably one who is an AAEP Veterinarian.
  3. Try to choose a veterinarian that is impartial–one who is not in our regular vet list as you could come back to question whether they were truly impartial in the process.
  4. Discuss with your veterinarian your goals for the horse, your concerns (if any) about the horse, and what tests you would like performed

Yes, depending on your goals, pre-purchase exams can be pricey. The basic exam is effectively what we complete as an intake wellness exam, but advanced testing can exceed the adoption fee.

Remember, Safe Harbor is a full disclosure rescue.  We won’t hold back, and we want you to feel like you know the full kit and kaboodle of everything you will find when adopting.  A pre-purchase exam will not affect our opinion of you as an adopter positively or negatively, it is just one more way you can check and balance our assessment and move forward with eyes wide open to a happy trail for you and your new horse.