Pre Purchase Exams
A prepurchase evaluation consists of a thorough physical examination, a lameness examination including flexion tests and observation on a longe line or under saddle, and ancillary tests such as blood work and x-rays that can be decided upon based on the horse’s intended job and age. Other diagnostic testing is often available and should be discussed with the veterinarian performing the exam. There are a couple of rules of thumb when it comes to these evaluations. Any veterinarian performing a prepurchase exam is ethically and legally obligated to work on behalf of the buyer, not the seller. Thorough prepurchase examinations are lengthy. It is not unusual to have the time commitment range from two to three hours depending on what additional testing is performed. Most Veterinarians have a standard approach to a pre-purchase exam, but depending on a client's interests this can be modified so that any questions or concerns should be thoroughly investigated. This is your chance to make an informed decision by gathering as much information as possible so don't be afraid to ask the person doing the exam what else should be considered. Frequently radiographs and exams are reviewed by the purchaser's Veterinarian at home, and now with digital radiographs this can happen readily.
Over the long haul, you may spend more money to “fix” a “free” horse than you would to buy a sound one. The knowledge gained during a thorough prepurchase evaluation can be invaluable and may allow you to deal with health or soundness problems on a preventative basis rather than waiting until they become severe.