PrePur­chase Exam Es­sen­tials

Min­i­mize the risk and help pro­tect your in­vest­ment in a new horse with this pow­er­ful buyer’s aid.

Practical Horseman - - CONTENTS - BY SUSHIL DULAI WENHOLZ

Here's what you need to know to get the most from this pow­er­ful buyer's aid that will help you min­i­mize risk and pro­tect your in­vest­ment in a new horse.

We’ve all heard the horse-buy­ing hor­ror sto­ries. Shortly af­ter bring­ing a new horse home, he comes up lame, dis­plays a dif­fer­ent (and un­ap­peal­ing) change in be­hav­ior or ex­hibits some other un­fore­seen health con­cern. In some cases, the tim­ing is pure co­in­ci­dence. In oth­ers, though, the prob­lem is one that a skilled vet­eri­nar­ian could have un­cov­ered sooner. The les­son here? No mat­ter how ideal that horse looks, be­fore you fi­nal­ize the sale, take one last step and have your vet­eri­nar­ian con­duct a pre-pur­chase exam. Af­ter all, you’re about to hand over a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money, and you’re count­ing on tak­ing home a horse who can help you re­al­ize your dreams. Now is not the time to skimp or rush. It’s the time to do ev­ery­thing you can to min­i­mize risk and max­i­mize the chances that what you think you’re buy­ing is ac­tu­ally what you get.

The Value of an Exam

There are huge ben­e­fits to a pre-pur­chase exam, says Barb Crabbe, DVM, owner of the Pa­cific Crest Sporthorse ve­teri­nary prac­tice in Ore­gon City, Ore­gon. “Rarely do we look at a horse in [this much] de­tail, even when we own them,” she says. “And once you have reached the pre-pur­chase point of look­ing at a horse, typ­i­cally you are in love and re­ally don’t want to hear about prob­lems. So you have to count on

some­one else to keep you hon­est.”

Dr. Crabbe notes that while she con­ducts her own eval­u­a­tion on a horse she’s in­ter­ested in buy­ing, she also has an out­side vet­eri­nar­ian con­duct a pre-pur­chase exam. “I think it is re­ally im­por­tant to get an ob­jec­tive, out­side opin­ion,” she says.

Dr. Crabbe’s col­league at Pa­cific Crest, bind­sey Moneta, DVM, agrees on the value of a de­tailed pre-pur­chase exam. “As a buyer, you get a full phys­i­cal as­sess­ment and a writ­ten re­port of the find­ings,” she says, adding that some buy­ers may even use those find­ings as a price ne­go­ti­a­tion tool.

Most im­por­tantly, she adds, the eval­u­a­tion can iden­tify con­cerns and help you make a fully in­formed de­ci­sion based on the facts at hand. Does the horse have a heart mur­mur or a lit­tle arthri­tis in his hocks? Which lumps and bumps are nor­mal? And what level of risk or man­age­ment are you will­ing to ac­cept?

Pre-Pur­chase Myths

Most peo­ple to­day un­der­stand that a pre-pur­chase exam isn’t a “pass or fail” test and doesn’t give you a crys­tal-ball view into the horse’s fu­ture, notes Dr. Crabbe. Yet those are im­por­tant points to think about.

“The vet is not there to make a de­ci­sion for you, only to tell you what she sees and what the po­ten­tial prob­lems might be,” she says. A pre-pur­chase exam presents only a snapshot of the horse on that day. Dr. Moneta adds, “As all horse own­ers know, a horse can be fine one day and be sick or in­jured the next.”

It’s just as im­por­tant to keep any find­ings of the exam in per­spec­tive. Dr. Crabbe says she’s seen buy­ers pass on a horse due to one small is­sue when the horse would prob­a­bly have been per­fect for them. So be re­al­is­tic as you go into this. Re­al­ize that, for in­stance, a Grand Prix dres­sage school­mas­ter is

Dur­ing the flex­ion test, the vet­eri­nar­ian will flex one or more of the horse’s joints and hold it in place for a short pe­riod of time. Im­me­di­ately af­ter­ward, a han­dler will jog the horse while the vet watches for signs of lameness.

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