The pre-purchase exam allows potential buyers to have a thorough understanding of the sale horse’s health and underlying medical conditions.
First, a clinical examination is performed, focusing on the horse’s eyes, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems to identify underlying conditions.
Next, soundness examination is performed by first using flexion tests. By isolating/flexing the leg joints and asking the horse to “jog off”, the horse can be evaluated for lameness isolated to specific areas. This helps to indicate which joint(s) should be radiographed, or if ultrasound of tendons/ligaments is warranted. An evaluation of the horse on a lunge line is also done to observe the horse at a walk, trot, and canter while bending both left and right.
After the soundness exam, further diagnostics are discussed with the buyer. It may be suggested that radiographs be taken if lameness was elicited during the exam. Many clients prefer to take full sets of radiographs as a baseline for comparison in case of future injury, or to utilize as an aid for selling the horse in the future.
Additional tests that may be included in the exam at the buyer’s request include drug screening, endoscopy, ultrasound, or nuclear scintigraphy.
The veterinarian’s job is neither to pass nor fail the horse. Rather, it is to provide you with information regarding any existing medical problems and to discuss those problems with you so that you can make an informed pre-purchase decision. Your veterinarian can advise you about the horse’s current physical condition, but cannot predict the future. The decision to buy is yours alone to make, but your veterinarian can be a valuable partner in the process of providing you with objective, health-related information.