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The basic steps – and point – of pre-purchase vet checks when buying a horse

News February 2, 2018

Horse sales are an huge part of the equestrian world and thousands of dollars can be at stake for those buying and selling competition horses, making pre-purchase exams an important tool in the process.

No matter what the breed or discipline, such exams include several basic initial steps. Every exam is different, but the basic steps of evaluating a horse for any discipline or level of competition are fairly standard.

First, an overall health evaluation of the horse is completed, including previous health history, general condition, and conformation, as well as specific examination of the body systems including eyes, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system.

A horse undergoing a CT exam.

A horse undergoing a CT exam. © Palm Beach Equine Clinic

Next, a lameness assessment is completed, including flexion tests, soft tissue structure palpation, and movement evaluation. Additional diagnostic imaging such as radiographs (x-rays), ultrasound, endoscopy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nuclear scintigraphy (bone scans), or computed tomography (CT) scans may be requested for additional information.

The purpose for the veterinarian to perform an examination of the horse is to assess its current state of health and soundness at the time of the examination, as well as gather information that may help to predict a level of risk for the future use of the horse.

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