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Dr. Porter @ 352-258-3571
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Not all equine prepurchase exams are created equal!



When it comes to purchasing or acquiring a new horse, I have several "guidelines" that I strongly recommend to all prospective horse owners.

1) Have a prepurchase exam performed by a veterinarian that has no prior contact with the horse in question and does not work for the seller on a routine basis.

2) It is the veterinarian's responsibility to either PASS or FAIL the horse based on the exam.

3) Be wary of horses with no recent show or performance record, especially those that have been turned out for greater than 6 months for no good reason!

4) Consider a 2-4 week trial period prior to purchasing the horse

5) Pursue digital radiographs that can be shared via internet or CD

6) If the horse is lame at the time of the exam DO NOT PURCHASE THE HORSE


7) In case you forgot #1, have a prepurchase exam performed!! Especially if the horse is for free!!

There are a several specifics that you, as the buyer, should expect from a prepurchase exam. These include:

1: Complete physical exam to include: oral exam (via speculum and light), eye exam (cornea and lens), cardiac exam (heart rate, sound, and rhythm), lung exam (re-breathing exam),  external genitalia exam, and general conformation evaluation (hoof-pastern angles, fetlock angles, stifle-hock angles, etc).

Corneal exam revealed a slight band
of edema across the cornea suggestive
of glaucoma
2: Complete lameness exam to include: Palpation and manipulation of the horse's entire musculoskeletal system, gate evaluation at the walk-trot-canter (straight-away and circles), flexion exam of all 4 limbs (upper and lower limb flexion), and hoof tester exam of all 4 feet.

3: Radiographic evaluation to include: Front feet  (minimum), hocks, fetlocks, stifles, +/- carpi. Note: if the horse is lame during at the time of the exam, I do not recommend continuing the exam hence radiographs would not be necessary.
Chronic founder was noted on radiographs which was not
disclosed by seller and the horse was sound at the time of the exam.

4: Drug screen to include: anti-inflammatory drugs, sedatives, and corticosteroids. At a minimum, have the veterinarian collect a blood sample to be stored for 30 days in case there is a problem after purchase.

5: Complete history to include: Vaccination history, deworming history, recent travel history, dental history, recent farrier history, previous health issues (including lameness issues).

Additional diagnostics that may be warranted:

1: Upper airway endoscopy (non-sedated horse): Strongly recommended for all performance horses
2: CBC and Chemistry analysis
3: Tendon/ligament ultrasound
4: Cervical spine radiographs
5: Trans-rectal palpation of female reproductive track (brood mares)
6: Semen collection and evaluation (stallions)

The above mentioned exam, with foot radiographs, should cost no more than $500. That should be a minimum for all horses that are changing owners.  Even if the horse is for "free", discovering serious lameness issues will save you much more in the long run!

And remember....

"Unless its your own mother that is giving/selling you the horse (assuming you get along with her), it should be mandatory to have the horse examined by a veterinarian prior to completion of the transaction."

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