Four years ago, before putting pen to paper and signing a bill of sale indicating I’d waived my right to have a prepurchase exam performed on a 5-year-old gelding, I hesitated briefly. It wasn’t too late to call the vet out to give Helios a once-over. But impulse got the best of me. I had “vetted” many horses over the years before buying, and none had ever presented with a significant issue. The cost of a full veterinary work-up on this young “failed” dressage horse would nearly equal his purchase price, so I passed. Besides, I had been riding him for six months and he had yet to take a bad step.

Bypassing a prepurchase exam on a jumper prospect led to some unwelcome surprises a few years down the road.

Photo: Erica Larson

Fortunately for me, Helios stayed healthy and sound for several years as he transformed into a nice show jumper. When it came time to sell him, however, a prospective buyer’s prepurchase exam raised several questions: When did he have hock surgery, and why? Has his early stage ringbone ever bothered him? What about the arthritic changes in his front fetlocks?

This was all news to me. Maybe these brewing issue