What’s Inside Your Athlete?

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Chances are, if you’ve ever bought a horse with the intention of competing him, you had a veterinarian conduct a prepurchase exam before signing the check. This not only alerts you to any current or potential problems he might have, but it also serves as a nice baseline for your horse’s soundness and health. If a lameness develops down the road, for instance, you can take radiographs and compare them to those done during the prepurchase and look for changes.

But what if you A) bred rather than bought the horse, or B) for whatever reason never had your vet conduct a prepurchase exam? Here’s where it’s useful to at some point know what’s going on inside your horse’s body. And even if your horse passed a prepurchase with flying colors years ago, it might not hurt to take another look every now and then to see how his parts have or have not changed.

I fall into Category A. I bred and raised Hannah, overcame a few veterinary issues along the way, and show my now 7-year-old in the hunters. In the past year that we’ve been competing, however, I’ve started wondering what’s really inside, besides that figurative huge heart of hers. The jumps are getting taller and the shows more frequent. I’m not saddling a horse that has a potential problem brewing, am I? Because Hannah’s my “baby,” I’d be devastated if I was unknowingly doing anything that might hurt her

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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