Buying a Horse/Prepurchase Exams

Q: I’m in the market for my first horse. I’ve seen people at my barn buy horses, and they always have a veterinarian check the horse over before making the purchase. What exactly does the veterinarian check for and why is this so important?
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Q:I’m in the market for my first horse. I’ve seen people at my barn buy horses, and they always have a veterinarian check the horse over before making the purchase. What exactly does the veterinarian check for and why is this so important?


A: For the sake of space and the amount of information available on this topic, this article will deal with the private sale of horses. The term "private sales" refers to a horse being sold by a seller to a buyer, and not to horses which are bought at auction. Buyers who buy horses at auction have concerns that will not be addressed in this article.

There will be at least three parties involved in the sale of a horse. The primary parties involved include the buyer, the seller, and the horse. However, in some cases there will be secondary parties involved which can include, but are not limited to, an agent for the buyer, an agent for the seller, a trainer, insurance agencies, or other advisors of some sort.

In a private sale, the veterinarian hired by the buyer to conduct the purchase exam may ask for full disclosure of the horse’s medical records and the name of the horse’s veterinarian. This information should be made readily available to the veterinarian hired to conduct the purchase exam

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Written by:

Harry W. Werner, VMD, is a Connecticut equine practitioner with special interests in lameness, purchase examinations, wellness care, and owner education. Dedicated staff, continuing education and technological advances enable his practice to offer high-quality patient care and client service in a smaller, general equine practice environment. A committed AAEP member since 1979, Dr. Werner is has served as AAEP Vice President and, in 2009, as AAEP President, and he is a past president of the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Association.

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