Prepurchase Exams for Upper-Level Sport Horses

There’s no getting around it: Horses—especially those expected to perform at a high level—are risky purchases. But a thorough prepurchase exam can help give you confidence that you’re making the right investment for your scenario. Here’s what practitioners look for during prepurchase exams for upper-level sport horses.
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prepurchase exams for upper level sport horses
She said an under-saddle exam is a very important part of a prepurchase, as many horses she sees that appear sound in-hand and even on the longe line are significantly lame with a rider. | Photo: iStock
Horses are risky purchases. The healthiest of new horses can sustain a career- or life-threatening injury at any time. But there are steps you can take before you buy to give yourself the best chance of selecting and purchasing a suitable partner healthy enough to meet your needs and goals, including having your veterinarian conduct a thorough prepurchase exam.

What will your veterinarian evaluate during one of these evaluations? At the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California, Melissa Welker, DVM, of John R. Steele & Associates, in Vernon, New York, reviewed what’s involved in her prepurchase exams for upper-level sport horses.

“The equine prepurchase exam has evolved a great deal in recent years,” she said. “As technology advances, so does the level of complication these exams often entail. The value of sport horses has increased dramatically in the last decade, creating a new sense of pressures on the buyer, seller, and veterinary practitioner asked to perform the a prepurchase exam.”

As such, she encouraged veterinarians to find a routine that works for them and stick to it

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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