We highly recommend to our clients when purchasing a horse, to get a "Pre-purchase Exam." Your local equine practitioner can help you assess the health and soundness of the horse you are looking to purchase. Those who are familiar with the owner or farm may accept guarantees stipulated in the purchase agreement. In either case, knowledge of the horse's physical condition will help you better care for your horse over its life.
A thorough physical exam, (eyes, mouth, teeth, heart, body condition, reproductive exam, physical history, vaccination history, worming history) often precede a "soundness exam." where by watching the horse in motion or even by taking radiographs, a potential athletic compromise or current lameness is ruled out. Of course, the condition of the horse should be balanced against its age and intended use.
Eyes- Examination of the eyes is critical, and recognition of any past injury or ongoing inflammation is important.
Dental check- All horses need dental check ups regularly. Horses ridden with a bit, in particular, are far more comfortable with their "wolf teeth" removed, if present, and with a "bit seat." A bit seat is the application of a tooth file, (a "float") to round off the upper and lower premolars so that the bit seats itself more comfortably in the horse's mouth.
Heart- Horses, like people, can and do have heart "murmurs," arrhythmia (irregular beats), and other audible normal and abnormal heart conditions. Some murmurs, for example, are perhaps acceptable in an older mare to be used strictly for breeding, whereas the same murmur might spell potential disaster in a seven year old 100 mile endurance horse.
Physical condition- The physical condition of the horse predicts its future, and reflects its past. A very fat horse has not been worked consistently, for whatever reason, and will take some time and care to be "fitted up" without stress or strains. A very thin horse, on the other hand, may be nervous, unwell, have teeth problems, or be low-man in the pecking order for food. In either case, a diagnosis should be made prior to purchase.
Breeding soundness- Any stallion or mare to be used for breeding should be proven "reproductively sound." In mares with unknown recent reproductive history, a full physical examination of the reproductive tract, often including ultrasonography, culture and uterine biopsy of older mares, may be advisable. Stallions must have drive, and acceptable numbers of fertile spermatozoa, or have, as proof of their breeding soundness, recent live and healthy foals. Nevertheless, an examination of the stallion's reproductive tract may provide important information prior to obvious physical problems.
Physical history- Old injuries, behavior problems, past surgeries, past medical crises in the horse's history should be reviewed in light of future plans for the horse. A veterinarian with experience will have some ability to predict long-term consequences results from any such historical documentation.
Worming history- Perhaps one of the most critical historical pieces of information to you as a potential buyer is the horses worming history. The results of a poor worming schedule are often severely compromised vessels in the gut, which in time may result in a bowel without blood perfusion, death of that portion of bowel, colic or even death of the horse. Be sure of a good worming history, and continue yourself to maintain a proper worming program based on sound advise, and if necessary, on a microscopic fecal examination.
Vaccinations- Each area of the country and world has its particular endemic diseases for which it is advisable to vaccinate your horse. Your equine practitioner is specifically aware of horse diseases, and can help you determine your horse's future needs locally, country-wide, and even world-wide, if necessary.
In addition to the vet check you should check the housing condition that your future horse presently inhabits. Many keys to this horse's future lay before the observant person who takes note of the way the horse is kept on a daily basis. An intelligent buyer visits his potential selection with there Bloodstock agent.