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When buying a new horse, most experienced horsemen will recommend a pre-purchase exam. These are preformed by a veterinarian of the buyer’s choice. This exam can give you insight into the horse’s health and soundness. They can be basic (and inexpensive) or very detailed and include x-rays. It depends on your needs!

What does a pre-purchase exam consists of?

  • Basic health assessment: Your vet will examine the horse’s conformation, take a detailed record of their health history, look at their body condition, their reflexes, and take basic vitals like temperature, pulse, and respiration rate.
  • Lameness tests: These include flexion tests, movement evaluations, and soft tissue palpation.
  • Ancillary diagnostics: Though not always needed, you may request radiographs, an ultrasound, and various bloodwork.

No horse is perfect, and if you look hard enough you’ll find some kind of flaw. It becomes the buyer’s decision whether that hiccup is big enough to pass on the horse. They will need to evaluate their goals before they come to that conclusion though.

It’s a good idea to ask the vet up front for the cost. You can expect $250 to $500 for a basic exam, but they can quickly climb to upwards of $3,000 for a detailed look.

A pre-purchase exam can’t predict the future. They can offer you valuable information though! Your vet may identify things you or even the seller might not have noticed.