Remember that your veterinarian cannot tell you if it is a good decision to purchase the horse or not. Your veterinarian is there to inform you of the horse’s current physical condition and provide information on any existing medical problems and how these problems might impact performance.

  • Work with a veterinarian who is familiar and comfortable with the horse’s breed and intended purpose
  • Make sure your veterinarian has a clear understanding of your short- and long-term goals for the horse
  • Gain a clear understanding of the purpose and costs behind the procedures your veterinarian recommends
  • Plan on being present for the purchase exam, and make sure the seller or agent also is present
  • Discuss your veterinarian’s findings in private, and have them address any and all questions that arise

During the exam, your veterinarian will examine:

  • The horse’s complete medical history
  • Current lifestyle including diet and exercise regimens
  • Behavior
  • Vital signs
  • Blood samples
  • Nostrils, teeth, mouth, ears, eyes, heart, and lungs
  • Limbs, body, and feet
  • Joint flexibility and limb responsiveness
  • The horse’s movements in hand, in a straight line, and in tight circles
  • Depending on your intended use, the horse may be examined under saddle as well

Based on their findings and your intentions for the horse, your veterinarian may recommend other tests or examinations to ensure the horse is a good match for your purpose. Such additions may include reproductive exams or radiographs.

Remember that no horse is perfect and many physical conditions are manageable. Account for these and the future costs associated with them to be sure the horse is financially feasible for you. If you are concerned with your veterinarian’s findings, a second opinion is the best way to follow up.