Pre-Purchase Examinations

Pre-purchase exams are generally performed before a purchase is made on a horse to assess it for soundness, injury and/or disease that could prevent the horse from meeting the buyer’s performance expectations. If a horse is capable of performing at a certain level, but may benefit from some maintenance such as occasional steroid injections or a joint supplement, the pre-purchase exam is an opportunity for the veterinarian to make these suggestions.

The full exam consists of a physical exam, soundness exam, flexion tests, diagnostic images & screening blood work. For clients that are purchasing a lower-level horse or have financial constraints, we are able to tailor certain aspects of the exam. For all horses, however ‘cheap’ the purchase price, we recommend at minimum a physical exam, soundness exam and flexion tests.

Five Stages of a Pre-Purchase Exam:

  • Stage 1 consists of a general evaluation of the overall condition of the horse. This includes listening to the horse's heart, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, examining the horse's eyes and musculoskeletal system, and giving the horse a body condition score.

  • Stage 2  consists of a moving exam where the horse is observed on soft and hard footing, and if possible, under saddle.

  • Stage 3  consists of a series of flexion tests to evaluate individual parts of the horse's leg and test for any signs of soreness or lameness.

  • Stage 4 consists of an exercise tolerance test. A thorough exam of the horse's cardiovascular and respiratory system is performed before and after the horse has worked for 10 minutes, which allows for detection of any exercise induced heart or respiratory problems.

  • Stage 5 consists of a standard set of x-rays. Additional x-rays can be taken upon the buyer's request if there are specific areas of concern.

  • Stage 6 consists of blood work — including Coggins, additional chemistry work, and a Complete Blood Count (CBC) to evaluate organ function and blood cell values. A complete drug screen may be done upon request.

Pre-Purchase Screenings

Pre-Purchase Screenings are virtual and designed telemedicine-style to assist you with assessing whether a horse will be a good fit for your intended use before you schedule a Pre-Purchase Exam. This tool is particularly useful in cases where horses are being shipped from overseas and our clients are unable to meet the horse prior to purchase.

During a Pre-Purchase Screening, our veterinarians review all available videos of the horse moving and conduct a thorough gait analysis from these videos, including videos of flexions if available. Please contact our veterinarians for recommended videos. Our veterinarians also review any existing radiographs or previous medical records that have been released to see if there are issues, past or present that could lead to problems with soundness down the road. From their complete review, our veterinarians will write a full report and advise you on whether additional diagnostic images need to be taken or if additional tests need to be performed.