Informed buying decisions
Informed buyers are prepared buyers – and they’re more likely to make smart purchases.
Through our mobile pre-purchase exam service, we help horse buyers perform their “due diligence” on prospective horses. A pre-purchase exam is an important step in the process of purchasing a horse because it greatly increases the likelihood that the animal will meet your needs.
Our exams are investigative and thorough, designed to identify and qualify any existing and potential health problems.
Whether you’re shopping for a family pet or a high-performance equine athlete, having a clear picture of the horse’s overall health and condition gives you an advantage in price negotiations and allows you to make an informed purchase decision.
Customized prepurchase exam
When conducting a prepurchase exam, we don’t believe our job as veterinarians is to “pass” or “fail” the animal. Rather, our goal is to provide you with relevant health and soundness information in the context of the horse’s intended use, as well as your particular concerns as the buyer.
Hence, every prepurchase exam should be different.
We work collaboratively with you to determine your goals and then, based on our expertise, we tailor the exam accordingly. Ultimately, your prepurchase exam can be as focused or comprehensive as you want it to be.
The following procedures are components of a complete prepurchase exam. Just like the overall prepurchase exam, each individual procedure can be customized to fit the objectives of the examination.
Clinical exam/health inspection
This essential investigative procedure covers examination of the horse’s core body systems, including respiratory, cardiovascular, ocular, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal.
During the moving evaluation, we examine the horse in the following contexts:
- at a walk and trot in a straight line
- lunged at the walk
- at a trot and canter in both directions
If necessary, the gait analysis can include forelimb and hind limb flexions.
Endoscopy of upper airway
In this procedure, we conduct a direct visual evaluation of the upper respiratory tract. Upper airway endoscopy helps diagnose a range of health-compromising and performance-limiting conditions, including laryngeal hemiplegia (roarers), epiglottic entrapment, dorsal displacement of the soft palate, chondritis and lymphoid hyperplasia.
Complete blood count (CBC) and biochemistry panel
Blood testing is a vital part of the prepurchase examination. Two of the most common blood tests for horses are the complete blood count and the biochemistry panel. These tests are useful in diagnosing a variety of equine health conditions, including anemia, infection and inflammation.
Additionally, the chemistry panel provides critical information concerning muscle enzymes and internal organs such as the kidney and liver.
While some horse buyers choose to skip the drug-screening component of the exam, others consider it essential.
If a horse is on medication that masks pain or alters behavior, your prepurchase examination may not be able to detect an injury or other medical condition that would render the horse unsuitable for certain activities or purposes. Drug screening involves drawing blood samples and collecting urine samples for analysis.
Breeding soundness exam
If you are looking to purchase a mare in order to breed her, a comprehensive reproduction evaluation is recommended. The mare breeding soundness exam consists of three main steps: a detailed breeding history, an overall physical exam and specific examination of the reproductive tract. As part of the reproductive exam, we perform the following:
- vaginal/cervical speculum exam
- rectal palpation
- ultrasound of the ovaries uterus and cervix
- uterine culture, cytology, and biopsy
If indicated by the breeding history and other exam findings, hormonal assays and an endoscopic exam of the uterus may be performed.
A breeding soundness exam is indispensable in determining the causes of reduced fertility and for screening potential broodmares. It’s also used to monitor reproductive health and the health of embryo transfer donors.
Ultrasound is used to evaluate and diagnose soft tissue conditions. An ultrasound exam may be indicated if palpation detects swelling, thickening or sensitivity of the tendons or ligaments.
An X-ray may be recommended to follow up aspects of the clinical and moving evaluation, or based on the expectations of the purchaser. Radiographs are an effective tool for diagnosing and evaluating boney issues such as fractures, OCD fragments and the presence and degree of arthritis.