Equine Pre-Purchase Exams


DR ANDY KANEPS: I’m Dr. Andy
Kaneps of Kaneps Equine. Today, we’ll discuss the
pre-purchase examination. Pre-purchase examinations are
conducted by your veterinarian to determine the
condition of the horse on that particular day, and
to help advise you regarding potential issues that need
further identification, such as by x-rays. The pre-purchase examination
can take a variety of levels, from just a general
wellness physical exam, to detailed lameness
evaluations, detailed imaging, and also detailed
laboratory evaluations. All depending on your goals
for this potential new horse. Being on-site at the time
of pre-purchase examination is very important. I fully understand,
on occasion where half a country away from where
the horse is being purchased. But good, detailed communication
with the veterinarian conducting the
examination will help you get the most information
from a pre-purchase exam. The first steps of
the pre-purchase exam are to record the physical
appearance of the horse, whether through photographs or
drawing images of the horse, determining the age, the
work history of the horse, the medical history
of the horse, and identifying all the
individuals associated with the seller
and buyer present at this time of the exam. We usually start by
drawing laboratory samples. And that may involve things
for just general wellness, such as a complete blood
count and chemistry panel, or may involve things like
laboratory tests for diseases, such as equine
infectious anemia. A negative EIA test is
necessary for transport across state lines and
is very important when a change of ownership occurs. We may also take samples
for a drug screen. The drug screen isn’t run
necessarily on every horse, but it can be an advantage
to hold samples such as this aside, if at some point in the
future testing is indicated. The full history of the horse
is determined and recorded on the examination
form, and then a general physical
examination is conducted. The physical examination will
evaluate all the major body systems such as heart, lungs,
skin, ears, eyes, mouth, and then go to a
lameness examination. Again, all of these findings
are recorded in detail, so they can be part of
the medical record that goes to the buyer, and remains
as part of the horse’s record. The lameness
evaluation is detailed, and starts with the
general examination of the horse’s body. Full palpation of the
neck, back, and limbs. Evaluation of conformation. Evaluation of the
hooves and shoeing. Use of hoof testers
when horses do not have pads in all four feet,
to determine whether or not there’s foot sensitivity. Then the horse is worked in
hand, in a straight line, on the lunge, and
potentially under saddle. Flexion tests are
conducted, and following that general
examination, a assessment is made regarding the general
medical conditions of the horse and the musculoskeletal
conditions of the horse. And from that information, the
veterinarian will consult with the buyer, and determine whether
or not additional imaging such as x-rays– or potentially
ultrasounds– be undertaken. Most horses that undergo
a pre-purchase exam will have x-rays taken. And the reason we
take x-rays is to look for obvious
abnormalities of the bone or joints that may
impinge on soundness. Certainly, horses that
are lame at the time of the pre-purchase exam are
unlikely to have x-rays taken. But we are looking
for as many details as we can in most
pre-purchase exams, so a good set of radiographs
is very, very helpful if, for no other reason, than
having them as a baseline as you take over a new horse. The pre-purchase
examination is conducted to help you make a decision,
whether this horse suits the needs that you anticipate. And your veterinarian
can advise you regarding the potential
import of the findings, and what you may
expect in the future. However, the bottom
line on the pre-purchase is to describe what your
veterinarian is seeing on the day of examination. We don’t have a crystal ball,
as much as we would like to, so we need to
stick to the facts. And that’s the goal of
the pre-purchase exam. For further details on the
medical portion of the exam, and on the lameness
exam portion, you can take a look at the
videos on the SmartPak Horse Health Library.

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