Finding that special horse

By Anne Kennedy
Last month we began our adventure into the world of horse ownership. We learned about different breeds and types of riding, or disciplines. Once we have identified the horse we are interested in purchasing, our next questions arise. We need to do more homework to protect ourselves from a costly and emotional mistake. It is easier to buy a horse than to sell one, especially in the economy we fine ourselves in now.
With appointments made, it is time to take a good look at a few horses. It is always a good idea to take someone horse knowledge with you. This person can be a second eye to see faults in the horse or identify good points. You can ride this horse, but seeing someone else ride is very helpful. My father had a saying, pretty is as pretty does. That is so true with horses. That beautiful horse that you have dreamed about for so long might not have the training or personality to be a good fit for you and the job that you wish to do with it.
Before we write that check, here are some basic requirements. Are the horse’s papers all in order? If the horse is registered, are the registered papers in the seller’s name so that they can be transferred to you without any problems? What is the horse’s current health, immunization record? Has the horse ever been lame or sick?
You’ve spent weeks, months, sometimes even years looking through the “for sale” ads trying to find the prefect horse just for you. He’s beautiful, rides like a dream, everything you wanted and more. Finally, your search has ended. Don’t put him in your trailer just yet!! Maybe you should first have a pre-purchase examination.
What is a pre-purchase exam?
A prepurchase examination is just what it sounds like. You will hire a veterinarian to examine the horse you are interested in before you make the actual purchase to make sure that the horse is healthy and sound at the time of purchase.
If you are one of the lucky few, the horse of your dreams will be sound and have no problems. The purpose of the examination is to find out what issues a horse has and if they will interfere with the horse doing his intended job and if the buyer is in a position to manage those issues. Some information your veterinarian gathers may hint at future problems, but, especially in the case of a completely sound horse on the day of purchase, future problems cannot be predicted.
Pre-purchase examinations come in all shapes and sizes. A basic pre-purchase examination may include just a thorough physical examination — checking the heart, lungs, eye, and gastrointestinal system. More comprehensive examinations include a detailed exam of every body system —  a moving examination with flexions, a neurological examination, radiographs, ultrasounds.
How much or how little you choose to do will depend on several factors. But no horse should be purchased without your veterinarian seeing it for at least the most basic of examinations. Ideally, every horse would have a full exam and full set of radiographs.
If your budget is limited, perhaps consider a horse that’s a bit older, then focus on areas of concern in a mature horse. Aged horses should have a complete physical exam to make sure they are physically safe for their intended activity. A vet inspection is an important and very worthwhile investment which should be calculated into your budget when you are horse shopping. Even a free horse — especially a free horse — is worth getting an exam done on. Those few hundred dollars you spend now may save you thousands of dollars.
And lots of sadness and frustration in the future. Knowledge is power! Know what you are buying, and you will be able to enjoy your new horse with few surprises.
Congratulations on your new horse. Now you can worry about other things, like what color blanket to buy for him!


• Dressage Clinic with Petra Wilder on Feb. 17-19 at Camelot Farms Equestrian Center, St. Helena Island. Do you want your horse to be happier, and enjoy your riding more? If your answer is “yes” than the “Dance of Dressage” Clinic by Petra Wilder is for you! Call or email Petra for a ride time and to check audit times at 386-963-1262 or 386-205-8108 or
Auditors $10 per day, trailer in fee $25 per day, stalls available $35.00 night
• Horse show schedule at Mullet Hall Equestrian. Feb. 18, Mar. 17, April 7, May 5, Sept. 15, Oct. 27.
Open show ring has halter, western, and english classes. Hunter show ring has jumping, under saddle and equitation classes
both rings have beginner, walk trot, and lead line classes. All shows held at Mullet Hall Equestrian Center, John’s Island.

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