Purchasing A Horse Articles

• PURCHASE EXAMS: A Sound Economic Investment
• The Pre-Purchase Exam: A Practical Understandin o! Toda"#s
Technolo" $ Its %imitations
• &on#t S'i( the Purchase Exam
• Coins Test
• )u"in a Horse
• The *estern Per!ormance Horse: Ho+ to Select the Riht ,ne !or the -o.
• Understandin E/uine Insurance: 0uidelines 1ou Should Consider

PURCHASE EXAMS: A Sound Economic Investment
,+nin a horse can .e a .i investment in time2 mone" and emotion3 Un!ortunatel"2
horses seldom come +ith mone"-.ac' uarantees3 That4s +h" it4s so im(ortant to investiate all
as(ects o! the horse .e!ore "ou .u"3 Man" horse (ro!essionals ma" .e a.le to hel( "ou evaluate
!actors such as a.ilit"2 .ehavior or (ediree2 and "ou should see' their advice as necessar"3
Ho+ever2 onl" an accom(lished e/uine veterinarian can hel( determine the (ros(ect4s overall
health and condition3 5no+in a.out the health and condition o! a horse .e!ore com(letin a
(urchase is one o! the most sini!icant !actors in decidin +hether that animal is oin to .e a
+ise investment3
*hether "ou +ant a horse as a !amil" (et2 a (leasure mount2 a .reedin animal or a hih-
(er!ormance athlete2 "ou stand the .est chance o! ettin one that meets "our needs ." !irst
investin in a (urchase examination3 The ex(ense o! the exam is +ell +orth it2 (articularl"
com(ared to the lon-term costs o! 'ee(in and carin !or a horse +ith health (ro.lems3
Purchase examinations ma" var"2 de(endin on the intended use o! the horse and the
veterinarian +ho is doin the examination3 6or exam(le2 a mare .ein .ouht as a .roodmare
ma" re/uire a thorouh re(roductive evaluation alon +ith a routine clean .ill o! health3 A eldin
intended !or use as a sho+ hunter ma" need a com(rehensive (h"sical exam that includes a
.atter" o! lameness tests3 Close ins(ection o! the u((er air (assaes ma" .e re/uired !or
racehorse (ros(ects3 &ecidin exactl" +hat should .e included in the (urchase examination
re/uires ood communication .et+een "ou and "our veterinarian3
Here are some uidelines to hel( "ou:
7 Choose a veterinarian +ho is !amiliar +ith the .reed2 s(ort or use !or +hich the horse is .ein
7 Ex(lain to "our veterinarian "our ex(ectations and (rimar" uses !or the horse2 includin short-
and lon-term oals 8!or exam(le2 sho+in2 then .reedin93
7 As' "our veterinarian to outline the (rocedures that he:she !eels should .e included in the
examination and +h"3
7 Esta.lish the costs !or these (rocedures3
7 )e (resent durin the (urchase exam3 The seller or aent should also .e (resent3
7 &iscuss +ith "our veterinarian his:her !indins in (rivate3
7 &on4t .e a!raid to as' /uestions or re/uest !urther in!ormation a.out "our veterinarian#s !indins3
;, PASS ,R 6AI%
The veterinarian4s <o. is neither to (ass nor !ail an animal3 Rather2 it is to (rovide "ou +ith
in!ormation reardin an" existin medical (ro.lems and to discuss those (ro.lems +ith "ou so
that "ou can ma'e an in!ormed (urchase decision3 1our veterinarian can onl" advise "ou a.out
the horse4s current (h"sical condition2 +hich ma" include evaluatin its con!ormation2 e"es and
vital orans and most es(eciall"2 its lim.s !or sins o! disease or in<ur"3 1our veterinarian can
discuss ho+ these thins miht a!!ect (er!ormance !rom a health stand(oint2 .ut he or she cannot
(redict the !uture3
The (urchase exam is li'e a still (hoto3 It (rovides in!ormation a.out an individual horse on a
iven da" at a (articular moment3 Ho+ accurate and com(lete that (icture is +ill de(end on ho+
com(rehensive the exam is and +hat the (ro.lems actuall" are3 )ut remem.er that the still (hoto
cannot (rovide the +hole stor"3 Man" !actors contri.ute to a horse4s (ast2 (resent and !uture
health2 and these !actors ma" not .e a((arent at the (recise moment o! the examination3
Still2 the in!ormation contained in this (ortrait is ver" valua.le3 Ultimatel"2 avoidin the (urchase o!
a diseased or lame horse +ill save "ou much disa((ointment and man" dollars3
There is no standard (rotocol o! (rocedures !or a (urchase exam> "ou and "our veterinarian must
decide +hich tests are most im(ortant !or "our (articular needs3 Ho+ever2 "our e/uine
(ractitioner ma" +ant to evaluate thins such as:
7 The horse4s medical histor"2 includin vaccination and de+ormin schedules2 !eedin and the
use o! an" su((lements or drus 8i! such in!ormation is availa.le> it ma" .e necessar" to et
(ermission !rom the o+ner or aent !or a revie+ o! the horse#s medical records93
7 Pulse2 res(iration and .od" tem(erature3
7 The heart and luns3
7 The nostrils2 ears2 and e"es3
7 %im. and .od" con!ormation3
7 The .od" and lim.s !or sins o! (revious in<uries or disease3
7 )lood sam(les !or diseases such as e/uine in!ectious anemia or !or overall health3
7 The teeth and mouth3
7 The horse#s !eet2 .oth visuall" and +ith hoo! testers3
7 The horse in motion2 travelin in a straiht line2 in small circles and o!ten under tac'3 These
evaluations miht (er!ormed .e at the +al'2 trot and canter2 and (re!era.l" .e!ore as +ell as a!ter
the horse has .een +armed u(3
7 -oint !lexi.ilit" and res(onse o! the lim.s to !lexion testin3
7 The horse4s .ehavior3
A thorouh clinical examination should alert the veterinarian to (ro.lems3 I! the veterinarian
sus(ects somethin that ma" inter!ere +ith the horse4s intended use2 he or she ma" recommend
additional tests3 These tests2 such as X-ra"s2 nerve .loc's2 urine and .lood anal"sis !or the
(resence o! drus that miht a!!ect the results o! the clinical exam2 endosco(ic and ultrasonic
examinations and others2 ma" .e chosen ." the .u"er or recommended ." the veterinarian
.ased on clinical !indins o! the examination3 Such additional tests ma" .e used to hel( con!irm a
dianosis or (rovide a clearer (icture o! the seriousness o! the (ro.lem3
*hile man" (urchase exams include radiora(hs o! the horse#s lim.s2 the" are not a su.stitute
!or a thorouh2 s"stematic examination ." "our veterinarian3 X-ra"s can ive "ou a (icture o! ho+
thins are at the time that "ou .u" the horse2 .ut the" cannot .e used to (redict the !uture3 X-ra"s
can also con!use the vie+er ." either (rovidin a !alse sense o! securit" or ." suestin
(ro.lems that ma" in !act never sur!ace3 Rel" on "our veterinarian4s <udement reardin the
need !or radiora(hs2 es(eciall" i! no clinicall" a((arent (ro.lem exists3
Stallions and mares .ein (urchased !or .reedin o!ten re/uire s(ecial tests to determine their
re(roductive status3 6or exam(le2 a stallion#s li.ido and !ertilit" should .e tested ." o.servin his
res(onse to a mare and collectin a sam(le o! semen3 The collected semen should then .e
evaluated !or s(erm count2 motilit" and via.ilit"3
A (ros(ective .roodmare should undero rectal (al(ation so that the veterinarian can evaluate
the mare4s re(roductive tract !or sins o! normal activit" or !or the (resence o! structural
(ro.lems3 The veterinarian ma" also recommend additional testin2 such as ultrasound or a
uterine .io(s" and culture3 Such tests hel( determine the health o! the mare4s uterus and hel(
esta.lish (ro.a.ilit" o! her conceivin and carr"in a health" !oal to term3
A thorouh understandin o! "our veterinarian4s !indins +ill hel( "ou ma'e an in!ormed decision
a.out "our (ros(ective (urchase3 I! "ou don4t understand +hat "our veterinarian is tellin "ou2
"ou need to as' /uestions until thins .ecome clear3 *hen "ou discuss the results o! a (urchase
exam +ith "our veterinarian2 'ee( the !ollo+in (oints in mind:
7 ;o horse is (er!ect in ever" res(ect3
7 Some medical conditions or con!ormation !aults are manaea.le or ma" never seriousl" a!!ect
the horse4s (er!ormance3
7 I! thins such as s(eciali?ed shoein2 exercise or nutrition are necessar"2 decide +hether or not
the" are (ractical !or "our needs and "our .udet3
7 I! in dou.t a.out the !indins2 et a second o(inion3
7 6inall"2 ma'e "our o+n determination as to +hether a horse is a ood investment3 1our
veterinarian cannot tell "ou i! "ou are oin to li'e the horse2 or +hether "ou can ride it2 handle it
or et alon +ith it3 The (urchase o! a horse should .e .ased on all the availa.le data2 and "ou
are (art o! the team that does the data collection@
The decision to .u" is "ours alone to ma'e2 .ut "our e/uine veterinarian can .e a valua.le
(artner in the (rocess ." (rovidin "ou +ith o.<ective2 health-related in!ormation3
)e!ore com(letin "our e/uine (urchase2 it miht .e hel(!ul to create a .alance sheet3 *rite the
horse4s name at the to( o! a sheet o! (a(er and the (rice at the .ottom3 ,n the riht side2 list
ever"thin "ou li'e a.out the horse: color2 si?e2 .reedin2 (er!ormance2 con!ormation2 health2 etc3
In the le!t column2 list all the neatives3 I! "ou#d li'e2 "ou can assin (oint values2 (ositive and
neative2 to each attri.ute3 Then add u( the (ositives and su.tract the neatives2 and "ou +ill
(ro.a.l" have "our ans+er3
Even i! "ou should decide not to .u"2 consider the exam mone" +ell-s(ent3 The investment in a
(urchase exam can save "ou headaches2 heartaches and dollars2 and (rovide a (er!ect
o((ortunit" to !ind the riht horse -- one that is health" and can meet "our needs and
6or more in!ormation2 contact "our veterinarian3
'e"+ords: Pre-Purchase examination3
(osted: A:BA:CDDE3 %ast u(dated: A:BA:CDDE3

The Pre-Purchase Eam: A Practical Understanding o!
Toda"#s Technolog" $ Its %imitations
&" Craig T' Ro&erts( )*M
The (re-(urchase exam is o!ten a con!usin and varied ex(erience !or the horse o+ner3
Standards o! examination2 duration and re/uired com(onents 8i3e3 radiora(hs2 etc39 var" +ildl"
!rom veterinarian to veterinarian and +ithin disci(line3 Similarl"2 the em(hasis o! certain (oints o!
the examination is su.<ect to reat shi!ts .ased u(on intended use2 current level o! trainin2 ae
and intent !or resale that all in!luence ho+ the exam is revie+ed3 M" intent here is to discuss
technoloical advances and ho+ the" in!luence in!ormation that can .e athered on a (re-
(urchase exam3 Ho+ever2 .e!ore launchin into detailed discussion on (articular (ieces o!
e/ui(ment2 I !eel it is im(ortant to ta'e a .rie! loo' and overvie+ on the exam itsel!3
The (re-(urchase has a (lace in decidin on +hether to (urchase an animal2 .ut it must .e (ut
into (ers(ective3 The uni/ue re/uirements o! .u"in an" animal ma" .e more over+helminl"
im(ortant in the decision ma'in !actor3 6or exam(le2 i! "ou are +ishin to (urchase a 0rand Prix
level &ressae schoolmaster2 "our mar'et ma" .e limited3 There are not man" horses that et to
this level o! accom(lishment2 due to the level o! trainin re/uired3 Similarl"2 i! the" are com(etin
+ell2 the" are ver" valua.le and +ould not .e sold as a FschoolmasterG to teach u( and comin
riders3 Thus2 the conce(t o! !indin one that is (ro.lem !ree is unrealistic3 Ho+ever2 !indin one
that has (ro.lems that can .e manaed ma" .e more li'el"3 Thus2 the conce(t o! the (re-
(urchase as an examination o! discover" to understand this horse#s uni/ue (ro.lems and ho+ to
.est consider manaement is im(ortant3
This .rins me to m" !irst ma<or (oint3
The most advanced (iece o! e/ui(ment that "ou .rin to the (re-(urchase is "our o(en mind
8and the a.ilities o! the veterinarian "ou are em(lo"in93 In short2 the a.ilit" to ather and inter(ret
;o amount o! advanced e/ui(ment and imain can out+eih the value o! this (rocess3 An
essential (art2 o! this (rocess is ood communication .et+een "ou and the veterinarian3 1ou are
FrentinG their .rain and ex(erience level !or this examination3 It is im(ortant that .oth "ou and the
veterinarian are ood communicators3 A!ter all2 the decision to (urchase an animal is ultimatel"
"ours3 *e2 as veterinarians2 are sim(l" advisors as to the (h"sical a.ilities and disadvantaes o!
a (articular animal and ho+ these (ro.lems ma" relate no+ and in the !uture to "our intended
use o! this horse3
The most success!ul (re-(urchase exams are those conducted ." ex(erienced veterinarians +ho
are ood communicators and can con!identl" educate their clients a.out a.normalities uncovered
in the (rocess o! the exam3
Understandin *hat T"(e o! Exam 1ou Ma" Re/uire
Ancillar" testin (rocedures must .e inter(reted relative to the (h"sical exam !indins and
relevant histor" o! the animal .ein examined3
Selectin the =eterinarian
The needs o! horse o+ners and com(etitors toda" have (laced reat demands on the a.ilities o!
veterinarians to assist them in their oals !or havin health"2 relia.le com(etition horses3 As such2
man" horse o+ners see' out advice !rom numerous sources in order to et ans+ers to all o! their
/uestions3 0one are the da"s +hen a sinle veterinarian can and did meet all o! the needs !or all
horse o+ners3 S(ecialists in (ractice have emered2 em(hasi?in (articular areas o! e/uine care3
This has evolved into multi(le veterinarians .ein involved +ith the same horses2 not onl" at the
same !arm2 .ut es(eciall" as these athletes travel !or com(etition3 Meetin the needs o! these
horses2 in order to .est care !or their onoin needs2 is essential to maintainin a consistent and
relia.le athlete3
There!ore2 it is not unusual to .elieve that !indin a veterinarian that has the ex(ertise and
technical a.ilit" to (er!orm a (re-(urchase to the standards o! "our ex(ectations can .e di!!icult3
Es(eciall" as most (re-(urchase re/uests o!ten come +ith some sense o! urenc" and time
Remem.er that Fthe .estG are o!ten not readil" availa.le at a moments notice3 Thus2 researchin
veterinarians lon (rior to evaluatin an animal ma" .e +arranted to ensure an in-de(th (re-
(urchase exam is even an o(tion (rior to revie+in a (articular horse3
Havin (rior (ersonal ex(erience +ith a veterinarian is (ro.a.l" the .est +a" to have con!idence
in their a.ilities as an advisor3 I! this cannot .e accom(lished2 selectin one +hom "our o+n
veterinarian (ersonall" 'no+s is the next .est choice3 I! neither can .e accom(lished2 .e certain
that their re!erences are such that their suita.ilit" to (re-(urchase a horse is credi.le3 6or
exam(le2 do the" .elon to 'no+n orani?ations such as the AAEPH Are the" in eneral (ractice
or do the" em(hasi?e a !ield o! veterinar" medicine that is more relevant to "our intended useH
6or exam(le2 a re(roduction veterinarian +ould .e more suited !or a (re-(urchase o! a mare to
.e used sini!icantl" in em.r"o trans!er3 A veterinarian !or (er!ormance horse:lameness needs
ma" .e .etter !or a s(ort horse2 etc3
S(eci!ic E/ui(ment Advantaes $ &isadvantaes
Radiolo": *hat Imaes Can and Cannot Tell 1ou
As the "ears o! more advanced radiora(hic anal"sis o! horses has (roressed2 the relative
variation o! +hat is F+ithin normal limitsG has chaned man" times over3 Perha(s the most
im(ortant chane in inter(retation has .een the revelation that an" radiora(hic chane MUST
.e evaluated in con<unction +ith its current (h"sical (resentation3 ;o exam(le could .e more
relevant than !ront !oot !ilms and the vastl" chanin inter(retation o! navicular .ones3 In m" short
BI-"ear (ractice career thus !ar2 I have seen navicular disease .ecome navicular s"ndrome 8a
com(ilation o! at least BD di!!erent se(arate dianoses92 and no+ the in voue (hrase Caudal
Heel S"ndrome to encom(ass even more (otential t+ists3 Inevita.l"2 as MRI .ecomes even more
common(lace over the next decade I envision at least dou.le the num.er o! individual2 more
s(eci!ic dianoses +e +ill .e a.le to identi!"3
*ith all o! this advancement in such a short (eriod o! time2 t+o conce(ts remain clear3 6irst2 +e
are still re-inter(retin in!ormation and learnin at an alarmin rate3 Second2 the relative
im(ortance o! an" radiora(hic !ind that is considered ;,T F+ithin normal limitsG must .e (ut into
(ers(ective .ased u(on clinical !indins in order to (lace a((ro(riate relevance on the !indin3
The most uni/ue advancement in radiolo" has .een (orta.le diital radiolo"3 Units such as the
E'lin &irect Radiolo" s"stem2 made !rom Canon com(onents2 have allo+ed (ractical real time
exams +ith ver" hih resolution3 These !ilms can .e ac/uired a((roximatel" ever" J seconds2
ma'in multi(le !ilm exams and ra(id inter(retation (ractical3 Similarl"2 their &IC,M storae
!ormat ma'es them leal documents and unaltera.le unli'e other diital storae !ormats 8<(e2 .it
ma(2 etc93
*aitin !or radiora(hs to .e develo(ed2 reta'in imaes that are not acce(ta.le !or a multitude
o! reasons 8(oor (ositionin2 techni/ue2 arti!acts2 etc39 and communicatin the results has no+
.een streamlined to a ver" e!!icient (rocess +ith these machines2 at the time o! examination3 As
the imaes are diital2 the" can also .e sent via the Internet !or inde(endent revie+2 +hen
re/uired2 ." other veterinarians an"+here in the +orld3 In short2 diital imain has ta'en
radiolo"2 a valua.le tool2 to an entirel" ne+ level +hile also ma'in its in!ormation more ra(idl"
availa.le to revie+3
In contrast2 standard radiora(hs do not ive the same /ualit" o! resolution as diital machines2
and re/uire an FartistG to achieve ood imaes consistentl"3 6luorosco("2 althouh (resentin
immediate data2 has unacce(ta.l" lo+ /ualit" imaes and (oor (ermanent record ca(a.ilities3
6luorosco(" also ex(oses the veterinarian and assistants to unacce(ta.l" hih levels o! radiation
durin the exam ." toda"#s standards3
Some o+ners can .e concerned that diital imaes ma" sho+ Ftoo muchG and leave their
(ros(ective horses o(en !or Fover inter(retationG .ased u(on the imaes (resented3 In !act2 it is
<ust the o((osite3 The imaes ta'en are sim(l" ver" hih /ualit" ever" time3 These /ualit" imaes
are not ne+ to our industr"2 .ut until no+2 it +as harder to achieve them consistentl" in the !ield3
F,ver inter(retationG comes !rom s(eculatin on +hat is not readil" a((arent2 not !rom +hat is
readil" visi.le3 ,n this .asis2 it has .een m" ex(erience that more horses have .een le!t o(en to
s(eculation on their radiora(hic exams due to (oor imae /ualit" and arti!acts on their imaes
than ood /ualit" imaes that are arti!act !ree3
As a !inal note on radiora(hs2 remem.er that radiora(hs onl" imae .one3 In a <oint2 !or
exam(le2 .one is onl" the (lat!orm !or +hich the <oint is .uilt3 There are man" so!t tissue
structures that are com(onents o! the <oint that are ;,T imaed2 even +ith diital radiora(hs3
Similarl"2 .one does not remodel or chane relative to an a.normalit" ver" /uic'l"3 )one2 under
a.normal stresses2 ma" ta'e +ee's or months to a((ear di!!erentl" on radiora(hs3 Thus2 +e
need to relate the !ilms to the clinical exam and our understandin o! the so!t tissue com(onents
o! each imaed area to !ull" inter(ret the relevance o! an" a.normalities seen on radiora(hs3
Ultrasound machines are less used durin (re-(urchase exams !or a variet" o! reasons3 In the
musculos'eletal s"stem2 tendons2 liaments2 cartilae and <oint !luid can all .e examined3
Ho+ever2 man" o! these structures can a((ear normal on an ultrasound exam2 "et .e o! some
concern clinicall"3 It is also ver" eas" to create arti!acts usin an ultrasound that ma"2 in !act2 loo'
li'e an in<ur"3 I! this +ere not .ad enouh2 the relative time and ex(osure it ta'es to .ecome a
s'illed examiner +ith an ultrasound is also more di!!icult and less availa.le to the veterinarian
than an" other (iece o! dianostic e/ui(ment currentl" in use3 There!ore2 !or all o! the a.ove
reasons2 I .elieve it is less li'el" to .e o!!ered or used durin a (re-(urchase exam3
I! it is used2 it is most li'el" to /uanti!" an a.normalit" identi!ied durin the (h"sical exam3
Random scannin o! tendons $ sus(ensories2 etc3 should .e discouraed as the relative
li'elihood o! atherin use!ul in!ormation in a.sence o! a clinical a.normalit" is lo+3
As more veterinarians .ecome more s'illed in its use and more ca(a.le e/ui(ment .ecomes
common(lace2 the use o! ultrasounds ma" increase in musculos'eletal imain3 ,nce aain2
ho+ever2 the !indins should .e closel" correlated +ith the (h"sical exam !indins to understand
their relevance3
In contrast2 the ultrasound is an invalua.le tool in a re(roductive exam3 Its use and inter(retation
have reached reat heihts in the last decade3 I +ould recommend an ultrasound exam o! the
re(roductive tract o! an" mare +here .reedin is oin to .e o! hih im(ortance in the (urchase
Standin endosco(" is still a (oor evaluation techni/ue o! the d"namic u((er air+a" sta.ilit" in
the horse3 6or this reason2 treadmill evaluation +as develo(ed3 Ho+ever2 even in this exercisin
environment the results can .e /uestiona.le $ !rustratin as re(eatin a.normalities seen in the
!ield cannot .e identicall" re(roduced3 6actors such as rider +eiht2 head (osition2 etc3 are all
(oorl" controlled in a treadmill environment3 The (oint is that i! u((er air+a" a.normalities are
sus(ected due to the horse ma'in noise durin a lune line exam2 etc32 then a standin u((er
air+a" endosco(" exam is +arranted2 .ut not conclusive3 It ma" +ell rule out o.vious concerns2
.ut there are a host o! other (ro.lems2 +hich +ill not .e readil" detecta.le in this manner3
6ortunatel"2 these conditions are rare2 .ut "ou need to .e a+are o! them3
0astrosco(" is o! limited availa.ilit" as a J-meter sco(e lenth is need !or the exam3 Evaluatin
horses !or stomach ulcers are uncommon on a (re-(urchase2 .ut should .e considered i! an"
historical in!ormation or related clinical !indin +arrants this t"(e o! investiation3 6ortunatel"2
astric ulcers are usuall" easil" manaed3 Ho+ever2 the" do re(resent an o!ten under dianosed
and (oorl" manaed cateor" o! (er!ormance horse healthcare3
;uclear Scintira(h"
;uclear scintira(h"2 or .one scans2 can have a (lace in a (re-(urchase exam3 ;uclear
scintira(h" re(resents an entirel" di!!erent a((roach to imain ." visuall" dis(la"in areas o!
in!lammation3 Unli'e an" other (iece o! imain e/ui(ment2 it measures the meta.olism o! the
horse3 In this +a" it more consistentl" com(liments the (h"sical exam !indins than an" other
(iece o! e/ui(ment3 As such it can .e an invalua.le resource in searchin !or su.tle a.normalities
in the horse +ith a 'no+n (ro.lem3 Un!ortunatel"2 the e/ui(ment is not readil" availa.le2
ex(ensive to o(erate and re/uires a horse remain at a re!erral !acilit" !or at least CI hours in most
This e/ui(ment is .est used as a screenin (rocedure !or horses that ma" have su.tle (ro.lems
that +ould a!!ect their (ea' (er!ormance3 =er" hih-level (er!ormers ma" +ell .e candidates !or
such an involved screenin (rocedure +here their a.ilit" to remain an outstandin athlete is
(aramount to the (urchase decision2 .ut !e+ others demand such scrutin"3
In order !or the dianostics to .e o! value2 t+o im(ortant !acts need to .e understood3 6irst2 the
intensit" o! +or' the horse is in dramaticall" a!!ects the testin outcome3 S(eed o! the
(er!ormance horse +or'out is more relative than lo+ or hih level (er!ormance +ithin a disci(line3
Second2 the ae o! the horse can dramaticall" in!luence results as +ell3 )etter imae /ualit" is
seen in "ouner horses havin a more active meta.olism3 Thus2 an BK-"ear-old &ressae horse
+ith a chronic histor" o! havin .endin (ro.lems to the riht is not a ood .one scan candidate
in com(arison to the C-"ear-old racehorse +ith a ver" recent2 severe lameness +hich occurred
durin trainin3 )ased u(on this understandin2 it can "ield ood in!ormation .ut2 aain2 is usuall"
more involved than most (re-(urchases re/uire3
Althouh MRI +ill undou.tedl" revolutioni?e our dianostic a.ilities !or lameness2 it is unli'el" to
.e a common (re-(urchase tool3 This is (rimaril" due to the !act standin a((lication o! MRI
seems to .e o! little value !or an"thin other than !oot imaes at this time3 MRI under eneral
anesthesia +ill .e re/uired !or hiher lim. exams3 Alon these lines2 MRI is time consumin and
should onl" .e considered !or a small area that re/uires such advanced imain3 The conce(t o!
a F+hole horseG MRI is a lon +a" o!!3 Similarl"2 the ex(osure to MRI cases is limited2 thus these
!acilities2 althouh cuttin ede2 cannot o!!er sini!icant (ractical in!ormation at this time3 This +ill
all chane ra(idl" .ut aain2 not in a (ractical !ormat !or the (re-(urchase evaluation3
&ru Testin
&ru testin has advanced2 .ut there are limitations to this (ractice3 Personall"2 I (ull and hold
.lood !or a minimum o! JD da"s a!ter a (re-(urchase3 This is (er!ormed so that i! an animal#s
demeanor2 soundness or eneral health ta'e a dramatic do+n turn2 their .lood can .e evaluated
!or s(eci!ic drus in liht o! these ne+ clinical !indins3
In realit"2 this is o!ten .est done to (rotect the seller#s re(utation3 It has .een m" ex(erience that
there are rarel" cases +here drus +ere administered to hel( misre(resent an animal3 Ho+ever2
horses that do not +or' out !or .u"ers ma" cause some .u"ers to .ecome sus(icious or even
dis(arae the seller#s re(utation in a.sence o! an" hard evidence3 Havin a sam(le on hand
o!ten hel(s to veri!" or re!ute these t"(es o! claims3
;euroloic Testin
A neuroloic evaluation de!initel" should .e (art o! the clinical exam3 I! a.normalities are !ound2 it
is .est to sto( the exam at that time3 I! no a.normalities are !ound2 !urther neuroloic testin
should .e avoided3 This is (rimaril" due to the !act that neuroloic (ro.lems are a de!inite
concern2 .ut the dianostic testin !or de!initivel" (rovin +hat disease (rocess exists is not as
clear cut3 There is a more com(licated ex(lanation !or all o! this3 Ho+ever2 !or the (ur(oses o! this
discussion +e +ill limit to these statements3 I! !urther testin is re/uested2 it should .e on the
seller#s .ehal!2 not the .u"ers3
,ther )lood+or': Com(lete )lood Counts2 Serum Chemistries2 Th"roid Testin
In the a.sence o! an" clinical a.normalit"2 routine .lood+or' is unli'el" to uncover a (ro.lem3
Similarl"2 .lood+or' done !or Th"roid testin or other unusual a.normalities is o!ten du.ious at
.est3 I! a clinical a.normalit" is !ound2 consider some sort o! testin3 Similarl"2 understand the
relative value and credi.ilit" o! some t"(es o! testin .e!ore s(endin mone" on them3
Communication to ,ther =eterinarians
It should .e considered routine !or the (re-(urchasin veterinarian2 i! not "our o+n2 to contact
"our veterinarian and discuss the a.normalities and results !irst hand3 Allo+in access o! "our
reular veterinarian to all testin in!ormation2 radiora(hs2 etc32 should also .e considered
standard (rocedure3
In the end2 a com(lete understandin o! the a.normalities noted and their sini!icance to "our
decision to (urchase is ultimatel" uided ." ood communication and (rioriti?in these de!ects
into the overall decision ma'in (rocess3
6indin the F(er!ectG horse ma" .e less o! a search !or the ideal animal and more the reali?ation
that the veterinarian chosen ma" .e less con!ident in identi!"in concerns or communicatin
in!ormation a.out the de!ects !ound e!!ectivel"3
Reardin additional dianostic testin2 addin (rocedures does not mean the exam is
necessaril" an" more thorouh3 *ith a lac' o! clinical evidence to su((ort the need !or these
(rocedures2 !urther testin is li'el" a Flo+ "ieldG (rocedure !or retrievin more use!ul in!ormation in
man" cases3
Perha(s m" overall revie+ has le!t "ou +ith a more neative and con!used slant on the actual
value o! a (re-(urchase3 This +as not m" intention3 I .elieve there is a lot o! in!ormation to .e
ained in most cases3 I merel" +ish to .etter educate "ou on the limitations o! +hat can .e done2
and more im(ortantl"2 shi!t the relative em(hasis a+a" !rom the ne+ technoloies !or evaluation
and .ac' to the clinical exam2 +hich should .e the !oundation !or all decisions reardin
(urchase3 ;o dianostic (rocedure ." itsel! can reveal sini!icant in!ormation on its o+n merit3
Rather2 the entire exam and these (rocedures must .e loo'ed at in concert to dra+ conclusions3
Similarl"2 there can .e a.normalities not !ound even +ith the .est o! technoloies a((lied3 *hen
the exam is com(leted2 it comes do+n to intellient thin'in2 ood communication and ex(erience
that +ill ultimatel" serve to hel( ma'e the .est decision !or "our situation3
'e"+ords: (re-(urchase exam3
(osted: B:I:CDDE3 %ast u(dated: B:I:CDDE3

)on#t S+i, the Purchase Eam
&" -ritten &" the AAEP
,+nin a horse can .e a .i investment in time2 mone" and emotion3 Un!ortunatel"2
horses seldom come +ith a mone"-.ac' uarantee3 That#s +h" it is so im(ortant to investiate
the horse#s overall health and condition throuh a (urchase exam conducted ." an e/uine
veterinarian3 *hether "ou +ant a horse as a !amil" (et2 a (leasure mount2 a .reedin animal2 or
a hih (er!ormance athlete2 "ou stand the .est chance o! ettin one that meets "our needs ."
investin in a (urchase exam3
Purchase examinations ma" var"2 de(endin on the intended use o! the horse and the
veterinarian +ho is doin the examination3 &ecidin exactl" +hat should .e included in the
(urchase examination re/uires ood communication .et+een "ou and "our veterinarian3 The
!ollo+in uidelines !rom the American Association o! E/uine Practitioners 8AAEP9 +ill hel(
ensure a custom-tailored exam:
7 Choose a veterinarian +ho is !amiliar +ith the .reed2 s(ort or use !or +hich the horse is .ein
7 Ex(lain to "our veterinarian "our ex(ectations and (rimar" uses !or the horse2 includin short-
and lon-term oals 8e332 sho+in2 then .reedin93
7 As' "our veterinarian to outline the (rocedures that he or she !eels should .e included in the
exam and +h"3
7 Esta.lish the costs !or these (rocedures3
7 )e (resent durin the (urchase exam3 The seller or aent should also .e (resent3
7 &iscuss +ith "our veterinarian his or her !indins in (rivate3
7 &on#t .e a!raid to as' /uestions or re/uest !urther in!ormation a.out "our veterinarian#s !indins
in (rivate3
The veterinarian#s <o. is neither to (ass or !ail an animal3 Rather2 it is to (rovide "ou +ith
in!ormation reardin an" existin medical (ro.lems and to discuss those (ro.lems +ith "ou so
that "ou can ma'e an in!ormed (urchase decision3 1our veterinarian can advise "ou a.out the
horse#s current (h"sical condition2 .ut he or she cannot (redict the !uture3 The decision to .u" is
"ours alone to ma'e3 )ut "our e/uine veterinarian can .e a valua.le (artner in the (rocess o!
(rovidin "ou +ith o.<ective2 health-related in!ormation3
6or more in!ormation a.out (urchase exams2 as' "our e/uine veterinarian !or FPurchase Exams:
A Sound Economic Investment2G a .rochure (rovided ." the AAEP in con<unction +ith Education
Partner )a"er Animal Health3 Additional in!ormation can .e !ound on the AAEP#s horse health
*e. site2 +++3m"HorseMatters3com3
The American Association o! E/uine Practitioners2 head/uartered in %exinton2 5"32 +as !ounded
in BLMI as a non-(ro!it orani?ation dedicated to the health and +el!are o! the horse3 Currentl"2
AAEP reaches more than M million horse o+ners throuh its over A2MDD mem.ers +orld+ide and
is activel" involved in ethics issues2 (ractice manaement2 research and continuin education in
the e/uine veterinar" (ro!ession and horse industr"3
(osted: BC:BL:CDDJ3 %ast u(dated: BC:BL:CDDJ3

Coggins Test
&" Charles .' Issel( )*M( Ph)

M" horse /as turned a/a" !rom a horse sho/ &ecause /e didn0t have a
current negative Coggins test' Is it reall" that im,ortant1
To ans+er the /uestion directl"2 "ou +ere turned a+a" .ecause it is customar" to monitor the
serum o! horses !or anti.odies to e/uine in!ectious anemia virus 8EIA=9--and +e use testin to
(revent the movement o! virus carriers and s(read o! the in!ection caused ." that lentivirus 8a
virus that can cause slo+l" (roressive2 o!ten !atal animal diseases93
The Coins test is the most commonl" used means o! !indin anti.od" to EIA=2 +hich causes a
(ersistent in!ection in horses3 There also are three ra(id E%ISA tests !or EIA3 E%ISA test results
can .e o.tained +ithin an hour3 A Coins test result re/uires at least CI hours3 Testin !or EIA
has .een done !or more than CM "ears to identi!" virus carriers and to reulate their movement3
There are no treatments or vaccines !or this lentivirus relative o! HI= in humans3 86or more
in!ormation on EIA2 see The Horse o! Auust BLLL39 Since there is no cure !or the in!ection2
currentl" the onl" o(tions !or control o! the s(read o! the in!ection are (ermanent /uarantine o!
test-(ositive horses2 or euthanasia3
The (otential !or s(readin EIA is hihest at conreation (oints li'e horse sho+s2 +hen horses
are in close contact3 Transmission is enerall" e!!ected ." trans!er o! .lood .et+een horses
throuh the interru(ted !eedin o! insects2 e332 horse !lies3 To sto( the s(read o! the in!ection and
disease2 one must 'no+ the status o! each individual and control movement o! test-(ositive
animals3 The hihest-ris' scenario is a conreation (oint 8such as a horse sho+2 trail ride2 or
other com(etition9 that does not re/uire a neative test !or EIA3
Actuall"2 a neative test result !or EIA is onl" accurate the da" the .lood is ta'en3 I! our horse is
test-neative and all its contacts have .een2 are2 and +ill .e test-neative 8as are all their
contacts92 +e can rest assured that our horse +ill remain test-neative3 Therein lies the ru.3
Testin o! BDDO o! our contacts is virtuall" im(ossi.le3
In Utah2 in!ections +ith EIA have .een !ound in !eral2 !ree-roamin horses3 Routine testin !or EIA
o! domesticated horses at ris' has not occurred in that area historicall"3 *hen domestic and +ild
horses interminle2 there is ris' o! EIA in!ection either .ein introduced ." the domesticated
horses into the +ild (o(ulation2 or the other +a" around3 Most li'el" .oth circumstances could
The reatest ris' o! ac/uirin EIA toda" in the United States is !rom the Puntested reservoirP
(o(ulation3 *hile some states have annual testin2 no one has .een success!ul in testin BDDO
o! the horses in their <urisdiction3 To test ever" e/uid +ould allo+ us to eradicate EIA !rom the
(o(ulation3 Each state has its o+n set o! reulations to monitor EIA3 In some areas2 testin has
.een done on a reular .asis over a lon (eriod o! time2 +ith ver" !e+ (ositive cases !ound in
recent "ears3 This is the case in the northeast2 !or exam(le2 !rom Maine to Mar"land2 +here an
averae o! t+o horses out o! nearl" CDD2DDD tested each "ear has .een (ositive3 Evidence o! a
neative test !or EIA is re/uired to move a horse on a (u.lic road in the state o! ;e+ 1or'--
reulations such as these have th+arted the s(read o! the in!ection and disease3
I recommend that all horses considered !or (urchase have evidence o! a recent neative test !or
EIA3 I! there are /uestions a.out the status o! all the (revious contacts o! the horse2 +e
recommend the sale .e continent on a second neative test a.out IM da"s a!ter the trans!er3
,ne idea to hel( increase testin !or and a+areness o! EIA is !or the states to rant a Pre+ardP to
o+ners +ho remove test-(ositives !rom their herds3

Charles J. Issel, DVM, PhD, is the Wright-Markey Professor of Equine Infectious Diseases at the
Gluck Equine esearch Center, !ni"ersity of #entucky.
(osted: E:BK:CDDC3 %ast u(dated: E:BK:CDDC3

2u"ing a Horse
&" Harr" -' -erner( *M)

I#m in the mar+et !or m" !irst horse' I#ve seen ,eo,le at m" &arn &u" horses(
and the" al/a"s have a veterinarian chec+ the horse over &e!ore ma+ing
the ,urchase' -hat eactl" does the veterinarian chec+ !or and /h" is this
so im,ortant1
For the sake of space and the amount of information available on this topic, this article
will deal with the private sale of horses. The term “private sales” refers to a horse being
sold by a seller to a buyer, and not to horses which are bought at auction. Buyers who buy
horses at auction have concerns that will not be addressed in this article.
There will be at least three parties involved in the sale of a horse. The primary parties
involved include the buyer, the seller, and the horse. However, in some cases there will be
secondary parties involved which can include, but are not limited to, an agent for the
buyer, an agent for the seller, a trainer, insurance agencies, or other advisors of some sort.
n a private sale, the veterinarian hired by the buyer to conduct the purchase e!am may
ask for full disclosure of the horse"s medical records and the name of the horse"s
veterinarian. This information should be made readily available to the veterinarian hired
to conduct the purchase e!am.
#ne thing to keep clear is that the veterinarian always is working for the buyer and is
embarking on a fact$finding mission on his client"s behalf. The role of the veterinarian is
not to give the buyer a “yes” or “no” answer as to whether or not to buy the horse, but
rather to present facts about the horse which will enable the buyer to make an informed
decision as to whether the horse has any physical abnormalities that may preclude its
intended use.
% reasonably provocative physical e!am will be administered to the horse by the
veterinarian hired by the buyer. The tests will evaluate the horse"s systems that are readily
available for e!amination. These e!ams may include, but are not limited to, a
neurological e!am, heart and lungs e!amined at rest and after work, &oint fle!ion tests,
oral e!am, evaluation of the gaits, e!am with hoof testers, etc. #nce the e!ams are
complete, the buyer will be provided with a report of the results of the e!ams.
%n important aspect of the whole process is keeping the channels of communication open
among the buyer, seller, and the veterinarian. t is important that the client ask 'uestions
if he or she does not understand terminology or the significance of a finding. By asking
'uestions, the client will be an informed buyer. (ommunication begins when the client
makes the initial call to the veterinarian to hire him)her to conduct the purchase e!am.
(ommunication ends with a report by the veterinarian at the conclusion of the e!am.
(lients need to understand the main point of a purchase e!am is to inform them as buyers
of the health status of a particular horse. To arrive at this information, the veterinarian
may use imaging techni'ues or modalities such as * ray, scintigraphy, ultrasound, and
thermography+ electrocardiograms+ and clinical laboratory studies that could include a
(oggins test, blood count, fecal tests, and drug tests to detect mood affectors or pain
The buyer needs to be aware that no drug testing is ,--. accurate. There always will be
room for error. However, with 'uality laboratories processing the results and with proper
handling of the samples, accurate results can be e!pected in most cases.
The buyer must understand that a purchase e!am is not a warranty or guarantee for the
horse or a pass)fail e!am, but rather information that allows the buyer to make an
informed decision before making a purchase. %nother common mistake made by buyers
is that they look at the purchase e!am as an appraisal of the horse"s monetary value.
/etermining the monetary value of the horse is the responsibility of the buyer or the
buyer"s agent, not the veterinarian. The purchase e!am is also not to be taken as an e!am
for the horse"s athletic ability to perform a given &ob0that is the trainer"s &ob.
The veterinarian"s &ob is to interpret the results of the tests and to present facts to the
buyer in terms that the buyer can understand. The veterinarian also should answer
'uestions from his client that are within the limits of veterinary medicine.
%nother important fact that buyers need to keep in mind is that a purchase e!am is not a
breeding soundness e!am. n a purchase e!am, the veterinarian can"t evaluate the mare or
stallion"s reproductive status. %ssumptions regarding fertility and, in mares, pregnancy
can"t be made without more speciali1ed e!amination procedures. 2ith geldings this is not
an issue, but with stallions or mares, breeding soundness can become an issue. f the
horse is being purchased for breeding purposes, then a breeding soundness e!am should
be conducted.
Harry W. Werner, VMD, operates a private equine practice in North Granby, Conn.
Werner has a special interest in sport horse lameness and purchase examination.
(osted: E:BK:CDDC3 %ast u(dated: E:BK:CDDC3

The -estern Per!ormance Horse: Ho/ to Select the
Right 3ne !or the .o&
&" .err" 2' 2lac+( )*M( AAEP Mem&er

By Jerry B. Black, DVM, AAEP Member
Today’s western performance horse is an exceptional athlete. Whether your
passion is cutting or reining, team roping or steer wrestling, barrel racing or western
pleasure, there’s an American Quarter Horse out there that can do the job for you.
Howeer, it is crucial that you and your eterinarian understand the different
demands of each of these sports so that the right horse is selected for the job.
!or example, there are significant differences in conformation and body type
depending on the performance discipline. "utting horses who are bred for agility
tend to be smaller and not as heaily muscled as the rodeo and roping horses who
must add power and strength to the e#uation. $arrel racing horses must hae speed
and agility to successfully perform, while western pleasure show horses must hae a
less angular body type to perform at ery slow gaits with little lower limb action. A
closer loo% at each of these disciplines will help you ma%e an informed decision
regarding the selection of these e#uine athletes.
Cutting and reining horses
• $ac%ground
The cutting and reining horse is subjected to training&related stresses early in its
career due to major competitions li%e futurities that begin with the three&year&old.
This group of horses begins their training early as two&year&olds and competes in
their first futurities in the summer or fall at three years of age.
The aerage cutting horse will spend '(&)( days in basic training and proceed
to training on cattle immediately after that. They are trained consistently on cattle
until the futurities begin the following year. *teady training usually continues
throughout their aged eent years, which ends at the age of six, after which most
become amateur or +non&pro, horses competing at the wee%end shows or are bred.
This is the time when many are examined for purchase by the noice rider and
specific %nowledge of the breeding and wor%load of cutting and reining horses
becomes important.
• -mplications
"utting and reining horses are often closely bred down single genetic lines to
capitali.e upon their innate ability to +read a cow, and to perform specific athletic
maneuers such as a hard, deep stop. Although line&breeding may capitali.e on
many desirable traits, it tends to also increase the occurrence of undesirable traits,
such as deelopmental orthopedic disease /osteochondrosis0.
When selecting a young futurity prospect, particular attention should be paid
to those areas in which osteochondrosis is common, such as the hoc%s and stifles.
This is usually accomplished with x&rays. !urther consideration should be gien to
horses that lac% the musculos%eletal deelopment necessary to compete at the
intended leel for years to come. -t is not uncommon for this type of horse to be
small and fine&boned, which may affect its ability to train and compete oer an
extended period of time.
$y the time cutting and reining horses become aailable to amateurs, many
hae already trained and competed heaily for oer fie years and had significant
stress placed upon them due to this high leel of actiity. 1ajor areas of concern
due to the nature of these sports are inflammation and degeneratie joint disease
/arthritis0 of the hoc%s and stifles. -n the forelimbs, trauma to the suspensory
apparatus as well as common conditions of the lower part of the limb /such as
naicular syndrome0 should be closely considered by a prospectie purchaser.
eam ro!ing and steer "restling horses
• $ac%ground
This group of horses represents one of the fastest growing eents in western
performance horses. With the adent of the 2nited *tates Team 3oping Association
and the current popularity of rodeo eents in general, the traditional #uarter horse&
type athlete is ery popular.
These are larger and more heaily muscled horses that must combine
strength, speed and agility. They hae a significant repetitie wor%load, especially
during practice sessions. -t is not unusual for an entry&leel team roper to ma%e 45
or more practice runs in a single session. 6ood steer wrestling horses may mount
seeral competitors during the rodeo, with the owner of the horse receiing a
percentage of the other contestant’s winnings.
• -mplications
1any older competition roping and rodeo horses that may hae lost some speed or
hae some degree of unsoundness are sold to the more noice riders. These horses
can be ideal for that new person in the sport to learn a particular discipline by haing
that seasoned horse help teach them. Again, it is important that the prospectie
purchaser understand the genetics of this group of horses and the physical demands
placed upon them.
The larger #uarter horse has traditionally had a relatiely high occurrence of
naicular disease due to foot si.e, straight pastern angle, and large muscle mass.
*ignificant strides hae been made in breeding the more modern type #uarter horse
with better oerall conformation, but attention must be paid to the principles of lower
limb conformation and balance.
Team roping horses hae added stress placed on the lower forelimbs
/especially the left0 while turning the steer or positioning the horse to rope the heels.
This leads to a relatiely high occurrence of degeneratie arthritis of the joints in the
lower limb. Another area of major concern is the lower hoc% joints. $one spain is
common due to body type and the stress of performance. "lose attention should be
paid to the hindlimb suspensory apparatus as well.
Barrel racing and gymkana horses
• $ac%ground
$arrel racing re#uires speed and agility oer a short course. Highly competitie
horses that are ready to perform and win are difficult to find and often are purchased
at a premium price. 7rospectie owners want long careers for this type of horse, but
this is often difficult to attain due to the stresses of concussion and speed while
turning sharply around barrels. 2sually, the arena footing is less than ideal and
proper warm&up areas may be nonexistent. Top leel barrel racing horses, li%e many
competitie rodeo&type horses, may spend an entire year on the road with little or no
rest periods. 6ym%ana horses typically receie the same type of performance
stresses and injuries but are usually not campaigned as hard.
• -mplications
Typical conformation is of the +sprint horse, type with many of these horses
coming from #uarter horse race trac%s. -f possible, you will want to proide your
eterinarian with an accurate history of past performance careers as part of the pre&
purchase ealuation of the barrel horse. Horses that hae been raced should be
ealuated for prior racing injuries inoling areas such as the %nees, suspensory
apparatus or front fetloc%s /an%les0. !oot si.e, conformation and balance are
important due to the concussion placed on these athletes. Hoc%s should be
ealuated for inflammation of the lower joints since significant stress is placed on the
hindlimbs while propelling the horse around the barrel at a high rate of speed. 3ear
fetloc%s are often traumati.ed for the same reasons mentioned aboe.
#estern !leasure and trail sho" horses
• $ac%ground
Quarter horses are being specifically bred for this eent with different body types and
conformation than other breed disciplines. The modern western pleasure horse
tends to be taller, hae less muscle mass in the shoulders and hip regions, and tends
to hae steeper angles to the shoulder and pastern than the typical #uarter horse&
type. !oals often are fast&growing and, without careful attention to nutrition and
exercise, can hae a relatiely high occurrence of deelopmental orthopedic disease.
Training begins young with some competition as two&year&olds and includes the
deelopment of significantly slow gaits in the jog and lope.
• -mplications
8ue to conformation, the lower forelimbs of the western pleasure horse should be
carefully ealuated. "hronic lower bac% pain is not uncommon due to the excessiely
slow gaits while being ridden. As mentioned earlier, hoc%s and stifles should be
carefully ealuated in young show prospects for deelopmental orthopedic disease
including early arthritis of the lower hoc% joints.
Western performance horses hae a broad range of conformation types and athletic
abilities that must be considered when selecting a mount for a specific discipline.
2nderstanding what ma%es one type of #uarter horse better than another for a
particular %ind of competition is the first step towards ma%ing an informed purchase.
*tep number two is understanding the most common soundness problems to which
western competition horses are prone.
Article 7osted9 :anuary, 4(((
Co("riht Q BLLE-CDDD American Association o! E/uine Practitioners3 All rihts reserved3
American Association o! E4uine Practitioners
IDAM Iron *or's Par'+a" R %exinton2 51 IDMBB
(osted: E:BK:CDDC3 %ast u(dated: E:BK:CDDC3

Understanding E4uine Insurance: 5uidelines 6ou
Should Consider

$%DE&'A%DI%( )*&'E I%'$&A%CE &E'P*%'IBI+IIE'
Whether a horse is purchased for personal or business reasons, ownership
represents a significant inestment of time, money and resources. While no one li%es
to thin% about the potential for tragedy, horses seem to be prone to illness, accidents
and injury. *hould some peril befall your horse, nothing may ease the emotional
burden, but wise planning can help reduce the economic impacts.
1any reputable insurance companies offer policies to help protect owners from
financial loss should a horse fall ill, become incapacitated or die. $ecause indiidual
policies ary so much from company to company and circumstance to circumstance,
it is beyond the scope of this brochure to explain how to find the right coerage to
meet your needs. What;s important to note is that each policy has its own terms,
conditions and re#uirements which may necessitate action from you, your
eterinarian and your insurance company.
,PE' *- C*VE&A(E
"ommon types of coerage aailable for horses include but are not limited to9
• 1ortality & paid if the horse dies
• <oss of 2se & paid if horse is permanently incapacitated for its intended use or
• 1ajor 1edical & li%e health insurance, offsets costs of catastrophic eterinary
• *urgical & policies which coer only specific procedures such as colic surgery
• $reeding -nfertility & coers stallions or mares for reproductie failure
• *pecified 7erils & includes any number of things such as lightning, fire or
.%*# ,*$& P*+IC,
-nsurance policies are legal contracts between the underwriter /the company0 and
the insured /horse owner0. To better safeguard yourself and your horse9
• 3ead the contract thoroughly before you sign it.
• As% the insurance representatie to explain any words, phrases or proisions
you do not understand completely.
• =now your responsibilities. What is re#uired should your horse fall ill, become
injured or die>
• 2nderstand any specific guidelines for emergency situations. A crisis is not the
time to be trying to interpret your policy;s fine print
• -f euthanasia is recommended, %now what steps must be ta%en in order for a
claim to be alid.
• 1a%e a list of #uestions to as% your insurance agent or company.
• 8efine your needs.
• "omparison shop. $esides cost, buyers should loo% at the longeity and
reputation of both the agency and the insurance carrier.
1ost e#uine insurers re#uire a current health certificate signed by a eterinarian
before a policy will be issued for a horse. 3emember, this is a legal document. ?ou
should not as% nor expect your e#uine practitioner to ma%e claims about a horse he
or she has not erified through a thorough physical examination. A eterinarian
cannot simply @ta%e the client;s word for it,@ or complete the re#uested information
based on prior %nowledge of the horse. The certificate re#uires that determination of
the animal;s health be made on the day of the examination. ?our eterinarian will be
compensated for the exam and any tests that may be re#uired to accurately and
ade#uately complete the insurance forms. The exact re#uirements of the exam may
depend upon the type of coerage being applied for. A breeding infertility policy
would re#uire a diffferent type of exam than a simple mortality policy, for example.
DEE&MI%I%( &*+E'
A eterinarian cannot attest to the insurability of a horse. ?our eterinarian can only
respond to #uestions of which he or she has direct %nowledge, reporting the medical
facts to the best of his or her ability. He or she will be as%ed to positiely identify the
horse for which the application is being made. Howeer, your e#uine practitioner has
no role in determining the insurable alue of a horse. That is a matter for the
insurance underwriter and the owner to establish.
3egardless of the circumstances, neer as% or expect your eterinarian to report a
claim to the insurance company. This is your responsibility as the owner. The
eterinarian may be as%ed to supply necessary medical documentation.
8o not expect your e#uine eterinarian to be an insurance expert. -f you hae
#uestions regarding your policy, as% your insurance agent rather than your
-f there is something that your insurance company re#uires, ma%e sure your
eterinarian receies the re#uest in writing.
-f a #uestion or dispute should arise regarding a claim, it is a matter for you and
your insurance company to resole. -t is not the responsibility of your eterinarian.
Authanasia is the intentional destruction of a horse for humane reasons. !or an
insurance claim to be alid, many companies re#uire adance notification and prior
permission except under the most extreme conditions. -n some cases, the insurance
company may wish to see% a second opinion before a horse is euthani.ed. The
American Association of A#uine 7ractitioners has established guidelines that state the
justification for euthanasia should be based solely on medical, not economic
considerations, regardless of the age, sex or potential alue of a horse. !our criteria
are gien to help ma%e this determination9
• -s the condition chronic and incurable>
• Has the immediate condition a hopeless prognosis for life>
• -s the horse a ha.ard to himself or his handlers>
• Will the horse re#uire continuous medication for the relief of pain for the
remainder of his life>
<earn what your insurance company;s policies are regarding euthanasia. Are they in
%eeping with the AAA7;s guidelines, and do they protect horses from prolonged or
inhumane pain and suffering>
*)E& C*%'IDE&AI*%'
• =now the time period for reporting any health problems to your insurance
• 8etermine if you must hae prior approal for any electie surgery or medical
• !ind out what documentation is re#uired of you and your eterinarian in
ma%ing an application or filing a claim.
• =now if your horse is coered when traeling out of state or out of the
• 8efine for your eterinarian the purpose for which a horse is being insured,
for example, as a performance horse or as a breeding animal.
• 2nderstand your financial obligations regarding eterinarian examinations,
laboratory tests, necropsies, or other procedures which may be re#uired by
the insurer.
• =now the exact alue of your policy and how it will be paid. !or instance, a
@loss of use@ settlement might be different from a mortality payment if a
horse is considered to hae @salage alue.@
I%D$'&, I%E(&I,
?ou, your eterinarian and your insurance company each hae a role in maintaining
the integrity of the horse industry.
3egardless of insurance coerage, the horse;s welfare must always be at the
forefront of any decisions being considered on its behalf.
(osted: E:BK:CDDC3 %ast u(dated: E:BK:CDDC3