Why A Prepurchase Exam


The caliber of the horse necessary to be competitive in dressage, show jumping, and 3-day eventing continues to evolve. Likewise, the costs to be competitive at national and international levels have dramatically increased over the pasts 20 years. As such, the pre-purchase examination is a critical moment in the road to success and personal achievement for professional riders and emerging amateur riders. The careers of many professionals and serious amateurs have been put on hold, or abruptly ended, all because their one top level competition horse unexpectedly goes lame.

Buying a six-figure top level competition horse and being lied to about a pre-existing condition or history of lameness is not what a buyer expects of seller or seller’s agent at the time of the sale. Unfortunately, sellers often mask the truth with half-truths about the horse’s more “current” soundness at the time of the sale.

The purpose of a pre-purchase exam is to determine the physical serviceability of the horse – suitability, performance, and soundness – for buyer’s intended use. The whole point of a pre-purchase examination is to discover abnormalities which, if present, may affect the buyer’s decision to purchase the horse.


What Buyer Needs To Know From Seller

Vital written information to consider before making a decision to buy:

Prior Written Medical History
Equine Insurance Records and Policy Exclusions
Show Records
Registration Papers (confirm age, identity, and breeding)
Pre-Purchase Drug Screen Test Results
Written Disclosure Statement signed by Seller and Seller’s Agent


This check list of information, alone, is not exhaustive of the pre-purchase examination process conducted by your veterinarian. However, it is information that, if available, can make or break the sale. Your veterinarian should ask seller or seller’s agent for this information and consider the information in conjunction with, and in addition to, the veterinarian’s own pre-purchase examination clinical and diagnostic findings and opinions.


AAEP, American Association of Equine Practitioners

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has recommended professional guidelines for veterinarians when conducting a pre-purchase examination. However, at present (March 2012), the AAEP has not adopted a regulatory uniform standard of practice by which all veterinarians are obligated to follow when conducting the pre-purchase exam. Some veterinarians are simply more thorough than others. Have a meaningful discussion with your pre-purchase vet prior to the exam.

For further information on pre-purchase examinations contact the American Association of Equine Practitioners www.aaep.org.


Conflicts of Interest and Ethics

The professional relationship among veterinarians, trainers, and horse brokers working for the buyer and seller during a sale is something that often times gets overlooked – especially in situations involving national and international sales of top performance horses where emotions run high and money is a significant motivating factor.

As to veterinarians, the pre-purchase examination is a fact-finding mission to be conducted with impartiality. As such, any conflict of interest the pre-purchase veterinarian may have with seller or seller’s agent needs to be disclosed to buyer prior to conducting the exam.

Veterinarians’ professional duties of loyalty and ethics begin and end with their client/buyer. Conflicts of interest, actual, apparent, or otherwise, undermine and compromise the pre-purchase examination process and, further, call into question whether buyer actually makes an “informed” decision based on the veterinarian’s findings and opinions tainted under circumstances where a conflict of interest exists.

As such, all parties involved in the sale should consider actual or potential conflicts that may be present and, if any, full disclosure should be made to buyer and seller at the outset and, at the very least, prior to the pre-purchase exam.