For those considering buying a horse, I am going to talk about the importance of a pre-purchase exam. There is an old saying that there is no such thing as a free horse, meaning that even if someone gives you a horse, the upkeep still costs a considerable amount of money. So regardless of the amount of money you pay for a horse, a pre-purchase exam is always worth the money.
An example is the pre-purchase we did on a horse for which our client was considering for his daughter to learn to ride. Although the horse was selling for only $500, the pre-purchase exam revealed the horse had caudal heel pain and possible navicular problems. If the client had purchased this horse, he would spend much more in corrective shoeing and treatment than he would if he would have paid more for a different horse. We have also performed pre-purchase exams on horses that had equine metabolic syndrome and had foundered. Although the horses were not lame at the time, founder is a permanent condition that will be a problem for the rest of the horse's life but without a pre-purchase, most buyers cannot tell the horse is affected. A pre-purchase exam can be simple or complex and depending on the cost of the horse, they do not have to be that expensive. If the horse is going to be used for high performance, then leg x-rays as well as other tests may be indicated. However, a regular physical and lameness exam by a vet is well worth the money before you purchase a horse. If you are considering purchasing a horse, check the horse out yourself and before you write the check call your vet for a professional non-biased opinion.