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What do you want in a vet check???

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  • What do you want in a vet check???

    So, I've found a cute hunter prospect on-line and have been e-mailing videos and pics back and forth with the owner. Unfortunately, I live in Maine and the horse is in Ohio. Before I go out there I'd like to have a vet check done on him. He is 4y.o. and not an expensive horse so I'd like to keep the vet fees within reason. What types of things should I have the vet do, x-rays (what joints, how many), blood work, etc.?


  • #2
    Depends on a lot of factors. What do you hope for this horse to be able to do? I'm more concerned with idiosyncracies (or minor lameness, for that matter) in a Grand Prix prospect than I am in a 3' hunter prospect. How broke (if at all) is this horse? I likely wouldn't bother with bloodwork if the horse isn't broke since I would just be wanting to make sure the horse wasn't drugged.

    I've never had x-rays done on a sound, moderately young horse, but then I'm not overly concerned by most mild soundness issues since I think most things can be addressed by an excellend vet, farrier, and/or bodyworker. My range is to have x-rays done if I'm looking at a horse in the yearling/2yo range or over 12yo. And if something does show up I want my vet to be able to tell me whether she thinks it's related to the body. She's also a fantastic chiropractor, so she has an eye for body mechanics unlike any other vet I've ever worked with. So I guess that's not terribly helpful because it's not a "normal" way of looking at horses.

    Because she's so good at evaluating horses, I do have my vet evaluate anything I'm considering taking, even if it's free. Generally I want to get her gut feel above and beyond anything else. On an inexpensive 4yo, I would likely have her go through the usual lameness exam with flexions (and of course investigate anything outside of the "normal" range) and that's about it.

    Considering you'll have an unknown vet looking at the horse, though, I guess I would go with whatever it's going to take to make you comfortable with the horse. If x-rays will make you feel better about taking a risk on an unseen horse then certainly it can't hurt (and I would probably stick to hocks, though again, if there hasn't been wear and tear on the horse I wouldn't bother). And the same goes for a blood draw.

    Good luck whatever you decide!
    Flying F Sport Horses
    Horses in the NW


    • Original Poster

      Ultimately, if he is compatible with doing hunters, I'd like to do the 3' to 3'6" divisions.


      • #4
        double post
        Live in the sunshine.
        Swim in the sea.
        Drink the wild air.


        • #5
          Having the vet watch the horse at all gaits... do flextions.... Check for even-ness in the hind end and stifles. And check those areas for issues.

          I personally would xray 2 areas if you plan on jumping:

          1) Front feet- coffin bone/pastern joints... check for abnormalites, Ringbone, OCD etc....
          2) Hocks.. spavins

          I don't care how old they are; they can have issues - - ask me how I know.
          Live in the sunshine.
          Swim in the sea.
          Drink the wild air.


          • #6
            Most important, get a GOOD sporthorse vet, even if it is the racetrack vet (actually a great choice for spotting potential problems). You need a great eye that's looked at thousands of horses more then a bunch of pictures.

            They should observe the horse at walk, trot and canter BOTH ways on the lunge. Horse should be worked until his heart and respiration are high enough to listen for heart irregularities and wind problems. Then flexions (if you want them).

            An amazing number of propects flunk this basic look see. A good vet will stop there if something shows up and save your money and his time.

            If he passes that, vet can closely examine and feel all pertinent limbs and his back and neck looking for irregularities and/or soreness. Hoof testers of course.

            I have stopped there on cheaper horses if we get that far and the vet is a good one. Not going to recommend anybody else do that but...2k for a full PPE on an under 2k horse? Eh, depends on your wallet.

            If you proceed, you would x ray at least the front feet. You SHOULD get the hinds, knees and hocks done too. Again, kind of a price point.

            On an expensive horse I would also pull blood for routine chronic conditions. Do a uterine culture for infection and repro exam on a pricey mare.

            With the downright cheap or free horse, sort of start simple and do not proceed past anything that eliminates them. I am absolutely amazed that some vets never watch them move and/or are clueless what to look for-it should be the first thing they learn. Not yanking out the pricey diagnostic equipment.

            Get a GOOD vet. S/he may bill more but cost you far less.
            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


            • #7
              If you are not going to see the horse in person before a vet check I would get a sport horse vet (think someone else mentioned) and although moderately young I still would xray/full work up.


              • Original Poster



                • #9
                  Honesty in the vet.
                  Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                  • #10
                    findeight already mentioned one that I came across recently.... Check the heart

                    I had a horse vetted by an out of town vet (I was not at the PPE). The horse passed and came to me. Nice horse, loved her, easy to deal with, etc. My vet saw her for a pasture injury. She had a PPE with a potential buyer that revealed something the first vet didn't discover. Okay, that happens. Next buyer knew about issue that was revealed at previous PPE, had a PPE and some x-rays done by her vet. They take the mare and everyone is happy.
                    Recently (six months later), when I talked to new owner she metioned that the mare has some fairly significant heart damage that the vets believe was there all along. Huh?!
                    I'm not sure I believe it was there all along, but I can't say for sure because evidently, none of the vets listened to her heart at any of the previous checks! It turned out okay in this case because the mare wasn't sold as a performance horse, but I learned a lesson.
                    Y'all ain't right!


                    • #11
                      Breathing problems too-that don't show up unless winded. more reason to start by seeing them go around for a few minutes.

                      One other trick to reveal breathing problems is to put a plastic bag firmly around the nostrils long enough so they take a couple of really deep breaths when it is removed, then listen to the lungs with a stethescope (sp).

                      The simple stuff is what drives you nuts as an owner-and alot of vets are so buried in much more technical stuff they miss the obvious. Like it sounds like a freight train when winded.
                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.