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Pre Purchase trials and tribulations

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  • Pre Purchase trials and tribulations

    Hi all, I am very frustrated at the moment, so I am part venting and part asking for input on what other breeders do.

    I have had a great year in sales this year, but I have two more than appropriately priced horses for sale that I did not sell due to the vetting processes. I never used to do xrays on the horses prior to having a pre purchase done on any of my horses if they had always been sound. A few breeder friends told me that as a diligent breeder we should be doing xrays prior to listing them for sale. So I started having a set done once they were in work and getting ready to sell. I also could not see making the clients redo them so to save them costs I sent the xrays to prospective buyers. Here's the problem. Purchasers wont use the breeders vet (which I think is rediculous as thats the vet that has actually seen the horse, and they dont use them because they dont trust the veterinarian/breeder relationship dosent play a part in the outcome. Any veterinarian that would look away from something because it was their clients horse is putting his designation on the line and I just dont believe any vet/breeder relationship is worth that to the veterinarian as he/she gets the same fee no matter the outcome) (thats a vent part) So not using the breeders vet, they take these xrays to their vet or some other vet of choice and the vet has never seen the horse and is overly cautious. Example one: I had a vet read xrays on my almost 5 yr old for a client. This horse has never been lame, shows nothing on the a soundness exam. but the vet reading the xrays has never seen the horse so dosent know about the soundness exam. He states that the horse has the slightest change in the nivicular and therfor puts the risk factor on a scale of one to five at 1 or 2. I am shocked! so I talk with him. He states that without a soundness exam he is always going to be more cautious. I ask but why more cautious you are only reading the xrays? He has no answer. Also, I find the xrays detramental because the slight nivicular change is what! He has never seen the xrays before so how does he even know there is a change.

    I have another example. I have my horse vetted for export. The xrays are good but the very reputable vet at the very reputabe clinic states to me see here? If I blow this up (i forget how many times) and if you look close and if you use your imagination a little, there is the slightest possibility that there is a nivicular change that may take place. But it is so miniscual I would be remiss to even mention it. The purchaser calls me (I had taken the horse to be prepurchased at her vet of choice for her) she can not purchase the horse because of the amount of risk of nivicular she knows about. OMG!

    So I am very frustrated. If I am told the vet would be remiss to mention it and then he does what should I do? If I ask a vet if he is more cautious on reading xrays without seeing the horse and he states no I read them the same and give the same report whether I have seen the horse or not. It just makes it easier for me if I have seen the horse. And then he tells me later in the conversation my horse is at a risk level of 1-2 on a 1-5 scale. And I say I think thats awfully high when 3 would be something definately wrong. He says well if I saw the horse and he/she was sound I would definately leave it at the lowest risk of 1. Is that not talking out both sides of their mouths.

    So here is my problem. I am very responsible on what I sell. I dont think I have a purchaser that could come back to me with any issues. I disclose all. Now I feel I have to disclose this vets analysis when someone else asks me has this horse ever been vetted before and not passed or had issues. If I dont I am lying if I do I continue to unfairly lable these two horses. What you you do?

    Here is what I feel. I am going to stop giving my xrays as a huge savings to my clients and force them to have the horse present when being vetted. Although this did not save me once. I prefer to help my clients as much with any costs I can but I am very frustrated. I dont like this decision but dont know what else to do. Opinions?


  • #2
    A friend of mine is going through a very very similar situation. Horse has never been lame and has been competing all year. Buyer takes horse to her vet - declared lame. Owner horrified and takes horse back to that vet (very very reputable) to find out what is wrong and vet says nothing wrong with horse (!). Buyer takes horse to *sellers* vet who says horse *might* have suspensory fatigue. The horse isn't cheap, but he's not expensive either and buyer wants to do maybe 3rd level?

    We're getting to the point where vets will not risk giving a clean PPE and buyers won't buy without one.
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    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by Molly Malone View Post
      A friend of mine is going through a very very similar situation. Horse has never been lame and has been competing all year. Buyer takes horse to her vet - declared lame. Owner horrified and takes horse back to that vet (very very reputable) to find out what is wrong and vet says nothing wrong with horse (!). Buyer takes horse to *sellers* vet who says horse *might* have suspensory fatigue. The horse isn't cheap, but he's not expensive either and buyer wants to do maybe 3rd level?

      We're getting to the point where vets will not risk giving a clean PPE and buyers won't buy without one.
      Theres the delema! Thank you for putting into words what I was feeling so frustrated about. My latest is not an expensive horse. I seem to have less trouble selling the expensive ones.


      • #4
        That is the exact same problem I had when selling my horse. Slight change in the navicular. I should have had a second opinion... basicly gave the horse away......
        Draumr Hesta Farm
        "Wenn Du denkst es geht nicht mehr, kommt von irgendwo ein kleines Licht daher"
        Member of the COTH Ignorant Disrepectful F-bombs!*- 2Dogs Farm


        • #5
          Warmbloods often having slight navicular changes that are inconsrquential, I understand. I agree that most vets are so busy in CYA mode, that they don't give a practical "fit for use" type of analysis. Amazing that anything gets sold.
          Sunny Days Hanoverians


          • #6
            Originally posted by Molly Malone View Post
            We're getting to the point where vets will not risk giving a clean PPE and buyers won't buy without one.
            I would not expect any vet to 'pass' a horse. If I hire them to do a PrePurchase exam their responsibility is to me as a buyer. I expect them to give full findings but it's up to me to decide if the horse is a pass or fail. Today most reputable vets do not pass or fail. Actually it's been that way for many years.

            To the OP: I would NEVER use any findings that the seller's vet has supplied. That vet has no responsibility to me as a buyer. I would ask to see the xrays and have my vet evaluate them. It is not a reflection on your vet, it's just good practice to have someone that is working for me do the report.

            From time to time a PrePurchase exam becomes a trainer issue. Perhaps the trainer wants the buyer to consider another horse? In that case the trainer may withold approval of the deal and it has nothing to do with the vet or even the soundness of the horse or suitability for intended use.

            I've seen a lot of screwy things happen in PrePurchase exams.

            As an aside: Two of the last three horses I purchased as adults had issues on the vet exams. I bought them anyway. One showed from age 5 to age 25. The other showed from age 4 to 15. Their retirements had nothing to do with the vet findings on the original PrePurchase exam.
            Fan of Sea Accounts


            • #7
              This has been my experience on prepurchase exams. If I have had pre-sale x-rays taken, I offer to have them sent via email to the prospective buyer's veterinarian. No report accompanies the x-rays. They are being sent to the buyer's vet for their interpretation. Unless the vet sees something horrible that rules the horse out, the next step is the actual prepurchase exam. Decisions are not made based solely on the the x-rays. If a good amount of time has passed since the x-rays were taken, the buyer may want to repeat some or all of them. In the case of long distance buyers, I have had them use my own vet for the exam, and I have had some choose another vet in my area. It's up to the buyer. They are paying the bill. If the buyer decides to pass on the horse, I typically will ask them to release the findings to me, so that I know exactly what the vet's opinion was. In the many years that I've been selling horses, only one buyer who passed on a horse refused to release the results of the exam. Subsequent vetting showed nothing to be wrong with the horse. The guy was just a jerk.
              Maryanne Nicpon
              Minglewood Sport Horses
              Ballston Spa, NY


              • #8
                In the past I have not done x-rays on my horses prior to listing for sale. Threads like these make me think I should not waste my money on a horse whom I deem sound and healthy, as it sounds as if most purchasers will do what they want to do, regardless.
                Sunny Days Hanoverians


                • #9
                  This particular topic came up just yesterday at a horse show
                  The Pre-Purchase woes

                  In our area, many of the vets are talented but of an earlier generation - used to TBs. WBs have different lower extremities - I find they "over read" the "wide channels" of WB feet often: thus
                  1. Are vets getting an education in Vet School to determine what are true "flaws" versus "findings"? And breed specific findings? Heck, studies finally done found in spinal MRI's on folks over 40? More than 60 % have disc degeneration and even disc protrusions - but only a small fraction of those same people had "back pain". So back pain may not DUE to those MRI findings...maybe back pain due to muscle spasm...but the MRIs drive many a person to have "surgery" and "fusions".
                  2. If neither the education nor the evidence based research done to determine that finding X means failure Y, then I don't think Vets should be opining that the little shadow on an XRAY means horse Z will be lame in two years. We ALL know the horses, race horses in particular, with funky findings that stay sound, run great, show great ETC .
                  3. Are VETS now terrified THEY will be sued if for some reason the bought horse might go lame - which horses do - and the VET was supposed to have the prescience to PREDICT that at vetting?

                  Oy Vey
                  "Her life was okay. Sometimes she wished she were sleeping with the right man instead of with her dog, but she never felt she was sleeping with the wrong dog."



                  • #10
                    Oh this has been a source of miserable frustration for me and so many other breeder friends I know. The latest case of ridiculousness was this:
                    Horse for sale in my barn (not my horse) about 9 yrs old. He kept failing the vet (3 times) and each time was for a completely different reason. The next vet wouldnt find the previous vets issue to be a problem. Each time he would come back home from being on trial and vetted and we would have our vet look at what the "issue" was. Each time, my vet would say it was not even worth noting. We were so frustrated! Finally the fourth time, we had a good vetting. I don't know if its necessary to disclose all the stuff those other vets were saying or not. We told the fourth buyer that these other vets had brought up these issues but it was minimal according to my vet. This horse was sound and has remained sound in his new home. I've had other similar issues on healthy sound horses. Vets have to cover their butts and bring up the tiniest of issues. Problem for me is that much of the time, the buyers are not knowledgable enough to do some digging or get a second opinion. They just take their vet's word on it. Me personally, if a horse looks really good and sound, I don't even bother to vet them anymore. I buy all young horses so their X-rays can change from month to month. Flexions perhaps (if the horse is old enough to trot in hand) and if something looks hideous there then maybe an X-ray of that location. But otherwise nothing.


                    • #11
                      It's funny, I have vetted quite a few horses and as a potential buyer have never had any of these problems. Actually only one vet has looked me in the eyes and said...don't do it! Even a horse I vetted with a knee chip didn't "fail", it was just discussed. I actually gave all the xrays to the seller and spoke with potential other buyers.

                      I had the exact opposite problem about 8 years ago. The vet in hindsight was CLEARLY in cohoots with the seller who was a local horse trader. He xrayed everything under the sun...except the knees, which is what I was worried about by the looks of them. Looked me straight in the face and told me since the horse flexed fine on them I had nothing to worry about. I xrayed feet, ankles, hocks, stifles, pulled blood.

                      9 months later horse is dead lame with a high suspensory, and the C-3 bone in his knee on xray was in 2 pieces, a very old injury. Vet who did the ultrasound told me by the looks of the knee it clearly had a chip. It was a nightmare.

                      I'll never trust flexions again, that's for sure. Horse can be injected to pass. Sound horses can flex off and vice versa. And xrays only mean so much unless there are chips and/or the horse is sore trotting a circle. I've really lost all faith in vettings past just getting a once over for health and some baselines...
                      On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                      • Original Poster

                        Thanks for the replies, as awful as it sounds I feel a bit better knowing I am not alone. Misery really does appreciate company I guess.

                        So we basically all agree, people are afraid to purchase without a veterinarians pat on the head, the veterinarians are reluctant to be definitive on a good horse...none of us have resentment if the horse really has a problem or issue so what should/can we do? Nothing? Equine Canada did a survey on Pre-Purchase exams. Under the suggestion that they were going to put some guidelines on them. I signed in to do the survey but it was all from the purchasers prospective. I suggested at the end of the survey that they also talk to breeders but of course never ever got a reply. I really have no desire for the government to get involved. Bureaucracy never solves anything. What about a polite letter writing campaign to the veterinarian association?


                        • #13
                          I participated in the same survey, and also suggested it was entirely from the purchaser's POV. I did not find the survey technically well-designed (I used to design surveys as part of my marketing responsibility), nor particularly relevant or comprehensive .... but as I say, I did not really understand the way the survey was designed or presented, so maybe I missed something.
                          Sunny Days Hanoverians


                          • #14
                            I think there needs to be education about this subject. It seems that potential buyers are looking for the perfect horse, which doesn't exist. The PPE these days is not a pass/fail exam any more. The veterinarian evaluates the horse to the extent that the buyer wants, and then reports on the findings. The buyer then has to weigh the risks of anything that may have shown up. With most vets have digital x-ray capability these days, the potential to visualize minor things that were not seen before is very large. The great thing about digital x-rays is that they can be sent via email to any veterinarian in the world, for their interpretation. Gone are the days of motion artifacts, blurs, etc. The digital x-rays will be perfect and will show everything. The buyer just needs to understand what the findings mean.
                            Maryanne Nicpon
                            Minglewood Sport Horses
                            Ballston Spa, NY


                            • #15
                              ... a couple of things.... First, I like to have x-rays on my youngsters if they're still at my place by age 2. These are not for the potential buyers but rather for my own piece of mind and tend to be limited in number, i. e. I don't really need to see 6 views of each hock.

                              Second, I happen to live within 20 minutes of a very reputable equine clinic that is associated with Virginia Tech. This clinic has doctors and equipment that you'd be hard-pressed to find in a standard vet practice. So I stipulate to the buyer that the horse will be vetted at this clinic and that way we both feel confident that the outcome is can be trusted.

                              I find this to be the least painful approach to vettings.....
                              Siegi Belz
                              2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
                              Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.


                              • #16
                                Perhaps you can offer the "home" xrays as a baseline rather than as "the" vetting xrays. Then the potential purchaser takes their own set of xrays(which they will be more invested in) with whatever vet they contract with. Whatever they "find" can be compared with the baseline xrays. They might feel more confident if they see there are no "changes" over time. The truth is people are idiots about xrays and it isn't just purchasers but also the vets themselves. You can only correct what you find...remove a chip for example. This is a reason not to breed and sell horses, buyers have totally unrealistic ideas of soundness and their(or a vets) ability to avoid the future unsoundness by vetting. It is the way of the world and you can only accept it and present the horses to the best of your ability. I have a gelding who failed a flexion on his vetting as a 3yo...that led to xrays...that led to finding chips(all the vets looking at the xrays said this would not likely be a lameness causing issue)...lost the buyer...the horse became a school horse...has never ever been lame in his 8 year career as as a steadily worked school horse...still cheerfully meets every person at the gate to come in to be worked every day...loves his job. He is the soundest eand least complicated and easiest horse on the planet but no one will buy him for what his training and show record is worth. I am lucky that I have a place to watch him and see what the chips mean over time...they mean nothing...they were not in a location to cause problems and they haven't cause problems. So now 8 years later if he does have a lameness people can say SEE!!! The only sweet thing is that the original peeps can see we were right as they see him at the shows doing well...and still sound.


                                • #17
                                  It's not true that a horse with bad xrays makes them unsellible of usless fwiw. I know of more than one horse that sold in the mid five to six figures with bad xrays. One was a mini prix and young riders horse that had ocd surgery at 15 when he was put into semi retirement. Others were high end hunters. If they are indeed sound and working and winning, they sell.
                                  On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by siegi b. View Post
                                    ... a couple of things.... First, I like to have x-rays on my youngsters if they're still at my place by age 2. These are not for the potential buyers but rather for my own piece of mind and tend to be limited in number, i. e. I don't really need to see 6 views of each hock.

                                    Second, I happen to live within 20 minutes of a very reputable equine clinic that is associated with Virginia Tech. This clinic has doctors and equipment that you'd be hard-pressed to find in a standard vet practice. So I stipulate to the buyer that the horse will be vetted at this clinic and that way we both feel confident that the outcome is can be trusted.

                                    I find this to be the least painful approach to vettings.....

                                    You are lucky to live near Marion Dupont Equine Ctr. They are a great resource. I however am not so lucky.

                                    I do not x-ray a horse unless there is a problem. It is my opinion that Vets do not know how to diagnose soundness. They are only trained on telling you why a horse is lame. I don't trust Vets to understand their role, so I clearly state it. I remind them that it is their role to evaluate the horse soley for the intended use as described by the buyer. Abnormalities that do not have a direct correlation to lameness are to be discussed as such, and not potentials for lameness. Last I checked Vets don't have crystal balls and can't tell the future. I have taken films and shown them to 3 vets, and gotten 3 different responses. I have had buyers walk, and had their x-rays reviewed by Olympic vets and told there is nothing to worry about. I have had Vets make up concerns to increase the number of services required to give an opinion to only have nothing be wrong. I have fired Vets on the spot for being shady or inexperience. One I fired just a month ago stated Fluid on the Lungs, fluid on the stifle, a 1 on lameness on a scale from 1-10, recommendation for scoping, $75 anti-biotics for the lungs, and a concern with a "Flutter" in the heart. This was 10 days after the mare had competed training level event, with unbelievable recovery time. The mare had just been examined 4 days prior by my vet with outstanding remarks. I hired a Diplomat of ACVIM to redo the Pre-purchase and handed him the notes from the previous Vet. Healthy heart, lungs, and no fluid or lameness. I ended up having to pay for the 1st vet as I fired him, but I will not tolerate Vets who are playing games while only covering their own you know what. The new owner is estatic with their horse.

                                    My recommendation is that you must manage the vets and the buyers expectations.

                                    Sparling Rock Holsteiners


                                    • #19
                                      When we were selling horses at HITS Ocala, we had three horses-hitherto and still completely sound-- presented to one vet clinic on separate occasions, none of which received acceptable PPEs. I was told by one trainer that that particular clinic NEVER gives favorable PPEs. The horses were sent to Wellington where they received stellar PPEs and sold for considerably more than the asking price in Ocala

                                      "My recommendation is that you must manage the vets' and the buyers' expectations."

                                      Very well put!

                                      I like Siegi's idea focusing PPEs in one location- however, our horses typically sell from various venues that are somewhat distant one from the other. Another pointer- when we had our trainer sell a horse for us directly to a trainer friend of his to be re-sold in Wellington) no PPE was even requested, such was the trust among pros!
                                      Sakura Hill Farm
                                      Now on Facebook

                                      Young and developing horses for A-circuit jumper and hunter rings.


                                      • #20
                                        It has always puzzled German vets that so many American vets assume the larger vascular channels in a warmblood's foot are a harbinger of navicular problems. And that North American buyers are so gun shy about buying a horse with a small chip that will never cause a problem, or a horse that previously had a chip removed and is now 100% sound and doing great.

                                        And, FWIW, this year's Oldenburg (OL) licensing champion has less than perfect x-rays, yet he sold for the other day for 400,000 Euros (over $517,000 USD).