Vet Week: A Veterinarian's Advice Part II

I am happy to present Part II of Dr. Knopf's contribution to Vet Week.
In this post, she follows-up her client's story of a purchase-gone-wrong with preventive measures and advice.
On a nicely alliterative note: Ribbons and Red Tape presents Recommendations and Red Flags!

Dr. Knopf on her way to her equine patients at the circus

Red Flags in  purchasing  a Show horse:

1. Be cautious in purchasing any horse that has been turned out to pastured/not ridden for 6 months or more, regardless of reason given (my daughter is going to college, we haven’t had time to ride…).
a. Reason: Many horses that suffer from a career-altering injury are turned out to pasture/ not exercised for at least 6 months. These horses will often appear sound when ridden, until they are returned to a regular work schedule.
2. Be cautious in purchasing any horse that is currently not training or showing at the level of your intended use.
a. Reason: The higher the level of competition, the higher the physical demand on the horse. Subtle problems may not be seen until he is training at a higher level.
3. Be cautious in purchasing any horse where the current owner wants to choose the veterinarian
for pre-purchase exam, discourages you from having a pre-purchase exam, or discourages you from using a veterinarian of your choice.
a. Reason: Sadly, the horse business is not immune to fraud and neither is the veterinary world. By choosing a veterinarian that does not have a direct relationship with the seller, you can protect yourself from a potentially biased opinion.
4. Be cautious when purchasing a horse whose selling price is far below current market value.
a. Reason: “too good to be true” often is! It is frequently said that “there is no such thing as a free horse.” Horses require significant expense to feed, house, shoe, train and provide veterinary care.

Recommendations when purchasing your new horse:

1. Protect yourself! Always have a contract.
2. Always, always, always have a pre-purchase exam performed. Regardless of length of familiarity with the horse or seller, there should always be a thorough pre-purchase exam performed to provide you with a complete understanding of the health of the animal you are purchasing.
3. For the pre-purchase exam, choose a veterinarian that is familiar with the breed and discipline of the horse and does not have a direct relationship with the seller.
4. Always have a veterinarian pull and store blood at the time of pre-purchase exam. This blood can be stored for several weeks. If you purchase the animal and later suspect the horse may have been under the influence of a medication at time of exam, the serum can be analyzed for medication and may provide you with legal recourse if necessary.

The extra time, effort and expense to legally protect yourself and gather pertinent information on your potential new horsey family member is well worth it when you consider Mrs. Merriweather’s predicament.  She currently owns a horse that is not suitable for regular riding, will be difficult to re-sell, and will cost significant expense for feed, housing, shoeing and veterinary care. It is heart-breaking to know that this situation would have been avoided if she had followed some of the recommendations above.

 Another day at the office! Dr. Knopf assisting one of her injured patients

Thank you once again Dr. Knopf for your contribution to Vet Week!
Greater equine veterinary and legal knowledge is helpful to both horse owners and the equine professionals working with them.
I am so glad that readers can have Dr. Knopf's checklist as a resource for personal use or to give to friends who are planning on purchasing a show horse. 

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Due to some concern, Dr. Knopf shares about the injured horse in the photo above:
"The horse ran through a fence when frightened from a thunderstorm.  She is now completely healed and suffers no lasting effects."

Beautiful repair job!