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What You MUST Do Before Buying A Horse

By: Jason Borchardt


This is a big mistake that I have made through the years when buying a horse. I either got too excited about the horse, got caught up the price and/or how the horse performed, or felt uncomfortable asking for the information. For whatever reason, I did not ask for copies of the horses medical history or any other health records the buyer had.

On that same note, be sure to have the horse checked out by a veterinarian, you know and trust, before you make the purchase. In the past, if I were buying a horse below a certain value I would not go through the expense of doing a "vet check". In a couple of cases, because I did not do my homework up front, I have found myself spending a lot to fix a problem in a horse which was now my responsibility. In either case, I would have not made the purchase if I would have just paid for the vet check.

Our intended purpose for the horse will determine how far we will go beyond the basic "vet check". If it is a high level performance horse we will do extensive X-rays and blood tests to assure, to the best of our ability, that the horse is sound and healthy. If it is a horse that will have less physical demands, we will usually stick to the basic "vet check" looking for visible signs of soundness and overall health. Now, having said that, not many horses which I have had checked by my veterinarian, have passed 100% with flying colors. But, the tests allow me to determine the level of overall soundness and health. Without this information, in most cases, we are making a blind decision. I have come to believe an investment on a "vet check" is well worth the money.

Here are a couple examples of my blind decisions:

We were looking for a "kid horse" for our 9 year old daughter. We found what we thought was the perfect horse. The match was great. Horse liked girl, girl liked horse. We found the right color, right disposition, right breed, and even in our price range. We bought it. The horse comes home with us and over time starts to act funny on its left side when approached. Then one day, we were riding in the arena and the horse lopes into another horse like the other horse wasn't even there...really strange. So, I had the horse checked out and it was actually 95% blind in its left eye ("glass"/blue eye, so we could not tell visually). I have had other horses in my life visually impaired and they were great. However, this was for my 9 year old daughter to use riding out on the trail, and I felt it was not a safe horse for her to have. If I would have simply "vet checked" that horse, we would have saved a lot of time and energy, and would not have had to break the heart of a 9 year old girl by having to return it. THIS particular owner DID take the horse back.

Another situation was in purchasing a cutting horse. This horse was older and not extremely expensive. My instinct told me to have the horse checked out, but I did not. Over time, the horse became very sore and seemed to not be sound. We took a trip to the vet, did some X-rays and found out that we were dealing with the start of navicular. The vet said we were about 3-5 years into the disease, and chances are it would get progressively worse. I had owned the horse about six months. So, if I would have done the "vet check" prior to purchase, and/or asked for the medical history of the horse, I would have probably known of the problem up front. As it turns out, I have spent a great deal of money keeping this horse comfortable. He still has a job that he seems to enjoy doing. He is a youth horse and starts a great deal of beginning cutters. However, he was purchased to be shown. Not having all of the information put me in a situation where I found myself spending dollars I hadn't planned to spend.

When I am asked to help people find horses and it comes to the vet check and medical history, my suggestion is to not move any further if the information cannot be given, or if the purchase will not allow time for the "vet check". My experience is that there is probably a reason why.

Jason Borchardt has spent his life with horses. He has been involved with many disciplines in the horse arena, from showing, breaking, western pleasure, cutting...the list goes on and on. He currently co runs a family ranch in the Texas Hill Country, where he spends the best part of his days on the back of a horse. His desire is to educate people on buying horses, through http://www.realhorseappeal.com, so they don't make the same mistakes he has through the years.
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