Before you bring a horse in for a pre-purchase exam, do your very best to match the horse, rider and job. Doing all the appropriate ground work may keep you from spending money on a pre-purchase exam for the wrong horse. Again this horse may not “fail” based on your pre-purchase exam health litmus test, but it may not be a good fit.
Asking For More or Less
If you are purchasing a rock star jumping horse that has been sound and competitive jumping 2.5’, understand that this may not be the same horse at 3’. The hope of moving a successful horse up to a more difficult task may result in you purchasing a horse that doesn’t live up to your expectations or remain sound.
This can be said for training as well. A horse that is only being ridden 3 times a week and is then asked to train 5-6 days a week may yield different results. That yield could be positive or negative, but you need to know this is a consideration going into the purchase.
This also works in reverse. Reducing the horse’s work load can also bring out a different animal. Horses that are in a rigorous training program are well-tuned athletes, much like Olympians. Reducing their workload or removing them from a structured training environment could give you a completely different horse. You may find you have a horse with a lot more energy and a personality that becomes less than desirable.
Changing Rider Type
Some horses require the confidence and safety of an experienced rider, while others are perfect candidates to help riders build confidence. Pairing a horse and rider’s needs can be just as critical as what the x-rays tell us. Do your best to understand this dynamic and search for a horse whose personality compliments the rider.
Do Your Research
Attempting to understand the horse’s personality and the potential new rider’s strengths and weaknesses can help build a better pairing. While a show record can tell you if a horse is successful in the ring, it can’t tell you if the horse is “difficult.” Find out as much as you can about the horse’s personality by contacting previous owners and trainers if possible. Many breed associations can provide you with ownership records for a small fee.
Case in point: One of our clients went to look at a horse based on the information in the horse’s ad and a review of the online video. The horse was calm, did everything that was asked of it, and seemed like it would be a good fit. After the visit, the potential buyer tracked down the horse’s most recent trainer and inquired about the horse. The trainer stated: “if you value your daughter’s life, you will not buy that horse.” It was conveyed to the potential buyer that the horse was extremely violent in a stall.
Use the power of the Internet
You may be surprised at what you can find by Google-ing the horse or the previous owners. An ad is a sales tool and doing independent research cannot hurt. For example, you find a horse online whose ad says it was a breed association’s “Rookie of The Year.” The ad states it is an all around horse and it’s only four, so it must have a lot of long term success in its future. After doing a little research you track down detailed show result. You see that almost all of the points it earned are in one class. It is important to get as much background information on the horse as possible prior to moving forward with a pre-purchase exam.
Also, check out the owner’s and trainer’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. You may find helpful nuggets of information about the horse.
Ask For Help
If you are buying your very first horse, seek out the advice of a horse professional and get assistance. Even if you are not a first time buyer, it never hurts to get advice or a second opinion prior to the pre-purchase exam. There are many people in the horse industry that would be happy to guide you.