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How to Buy a Horse at an Auction

In these situations where a prepurchase exam cannot be done, you can only hope to pick up a "Red Flag" suggestive of some problem the horse may have. Unfortunately these flags may be subtle.

How to Buy a Horse at an Auction

In these situations where a prepurchase exam cannot be done, you can only hope to pick up a "Red Flag" suggestive of some problem the horse may have. Unfortunately these flags may be subtle. As the horse may have been rested prior to your exam or he may have received some type of medication that would make him appear better than he really is.

With that in mind, you want to examine the horse from nose to tail for anything that is swollen or warm when compared with other parts of the body. Run your hand down all four legs and compare appearance and feel of the left vs right. You may pick up an old bowed tendon or a fluid filled knee that`s a warning of developing joint arthritis. Make sure to flex as many of the horse`s joints as you can. Arthritic joints don`t like to flex.

Now stand back and look at general body condition, hair coat, foot quality, muscle development and attitude. These things will hopefully give you an idea of the general health of the animal and how well he was taken care of. Is the weight of the horse appropriate for its size and frame? Does it have average muscle development and is it equal on both sides of the frame? These are hints about the amount of exercise and training the horse has had recently.

The third phase of your exam should be to watch the horse move - walk, trot and canter. Is he comfortable or are his ears pinned and tail switching? Is there a head-bob, suggesting lameness? Does the horse make a louder than normal breathing noise? You must try to observe the horse under saddle as this will not only give you information about his soundness, but also an idea of his attitude and ultimately how well suited he is considering your level of riding experience.

As a horse vet who has examined many horses for purchase, I honestly feel that there is no replacement for a thorough prepurchase exam done by a veterinarian. It has saved many people money and anxiety and I believe it is one of my most important functions. The exam outlined above is an excellent screening method for a person considering the purchase of a horse. You will undoubtedly miss a few things but the more of them you do, the better eye you`ll develop. Be observant, critical and above all, take your time. Purchasing a horse is much like finding a spouse; neither should be done in haste.



How to Buy a Horse at an Auction