Most current and prospective horse owners are familiar with prepurchase examination, a process intended to uncover pertinent information about a horse and make the buyer aware of potential medical problems. The goal of examination is not to "pass" or "fail" the horse, but rather to reduce some of the risk associated with its purchase. Even though the risk associated with such an endeavor can never be completely eliminated, a positive veterinary report can certainly lower it to a comfortable level for the buyer.
Most veterinarians consider prepurchase examination to be a criticial component of responsible horse-buying, especially if expectations for the animal's intended use are high or the sale price is substantial. It is always better to find out what you're getting into before you get into it.
Aside from not providing the horse buyer with a guarantee of eternal health and soundness, prepurchase evaluation also carries with it other disadvantages. The most obvious two include:
Expense. Most prepurchase evaluations cost hundreds of dollars. Many examinations are supplemented with diagnostic imaging (such as radiography, endoscopy, etc.), which can easily push the cost into the thousands. It is not uncommon for the client's total expense (which may include a call charge, examination fee, diagnostic imaging, bloowork, etc.) to breach $2000 or more for prepurchase examination.
The Buyer's Emotional Investment. Obviously, most prospective owners would prefer not to incur the time and expense associated with prepurchase examination unless they were "head over heels" for the horse. By the time that many buyers realize that they are truly interested they may have already formed an emotional attachment with the animal... one that may not easily be broken. We have witnessed a number of clients "mourn their loss" after receiving negative prepurchase information regarding a horse they did not yet own.
Is there a way to improve the prepurchase process?
The Atlanta Equine Clinic has pioneered a new client service known as PRELIMINARY PURCHASE ASSESSMENT (aka the PRE-Prepurchase Examination). This service utilizes a combination of digital technology and gait-pattern recognition to preemptively screen horses prior to scheduling formal prepurchase examination.
Just as an advising trainer might watch video footage to determine the nature and quality of the horse's gait, the buyer's veterinarian can also observe footage to detect potential soundness issues. And since remote (telemedical) review does not impose the time and distance constraints associated with on-site examination, the cost to the client is considerably less. Most Preliminary Purchase Assessments cost between $75 and $125.
The primary intention of the Preliminary Purchase Assessment is to "weed out" horses with soundness issues prior to any significant investment of time, money and emotion being made on the buyer's part. Although telemedical evaluation is not intended to procure specific diagnoses, it has proved to be an effective and fairly-accurate tool when managing lameness in the horse.
Please click HERE to review recent literature on the use of telemedical observation in equine sports medicine.
How does Preliminary Purchase Assessment work?
The process is quite simple and relatively fast.
The seller, seller's agent, trainer, buyer, buyer's agent, and/or other interested party acquires photographic and video footage of the horse both stationary and in-motion.
Please click HERE to see a list of our requested photographic images and video clips.
The images are sent electronically (usually via Dropbox or email) to The Atlanta Equine Clinic, where they are evaluated using motion analysis software.
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Following veterinary analysis, the client receives an Image Interpretation Report which highlights any abnormalities depicted during the review. The veterinarian also makes it clear which findings might be considered clinically-significant with regard to the potential purchase and/or future performance of the horse.
The buyer can then use the information-at-hand to determine if formal prepurchase examination (the next step in the process) is still of interest.
In approximately one-half of the cases handled by The Atlanta Equine Clinic, abnormal findings (especially when obvious) prompt the buyer to pursue other horses-of-interest. The relative lack of financial and time investment afforded by Preliminary Purchase Assessment enables the client to pursue a greater number of horses while assuming minimal risk. The money saved by avoiding unnecessary on-site examination can then be put to better use elsewhere.
Click HERE to start the process of Preliminary Purchase Assessment.