The pre-purchase exam calls on the detective and intuitive skills of the veterinarian to find any lameness and medical problems. The first part of the exam is the clinical part. The horse's eyes, heart, lungs, gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems are evaluated. This is also when the blood work will be done. The most routinely done is the Coggins Test. Next, the "moving" part is started. The horse is examined at a walk and trot on a straight, flat surface. Then he is moved on a lunge line and/or under saddle at a walk, trot and canter usually on firm footing with a good surface. Any indication of lameness is evidenced by a head bob or a body drop from one side to another.
The next part of the exam is the "active flexion test", which is flexion of the joints followed by jogging. It is acceptable for the horse to move stiffly or lame for a few steps after the flexion. The question is whether the horse is comparable side to side, and how long it takes to warm out of the flexion. It is used as an indicator of a potential problem that may need to be x-rayed or evaluated further. Radiographs are routinely taken as part of the pre-purchase exam. A full set of x-rays gives you valuable information by which to base the purchase decision, a baseline for that particular horse and a basis for later arguing that insignificant x-ray changes in the horse have been unchanged over a period of time. There are some other pre-purchase tests that can be done if needed or warranted.
- Scoping, if a respiratory noise is heard.
- Drug Testing, to ensure that the horse has no medication in its bloodstream that would significantly affect the
- horse at the time of the examination.
- Nuclear Scintigraphy