Before buying a horse, many things should be taken into consideration, including:
If the answer to all the above questions is yes then you can begin to consider the type of horse you should look for.
This is a very important consideration and will be determined by your budget, your experience and the type of activities you intend to do. For example, there is no point in a novice rider wanting a horse to hack out and then buying a lively 4 year old thoroughbred.
When going to see horses or ponies with a view to purchase, it is very important that you take everything into consideration and ask plenty of questions. You must be sure that the animal is capable of the job you will require it to do and can be kept in the accommodation you have. You must carefully look for any vices and check certain things that may be important to you, e.g. is the horse good in traffic, does it kick, is it good with the farrier, vet, equine dental technician, is it good to clip?
If you are not very experienced, it is advisable to have someone more experienced with you to help in making the decision. It is advisable to see the horse or pony as many times as possible before making a final decision.
Once you have found the horse that you believe to be perfect for you, the next stage is to have the horse vetted.
You may have found a horse that is good to ride, has a pleasant manner and fits with all your requirements, as listed above, however, you also need to know that the horse is likely to remain healthy and is suitable for the type and amount of riding that is anticipated. To make a mistake and buy the wrong horse could be costly and heartbreaking.
A pre-purchase vetting will not only identify any existing health problems but may also identify potential problems that may occur in the future.
Before performing a pre-purchase examination, the veterinary surgeon should endeavour to ascertain who is selling the horse and the horse’s identity. If, as a result of such information, the veterinary surgeon feels any conflict of interest, which means he/she cannot act wholly in the interests of the purchaser, the veterinary surgeon should decline to perform the examination.
If the veterinary surgeon feels able to act without conflict, the fact that the seller is an existing client of the practice should be declared to the purchaser in advance of the examination. Additionally, if the veterinary surgeon or his/her practice have any prior knowledge of the horse from any source, permission should be obtained from the seller for full disclosure to the purchaser of all such information that might be relevant. If this is not possible, for any reason, the veterinary surgeon should decline to perform the examination.
The vetting is carried out on behalf of the purchaser and it is important to discuss fully with the vet beforehand the intended type of and regularity of use that the horse is intended for. This ensures that the vet can give an accurate assessment as to whether the horse will be fit for the purpose intended based on its health.
A vetting not only gives you a professional opinion about the health and suitability of a horse but may also be required for insurance. Many insurance companies require a vetting before they will insure the animal. They will tell you whether this needs to be a full 5-stage vetting or only a 2-stage vetting.
The standard vetting procedure has been outlined in BEVA/RCVS Guidance Notes on the examination on behalf of a prospective purchaser (amended 2011 http://www.beva.org.uk/_uploads/documents/1ppe-guidance-notes.pdf ) and is outlined in the sections below.