Everyone’s got an idea in their head of their own perfect horse.
The past few entries on vet checks and faults in horses received more than one thousand views over the past week. From those thousand readers, a couple dozen of you sent me e-mails or posted comments on the blog and my Facebook page. What you can deal with. What you can’t. Why you vet check. Why you didn’t. It’s not a great proportion, perhaps, but there were plenty of similarities in the responses.
For example, everyone seems to agree…
Personality is Key
Jessica writes at her blog, Spotty Horse News, of her OTTB, Bar: “He wants to please, and he does a damn good job of taking care of me.” You won’t find that in a vet check. Fortunately, as she adds in this blog’s comments, she wasn’t relying on one: “Bar would never have passed a pre-purchase exam and I would never have had the experiences–mostly good–that have come along the way. And I watched a flexion test and though to myself, ‘If that were my knee, I’d limp off, too!’ ”
Jackie, from RegardingHorses.com, puts it very simply and aptly in the blog comments: When looking for a horse, “it was my exact approach to getting married. I figured every guy had issues, it was just a matter of picking the guy whose issues I could live with.” (I’ll admit, I don’t know if Jackie is married or not. But she has a damn fine OTTB.) She ended up purchasing a horse whose personality she gelled with, although it meant hiring someone else to restart the horse.
And Blob gives us the approach that I’m a personal fan of, as well, the Experienced Rider Seeks Cheap Horse With Issues approach: “My way of dealing with the faults is finding that hot, nervous horse that most people don’t want but that I actually do well with.”
Sarah from Miles on Miles weighs in as well: “Some horses are just ornery, even with the best owners. I’m not inclined to spend lots of my dollars and years with a horse like that, no matter what they’re like under saddle.”
Interestingly, the most oft-cited deal-breaker in an otherwise nice horse is colic. I was thrown on this one at first – then I thought about it and realized that after my first horse, a frequent colicker who only lived a few months after we purchased him, I never again went
near a horse with a colic history. It is probably easier to avoid if you’re buying from someone you know, i.e. at the boarding stable where you ride, for example.
This just illustrates that buyers are wary based upon their personal experience. If you’ve had a colicker, you’re not likely to go near one a
gain. Others cite bad feet (“I end up paying so much in farrier bills that it barely seems worth it sometimes.” “Sometime bad feet can be greatly improved with good nutrition and farrier care, and sometimes they’re just bad.”)
Realistic Vet Checks
To have the vet out or not? Always a fun question, and readers tend to agree that it depends upon your level of experience, your plan for the horse, and your personal knowledge of the seller. Pals with the seller of a potential pleasure horse? Well, you’re good on two out of three – probably don’t need to have the vet out. We’ve been discussing the advisability of drug screens as well, which just goes to show you that being part of a close-knit horse community, though not always possible, is preferable – when you can find what you need amongst your friends, you’re less likely to fret over drugged horses.
Kate from A Year With Horses has an interesting comment: “I keep my horses permanently when I get them, so I do do prepurchase exams including x-rays.” Sometimes you just feel better knowing what’s going in there. Kate is pretty thorough, though – she’s been chronicling her adventures looking at about eight million horses in the quest for – what are you looking for, Kate? I like this entry, though, a perfect example of what you’ve all been telling me – here is the horse, here is his conformation, the good the bad the ugly, and at the end of it all:
“His head isn’t his prettiest feature – he’s got a bit of a Roman nose – his owner says he wouldn’t win any prizes for pretty – but I like it just fine. His personality shows through and there’s nothing wrong with what’s between his ears.”