What’s Included In A Pre-Purchase Exam?
Dr. Richard Wheeler Talks Equine Pre-Purchase Exams
Palm Beach Equine Clinic’s (PBEC) Dr. Richard Wheeler recently shared the basic steps he takes in performing an equine pre-purchase exam. Dr. Wheeler and PBEC’s 40 veterinarians, including Board Certified surgeons, internal medicine specialists, and radiologists, are considered some of the most experienced in the disciplines of show jumping, dressage, polo, and beyond. All of the doctors enjoy the opportunity to work with many of the top horses in the world in all disciplines featured in PBEC’s home base of Wellington, FL. With thousands of horses competing in Wellington at events such as the Winter Equestrian Festival and the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, equine sales are a big part of the business for many equestrians throughout the winter season. PBEC’s pre-purchase examination services are always available to assist in making the best decision on your purchase. Being a veterinarian is an important and serious job, from horses to hamsters animals need to be cared for just like humans. Because it is a much-loved profession, it is no wonder that people want to train to be one and bring themselves up to the same level as Dr. Wheeler, however, they will need to know how to study for the VTNE to get the qualifications needed to practice in this area and provide the services required for these animals.
Palm Beach Equine veterinarian Dr. Richard Wheeler.
Photo by Erin Gilmore
A horse in the all-new CT scan machine at Palm Beach Equine Clinic. Photo courtesy of Dr. Richard Wheeler
- “The first thing I do is talk to the potential buyer and trainer to gather their expectations and any concerns that have arisen during the trial of the horse. Next I discuss the horse with the current owner and/or trainer to determine what level of training or competition it is in, and if it has any previous issues that they are dealing with.”
- “Then we look at the horse in a static exam in the stall. We do a physical exam, looking at the whole body from front to back. Key points are the eyes, heart, and lungs and we palpate from the head and neck, to the back, and down the limbs. We are looking for signs of old injuries or areas that may have issues; conformation comes into play here as well.”
- “We want to look at the horse in a dynamic exam. We usually look at it on the lead line and on a lunge line or trotting in a circle on hard and soft surfaces and then also under saddle as well. I like to see all of my horses go under saddle because we can observe the interaction of horse and rider, which is very important. During this stage we will perform flexion tests and ask the horse to perform specific movements depending on the discipline.”
- Blood tests are often taken and normally will include CBC, Chemistry, Coggins test, and a drug screen. Depending on the age or type of horse other tests may be performed.
- “Finally, there are some auxiliary tests, which may include radiographs, ultrasound exams, and endoscopy of the upper airways. Those tests can really check that the horse is in top condition. Ultrasounds have become a lot more popular lately for new horse owners as they allow the vet to check for any musculoskeletal conditions, as well as allowing them to check for any signs of pregnancy. As some people have been known to purchase pregnant horses unknowingly, it’s important that vets make use of portable ultrasounds from companies like Butterfly Network to reassure owners that the horse isn’t pregnant. These ultrasounds can normally check a few health problems, making them a valuable tool for a vet. These days, if there are certain issues, we will also include further diagnostic tests such as MRIs, CT scans, or bone scans. That depends on what is found in other parts of the exam. If there is something suspicious on a radiograph, the buyer might want to do more advanced imaging. Or sometimes, depending on the value of the horse, they might want to do that anyway.”
It is not the intention of a pre-purchase exam to recommend the horse for purchase or for sale
Dr. Wheeler pointed out that it is not the intention of a pre-purchase exam to recommend the horse for purchase or for sale. The exam is performed to provide information about the level of risk and educate the client of that risk. The client will make the decision on whether they want to buy the horse or not based on the information the veterinarian has provided as well as information from their trainer.
“What might be acceptable for you may not be for me, or vice versa, depending on what I want the horse for or the value of the horse,” Dr. Wheeler noted. “It is not a pass/fail situation. We are just describing the horse, doing our best to state whether the issues that it has can be maintained or can be useful for the horse’s given profession, and what is expected of it, and this is where experience is so important. If the horse is being purchased as a low level children’s show horse, the stresses on it are going to be less than if it is being asked to go to the Olympics.”
Every exam is different, but the basic steps of evaluating a horse for any discipline or level of competition are fairly standard. Most people working vet jobs are fully trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat animals; they might not, however, have experience working exclusively in an equine clinic and taking care of horses. So, it is important to have a veterinarian who is experienced and knowledgeable with the specific discipline to provide accurate guidance on the horse’s condition for the expected job. For the clientele of Palm Beach Equine Clinic, the veterinarians are all well schooled in the different disciplines, and many have additional expertise in specific areas.
To schedule your pre-purchase exam, call Palm Beach Equine Clinic at 561-793-1599.
About Dr. Richard Wheeler Dr. Wheeler graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in London in 2002. He spent his first two years of practice as an intern at Greenwood, Ellis and Partners in Newmarket, England, where he worked in a referral center specializing in the treatment of Thoroughbred racehorses and Sport Horses. Dr. Wheeler moved to Palm Beach Equine Clinic in 2005 and became a partner in 2009. Dr. Wheeler’s clients include Jumpers, Dressage and Polo and he is licensed to practice in FL, KY, NC and NY and also the UK and Europe.
About Palm Beach Equine Clinic The veterinarians and staff of PBEC are respected throughout the industry for their advanced level of care and steadfast commitment to horses and owners. With more than 40 skilled veterinarians on staff, including three board-certified surgeons, internal medicine specialists, and one of very few board-certified equine radiologists in the country, PBEC leads the way in new, innovative diagnostic imaging and treatments. Palm Beach Equine Clinic provides experience, knowledge, availability, and the very best care for its clients. To find out more, please visit www.equineclinic.com or call 561-793-1599. “Like” them on Facebook to follow along on what happens in Wellington and more, and get news from their Twitter and Instagram!
Lead photo: Dr. Richard Wheeler at Palm Beach Euiqne Clinic’s Sports Medicine Center in Wellington, FL.
Photo by Jump Media