by Clare Brash
Published: Last Updated on

by Clare Brash, B Vet Med, MRCVS, Station House Vets

The four Brash Boys’ long-suffering shared Fiesta has finally heaved an oily last gasp, and refusing any further abuse, sagged into its final resting place. This has left us with the impossible task of finding a reliable affordable second-hand car. If only, I thought, there was the same system in place as we have for “vetting” horses.

At work, when a client finally finds a horse or pony that they want, which, in itself, is a tricky task these days, one of our team will visit it to make sure that it is healthy and suitable for the disciplines for which the client wishes to use it.

What we have to bear in mind is that there are as many perfect horses as there are unicorns. However, there are niggles or quirks which we can either live with, or not, as the case may be. Buying a horse with a problem is horrendous, as this can mean not only serious financial loss, but emotional distress for the new owner who now has the prospect of caring for a possibly unrideable animal for the rest of its life.

Our mission is to find any issues with the horse by performing a full ‘prior to purchase examination’ which takes about 3 hours to complete. A blood test is taken and sent to the lab for storage, and this can be examined for drugs if the horse immediately becomes lame or unmanageable soon after purchase.

Further imaging such as X rays or scans can be taken if needed. A racehorse or eventer may need over a hundred radiographs taken, whilst breeding animals may need fertility testing. It’s time consuming, but sometimes we find problems that would make the horse unable to do the job they are intended for, and we can highlight these for the potential buyer. These can be difficult conversations, and the seller may or may not be aware of the existing issues themselves.

If only Matt and I knew as much about carburetors and pistons as we do about hearts and tendons! Like fools we bought a car without advice and there are currently TWO old bangers on the drive which won’t budge! (open to offers, 4 careless drivers.)

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