Purchase A Horse





While a pre-purchase exam should be only about the health and soundness of a horse and its suitability for the use intended, be aware that these exams can have an element of politics to them, and they can be important politics. Here are some guidelines to protect both you and the veterinarian:

  1. Do not have the horse vetted by the farm's or owner's veterinarian. This lets the vet off the hook if he feels in some way beholden to the farm or the owner. This also protects the veterinarian from charges of collusion if any allegations are later made regarding a condition that may not have been revealed during the pre-purchase exam. In addition, it also protects you against any form of inappropriate influence upon the veterinarian. Veterinarians are held to high ethical standards by the AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners), and even the appearance of unethical behavior can harm a vet, so understand the vet's position, and employ a vet who is not associated with either the farm or the seller.
  2. Some veterinarians will not do a pre-purchase examination. Honor the vet's choice, and find a vet who does lots of pre-purchase exams. Usually veterinarians at the larger referring hospitals will do accurate and well-documented exams, and also have the best equipment for diagnostics.
  3. Don't confuse a veterinary insurance exam with a pre-purchase exam; a pre-purchase exam is much more rigorous. Except in a few cases, we don't require a vet exam for insurance unless the horse is insured for over $100,000, or the owner is applying for Loss of Use coverage as well as mortality and medical/surgical coverage.
  4. Buying an out-of-town horse? Have the examining vet send copies of the horse's x-rays and diagnostic results to your local vet, for a good second opinion. Make sure you get all of the requested views. All of them. Each one.
  5. Pre-purchase exams are not cheap. X-rays from the ground to the knees and hocks can cost hundreds of dollars, but they can really and truly save you many thousands of dollars. Buying a six year old gelding with degenerative arthritis in the hocks when his use is for over fences will definitely end in tears. Pay for the x-rays, and walk away to find another, sounder, horse.
  6. Don't let the purchase price of the horse determine whether or not you get a pre-purchase exam. Do look a gift horse in the mouth; he may need thousands of dollars of dental work, or expensive other maintenance.
  7. Do the pre-purchase, get a horse you love and will love to own and enjoy for many years to come. If you start out on the right foot, your chances for a wonderful experience with your horse increase dramatically. I once paid for pre-purchase exams on 10 horses before I found a truly sound one (for jumping), and I don't regret the expenditure. I just had to save up a few more months to afford the one I finally found.


Ruth Jacobi

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If you are already working with a trainer, he or she is usually the best person to help you find the appropriate horse, but don't put that person in an untenable legal position. If you are the buyer, do not let an agent sign for you, ever, and if you are the seller, ditto. This is important, and can prevent serious and expensive legal difficulties, and even fraud.


In addition, the sales contract should have the sale price of the horse listed as well as the amount of the commission paid to the agent (trainer, sales agent, etc) who helped with the sale of the horse. If this is not acceptable to the agent or trainer or broker (after all, there is an element of accepted and time-honored under-the-table arrangements in many horse deals), then make sure that you speak with the other party (buyer or seller) personally and directly to verify the price placed on the horse. A document that states the purchase price and is signed by both the buyer and the seller personally will help keep everything transparent and above-board. If you are the seller of your horse for $10,000 and that is what the agent hands you after the sale (minus his commission), wouldn't you have preferred to know that the agent actually sold your horse for $20,000 and kept the extra $10,000 as additional and undisclosed commission?


There are plenty of good contract examples on the web that you can use and have reviewed by your attorney for your use. Don't use a contract prepared by any other interested party. When the litigation hits the fan on a wonky horse sale, don't put your trainer in the position of defending his or her contract. Do your homework, and have a sale/purchase with no surprises, no tainted fiduciary responsibilities, and no regrets.


Broken trust is one of the saddest things in the world. Don't cause it (treat your trainer with fairness and respect for his/her abilities, and understand that a commission on a horse sale is a normal and accepted way of getting these things done in the horse world), and don't make yourself the victim by allowing others to sign contracts for you.


Sign your own contracts.


Ruth Jacobi

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"You do not know how good your insurance agent is until you have to submit a claim. Ruth Jacobi has consistently provided the insurance coverage we need, at a price we can afford. I really appreciate the friendly and personalized service we get, and it keeps me coming back year after year. The Jacobi Group has proven to me why I do business with them and highly recommend my clients to their agency"

Diana Peaton
Desert Skies POA's

Contact the Jacobi Group
Phone: 1-800-355-4868
FAX: 1-928-649-3879
EMAIL: info@horseinsure.com
Postal Service:
1395 S. Bates Lane, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.

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"For horseowners like myself, that want to know that WHATEVER happens to my best equine friends next, the Jacobi Group has us covered, really lets me sleep better at night!"

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