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Tips for buyers & “why registration matters”

Buying a new horse or foal is exciting, but it can also be overwhelming.  We’ve put together some information we hope you find useful in the search for your own dream horse….

Is my dream horse sound, and will he stay that way?

The biggest concern for buyers involves future soundness and suitability for the use intended.  Sellers should be honest about the horse’s history, and buyers should be realistic about what they plan to do with the horse.  Buyers can also consider the horse’s current work situation.  A horse which is currently in training and actively competing, while remaining sound, is a good sign, and may give the buyer more confidence than a horse which is out of shape and/or only being used for recreational riding.

A pre-purchase exam (or “PPE”) is fairly standard when buying a new horse or foal.  PPE’s can be fairly basic (more common for foals and young unstarted horses) or more comprehensive (more common for performance horses.)  They can range in price from a couple hundred dollars to over one thousand dollars (or more.)  At this stage buyers may want to be realistic about what they plan to do with the horse -- a lower level prospect may not heed as extensive of a PPE as an FEI prospect, for example.   

A basic PPE will include a general assessment of the horse and its vital signs.  It will probably also include palpation of the limbs (legs), a basic neurological exam, and passive or active flexions.  (Active flexions should not be done on foals.)  The horse will be walked and trotted in-hand and/or shown on the lunge or in a round pen.  The vet may also draw blood for drug testing.

A more advanced PPE will include radiographs (“x-rays”) and may also include endoscopy and/or ultrasonography.  The areas most commonly x-rayed are the feet and hocks.  Additional x-rays may be done of the stifles, fetlocks, and/or knees.  

The PPE may also include a breeding soundness exam.  Colts are also checked for cryptorchidism.

PPE’s more in depth than what has been described are not the norm although there are a myriad of procedures a prospective buyer theoretically ’could’ request.

When all is said and done, a PPE is still not a guarantee of future soundness, and there is no such thing as a “pass” or “fail” PPE.  It is important to remember there is no ’perfect’ horse.  There are stories of horses which did horribly during the PPE but went on to have very successful performance careers, and there are stories of horses which had nearly flawless PPEs who were plagued by lameness later.   

When considering PPE results it’s important to also keep in mind your goals for the horse (and share this information with the PPE veterinarian.)  It’s also important to consider the horse’s current soundness and level of work -- if a horse is sound and in professional training, that’s information worth taking into account as you consider the PPE results.  It’s also helpful to remember many, many things may be dealt with fairly simply via “maintenance” (usually injections) down the road if needed.  This is also something to discuss with the PPE veterinarian.  Some people panic at the tiniest finding on a PPE and miss out on their dream horse as a result…

Ask questions!

We’ll disclose everything we know about any horse we have for sale, but some sellers take more of a “don’t ask don’t tell” approach and will argue all day that a lie of omission isn’t really a lie.  If you don‘t know if a seller is more the former or the latter, the best bet is to ask questions -- lots of them!  It’s also not a bad idea to ask to see previous vet records.

Why does registration matter, and understanding the registries

Registration papers from a reputable registry prove a horse’s age and document his pedigree.  In some cases they also may indicate the horse has achieved certain performance or breeding recognition.  Registration papers from a respected registry can also increase a horse’s value and prestige and can make it more appealing to another buyer later on if you find yourself needing to sell your horse.  And when buying a horse or foal as a breeding prospect, registration papers from a reputable registry are even more important.

We register all of our foals with the Friesian Sporthorse Association (FSA), which is the official registry of the Friesian Sporthorse.  The FSA is an internationally recognized registry and all FSA registered Friesian Sporthorses are issued a UELN (Universal Equine Life Number) identifying the horse worldwide as a registered Friesian Sporthorse.  With FSA registration papers a buyer can trust the information is correct and the pedigrees have been accurately documented.  The FSA has an excellent reputation and is the preferred registry choice for owners and breeders of Friesian Sporthorses, and everything we breed is eligible for full registration. 

A sport buyer can feel confident knowing a fully papered FSA-registered Friesian Sporthorse is truly bred for sport and there are no inappropriate breeds being crossbred and no hidden surprises in the pedigree.  FSA papers clearly indicate which foalbook the horse was entered into (based on the pedigree) and they also indicate whether or not the horse has earned one of the Elite Book statuses, which are often viewed as an additional stamp of quality. 

Have fun shopping!

Finding your new horse should be exciting.  Working with reputable trainers and farms can make the process even more enjoyable and successful.  We’ve been in this business for more than two decades and we’re very proud of the horses we breed and represent and we’re happy to help and answer questions.  Happy shopping!

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Gigha Steinman
Seville, Florida
(386) 717-0852