You drove across the country for the preparation, looked at the most different horses and finally found your dream horse? Then there is nothing in the way of buying horses. Before you bring the animal to your home, however, you should have it examined again from head to hoof. As a layman, one seldom recognizes whether the chosen horse is one hundred percent healthy and suitable for the intended use in the long term. A veterinarian professionally carried out a purchase examination (AKU) is therefore urgently recommended.
How an AKU works and what the different findings mean, you will learn here.
A purchase investigation makes sense for both buyers and sellers
In order to protect against financial damages, a purchase investigation makes sense for both providers and interested parties. The sale of a sick animal can quickly cost the breeder a good reputation and cause huge profits. Harder meets it, however, the new owner: If the horse suffers from severe joint or back complaints and can hardly or no longer be ridden, it must be sold with financial loss or maintained for years – of horrendous veterinary costs and the psychological / emotional stress all too silence.
The better the veterinarian, the more reliable the results of the AKU
Therefore, it is advisable to buy an AKU before buying a horse. Unfortunately, the error rate in purchase surveys is relatively high and one reads again and again of cases in which sick horses were classified as harmless. Therefore, it is important to select the veterinarian well and, if necessary, to obtain opinions from horse-loving friends and acquaintances.
In the investigation itself, both buyer and seller should be present and closely follow the work of the veterinarian. For example, if he only scans the horse superficially and takes little time for your questions and comments, you should kindly inform him. If you feel bad advice or are in doubt about the final assessment, it is advisable to seek the opinion of a second doctor.
This includes the small purchase investigation
Anyone who wants to have a purchase investigation carried out has two different options.
In the case of the cheaper, smaller or clinical AKU (between 100 and 250 euros), the veterinarian first assesses the general condition of the horse. Then he listens to heart and lungs and controls skin, coat, eyes and teeth. In addition, it measures the temperature, the pulse and the respiratory rate of the animal. The nervous system and feces are also examined in detail.
To check bone and joint health, the doctor scans the legs and back of the animal. In addition, he lets the horse trot on a straight and curved line as well as soft and hard ground.
A central component of the small AKU is the so-called flexion test. In doing so, the veterinarian specifically bends, stretches or compresses certain regions of the limbs in order to purposely cause a brief overload. Immediately afterwards, the horse is paraded in a trot. If the animal is lame, this is a first indication of a possible injury to the tendons, ligaments or joints.
The bending test is criticized again and again
Although a failed flexion test can be an indication of a disease, the research method is criticized again and again. Many riders emphasize that almost every horse can be lame. For example, if the horse’s joint is stretched too long or excessively, even a perfectly healthy animal may suffer from transient lameness. If the flexion test is positive, it is recommended to have x-rays taken by the affected limb. So you can be sure that there is a serious illness.
Unfortunately, there are always dubious horse breeders or traders who try to sell sick and injured animals. To make sure that the chosen horse has not been injected with the help of a dubious medication cocktail, you should ask the veterinarian to take a blood sample and have them checked for doping.
Is the big purchase investigation useful?
No matter how well a veterinarian is trained and how carefully he examines the horse, there are always diseases that can be detected neither by the naked eye nor by palpation. In most cases, therefore, in addition to the clinical and a radiographic purchase examination makes sense. In contrast to the small AKU, however, the large investigation is much more complex and can cost up to 1500 euros.
Frequent decision criteria for or against the large AKU are the price and intended use of the horse. Buyers who have bought their pet for little money and want to use it exclusively for recreational riding or as a side-horse, mostly refrain from the radiological purchase investigation. However, there are some risks involved: A clinical AKU without findings does not guarantee that your horse is actually healthy. There are always cases in which horses easily master the small acquisition investigation and begin to lame a few weeks later. A little later, it turns out that your horse is unremarkable and in the worst case even multiple surgery, this can be a huge emotional and financial burden for all involved.
The expiration of the big purchase investigation
Anyone who wants to be as sure as possible to buy a healthy horse should therefore consider the radiological purchase investigation.
In the case of the large AKU, the individual parts of the body of the horse are not only scanned, but ten x-rays of the ankle, fetlock joint and hooves are taken. A spade (ossification of the ankle), cuneiform changes or chips (bone particles coated with cartilage) can be recognized immediately in this way.
With additional cost, additional images of sensitive areas such as the spinous processes or the knees of the animal can be requested. In addition, endoscopic examinations as well as ultrasound or blood pictures are worthwhile for some horses.
Four-class classification of the findings
All x-rays taken during the large AKU are evaluated by the veterinarian and the findings are divided into four classes based on the so-called x-ray guide. If there are no abnormalities and correspond to the recordings, except for anatomical form variants, the ideal case, class I is awarded.
However, just like us humans, just about every animal has to deal with minor physical problems. Therefore, there is hardly a horse that completes the acquisition investigation in all areas without findings. Slight deviations from the norm, ie class II findings, are not uncommon. As a rule, they play a rather subordinate role for the purchase of horses, since secondary diseases are considered unlikely in this category.
For Class III or IV findings: Consult with the veterinarian
The same applies to X-ray class III. Although the physical condition of the horse deviates significantly from the norm, serious limitations as a result of the findings are considered to be less likely. Nevertheless, you should discuss the diagnosis with your veterinarian. Clarify how the findings affect the health of the horse and which illnesses you have to expect in the worst case. A final decision for or against the purchase of horses only makes sense afterwards.
If you would like to enjoy the animal companion for a long time and want to ride it regularly, you should urgently refrain from buying a horse with Class IV findings. Because secondary diseases can occur with a probability of over 50 percent. No matter how much you love the animal and how fit it was to try out, realize that this horse belongs to the risk group. Even if it hurts: Finding an alternative can save you financial or emotional stress in many cases.