A Guide to Buying an Irish Draught Horse – Veterinary Inspection

Pre-Purchase Veterinary inspection before buying a horse

Performing a veterinary examination is one of the main aspects of buying an Irish Horse, as it is as important as determining the authenticity of the breed. You can easily verify the legitimacy of a horse by checking the Studbook, the passport (or the microchip) its associated registry entry, or by checking whether the parents have been registered in the Studbook. Alternatively, breeders may offer unregistered versions of the Irish Draught to buyers at a discounted price, which can be a great purchase if you are looking to own an Irish steed at an excellent bargain.

Regardless, it is imperative for all horse buyers to subject a steed through a proper veterinary evaluation before making a purchase, as it helps in eliminating the risk of diseases and imperfections. Buyers risk is far more significant in the Irish Horse breed, especially in international markets, where the breed is known to be used extensively as a foundation horse for creating Sport variants. Therefore, horses that are unsuitable for breeding purposes or equine events, especially those with genetic/hereditary defects, diseases, or any other imperfections, may be sold off to unsuspecting buyers at unbelievable prices. A proper veterinary examination can indeed help in avoiding such unpleasant scenarios and help you make a sound investment decision.

Inspection for Equine Competitions & Breeding

All horses are subjected to a pre-inspection veterinary evaluation before gaining entry into the Studbook. These inspections are also a compulsory requirement for any equestrian event, as it is crucial for the horse to be fully fit as per the stipulated guidelines. The entire inspection process lasts for 2-3 days, and the veterinary examination is the very first hurdle that every horse must clear to be able to move on to the rest of the evaluation process.

The vet evaluates the performance of the heart and the lungs of a horse

Having a registered horse is not a must for equestrian events, as you may be able to enter an unregistered horse into any competition by purchasing a healthy specimen that is capable of passing all the basic veterinary examination criteria. Evaluation through a certified vet can ensure that the quality levels of your equine matches or exceeds the requirements set by the official standards. Conducting a private assessment will also help you in better preparing your steed for the official inspection, as you will have a better idea about your steed’s overall health status.

If you are a breeder, then veterinary inspection must be at the top of your priorities list while buying the Irish Draught. Purebred stallions and mares of the breed are highly endangered, especially with the risk of a lack of genetic diversity and imperfections. Therefore, The Irish Draught Horse Society outlines pretty stringent conditions for horse breeders, where only the very best specimens receive the best grades in the evaluation process.

The Veterinary Inspection Process

The Irish Draught Horse Society has a clear-cut protocol for grading horses according to their genetic characteristics and health levels. Horses are subjected through an extensive testing process, whereby every physical attribute of the equine will be cross-referenced with the standard requirements. Several physical characteristics such as the height, the length of bone, and the girth, the colour, the head, the structure, the eyes, the tail, and even the sensitivity to stimulation are evaluated to assign a grade from 1 to 5. The entire Veterinary examination process is divided into five different stages, but the stages may be expanded or contracted according to individual event requirements.

Precautions for a Successful Veterinary Examination

Horses will be evaluated only upon attaining the age of three, and it is the responsibility of the trainer or the handler to present the horse in show condition. Grooming is an important consideration during the process of evaluation of a horse, as a horse must be maintained in good condition at all times to receive the highest grade. Even the manes must be braided, plaited, or at least pulled neat to be made presentable at all times.

Handlers will have access to the pen for training/acclimatising their horses with the course for a limited period, which must be used to familiarise your horse with the surroundings. Handlers, trainers, and riders must be in the prescribed dress code during the entire testing process, and the maintenance of the horses during the whole duration is the owner’s sole responsibility.

Unlike in the past, where the evaluation process will result in a pass/fail, modern test standards have been tweaked to offer a grade to all the horses that are evaluated through the official process. Therefore, your primary aim must be to own a horse that has a higher grade, preferably one that can be bred and can take part in equestrian competitions with no restrictions.