Buying a Feathered Horse

Some checks to make when buying a cob or draft horse.

What to look for when buying a feathered horse

Always get a prospective new horse checked by a vet that you know is familiar with CPL. Whatever conversations you have with the seller, make sure they are backed up in writing. Here are some things to check for:-

  • Are the legs muddy? If so, request that the seller washes them so they can be inspected properly. Some will claim there is no way to wash the feathers. If they want to sell the horse to a good home and have nothing to hide, they will find a way.
  • Is the feather very thick, wiry, curly? This can be caused by damaged follicles from scratching their legs. Ask about the horse’s feather mite history.
  • Feel the legs for lumps, bumps, nodules and folds. If they have very thick feather this can be difficult so if possible, compare what you feel to a horse with clean legs to see if it is normal.
  • Is the horse stomping or chewing their legs?
  • Diet – has the horse been fed sugary, cereal or grain based feeds?
  • Exercise – has the horse been in work, if not, why not?
  • Stabling – has the horse been stabled for a long time? This is super important and one of the major contributing factors in very advanced CPL.
  • If the horse is very sensitive when you go to touch their legs, that’s a definite red flag. If it’s because they’re relatively unhandled, then fair enough if that’s what you want to buy. But it could be because they are itchy and sore.
  • Hooves – are they too long, cracked, mismatched or do they show the signs of laminitis? Be extra careful when looking at the hooves because they will tell you a lot about the health of the horse that the seller may not be telling you. Look underneath – is there thrush?
  • Are the hooves overdue for a trim or shoeing? If so, why? It could be because the horse is hard to handle.
  • Is the horse overweight?
  • If a mare, is she in foal? Are they 100% certain that she is not? Has she foaled before?
  • If a gelding, when was he gelded?

Danny found his forever home with Becca
Does the horse have visible folds or lumps above their feathers?
Are the hooves neat and correct?
Can you feel any lumps, ridges or sores around the pasterns?

Some other things to check for all cob and draft type horses:-

  • Have they done a lot of trotting on roads, especially if shod?
  • Are they strong behind? Sometimes these horses can develop weaknesses in their hind end due to their natural tendency to pull from the front rather than push from behind.
  • How are their knees and hocks? Do they seem stiff, sore or puffy?
  • Do they have a cresty neck or fat pads?
  • Especially if they are a gypsy vanner, have they been tested for PSSM?

Now some questions for you, the buyer

General advice

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