Tips for Purchasing a Horse out of State and Shipping

Hi, I am looking for my next horse and searching specifically for a Morgan. I am considering out of state options. I would expect to travel to try the potential horse, have a PPE and depending on distance, have the horse shipped home (north Texas).

Does anyone have any tips for making an out of state purchase and shipping a horse? Both are new to me.
Tell me everything. What are the red flags to watch out for? Any recommendations for shippers? What about insurance? What questions need to be asked? Do I need a health certificate from a vet?

I am considering a horse located in a very small town in Colorado (10 hours away) where I know no one. Is that crazy? If not, tell me what I need to know.

Thanks in advance!

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If it’s a very small town, I would start investigating options for local vets who do a PPE. In my experience horse shopping in small, out of the way towns, the vet options are quite limited. Definitely no equine specific vet, at best a vet that does small and large animals. So depending on how thorough of a PPE you are wanting that may complicate things.

I had one experience where there was only one vet that serviced a large area and the seller owed the vet unpaid bills so the vet wasn’t amenable to doing a PPE on the horse until their account was settled.


Thanks. Great advice. I inquired about this with the seller and he said vets are about a week out. I need to do some research and make some calls.

Thanks again!

There’s no shortage of equine shippers. Ask if you can pay when the horse is delivered. It will help prevent scammers from stealing a deposit. Or go with a well name equine shipper.


I sell a lot of horses out of state off video. I highly recommend Christy Blackman’s Ride The Line or Dominique Reefer Reefer’s Hauling as two excellent shippers who run coast-to-coast routes regularly. Facebook’s HORSE TRANSPORT CONNECT group is great.

Regarding PPE, clearly communicate with the vet about your expectations and what you would like as part of your exam. Are you doing rads? Do you want the get to call you if there’s a bad flexion? There are a lot of variables and it makes my job as a seller a lot easier if you’ve set these parameters.


Thank you. Very helpful feedback.

Ask and be clear what you will be charged for a pre-purchase exam. There is no need to go into what such an exam should involve in this thread…just do your reading and know ahead of time what you want done, and your personal stopping point on labs and radiographs and ultrasounds and endoscopies and other diagnostics.

Over the years I have paid as little as $20 and as much as $3500- plus for exams on prospective purchases. The $20 was back in the days when x- rays were on film and were still called Roentgenograms.

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Can your Texas Vet do some research and hook you up with a good PPE Vet in Colorado?

When we had a PPE done on a horse that was several hours away we arranged to do it using Face Time so we could see everything that was being done and actually speak to the Vet.


Great suggestion. I will check with my vet.


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If you aren’t comfortable relying on strange vet, have your vet review everything. Get a list of xray requirements from your vet, video flexion tests, etc. I did that the last horse I bought, even though I knew the seller and knew of the vet up in Ohio (I’m in Fla)
Another option maybe? How far is this small town from any teaching hosp or other veterinary hospital?Perhaps owner could haul the horse there for PPE.
Re Health Cert, it depends. You cant get a horse into Fla without one. Other states, different rules. Does Texas require one? I believe they are only good for 14 days, so if needed that will require some coordinating between vet and shipping dates. Shipper should know if you need one.
Re insurance, that’s up to you.


I would talk to your own vet about the horse you are considering, your intended use, and have her suggest the scope of the PPE. I would probably also have her take a look at the rads.

Also, trust your gut. I bought my very first horse out-of-state. In seeing her, I thought her feet looked small but didn’t really think anything of it. (I know a lot more now than I did then.) The vet who did the PPE didn’t say anything about them. When my regular vet saw her feet for the first time, she was not happy. Narrowed feet and contracted heels. Not the end of the world, but several years later her feet are still not “normal.”

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Educate the remote veterinarian about how you intend to use the horse. Here is a personal story. I found a potential fox hunter. I asked my local vet for referral to one in Atlanta. I talked to the Atlanta PPE vet about my hunt, territory, terrain and footing, and lengths of our coyote runs. He went to do the PPE, watched the horse jog, did flexion tests, and called to say that he did not think the horse would hold up as a field hunter, and he saw no sense in proceeding any further with x-rays. Billed me for a farm call and brief exam only, which I appreciated.

The horse was eventually donated to a college with a riding program where he served quite well as an 8 jumps and done hunter ring horse. I actually learned of this part of his life later in a COTH article about the college. I hope you locate a vet as forthright and honest as this one. The Atlanta horse found a good place to be, and I later found a wonderful hunt horse who was with me for 22 years.


Regarding the PPE,

  1. check with your vet what should be included.
  2. when you go to look at the horse be prepared to stay a few days (if you like him).
  3. Before you go, see if the seller is amenable to taking the horse to CSU or some other large vet practice for the PPE. There are several of them in Colorado. That way you can be there for the PPE.
  4. If you can’t be there, face time it.

Regarding shipping, use a well-known, national shipper. There are a number of them in your area. Make a few calls, get some prices. I have used Equine Express a couple of times and found them to be more than adequate. Their home base is Pilot Point, TX.

Thanks for the advice for for sharing your story. I am coming out of a sad situation with my first horse and really trying to do all I can to ensure I find the best partner for me with the next one. :blush::heart:


Definitely get a health certificate. Even if TX does not require one, going across state lines, any state that requires one could stop the hauler to ask for one.

Usually they are good for 30 days. I would ask the PPE vet to write one for you if there are no major findings. The certificate itself is usually inexpensive, the bigger cost is getting the vet out.

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Go there and try the horse. Video your ride. Send the video to your vet and home and ask if they see any red flags. If so, walk away. If not, ask the seller for the name of their vet, and any other vets they know of that travel to the area. Give those names to your vet and ask if they know of/would recommend any of them. Talk with your own vet about what the PPE should entail, and then talk with the vet you are hiring about what you’d like. If your vet is open to it, then should be on this call as well. I’m on the East Coast, so no help in recommending shippers.


Interesting re the 30 day validity for health certs. WEC Ocala is requiring health certs when horses come in to show; it has to be no more than 14 days old.

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That is the norm when traveling from state to state ( at least it has been as long as I can remember) . I guess if they require them at shows they want it more current. When my kids did 4-H they wanted them as current as possible.

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Thank you!

How far is it from the little town to CSU (Fort Collins)?