Pre Purchase Exams

As I have started on this journey of looking at young prospects I am learning more and more about things that I can and cannot accept on a pre purchase exams. I don’t think that PPE’s are really pass/fail at this point but rather what can I live with? A vet can find something wrong with pretty much any horse. The PPE in my mind is to help me make the most educated decision about whether or not a horse will be able to do the job that I want.

a gangly Annie

With Annie I opted to do a fairly expensive PPE but not the most expensive by any means. The examining vet noted that she flexed slightly positive on an ankle so we took images. Luckily the joint was clear and we decided to move forward. She was also very foot sore and had some really atrocious angles so we opted to get images to make sure that there wasn’t anything more serious going on. Not perfect but close enough and the rest is history from there.

When you are looking at a young horse with no career it is hard to say if something found on a PPE will cause issues when the horse has a job and starts working. It’s not the same as doing a PPE on a horse that has been doing the job you want for years with no lameness. While I am not 100% sure what this horses job will be I want something that has the potential ability for the Low AO’s or approx. 1.2M? What are things that might prohibit a horse from doing that job… Well these are the things that I have seen so far…While a bone chip might not be problematic large bone chips can cause further damage to surrounding structures. While removal can help with the further damage it is possible that with large chips there will be significant arthritis. While I was really really interested in this horse due to its bloodlines I am not willing to import something that needs surgery and will likely have issues before it has even had a job. So I moved on… I then found a super well bred horse in the states. I was incredibly excited and like an idiot set up a PPE and drove to see it with the trailer on a 14+hours round trip. Multiple vet opinions later I passed on said horse because the risk of a problem was even higher than that of the horse with the large ankle chip. You would think that with young horses (under 3yo) it would be easier to find a relatively blank slate but apparently that is not the case.

I get that a vet can find something wrong with any horse but 2/3 I have not had great luck with small superficial issues being what crops up. What happened with the other you might ask? Well I accepted things found on preliminary vetting – shared with me by the owner – made an offer that was accepted… and then it was sold out from under me… I guess that is life. Something better will crop up eventually.

What are things that you have passed on during a PPE? Are there things that  you accept no problem? How much does the age of the horse affect your decision?

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  1. It is all about what risks you are willing to take and how you feel about them. My horse was given to me and I knew he had issues with his left front so I did not do a Pre-Purchase. I already loved him and he already loved me so it wouldn’t matter. I rode him for 18 months before he broke himself and he has been retired ever since (9 years now). Obviously your buying a youngster you have no history with so it is very different, but I honestly think that only you know what risks you are willing to take on. Without being able to see the future, all you can do it make an educated guess. If the vet doesn’t feel good about it, but you still do, maybe you need to re-think it, but that would be the only reason to second guess what you think.

  2. crappy about the horse that was sold out from under you! re: PPEs… i dunno, i’m definitely no expert. there were a couple things with Charlie that we wanted a closer look at (example: rounded fetlock from an old twist that flexed fine and came out squeaky clean in the xrays), and a couple things that i took pictures of for baseline purposes (example: hocks), and also some things i shrugged at, opting not to test further (example: checking on the stability of his tie-back surgery).

    seems like a lot of these choices are dictated by our own experiences (problems we’ve known before that we want to avoid in the future, or knowing what level of maintenance we are comfortable giving) and whether the vet finds something that would limit a horse’s ability to perform to your purposes.

  3. I never did a PPE on Yanks because the adoption agency did one, plus X-rays and he was clean. For B, I probably should have, but it was a sketchy sale/deal in general and I never did. I think in the future I absolutely will, because they can find things like above said chips or fractures which is no bueno. I also think any vet can find SOMETHING wrong with any horse, and as long as I don’t think it would affect the horse severely in the future, I would take it with a grain of salt. Hell, if any human Dr looked at me like vets looks at horses I would’ve been put down a year ago, hahaha

  4. I think the PPE fails are really use dependent. Hollys legs XRs were basically clean but showed she really should be a <3ft horse, perfect for me. I don't get excited about known blown tendons as there's always that worry it blow again.

  5. Lucy had a totally clean PPE, super super extensive because the vet was a client of ours and he went the extra mile (or 10). Of course, two torn suspensories later… Well, horses. I think they’re great reassurance though to catch things like you found. Age is definitely a factor too – a 12 year old who has some wear and tear and may need some maintenance is a difference ballgame than a 3 year old who does. While horses will be horses and you’re never guaranteed, they’re too big of an investment to not at least try to cover all your bases and have your eyes open going in.

  6. I can recommend you a breeder that might have what you want and they raise healthy, well bred young horses who are well started. In the states. Good prices, too. Feel free to email me if you want more info, they have a couple jumper bred young horses on the ground right now.

    They’re naturally in the middle of nowhere, which is why all of the above is true.

    The big problems with young horses come when they are not raised the way horses need to be raised – lots of room to roam. Generally when they are stalled at birth or when they are young you start to see things like OCD lesions etc.

    I bought my young horse as a foal (from the above breeder) in part because I know everything that has happened to her since the day she hit the ground. Can go either way but so far so good. No injuries, no lamenesses.

    I probably won’t import again – having done it several times, it’s taken me too much time to undo the young horse training that the horses get in europe to be sold to American buyers and I’d rather just start from zero than be undoing.