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  1. #1
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    Dec. 20, 2011
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    Default How many PPEs before you give up?

    I was just wondering if anyone had experience with looking for horses, having a trainer approve them and then when you think you've found the horse something pops up that makes the horse unsuited for any heavy H/J stuff. How many PPE exams, with x-rays, do you do before you just give up?

    I saw someone spend $4,000 on PPEs in the past year--xrays on every single one--trying to find a good prospect horse. She gave up and went with a partially sound OTTB, said she wished she'd just gone with the first horse despite his hock arthritis because he wasn't showing lameness and had been the best deal.

    People always say a PPE is important but when you have exceptionally bad luck... how many times before it's too much? I worry with this. I worry that, if something bad comes up in my PPE and I have to walk away, having to pay that much money again for the possibility of dreams being crushed. It's not that it's too much money it's that it's a lot to spend and not end up with a horse--of course one could argue that you'd spend so much more in the long run on a horse with problems, but I've dealt with rescue animals my whole life and I take those things in stride fairly well.

    Fingers crossed that when I get the report there's nothing major. I didn't get a call so it seems there's nothing pressing. But regardless it got me thinking... if various horses kept not passing or having dealbreakers... what would you do?



  2. #2
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    Default

    Fortunately for me, my mare passed with flying colors, but I have a friend going through this same thing right now. But because she is buying this next prospect as a potential sales horse, it matters to her that the horse pass the PPE. She wouldn't want anyone coming to look at the horse in the future, going with the PPE and finding things that would potentially kill the sale. If it was a horse for you, that you don't plan on selling, and it came up with something but you loved the horse, depending on whatever came up (for instance if it was a little OCD) I'd say go for it. Of course if your vet says no due to some reason that it won't last for you, I'd say pass.



  3. #3
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    Guess it depends on the price and intended job for the animal as well. You don't want to spend 45- 65k on a 3'6" Hunter that can't get over 2'6" 6 months after you buy it and sure cannot take a chance if you are specifically buying for resale and need that sale money for another horse.

    But if you are not spending what you cannot afford to lose, willing to keep it forever (and it can be risky to assume you can, crap happens), not going to jump that high or that often? If the horse has been doing the job and staying sound enough WITHOUT multiple meds (which you need to be absoutely sure of)? You can take a little more of a risk.

    For every tale of one that failed the PPE and went on to never take a bad step, there are 50 that never took a sound one so it is a very personal decision.

    Most of us recommend you always get at least a basic PPE with a blood draw before purchasing anything. But if you want a regular show horse to go over fences 3' or higher 2 times a week for lessons and show frequently? You do need to look deeper, hard work magnifies any defects.

    Many vets will start very basic and stop if they find anything rather then do the full PPE when something obviously in question shows up. Discuss that with your PPE vet so you don't end up with 1200 PPEs on horses that don't trot sound on a lunge at the beginning of the exam.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyfreckles View Post
    But regardless it got me thinking... if various horses kept not passing or having dealbreakers... what would you do?
    I'd ask myself if I was being reasonable about my expectations.

    Maybe I am looking at horses that are too fancy or have too much training/show results for my budget, without acknowledging that they are probably in my budget for soundness reasons. In that case, maybe I need to look at less fancy or greener horses, increase my budget, or change my PPE expectations.

    Regardless, if a squeaky clean PPE were imperative for me, I'd go in with $$$ already budgeted for multiple failed PPEs. And the more extensive my PPE was, the more failed PPEs I would budget for. The more I have the vet poke and prod at the horse, the more likely it is s/he'll find something to comment on.


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  5. #5
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    I second what Halt Near X said.

    If you're shopping on a budget, you can have brains, soundness, ability, or looks. Pick two out of four. If you're lucky, you can get three out of four. You probably are not going to get four out of four.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG


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  6. #6
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Halt Near X View Post
    I'd ask myself if I was being reasonable about my expectations.
    I agree with this totally!



  7. #7
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    Are you sure you have good eyes on the ground before you get into the PPE? Are you aware of the horse's history before moving onto the PPE? Are you assessing for basic soundness and conformation before getting the vet in to look more extensively?

    When you say your friend ended up going with a partially sound horse, that says to me that isn't even one that should have made it to the vetting process.



  8. #8
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    Firstly, $4000 could easily be spent on one horse, it just depends on when you call STOP in trying to understand what kind of problem you might be dealing with in your future horse. This is not uncommon as most frequent buyers know there are very few "flying colors" clean performance horses out there. It's the byproduct of being an athlete.The PPE becomes a baseline of sorts, rather than an instant sale kill.

    One thing I wish would kept in mind is that it is only getting harder for these horses to pass these tests. With substantial advances in the equipment over the years and the rising litigious factor in this country it's next to impossible to declare one clean. Digital x-rays that reveal much more than before (hello OCD proliferation) and often you can't find a vet that will verbally "pass" a horse. They will tell you what they see and allow you to make up your own mind. And if there is a question, it is safer for them to err towards the negative.

    I watch buyers go from horse to horse, spending thousands, relying only on an almighty vet and ignoring an unblemished 5 year show record on a horse that soundly trots circles on concrete for hours. It really does no side any favors to put all eggs in the PPE basket. They are immensely valuable (and I understand prospects are another gamble entirely), but often relied upon too heavily. Especially by first horse buyers.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Come Shine View Post
    Are you sure you have good eyes on the ground before you get into the PPE?
    This was my first thought, too. Between my trainer and I, we weeded out anything that we weren't VERY confident would pass the PPE. I did not have a ton of money that I wanted to spend on failed PPEs, so we were extremely critical of every horse we looked at. We agreed that if we didn't both LOVE the horse, it wasn't getting vetted.

    So I vetted exactly one. The horse had less miles and training than I originally wanted, but the price was right and she sailed through a very thorough PPE... so the 'tough love' worked.



  10. #10
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    It makes sense to consider the horse's history and what it is doing and has been doing currently.

    Expecting to find a lightly started 5-year-old with no arthritic changes is realistic. Expecting to find a 14-year-old campaigner with no arthritic changes is unrealistic. You should expect to put money towards maintaining a horse of that type. (I watched a friend turn down a parade of older BTDT types because they had some arthritis in the hocks. They are going to have arthritis in the hocks.)

    You can have good eyes on the ground and still find something totally unexpected- the horse could be going sound despite some really scary legs. (Then you ask, why is he sound? Is he medicated, is well-maintained, is he a medical miracle.)
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG


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  11. #11
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    Have to say, IMO, some of the PPE vets are soaking potential buyers too. The good ones start by giving it a careful once over then watching the horse work-ask for that (at a fee of course). Have vet carefully give it a visual inspection, check vitals and wind then have it hand walked a bit while observing and then put it on a lunge.

    If the thing is a 2/5 lame at the trot on that lunge? Has visable ringbone, quartercracks, evidence of undisclosed nerving etc? I'd say you are done or at least be given a phone call and the option to either proceed or be done at that point.

    Now, if you are a good, older and experienced horseman or can bring in an experienced trainer who is a good horseman or another experienced horsemen? They/you can probably do that visual inspection, check vitals and wind and watch it walk then go on the lunge and pick out then obvious disqualifiers. Then you can either go ahead and chance it without going further or go into more detail and cost with a vet.

    Really, I have a few friends that have paid 1k or more for PPEs when that ringbone, quartercracks, vital sign abnormalities (one had a high fever), wind trouble were obvious the second it came out of the stall and one couldn't even walk 2/5 let alone trot on the lunge. Yet they continued to flexions, full x rays and a big bill before officially pronouncing it "not able to perform intended work".

    Decent PPE vet would charge you around 100-200 plus the farm call and put the brakes on the bill and the exam. So ask your PPE vet to do the same and require your specific authorization to proceed if any unsoundness or indications of it are obvious in the first 20 minutes of the exam.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


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  12. #12
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    Dec. 20, 2011
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Come Shine View Post
    Are you sure you have good eyes on the ground before you get into the PPE? Are you aware of the horse's history before moving onto the PPE? Are you assessing for basic soundness and conformation before getting the vet in to look more extensively?

    When you say your friend ended up going with a partially sound horse, that says to me that isn't even one that should have made it to the vetting process.
    She didn't get the PPE on the OTTB since he cost her $800. She just got fed up. She was aware of everything an *very* thorough. Had a trainer go out and see every horse, didn't bother with any horses that showed outward signs of lameness when working, looked up their history, show record, etc. Twice they found the beginnings of arthritis (horses were perfectly sound, both of them were less than 6, and the pain and swelling hadn't started yet) and the other two times were underlying diseases that were expensive to maintain or career ending (I don't know what diseases they were).

    She just had really rotten luck.

    It makes me wonder... Arthritis with jumpers. I've seen it managed, but I don't know. If a horse was perfect in every other way would it be a deal breaker? Hmm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    It makes sense to consider the horse's history and what it is doing and has been doing currently.

    Expecting to find a lightly started 5-year-old with no arthritic changes is realistic. Expecting to find a 14-year-old campaigner with no arthritic changes is unrealistic. You should expect to put money towards maintaining a horse of that type. (I watched a friend turn down a parade of older BTDT types because they had some arthritis in the hocks. They are going to have arthritis in the hocks.)

    You can have good eyes on the ground and still find something totally unexpected- the horse could be going sound despite some really scary legs. (Then you ask, why is he sound? Is he medicated, is well-maintained, is he a medical miracle.)
    Great post.



  13. #13
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    I did 4 PPEs before I found one that "passed". And no, I didn't have unreasonable expectations. Horse 1: roarer, Horse 2: severe cardiac arrhythmia Horse 3: OCD in hock. Sometimes you just aren't lucky. Fortunately the first 2 did not get to the point of x-rays.
    Delaware Park Canter Volunteer
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyfreckles View Post
    It makes me wonder... Arthritis with jumpers. I've seen it managed, but I don't know. If a horse was perfect in every other way would it be a deal breaker? Hmm.
    That was weird, ended up with my answer in blue..new format is still a bit challenging.

    Anyway, a 5 or 6 year old with arthritis not jumping that high or working that hard would bother me. Alot. Especially of I was looking to campaign one at anything over puddle jumpers a few times a year. That can be a deal breaker.

    And older horse that had been in regular work and sound enough for some time with arthritis would not bother me so much unless I was going to go show level 6+ 40 weeks a year. I would expect disclosure and knowledge of what the ongoing costs to maintain the horse would be. Also expect to be reflected in the price. But that's not a deal breaker.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  15. #15
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    Personally, we only ppe'd after a 5 day trial. Horse was from out of town, and so we gave him a day to settle in, and then ppe'd after I was ABSOLUTELY sure that I loved him. Luckily he passed, just needing some hoof work (needed to be trimmed and reshod, and put on a hoof supplement). If he hadn't passed, we had a backup that I liked and wanted to take on trial, and we would've trialed first before a ppe. I consider it worth it, because of the type of money I was spending on a hunter.
    .אני יכול לעשות הכל על ידי אלוהים



  16. #16
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    I agree with those who wonder if you're being too picky. No horse will be perfect. And a PPE does not guarantee a horse will be sound in 6 months. I would consider reevaluating your standards or consider your vet's approach to PPEs. Do they pass/fail instead of giving you the findings and their thoughts on what the findings might mean for the horse's intended purpose? I will not work with a vet that straight up passes or fails.

    In the examples you listed, I would not have been scared off of the horses with "beginnings of arthritis". I would take into consideration and compare that info against things like flexions, conformation, gaits, breeding, etc. A little arthritic changes on a sport horse, even that young, are not deal breakers to me.


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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by ladyfreckles View Post
    It makes me wonder... Arthritis with jumpers. I've seen it managed, but I don't know. If a horse was perfect in every other way would it be a deal breaker? Hmm.
    It depends on the horse. In any horse age 10 and up that has been working for a living, I consider some kind of arthritic changes inevitable. In a PPE I ask my vet (who has been taking care of my family's horses for over a decade and whom I trust absolutely) whether she'd consider it reasonable wear and tear on a horse who has been doing X with his life, and what her suggestions would be about maintenance. If the vet says "this is really bad," or "this is surprising in a horse of his age," I am probably going to pass on the horse. Unless it's surprising in a good way- my guy pleasantly surprised the vet with how clean his legs were given his age and occupation! But he's special in lots of ways.

    There is so much we can do now for arthritic joints- both in terms of general lifestyle management/fitness and medical management through oral supplementation and IV and IA injections. When shopping on a budget, or for an older animal, or one who has had a career, I don't at all think it makes sense to stop considering a horse just because it's starting to display signs of arthritis or has been on a successful maintenance program to manage aging joints.

    If the horse is perfect in every other way, and my vet thinks the joints are manageable, I am not going to pass on the horse. It helps if you have a good relationship with your vet; I trust mine to answer honestly when I ask her "Would you buy this horse for you?"
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG



  18. #18
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    IMO, the PPE guves me information with which to make a decision. it is up to ME to educate myself on any issues and their potential management and make my own decision. i dont think it is up to the vet to green or red light a sale. He just puts the information out there. So, having done your homework, you decide what the dealbreakers are, what would take some thought, and what you know you can live with and manage. All the while remembering there aren't any perfect ones and the older you go, the more potential for issues.
    Laurie
    Finding, preparing, showing and training young hunters, in hand and performance.
    www.juniorjohnsontrainingandsales.com


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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Renn/aissance View Post
    If you're shopping on a budget, you can have brains, soundness, ability, or looks. Pick two out of four. If you're lucky, you can get three out of four. You probably are not going to get four out of four.
    I love this, and it is so true! My first two horses were definitely in the bargain-basement category. I'm lucky - I got brains, soundness, and looks on both of them. But, ability wasn't that much of a concern for me with them - one is a pleasure horse and the other I'd like to get into the local ring with someday, if it just so happens to work out. Hence, their ability matches their price level.

    I imagine that bargain-hunting when Ability is a top priority is more often than not going to mean soundness issues/maintenance or a few screws loose.
    Last edited by ClassyRide; Jan. 4, 2013 at 02:21 PM. Reason: fixed spelling



  20. #20
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    I managed to get all four. I was looking for a horse to show in the big eqs and later the jumpers up to about level 4. Didn't need to win at finals, but needed to be safe at that level and teach me the ropes. He had sufficient ability for my needs, but not his previous folks'; he was sound at the time and in fact didn't have a significant soundness issue until 5 years later; he has a tremendous brain; and he's adorable. He's a bad trotter with a somewhat unconventional jump whose scope is a bit limited as a jumper and who no longer wanted to event. He was a super equitation horse for what I needed.

    But I was looking at a time when the market was quite good and I was on a budget. I was prepared to look at an older horse with a hole- one who needed maintenance for joint issues or had some kind of healthcare needs, or who was a terrible mover, or who had a training issue. One had a slight club foot but was so dynamite it was worth doing the x-rays to see what was going on; the foot was scary and she ended up being a great 2'6" horse but wouldn't have held up for what I wanted. I looked at one who was brilliantly schooled on the flat but flat out the ugliest horse I'd seen. He was priced in my market because, said the agent, "Have you looked at him?" (Ended up being too much horse for my comfort- a very powerful 17.3.) Another one I tried had a known stopping problem we thought we could fix. Two others we found the hole only on trial- one reared and the other was a screw-loose bolter being sold by a screw-loose agent who threatened to sue us for not buying him (we had him on trial to vet, and he nearly killed me and three other people after taking off into a crowd of horses and not responding to a hail-mary pulley rein. No sense of self-preservation. We cancelled the vetting.) Needless to say I'd rather deal with arthritis.
    "I'm not always sarcastic. Sometimes I'm asleep."
    - Harry Dresden

    Horse Isle 2: Legend of the Esrohs LifeCycle Breeding and competition MMORPG


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