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Do YOU Xray on a PPE?

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  • Do YOU Xray on a PPE?

    One of these days I will be buying a new horse for myself. In the past, I have never done Xrays on a PPE. Unfortunately I am now stuck with a horse that has some pretty hefty navicular issues that limit his ability to do more than 3-4 light rides a week. I'm totally kicking myself for not doing the xrays on the initial PPE and I am in constant fear of overworking this horse (who is currently very sound and teaches beginner lessons, just can't hold up to harder riding).

    The next horse will be used for mostly dressage but maybe a few BN or N horse trials. I am a big chicken and never intend on going above novice...EVER I imagine I will be purchasing something fairly green, fairly cheap, and possibly OTTB.

    What would you do on a PPE for a low level "budget" horse?

  • #2
    Absolutely. The purchase price is such a small piece of the overall cost of owning. At least having no known issues going in is worthwhile, which isn't to say the horse won't end up lame. I do hocks, ankles and navicular shots on OTTBs and have gotten prepurchases on everything I have bought from $900 to $6500 (most expensive that I have gone).
    OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


    • #3
      I did on the first one, just the front feet to check for navicular since he was 1/2 QH. I did not on the OTTB (second horse) -- he'd raced 3 years, retired sound, flexed clean all the way around. I figured if he stood up to racing, plus he had big, clean joints, then he'd probably be ok for a while. I could see some small, old osselets, they didn't bother me, so I did not spend the money.

      Funnily enough, after I had him about a month, I did end up having my vet shoot one view apiece of his front feet and we found some angles that needed fixing a la hoof adjustment. I haven't done anything else though. I did also get him from CANTER MA, so I knew that if he'd shown any issues, they would tell me. There are no guarantees of course, but overall, I've decided it's a case by case thing.
      Life doesn't have perfect footing.

      Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
      We Are Flying Solo


      • #4
        Yes. It's worth the peace of mind to know there's nothing major showing at the time of purchase _and_ to have the baseline views to compare to later if something does come up.
        ... and Patrick


        • #5
          Originally posted by scubed View Post
          Absolutely. The purchase price is such a small piece of the overall cost of owning. At least having no known issues going in is worthwhile, which isn't to say the horse won't end up lame. I do hocks, ankles and navicular shots on OTTBs and have gotten prepurchases on everything I have bought from $900 to $6500 (most expensive that I have gone).

          What Scubed said.
          --Becky in TX
          Clinic Blogs and Rolex Blogs
          She who throws dirt is losing ground.


          • #6
            I have done both.

            I never X-rayed Gwen because she was 16 when I bought her and had been as sound as a rock for 12 years competing, so I was pretty sure that she was a) built to last and b) going to have some findings which didn't change "a".

            I did X-ray Boscoe since he was a young horse with modest mileage and the veterinary practice that vetted him did the X-rays along with the full PPE with a deep discount on all the films.

            Depending on the price of the horse, its conformation, and what it had done thus far I might or might not.
            Click here before you buy.


            • #7
              I would do a thorough vetting without xrays for a horse for me at that level no question. However...if this might be a resale horse or you want to leave that option open than you should do xrays. The chance someone else would buy a horse without a vetting especially if you wanted to get some of the value of your training out of him is smaller these days. Do the xrays and hang on to them they may make it easier to sell him if he has more talent than you need or doesn't suit you. Also I am usually buying youngsters or mares and not horses with known wear and tear but if I had good recomendations on the trainers and owners that counts for a lot.

              My last vetting with xrays cost 2000 and they missed a major respiratory issue I should sue them for. He was deadly sick and passed with flying colors...no one offers you your money back so what you have is only worth the vet you use.

              I am very experienced and I actually saw this issue but defered to the well recommended vet. I would have been better off to trust myself but I know that no one else would and if we sold as a performance horse he would need a vetting. You could cut the cost by taking along someone with that good eye and tell tham to be the devils advocate. A horse that passed with flying colors can lame themselves walking out the trailer. Personally I have done better without thorough vettings but I also might visit them a number of times...especially watch them loose...watch them being handled and worked...visit un announced...you can't do that sometimes, but be aware that a vetting doesn't take the place of a good and serious study of the horse. PatO


              • #8
                I x-ray on PPE's (the price range I shop in is ~4-9k). My first PPE was on a 4 y/o who was very sound with low mileage. The x-rays showed mild hock changes, so I passed. Within 6 months, I was told that the horse went lame behind and started bucking under saddle, even after injections. Really sad, but the x-rays were certainly worth the money.


                • #9
                  I didn't vet the last 5 horses I bought. Of the 5 I had one epic fail (arrived 5/5 lame with a fractured knee) and another with some challenges that may have been evident on a PPE, but it's working out. The two I sold on were vetted extensively by the buyers - like crazy thorough - and passed.

                  I'm fortunate to have my own place so I was willing to take a chance and give my prospects as much time as they needed.

                  If I were boarding and had specific competition goals, I'd definitely do a PPE.
                  If you believe everything you read, better not read. -- Japanese Proverb


                  • #10
                    I didn't vet my first horse, however he flexed all 0s and was very very sound. My newest horse who was larger and had raced, we did a PPE with xrays. Mostly because of his past record racing as well as the fact that he had a slightly clubbed hoof.

                    I would definitely recommend it.


                    • #11
                      No doubt. Always and everything.

                      My last purchase was clean on every film (digital so we could see them as we went along) we took. I had my vet take every view of every joint...until she got to the stifles. We discussed at length, decided he was so clean so far, let's not bother. A month later he was on the table having OCD fragments removed. Chi-ching, add another 3000 to the already too high purchase price.

                      OTOH, I had a TB on whom I x-rayed every joint. There was nothing anywhere that needed addressing in a complete and very thorough PPE. Guess what, he had massive food allergies and EPSM-neither of those things would show up on a pre-purchase...He was the first TB my vet had heard of as having EPSM and became the poster child for their clinic. Not good for me but great for other horses/owners with the same affliction...

                      Huh, another TB I had was home-bred by my vet. She gave him to me as a 3 year old. No films, no PPE, no nuthin. He didn't take a lame step (BN -Intermediate) until he bowed/severed his DDFT walking in his pasture at the age of 23.

                      A 3 year old mare I had in on trial had horrific navicular changes in 1 front foot tho was sound as a rock. I passed on her. Another had a broken sesamoid. He too was sound. Pass.

                      I won't keep going, each one I've taken films on has shown me something-either I could live with it or not. I guess I just like to know what I'm getting.
                      Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.


                      • #12
                        I do on anything over $1500.00 and/or if the vet feels after the basic PPE that I should. Usually front feet, all four ankles and knees and sometimes hocks (depending on age, what it's done, etc). So far I have never been disappointed that I did it.
                        "A little less chit-chat a little more pitter-pat"


                        • #13
                          In ottb's who aren't very long off the track I think you get a better bang for your buck doing x-rays because flexions often don't tell me much at that stage of the game. They are often still body sore and a bit funky.

                          For resale in today's market I think you have to x-rays at least feet, ankles, knees and hocks.

                          Personally, I have never x-rayed or PPE a horse that I have bought I have my own farm and I've never spent over $3500 so I feel like I can afford to gamble.


                          • #14
                            I always do front feet and hocks, and then maybe add another joint as needed, like an ankle that didn't flex very well.

                            Facebook page


                            • #15
                              Costs the same to keep a sound horse as an unsound one - a lot! May as well stack the odds in your favor and at least start with a sound one.

                              That said I PPE'd a horse at a cost of $1450 2 years ago, and the (highly recommended) vet was VERY lax - didn't check the teeth/notice the horse was 20, despite me making it clear age was a concern. Or notice the huge navicular lesions. Net result: my 12 yr old, $10k eventer is a 20 yr old pasture puff. Called the vet to ask for a refund of the PPE price, and he got nasty.

                              Lesson: vet the vet first!
                              PSSM / EPSM and Shivers Forum


                              • #16
                                I used to PPE everything, with X-rays, and had completely clean horses get hit with navicular issues in <2 years while those that were slightly "iffy" were sound for many years. I have no evidence supporting the PPE/X-rays being linked in any way to long term soundness, so I no longer do PPEs or X-rays. I have a good eye and either buy young horses that haven't done anything or an older horse from someone I know and trust. I have put down 3 horses - one from a brain tumor, one from a broken leg caused by taking a bad step in the field, and one from an injury caused by getting cast in her stall. Of the horses I have sold, all but one were for behavior/rider incompatibility/life changes issues except one, which was the one with navicular issues after a completely clean PPE with X-rays! Of course, YMMV.


                                • #17
                                  The price range I shop in and having some years experience, I generally don't do PPEs.

                                  The ONLY two horses I have ever had PPEs on, got a clean bill... and didn't stay sound for more than a year or two.

                                  Haven't had any issues with the others. *knock wood*

                                  I think it's a gamble no matter what you do.

                                  That said, if I was buying something expensive then I'd do the whole deal.
                                  2016 RRP Makeover Competitor www.EnviousBid.com


                                  • #18
                                    Good rule of thumb most vets will tell you is that a pre-purchase should be roughly 10% of the purchase price of the horse.

                                    That being said, on a budget, I still support taking a few shots of whatever was most questionable on the flexion. If nothing questionable, hocks, ankles, navic are all good to have...but unfortunately there's no guarantee, the horse with perfect x-rays will go out in the pasture and get hurt doing something stupid.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Thanks for all the responses

                                      I think at the very least I'll be doing feet and hocks. A quick question on stifles: Last time I purchased a horse we talked about doing stifles due to some stiffness in the back end (this is the same horse with pretty bad navicular lesions but stifles and back have been fine...go figure). This was 7 years ago and at the time that would have required going to NC State for the shots. Do shots of the stifles have to be performed in a clinic, or are there vets that can do them at the horse's location?


                                      • #20
                                        Stifles can definitely be done in the field. I wonder if your vet didn't have the large plates that are required for taking stifle films. I've had stifles done multiple times in the field over the years.

                                        If the horse is young and has not been in consistent work, my vet insists on shooting 2-3 views of each stifle to rule out OCD, even if the horse flexes just fine. If it is older and has been sound in consistent work, it is less likely to be a problem.

                                        I also do front feet and hocks, then whatever other joints the flexions or lungeing may have pointed to soundness issues in. I don't mind minor changes in hocks, even in young horses. Hocks are very manageable, and pretty much every horse is eventually going to end up with changes in them (as is the opinion of two different, very good sporthorse vets I've worked with).