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Are vet checks necessary?

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  • Are vet checks necessary?

    So I will be horse shopping in a few months and I brought up to my trainer that I planned on getting a pre purchase exam. She sounded surprised and told me that a vet check really isn't necessary and a waste of money. Though I certainly would love to save as much as I can for a new horse, I still would feel more comfortable getting a PPE. I would like to hear other people's opinions and experiences, though. Should I get a vet check before buying a horse?

  • #2
    Yes. Your trainer is wrong.


    • #3
      Yes, get one


      • #4
        Strange the trainer would dismiss PPEs so easily?
        As a buyer or helping a client buy a horse, you better like PPEs.
        A PPE protects you as a buyer and as a trainer it protects your student.
        You may disagree with the results and still buy the horse if something is found, but other that may come up, you will be glad you had the PPE performed.

        As a seller you may not like them, because they may show something you already knew or suspected, or something you didn't know and either way affect the sale.

        In today's world, especially a horse to show, a PPE is important to buying a horse and when selling later, so you know if there is something there of note.


        • #5
          Depends. Back when I bought my horse I had been riding her in lessons for over a year, and half leasing for a while. The BO was very open with her vet records. Nothing a vet check would've told me that I didn't already know.

          A horse unfamiliar to me? Absolutely I'd do a PPE.
          Proud Member Of The Lady Mafia


          • #6
            Very rare for a trainer to say they are a waste of money. What will you do if you find out the horse has a significant limiting injury after you have purchased it?


            • #7
              You don't have to go crazy with X-rays of every joint, every angle of joint. But I do think some joint basics are wise, along with checking heart, lungs, eyes. These give you a baseline, should horse develop an issue later. You don't want to spend all your budgeted money on PPE stuff.

              Lean over, check for previous colic surgery scar. Run your hands down the legs to check for bumps, lumps, healed scars. Winter hair, not trimming legs can hide a lot. OPEN THE MOUTH! Look in there. A 4-H kid bought a horse, his tongue had been cut off at some past time! I bought a horse as a kid, her tongue was severely scarred, only about halfway conected, but we NEVER looked in the mouth during our self exam. No PPEs back then for a $200 horse. Sure made her hard to find a comfortable bit to use.

              When buying weanlings, young stock,, we had eyes, hearts, lungs checked. Really not much else to be careful of with no use, no visible deformities when looking them over.

              One buyer wanted a significant discount on price, "Seeing as she would be spending over $1400 on his PPE, to be done at the VET College!" I said no, he was fairly priced, had never been worked hard, only had 60 days being saddle trained at the Trainer's. Aged 6yrs, there was nothing wrong with him. She could spend whatever she wanted on a PPE, that was her choice. I was sure he would pass any test with flying colors! We always start our horses late, he was sound. She then passed on him without the discount. We sold him over the phone by video and his breeding, after a general PPE. He shipped to Florida, where his new owner met him. She still has him 14 years later, loves him dearly! He competed extensively as an Endurance horse, was very successful with numerous awards over the years. Still sound.
              Last edited by goodhors; Jan. 13, 2020, 02:53 PM.


              • Original Poster

                I'm not really sure why my trainer thought they weren't necessary, though she did say that another student she helped find a horse for ended up spending $1,200 on a vet check, which I have no intention of doing. I plan on just getting a basic check done, though I will have to contact my vet and figure out how much that will cost. The last thing I want to do is buy a horse that ends up being unusable for my purposes because I skimped on the vetting. Thank you all for the advice.


                • #9
                  Is your trainer going to be finding horses for you? If your trainer is brokering a deal and tries to convince you no vet check RUN for the exit and get a new trainer. Recipe for a scam


                  • Original Poster

                    Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                    Is your trainer going to be finding horses for you? If your trainer is brokering a deal and tries to convince you no vet check RUN for the exit and get a new trainer. Recipe for a scam
                    She will be helping me look for a horse but I will also be searching on my own. Either way I plan on getting a vetting done, I may just have to wait longer to buy a horse if I do not have the funds for one.


                    • #11
                      In most cases, yes it is a good investment to get a PPE. What is your intended use of a horse you hope to purchase? Competing in a discipline? Casual trail rides? A PPE can be extremely thorough or fairly basic depending on how deep you want to dig, which would be dictated by both cost of the horse and intended use.

                      Would I do a thorough PPE on a horse I entend to lightly hack down the trails and do a bit of flat work with? Probably not, probably just a basic checkover and flexions. But for anything more strenuous, absolutely. If nothing else, as already mentioned, it gives you a good baseline to have in the event you do buy the horse.


                      • #12
                        Think you need a more educated trainer who is willing to protect your assets. Which is you, your money and any horse you might put your money in. Might also be going to try to sell you horses they have a financial interest in you buying beyond what you will be paying them as a commission/ finders fee. Meaning something they have been trying to unload or extra money from other trainers above the actual amount seller puts in their pocket. Meaning trainers goals putting more money from you in their pocket, not finding you a SOUND and safe horse.

                        A PPE does not have to cost thousands. A NEUTRAL vet of your choice can just do a basic physical and uncover many disqualifying issues then leave it up to you if you want to pay more tests or x rays. Usually, it’s best to just pass if it’s something it’s 2/5 lame in three feet, reactive to hoof testers, is covered with surgical scars, blind in one eye or drops a hip with every stride.

                        In my experience trainers who shy away from bringing buyers choice of vet into the buying decisions are afraid of what that vet will find and losing a sale. Or they don’t want you to find out they filled it full of painkillers to get it sound enough fir you to try or keep in on a tranq every time you come ride it.

                        Really, this trainer is not following accepted, 21st century standards that apply in any price range horse purchased. Again, buyers choice what to spend but just a basic reveals many issues and it’s not stupid expensive.

                        Some buyers are very experienced, have contacts they trust for good, horses with known history if staying sound in work and can afford to deal with horses they buy that later turn out unsound. They can take the chance...and when they sell them in, they DO recommend a vet check.

                        Just don’t get why this trainer is so opposed, what are they afraid if if OP wants at least a basic PPE? That’s a red flag when buying horses.
                        When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                        The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Scribbler View Post
                          Is your trainer going to be finding horses for you? If your trainer is brokering a deal and tries to convince you no vet check RUN for the exit and get a new trainer. Recipe for a scam
                          Absolutely. I'd question your trainer knowledge and sensibility at this point.

                          A minimal PPE is common sense. If something in particular is found, you can at that point decide to go on further with the PPE, or to simply Pass on the horse.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                          • #14
                            I have a good friend who bought a cheap OTTB, only lightly raced. Appeared in good condition. Decided against a PPE because the 'price didn't warrant one' .... now she has a retired 6 y/o TB due to something that could have been found with a simple knee X-Ray. She got less than a year under saddle out of her. Get the PPE.

                            The only time we have not done a PPE was on a weanling. From all of my reading, not much could be done with a weanling PPE - we don't deal with a breed that has a lot of OCD issues, so that wasn't really a concern.


                            • #15
                              A PPE can range from $200 to infinity - and you don't have to make that decision up front. You can also stop at any point. As an example, I had a vet find juvenile cataracts significantly impairing vision once. No need to move on to a lameness exam from that.

                              A physical exam should always be included: lungs, heart, eyes, and palpating the whole body for pain, soreness, heat, and swelling.

                              From there, you would always do a basic lameness exam: for a baby, that means running loose in an arena with or without mom. For an older horse, it means walking and trotting on a straight line and on a circle on both hard and soft ground.

                              From there, some vets will move on to flexion tests. Others will move to the under saddle evaluation of the horse performing his intended use, and then flex the horse (with and/or without rider up) after he's worked.

                              If everything is still going well, you can decide whether you want to conduct any diagnostic imaging: x-rays, ultrasound, gastroscope.

                              You can also target diagnostic imaging based on the findings - for example, if the horse looks great everywhere, except he flexes mild positive on both hocks - you may elect to x-ray the hocks but nothing else.


                              • #16
                                It is not NECESSARY, and a horse that is sound today could break a leg tomorrow.

                                But it is certainly a way to avoid a lot of expensive heartbreak.

                                chief feeder and mucker for Music, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now). Spy is gone. April 15, 1982 to Jan 10, 2019.


                                • #17
                                  A PPE is good for more than just making sure the horse you are buying can do what you want it to do. It is also good for giving you baseline information that you and your vet can use in the future.


                                  • #18
                                    It depends on your toleration for risk. Do you have a place to turn out a horse that must be retired due to a pre-existing issue? Sure a horse can break a leg tomorrow, or do something else damaging to themselves. But you can at least mitigate the risk at the time of purchase. Can you afford a pasture pet plus adding a second, sound/healthy horse if you skip a PPE and something is there? If not, then yes, a PPE is important.

                                    Some people are more risk takers, others more risk averse. Only you can answer that question for yourself. A couple hundred dollars for a basic PPE is definitely worth it to avoid the future headache of a problem that rears its ugly head in which you would have never bought the horse in the first place had you known about it. As well as way less costly than taking care of a pasture puff for the rest of its remaining life.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Lexibrooke1 View Post
                                      I'm not really sure why my trainer thought they weren't necessary, though she did say that another student she helped find a horse for ended up spending $1,200 on a vet check, which I have no intention of doing. I plan on just getting a basic check done, though I will have to contact my vet and figure out how much that will cost. The last thing I want to do is buy a horse that ends up being unusable for my purposes because I skimped on the vetting. Thank you all for the advice.
                                      $1200 sounds like a lot until you add up what a "retired at age 12" horse will cost you in the long run. Unsound horses are just as expensive to own as sound ones (usually more, and a lot less fun.)


                                      • #20
                                        I would not buy a horse through the trainer. In fact, I might recommend finding a new trainer. It sounds like she wants to maximize her commission. This means she is putting making money as a higher priority than finding a safe, sound horse for you. That would be a trust breaker for me. Try a lesson with someone else to compare how your trainer operates versus how other trainers work. It's like if a doctor gives you a bad diagnosis and you go for a second opinion.

                                        It would be a good idea to also contact a vet in your area that you know, or has a good reputation and find out what they charge for a PPE. The basic one with lameness exam/flexion tests is the minimum one I would get. Beyond that, there are other things typically recommended depending on what you want to use the horse for. Be sure to tell the vet what age range you are looking because that may make a difference.