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Are vet checks necessary?

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  • #21
    Originally posted by Lexibrooke1 View Post
    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?
    She's right that it's not "necessary." She's wrong to say, "it's a waste of money."

    Even a very low dollar horse can become a "money pit" if not fully vetted. Unless, of course, you're ready to "dump" a recent purchase that begins to show problems. And some people are. Most people are not.

    G.

    Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raa, Uma Paixo

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    • #22
      As someone who "wasted" almost $1,700 on a PPE for a horse I didn't end up buying I would say absolutely get a PPE.

      This was my experience:
      The horse was a totally sound, sweet, homebred 3yo gelding just started under saddle from very sweet honest sellers. The initial $1,300 PPE was a full physical plus sedation for x-rays of fronts, hocks and stifles. His neuro was a little off but the vet said she couldn't be 100% sure it wasn't behavioral issues since he was very excited and distracted during the exam.

      We took the horse on trial for a month since we were in love, spent $350 on a secondary neuro exam and basic physical with a different highly recommended lameness vet and the horse had all sorts of abnormalities on his neuro exam. Both vets thought it was likely early EPM. We sent the horse back.
      That $1,700 saved me from having my heart broken and finances drained by a 3 year old with what was likely a progressive neurologic condition which might not even be treatable. The owners weren't trying to pull a fast one, they just had a baby horse who was in light work and so the issues weren't readily apparent. I spent $1,200 on a PPE on the next one and bought him and I'm still super happy with my purchase a year later.
      $1,000 is realistically a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of years of horse ownership. This is even more true if you are paying for care and board on an unrideable horse. That cost is on you, not your trainer so protect yourself from freak situations like the one above.

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      • #23
        I don't care what the horse costs, you do a PPE. The price range for the PPE, well, that's another thing. If you're going to spend, say mid-five figures, surely a thorough PPE is worth the investment. The last horse I bought was 2.5 yrs. old, unstarted. So I had just basic PPE, with the caveat that if anything was questionable in the flexions etc., to go ahead with x-rays. While that horse is now semi-retired from an injury (still rideable, but not showable), his condition now had nothing to do with his condition when purchased, and he had no issues for the first 11 years I owned him.

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        • #24
          Do a PPE, definitely. "Pass" or "Fail" a PPE? No such thing.

          Depending on what you're buying, a PPE is basically just a second set of (well trained) eyes on the animal as a prospect for what you're wanting to do. In most cases, I would hope you're buying a horse that has a proven record of performing at the level you're intending to use him/her for. Whether it's showing at a specific level, or trail riding for miles, or whatever else.

          My main show horse for the last 8 years is a gelding that had a rather sizable chip in his ankle when we did his PPE as a 2 year old. However, he'd been sound during our two week trial and hadn't given any indication it was performance inhibiting. Seller took $5,000 off the purchase price to cover the surgery he had to have to remove it; it's never caused us any issues and he actually won the national championship with me as a 4 year old, unanimously, under eight judges.

          The horse I had previous to him won everything under the sun with me, but had trouble being sold after me because his PPEs were so thoroughly abysmal. He's still kind of a walking disaster, but I bought him back for $1 after he flunked out of a college program. Turns out, that with careful management, lots of turn out time, and no actual pressure to push show deadlines on him - he stays serviceably sound.

          I will say - I bought a horse sight unseen a few years ago (broodmare); did a PPE, pulled blood, talked to the vet, and drove across six states to pick her up - completely satisfied with everything the vet had told me. Due to the holiday schedule, she said she would send the "official" typed report the day I was scheduled to pick her up but I wasn't worried about it since we had spoken. Imagine my surprise when I got to my destination, and there stood my horse - a full hand and half shorter than literally every single advertisement (INCLUDING older ads in breed journals from her showing) of her had listed. Luckily, she was inexpensive enough that it is now just a fun lesson learned type story - had she been pricier, I wouldn't have loaded her on the trailer. When I got the PPE that evening, her accurate height was listed - I just hadn't thought to verify with the vet that her past two owners had been lying about her being 16hh. If you're buying any kind of horse that requires a height component - ponies, minis, breeding animals -- make sure they're the size they say they are.
          Veni vidi vici. With a paint pony, nonetheless.

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          • #25
            Had someone buy a green broke 4 year old from me. Did a $1300 PPE on a 9,500 sale. X rayed every limb and joint except the stifles...two years down the road the horse comes up off and turns out she had an OCD in the stifle. Nothing I ever knew about, horse was always sound with me and I don’t x ray unless the horse warrants it. Did the surgery to have it removed and she has been sound since.
            Moral of the story is that you can spend an endless amount of money on a PPE and still have something significant missed.
            For me, the most important part of a PPE is to use a vet you trust and tell the vet your intended use for the horse. Intended use is the key word in a PPE....a horse May be acceptable for trail riding but not jumping etc.
            And I always ask my vet if he was me, what would he do.....buy the horse, run away, etc.

            and the REAL moral of the story is YES! Get the PPE! I just bought a yearling in a prospect sale and my poor vet looked at at least 18 sets of x rays before finding ones he deemed acceptable for my intended use...these were long yearling with navicular bones like Swiss cheese, large ocds in multiple joints and bone chips in ankles etc. terrifying! You couldn’t give me a horse with x rays like that!

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            • #26
              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.
              I'm surprised your trainer would say that. There are many problems that can be avoided with a vet check, although as others have pointed out, they are only a snapshot in time. I can't tell you how many times I've gone to try horses and felt they were slightly off. One of them I liked enought do a PPE on, with the provision that they looked at her right front first, that the seller would pay for the exam if there was a problem. Films showed a cracked sesamoid, so we stopped there.

              Most important is that you trust the vet that is doing the exam and that he or she knows YOUR goals and YOUR tolerance for risk. Depending on what the vet sees during the basic exam, they may/may not want to take films. With digital x-rays, it's really easy to pinpoint and check out a specific question. Much better than the old days where they took a full spectrum of shots and you didn't know what you had until they were all developed.

              For example, years ago I had a vet check on a horse I liked a lot. Used a top notch vet in my area and yes, I did films. He found that an old injury (coffin bone) hadn't healed properly. He knew I wanted to event. Back then I had ambitions to event at training or prelim with that horse. He knew I had a small child. His advice? To pass because that injury might cause a catestrophic breakdown with a bad step galloping on uneven ground . Was it a guarantee that it would happen? Of course not. The horse was sound and there was no indication of that past injury other than what showed on the films. I passed on the horse. Same vet on a subsequent horse. "If you don't have to eat peanut butter for a month, buy him." I had that horse for 12 years until he died from an aneurism.

              I have two horses now. I adopted my OTTB after fostering him for six months. I had my vet do a cursory exam, but no films. I'd had the horse in work for at least 5 months and he was sound. I had vet records for the injury that stopped his racing career and he'd been fully rehabbed. Vet knows me very well. He ran his over his legs, had me jog him and said, "I always hoped you'd keep him. He's a nice horse." I've had that horse now for 16 or 17 years. He's got some soundness issues now, but he's coming 23 so I do what keeps him comfortable.

              My mare was a project that I was trying to sell for a friend. She had a PPE done and the woman's vet said she was completely sound now but because she's a big girl (draft x), she might develop ringbone in the future. Well, I bought her instead and I think I've had her 6 years now. No ringbone. I didn't do a PPE on her as I'd been riding for 4 months and she'd "passed" the PPE with flying colors. No vet has a crystal ball, but I'm sure glad he talked that woman out of buying her because she's a great horse.
              Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
              EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.

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              • #27
                Originally posted by Lexibrooke1 View Post
                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?
                Hahahahahaha! I argue with a friend of mine about this all the time. She's a very kind person, never has a vet check, and has spent tens of thousands on horses because of this.

                Get a PPE and know what you're dealing with and make an informed purchase.
                Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                Comment


                • #28
                  Yes it's a good idea except if you are dumb and burn your money.. We had a new boarder move in with her new horse that she had bought up north somewhere. She stood there watching the exam. The vet told her the horse was off and had some lameness. She didn't bother with expanding the exam, just headed home with the horse. She didn't ride him much because he didn't have many good days. She had to put him down about 3 months after she bought him. Navicular. She bought another one on her own. She was asked to move to a new barn for other reasons. We heard she had to put that one down. We also heard there was a #3.
                  "With hardly any other living being can a human connect as closely over so many years as a rider can with her horse." Isabell Werth, Four Legs Move My Soul. 2019

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                  • #29
                    Walktrot, that lady is a one woman horse hospice!

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Well. I am going to be somewhat the voice of dissent (although not entirely). I think, like so many things in the horse world, the answer is "it depends".

                      My personal experience is as follows: I have bought three horses for myself in my lifetime (I'm 30). I tend towards owning one riding mount at a time and that horse stays with me until it dies. I didn't do a PPE on any of them. The first was a 19yo TB that I had leased for a while. I knew his limitations and so it didn't feel necessary to me. I put him down at 31 after he wintered very poorly. My second was a yearling filly that I bought after I retired Horse #1. If I had done a PPE on her, it *might* have revealed the physical wreck she would become, but most likely not. I had to put her down at age 9 because of bilaterally fusing hocks and navicular in both front feet. Could I potentially have saved myself the heartache and financial losses? Maybe, hard to say. But even so, I wouldn't change a thing - that mare ended up changing everything for me in terms of my horsemanship. I literally would not be who I am as a horseperson without her influence.

                      My third is my current gelding - this one was purchased by a student of mine who wanted an easy-going trail mount. He is a fantastic trail mount, for sure, but turned out to be too sensitive for her and with gaits that were difficult for her to ride. She asked me if I'd take him. I didn't do a PPE on him, either. I knew him well and had had a hand in advancing his education. He has some "stuff" in the form of an old crush injury to his shoulder when he was much younger that resulted in some serious compensatory issues in his neck and poll. He's taken quite a while to work through those and it's something I address every ride with him. But I knew what I was taking on, he's a joy to work with and again, he's a horse that has demanded a level of horsemanship from me that has made me a better rider and handler.

                      People ride and thus buy horses for all kinds of reasons. It's not up to me or anyone else to judge the worthiness of those reasons, although I have personal feelings about the integrity and morality of some of them.

                      So, for me anyway, the answer to "do I do a PPE" largely depends on why I want this horse, what my comfort level with "maintenance" issues is, and how educated I feel in terms of being able to spot potential problems. But I also don't buy a horse off of one ride or one showing and I am a pretty educated rider and owner and thus I feel pretty confident taking on a wide range of "stuff" that might come up. I realize that is not the case for everything nor does everyone have the opportunity to get to know the horse a little (or a lot) before they buy them, so YMMV.

                      At the end of the day, buying horses is a balancing act. You can do everything right and still end up with a lemon, and you can pull a horse from an auction sight unseen and end up with a diamond in the rough. There are no guarantees. So I choose to go about it doing the best I can to balance my head and my heart, knowing that no matter what I am likely to get what I need.
                      Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        While not exactly a PPE, a vet check is so necessary that the bigger, important competitions, from dressage to endurance, have vets who must clear the horse before it is allowed to compete.

                        A major purpose of the PPE is to not to eliminate a horse, but to provide a baseline for future issues.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #32
                          Abbie.S Thanks for sharing your experience. About 3 years ago I bought a POA mare that I did not get a PPE on, but that's because she was the lesson horse that I had been riding for months so I already knew her history and condition. I ended up selling her to my trainer because I couldn't afford both an apartment and board, but she's living happily as a lesson horse again and I still get to see her.

                          I plan on doing low level Hunter shows and some trail riding so the horse I buy will need to be capable of that. For that reason I will be getting a PPE, but I will need to get a quote beforehand from my vet so I know what I can expect to pay ahead of time.

                          I'm hoping my trainer can help me find a suitable horse, by either coming with me to look or giving me guidance before purchasing one. I've been riding most my life but I'm not a professional by any means, so I really value the guidance and suggestions that I get from both the horse people I know as well as the COTH community.

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                          • #33
                            Originally posted by WildLittleWren View Post
                            It depends on your toleration for risk.
                            This is the answer for me. I didn't get one on my current horse, but I had had him on free lease for 6+ months before I bought him, and his previous owners were very open with any issues he had or might have.

                            I did get him xrayed after the fact and luckily for me he is clean as a whistle. If I were buying a horse without the benefit of the lease situation... I'd for sure pay for a PPE.

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              I didn't get a vet check with my first horse in part I was so excited about getting this horse that I didn't *want* a reason to not buy him. Plus, I was being a cheapskate. This was a big mistake. My horse had to retire at the age of 15 due to arthritis, which was extremely difficult emotionally and left me financially unable to ride, as I couldn't afford another horse in full training and lesson horses are very hard to come by.

                              I recently purchased my second horse, did an insanely expensive and extensive PPE, and got a second opinion on the findings. A PPE cannot perfectly predict the future, but I am much more confident that I won't have a repeat of the last experience and I know how to deal with the few minor issues that did come up before they turn into big issues.

                              PPEs can undoubtedly prevent a lot of heartache and financial hardships. But you also have to listen to the PPE—don't get so caught up in a horse that you ignore the vet findings. It's a *pre*-purchase exam, not a post-I-already-bought-the-horse-in-my-head exam. Realistically asses what you are willing to take on. That part can be difficult. Of course, a PPE doesn't have to be perfect. But you should know what you are buying and, if you decide to go ahead, be sure that you are prepared to do right by this horse.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by Lexibrooke1 View Post
                                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?
                                You also need a new trainer. At some point in time, this one is going to fleece you.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  I more often than not don't have PPE's done; but, there are some very specific reasons for this. (1) Most of my purchases have been from other breeders who I know very well and know me. (2) I have a higher tolerance for risk and usually buy weanlings to two year olds (before they're worked), bloodlines I know through and through, from breeding stock that I've often trained or ridden in the past or have observed on more than one occasion. (3) I can absorb some losses/lessons learned better than others and (4) I am a vet so if I go see the horse in person it is already getting an exam. I do buy sight unseen however and have had PPE's done for me twice. One was performed by a vet that I used to know as a kid and he even rode the horse for me so that too is an unusual circumstance - was worth every penny which was approximately $350 about 12 years ago. I usually recommend PPE for others though for all the reasons already stated. Usually smart money spent as long as you don't go overboard.
                                  Ranch of Last Resort

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I'll chime in with it's a very good idea to have one but I've never followed my own advice and had one done lol. Of course I've also never shelled out more than very low 4 figures for a horse.
                                    I'd say if you want one done, definitely do it and ditch the trainer while you're at it
                                    Wouldst thou like the taste of butter ? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Well, if you are going to invest that kind of money it makes sense to look under the hood.
                                      It is no different than having a reliable mechanic check out a used car and taking it on a test drive before forking out the big bucks.

                                      Also find a new trainer. There are plenty of trainers out there who are interested in helping you and not lining their pockets at your expense.
                                      Certified Guacophobe

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Depending on what you find, the horse for sale may already have recent images of joints on file with the owner's vet. You can have your vet review them (for a fee most likely), and comment. That way you would be able to save some money on a PPE by doing a limited exam. We recently bought a pony that had x-rays taken 5 months prior to our purchase. There was one hock view missing and our vet had some questions on a couple of the front feet x-rays. So we only did a few x-rays and flexions as well as a regular physical exam. We were satisfied.
                                        Out of the 6 horses we have owned, we've only done PPE's on half of them! One hose was an unbroke 2.5 year old and the owner had x-rays from when he was a yearling plus we had known the seller for years and the horse had been at the barn we were at. If there was anything wrong our trainer would have brought it up - she had worked with the horse. The second one we got lucky and probably should have had some x-rays done - he had a hock spur. The third was a 9 year old horse but we had his entire medical history available for review.
                                        They're worth it IMO. Get an unbiased vet to do the exam. Have your home vet review the exam if it makes you comfortable. It will save you from anything that isn't being stated up front. And if the PPE does show some issue, if you so choose, you can use it to negotiate the price down if you find the risk acceptable. A PPE protects you and your money.

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by PonyApocalypse19 View Post
                                          Depending on what you find, the horse for sale may already have recent images of joints on file with the owner's vet. You can have your vet review them (for a fee most likely), and comment. That way you would be able to save some money on a PPE by doing a limited exam. We recently bought a pony that had x-rays taken 5 months prior to our purchase. There was one hock view missing and our vet had some questions on a couple of the front feet x-rays. So we only did a few x-rays and flexions as well as a regular physical exam. We were satisfied.
                                          Out of the 6 horses we have owned, we've only done PPE's on half of them! One hose was an unbroke 2.5 year old and the owner had x-rays from when he was a yearling plus we had known the seller for years and the horse had been at the barn we were at. If there was anything wrong our trainer would have brought it up - she had worked with the horse. The second one we got lucky and probably should have had some x-rays done - he had a hock spur. The third was a 9 year old horse but we had his entire medical history available for review.
                                          They're worth it IMO. Get an unbiased vet to do the exam. Have your home vet review the exam if it makes you comfortable. It will save you from anything that isn't being stated up front. And if the PPE does show some issue, if you so choose, you can use it to negotiate the price down if you find the risk acceptable. A PPE protects you and your money.
                                          Any it protects any future money. It is EXPENSIVE to have a lame horse. All the upkeep, all the vet/farrier/chiro/massage visits etc. A PPE is a drop in the bucket. Taking care of a 10yo retired horse for the rest of their life is not.

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