What Does a Pre-Purchase Examination (PPE) Entail?

vet giving a horse a pre purchase examination

Also sometimes known as ‘vetting’ a horse, a pre-purchase examination (PPE) is an examination that has the purpose of identifying any pre-existing health problems that could prevent the horse from doing the job for which it is bought. Essentially this makes a PPE a preventative service that helps to reduce the risks for the person buying the horse.

What’s Involved in a Pre-Purchase Examination?

Pre-purchase examinations are carried out by vets and involve a series of examinations which are usually carried out in up to five stages (although just two stages may be required for particularly young horses). The usual stages of a PPE are as follows:

  1. The horse will be given a preliminary examination while they are at rest. Some of the things that your equine vet will be looking for will include their eyes, heart, teeth, and legs, as well as assessing any lumps, bumps, or areas of scar tissue

  2. The second stage involves walking and trotting in hand. This will be done in straight lines and in tight turns, enabling your vet to check for any possible joint or soft tissue problems which may be affecting them

  3. This stage is normally conducted with the horse under saddle so that your vet can check for more subtle problems that may only manifest during and after exercise. These can include issues surrounding wind, gait, lameness, and heart

  4. Your equine vet will examine the horse during and after recovery from exercise. This can reveal problems affecting the heart and lungs that weren’t previously noticeable

  5. Finally, the horse will be trotted in hand so that your equine veterinarian can monitor how they move following exercise

Additional Tests Including a Pre-Purchase Examination

Although a physical examination can tell your vet a great deal about the overall health, condition, and wellness of a horse, it’s just as important to understand what is happening inside an animal. The only way to really discover this is to carry out a blood test. A blood test reveals important information about how each of a horse’s organs and body systems are working – whether they are operating functionally or if there are any underlying issues. This blood test is also stored for around 6 months following being drawn where it acts as a safeguard, should there later be questions about whether the animal was under the effects of sedatives, painkillers, or steroids at the time of pre-purchase examination.

Other available ancillary tests which may be requested could include:

  • Ultrasound scans

  • Reproductive exam

  • Endoscopic exam

  • Coggins test, which checks for equine infectious anemia

  • Metabolic testing

  • Fecal parasite testing

  • Drug screening

  • MRI scans

Finally, your equine vet will evaluate the horse’s medical history and any medical records.

Once the PPE is complete, a written report will be provided that will include all of the findings from the physical examination and blood tests, along with any medical images that may have been requested.

If you would like more information about what’s involved in a pre-purchase examination, please speak to our friendly and experienced veterinary team at Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center in Cave Creek, Arizona. You can call 480-595-8600 today to schedule an appointment.