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The Value of the Pre-Purchase Examination

The pre-purchase examination (PPEX) is the most in-depth evaluation of a prospect horse performed by a veterinarian prior to the purchase of that horse.  This is common practice when a buyer is looking for a horse for a specific purpose: riding or driving discipline, breeding, or lesson program, and is highly encouraged for the pleasure horse and casual trail rider too. The purpose of the exam is to identify any health conditions that may prevent the horse from performing its intended use. It’s not the role of your EquidDoc veterinarian to “pass” or “fail” a horse during a PPEX, very few horses are perfect! A PPEX is an important step in facilitating a good partnership between horse and rider and ensuring that the buyer knows as much about their prospective horse’s health as possible.

PPEX includes many different components depending on the intended use of the horse. At a minimum, a detailed history is collected from the seller and/or trainer, a detail-oriented physical exam is performed, and a soundness exam is performed. The physical exam includes a comprehensive examination of the musculoskeletal system and conformation, cardiac and respiratory systems, eyes, skin, oral cavity, and external reproductive structures. A soundness examination includes observing the horse move in hand, on the lunge line, and under saddle.  Flexion tests will be performed as well.  Though it is not the purpose of a PPEX to complete a diagnostic lameness exam this may be pursued at the request of the buyer.equine veterinary services Radiographs (x-rays) are recommended by the veterinarian to further assess any concerns about lameness or conditions that may lead to lameness in the future. Additional diagnostics may include reproductive ultrasonography, upper airway endoscopy, gastroscopy, and blood testing.

Upon completion of the PPEX, an official report is generated for the prospective buyer to aid in the decision-making process.  Your EquidDoc veterinarian is available to answer questions during and after the examination to make sure you understand all findings from the exam.  It’s true that there are limitations to the exam, most notably that the horse is only being evaluated at that one moment on that one day and no veterinarian can predict the future health of the horse. Despite these limitations, a PPEX is the best way to get to know the health of what you are buying and understand what may be required to maintain this horse at your desired level whether for leisure or competition.  When it comes to planning a successful horse buying experience, the pre-purchase examination is an invaluable tool! Call EquidDoc Veterinary Services, LLC at 508-885-4205 or email for all of your pre-purchase examination needs for horses in Massachusetts, today!


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