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Buying a horse is a process. Firstly you have to assess your need, your stabling situation and your budget. Once you have done this there are many different ways to find a horse suitable for you. Many people use the internet while others rely on word of mouth. Once you have located the perfect horse for you, you are only part of the way there. Buying a horse is a large commitment both financially and emotionally. It is important to know that your investment is not only healthy and sound today but that he has a chance to stay that way well into the future. The next step is to setup a pre-purchase examination (PPE).
What is a PPE?
A PPE is a complete physical examination most often times with an associated soundness evaluation. In the physical exam your veterinarian will be looking for any potential congenital conditions or any signs of underlying medical problems that may become problematic in the future. Your veterinarian will check the approximate age of the horse by its teeth and will also look for any signs of procedures done to the horse in the past that may be masking potential problems. The soundness evaluation can be as simple as your veterinarian just watching the move about to check for signs of lameness; or it can become much more involved. Procedures such as flexion tests, X-rays, and Ultrasound may be done in an attempt to assess the horse’s likelihood of it staying sound into the future while performing its intended work. If the horse is bought for breeding purposes there are other more specific examinations that can be performed.
Why is a PPE important?
As mentioned earlier buying a horse is a large financial and emotional investment. Unfortunately horses are unlike cars in that they don’t come with warranties. If you purchase a horse that you thought was perfect but it turns out to be a lemon you will be faced with a very difficult choice. Once a sale has taken place you are responsible for your horse for the rest of its life. Even if you are buying a horse from a trusted friend a PPE is a good idea. The examination is intense and more often than not some degree of imperfections will be found. This is not to say that an imperfect horse should not be bought, rather it is to say that you should know the imperfections prior to making the large commitment so you can make an intelligent informed decision.
Once you have located that horse of your dreams contact your veterinarian prior to finalizing the sale to setup a pre-purchase examination.