Diatribe on Pre-Purchase Vet Exams

28 Mar


I don’t often diatribe, so today is a special day.

When buying a horse it’s generally recommended that you pay a veterinarian large sums of money to conduct a pre-purchase veterinary exam.  This is similar to taking your car to a mechanic to have it checked before you complete the purchase.

We did that when shopping for a used truck.  The first was a lovely white  “one owner” F-250 at a great price.  We took it to our local mechanic and discovered it was a beat up contractor’s truck with heavy asphalt underneath.  Among other issues.  Needless to say, we passed.  The seller then admitted it was the person he bought it from who said it was “one owner.”

Being the last of the baby boomers, we were raised by depression-era parents who remembered paper shortages and butter rationing.  This causes us to obsessively bargain shop and do things like conduct PPEs on trucks.

Most of the horses we tried to buy failed PPEs and we left them with our pocketbook diminished.  Soon, I could have bought an entire sound, well-trained horse with the money that disappeared into the pit of pre-purchase exams.  Finally I bought one who passed (passed meaning his flaws were minor).  Within a week he died, leaving us with a PPE bill, a purchase price expense, and emergency vet bill.

Pre-purchase exams are a boon for vets.  Many horse sellers lie and hide their horse’s injuries, lameness, old age, blindness etc. and then the vet finds it at the buyer’s expense, so the seller is out nothing.  They go on and offer the horse for sale until someone buys it without a PPE.  Or gets a vet who doesn’t catch it.

We have bought horses without PPEs.  They were ponies and minis.  All of them are sound and still alive.  None had any major health or soundness issue.  And they practically live on air and stay fat so they cost practically nothing to feed.  The pony is also a riding pony and went on to many highpoint wins as a show pony.  With no PPE.  So PPEs don’t guarantee anything.  You can get one, but that doesn’t mean your horse won’t go lame, drop dead, or have a mystery issue the vet didn’t catch.  They don’t miraculously make your horse sound, healthy and a good buy.  But they do give you information.  So it’s a choice every buyer has to make.

3 Responses to “Diatribe on Pre-Purchase Vet Exams”

  1. thecasualphilosopher March 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    This is quite an eye-opener. Should I ever be in a position to buy a horse, which I doubt, I will keep this in mind. Thought I think the info coming out as a result could be a good thing, it figures that the findings are at the buyer’s expense. 😦 And I hear you on the generational-dictated approach to buying. Me, too.

  2. Zen Doe March 29, 2013 at 3:27 am #

    If I were about to spend $30K on a champion horse, I’d surely do a PPE. But otherwise, I do find it helpful to take someone with me who really knows horses. If I’m in love with a horse, I might not see the ringbone or some other issue, but my friend might. I bought a horse last summer that was drugged when the owner showed her to me. It happens. I believe that she would have drugged her for a PPE as well. Physically, she would have passed, but when I got her home, she still would have become what she is mentally. And, what about the $2000 (or less!) horse?! You’re so right. You end up with a vet bill and possibly a dead horse. I soooo agree with you on this. But that’s just me.

    • A New Path March 29, 2013 at 10:10 am #

      Casualphilospher. I am on the same page. Buying a horse is very daunting and I am thinking of just leasing in the future. Zen Doe, sorry your horse was drugged. It is tough because most drugs don’t show up even if tested for. It is a bummer that is no way to really make certain you are getting a good, sound, sane horse. Except maybe a trial period. But few sellers allow that, and as a seller I would also not be too eager to send a horse off on trial in case something happened.

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