Buying a horse is always exciting, and it’s made a little easier when you have your Veterinarian do a Pre Purchase Exam, also known as the PPE. It can give you a lot of information - but there are two things to keep in mind here. One, it’s only a picture of that horse on the day the exam is done. No future predictions can be made! Two, there is no pass or fail. It’s more along the lines of the horse being suitable for what you would like to do.
The PPE is a thorough exam! Your Veterinarian will check vitals, look at the eyes, teeth, and overall body conformation. Then, your Veterinarian will do some flexions and maybe watch the horse go on a lunge line or under saddle. Definitely in both directions, and definitely in a straight line and on a circle.
You might decide that you want to do some imaging, like x-rays or ultrasound. This allows your Veterinarian to check on the current health of the horse’s joints and bones in the case of x-rays, soft tissues in the case of ultrasound. These aren’t required, but they help with understanding the overall condition of the horse as well as possibly finding any problems that are not causing lameness right now. Those problems might cause lameness in the future, they might not.
You should also ask about a complete medical history, diet and supplements fed, current training program, show records, and anything else the Veterinarian and you might find useful. Some people like to also do blood work to check for sedatives and diseases, and some people like to have a Farrier consult on the horse.
Knowing about the horse’s therapeutic treatments also helps, so you can be on the same page as the chiropractor, saddle fitter, massage therapist, etc. A post exercise routine is also handy to know so that you can continue icing, liniments, supplements, turn outs, etc.
Enjoy the horse shopping process and work closely with your Veterinarian. Keep your riding goals in mind to be sure your new horse can help take you there!