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Getting to Know a PP Exam

April 24, 2024
Getting to Know a PP Exam

A pre-purchase exam, often referred to as a “vetting,” is a comprehensive veterinary examination conducted before purchasing a horse. This examination aims to evaluate the horse’s health, soundness, and suitability for the intended use. Here’s an overview of what typically happens during an equine pre-purchase exam: 1. Physical Examination: The veterinarian begins by conducting a thorough physical examination of the horse. This includes observing the horse’s conformation, assessing its body condition, checking vital signs such as heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature, and examining the eyes, ears, mouth, and skin for any abnormalities.


  1. Soundness Evaluation: The vet evaluates the horse’s soundness by observing its movement at various gaits (walk, trot, canter). They look for signs of lameness, stiffness, or any irregularities in gait that could indicate underlying musculoskeletal issues.
  2. Flexion Tests: Flexion tests involve flexing and holding specific joints in the horse’s legs for a brief period before asking the horse to move off again. This helps identify any discomfort or stiffness in the joints, which could indicate issues such as arthritis or joint inflammation.


  1. Hoof Examination: The vet inspects the horse’s hooves for signs of lameness, hoof balance, and any structural abnormalities that could affect soundness or performance.
  2. Dental Evaluation: The vet examines the horse’s teeth and oral cavity to assess dental health, look for signs of dental problems such as sharp points or uneven wear, and ensure that the horse’s teeth are suitable for its age and intended use.


  1. Medical History Review: The vet may review the horse’s medical history, including previous illnesses, injuries, surgeries, and vaccination records. They may also inquire about the horse’s current management, diet, exercise routine, and any medications or supplements it is receiving.
  2. Additional Tests: Depending on the horse’s age, breed, and intended use, the vet may recommend additional diagnostic tests such as blood work, imaging (X-rays, ultrasound), endoscopy, or other specialized examinations to further evaluate specific health concerns or conditions.


  1. Discussion and Recommendation: After completing the examination, the vet discusses their findings with the prospective buyer, providing an assessment of the horse’s overall health, soundness, and suitability for the intended purpose. Based on the results, the buyer can make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase, negotiate terms based on any findings, or walk away from the sale. It’s important for buyers to have a pre-purchase exam performed by a qualified and experienced equine veterinarian to minimize the risk of purchasing a horse with undisclosed health or soundness issues.