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Pre Purchase Exams (PPE)

These examinations can be complex but simply, amount to a risk assessment for potential buyers.

Bottom line..

No one wants to buy a horse or pony that turns out to be unsuitable for its intended purpose or breaks shortly after purchase, for the same reason insurers are risk averse. A PPE dramatically reduces this risk. Unlike exams performed in Europe, the NZ model for PPE’s does not ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ a horse. Only the purchaser can do that in their own mind, after evaluating the findings and risks identified. While a PPE is often compared to a house survey or AA road check, there’s a few important differences: we can’t always renovate a horse and animals are never as predictable as machines. A comprehensive risk assessment at least allows for informed choice before buying your next horse or pony and reduces the odds of being disappointed.

Its not just for the expensive horses...

The outcome following injury and disease including potential treatment costs are the same whether a horse is worth $1 or $1 million and, the $1 pony may be worth a million dollars to their owners: value, is always in the eye of the beholder.

So, when is a PPE appropriate?

1/ Always: reduces the risk of disappointment.

2/ Insurance requirements (for higher value cover and premiums). Check what your chosen insurer’s requirements are: they often include ancillary exams such as x-rays, ultrasound, and endoscopy.

3/ Intended use: if you’re planning to improve and sell on a horse, a PPE reduces the risk against your time investment. You may not get a PPE exam done but the next person buying the horse probably will. Avoid surprises.

4/ Overseas jockey clubs: thoroughbred sales overseas are subject to specific pre-purchase requirements from overseas jockey clubs (eg. Hong Kong).

What level of PPE is required?

Basic 2-stage: involves a full clinical exam at rest, trot up in hand, flexion tests, turning and backing and a report detailing any significant findings and associated risk for the intended purpose. A lot of information can be gleaned from this level of examination that can protect potential purchasers. Popular for general purpose use ponies and horses when demeanour is more important than performance.

Full 5-stage; also includes an exercise test, either ridden or on the lunge for a more comprehensive assessment of gait, to increase the chance of detecting any subtle lameness that might not be apparent after a simple trot up and to assess cardiovascular and respiratory systems more closely. Where possible, horses are examined performing the discipline they are intended for, except for jumping. Full 5-stage exams represent better value, are recommended for any level of performance horse and are often required for insurance purposes.

Ancillary exams

XRAYS: screening views to rule out potential disease. These may be comprehensive (all the main limb joints and increasingly neck and back views) or targeted to joints under suspicion following the initial PPE exam.

Ultrasound: commonly for the front flexor tendons but increasingly used to screen hind tendons and suspensory apparatus in sports horses and compliment screening of the neck and back.

Endoscopy: usually to assess larynx (airway) function, important in high-speed performance horses (racing, eventing).

Bloods: for PPE purposes, bloods may be taken to check an animal’s health status. More commonly they are used to test for the presence of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). While taking bloods is still infrequently used as part of the PPE, outside the racing thoroughbred industry, It shouldn’t be regarded suspiciously. Taking bloods for these reasons have protected both purchaser and vendor in cases where doubt arises about a horse’s soundness shortly after purchase.

Contact us to find out more

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