Prepurchase Exams are Rarely Black and White


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We horse people can be hard on each otherÑyou don’t have to look far to see it. And nowhere is the disagreement over management methods or training approaches more evident than on social media platforms. One particularly sensitive topic of conflict is the prepurchase exam (PPE), with Facebook-peanut-gallery admonitions of “shoulda, woulda, coulda” to disappointed horse owners, even when they might be sharing information in the spirit of “please learn from my mistake.” It seems the one thing everyone can agree on is that a prepurchase exam is generally a good idea.

Just about every article about PPEs I remember editing or writing over the past 17 years here at has included, in some way, shape, or form, three important take-homes:

  1. Know what your goals will be with the horse.
  2. If you do want to be an informed consumer, have a veterinarian perform a PPE on the prospect.
  3. Know that this is never a pass/fail scenario and, rather, is meant to arm you with information for your decision.

Indeed, within the realm of PPEs, there is an element of subjectivity we all do well to remember. The collective horse world “we” really likes everything to be tied up neatly, cut-and-dried, and black-and-white, but it isn’t always this way. At day’s end, each person has their own unique idea for what they want to accomplish with a new horse, a purchasing budget, and a comfort level with how much they know about the horse’s physical status.

Prepurchase exams range from the cursory glance-him-over and watch him jog to the four-figure exam with every imaging angle imaginable. You can go into a buying decision knowing as much or as little as you’d like, it’s really up to you

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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