Prepurchase Exam Tips for OTTB Buyers

A thorough PPE on off-track Thoroughbreds can pay dividends both now and years into the future of the horse’s second career.

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Prepurchase Exam Tips for OTTB Buyers
Drs. Liz Barrett, Emma Adam, and Shannon Reed answered audience questions about prepurchase exams during the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover educational seminars. | Photo: iStock
On Friday, Oct. 4, between competition days at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover, trainers and attendees shifted their focus to horse health and owner education. The Retired Racehorse Project hosted a series of afternoon seminars, including one on prepurchase exams (PPEs) for off-track Thoroughbreds, sponsored by University of Kentucky Ag Equine Programs.

Emma Adam, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, ACVS, assistant professor at the Gluck Equine Research Center, joined Hagyard Equine Medical Institute’s Liz Barrett, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, and The Ohio State University’s Shannon Reed, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS-LA, to answer audience questions about PPEs. Here are some take-homes from the 90-minute session.

Off-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are unique in that you can acquire them right after they retire from racing for relatively small price tags; however, many of these young athletes have already had full careers, with substantial wear and tear on their bodies. The panelists agreed that it can be difficult to justify a full prepurchase with $3,500 worth of radiographs on a $1,000 horse, but some degree of PPE (or even post-purchase exam, said Reed) can pay dividends both now and years into the future of the horse’s second career.

“We all have an idea of what we want to do with our horses, but if those circumstances change or those plans include selling the horse later on, we need to know what we can communicate in a transparent fashion with the next person,” said Adam. “Things that I would be quite happy to accept might not be something a prospective purchaser would be able to tolerate

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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