Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Purchase or Pre-Purchase Exam



The veterinary pre-purchase exam is a comprehensive veterinary evaluation of a horse prior to purchase. It is performed by a veterinarian on behalf of the prospective buyer, not on behalf of the seller.

It is a mistake to buy even an inexpensive horse without having a pre-purchase examination conducted by a veterinarian. The purchase price is a small part of the overall expense of owning a horse.

Please see the linked Topic and Outside Resources for a more detailed description of this important examination.

Reasons to UseRelated Observations


A veterinarian can provide a detailed look at a horse's overall health and soundness and drastically reduce the risk of a buyer purchasing a horse with a health problem. For that reason, a PPE is recommended every time a horse is purchased.


There is no way to accurately predict a horse's future soundness, or the course that a condition will take.

Radiographic changes can be condemning to the purchase but do not always correlate to lameness.

There is no such thing as a perfect horse. Almost every horse has some issues that will be discovered on the exam.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health


  • What is the base cost of the examination?
  • What does the basic examination include?
  • Are you familiar enough with this horse's breed and discipline to be able to perform the exam with confidence?
  • Are radiographs included in the basic PPE?
  • If radiographs are included, which ones?
  • Which radiographs do you recommend, given my situation?
  • Do you have a conflict of interest, i.e. do you work for the seller?
  • Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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