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Veterinary Pre-Purchase Examination or PPE

Catanese & Wells, A Law Corporation provides a quarterly newsletter to the equine industry of and concerning legal, tax and business issues for participants in the horse business or sport. www.cataneselaw.com (https://cataneselaw.com). 

This issue of the Equine Legal Summary discusses the veterinary pre-purchase examination in the purchase and sale of an equine – horse or pony. The so-called “PPE” is a matter of great importance in almost all equine transactions and especially if a lawsuit occurs regarding the purchase and sale of a horse.  

So, what is a veterinary pre-purchase examination or PPE? Generally, the PPE occurs during the due diligence or investigation of a horse or pony prior to its actual purchase and sale. Many times, the buyer selects the veterinarian to do the PPE on the horse. On occasion due to circumstances the seller will select the veterinarian to do the PPE. The PPE is a written report authored by the examining veterinarian setting forth their findings related to the horse the subject of the transaction of sale.  

What does the PPE actually say? A PPE is not a statement by the veterinarian related to the horse’s past medical history or past condition unless expressly requested by the person asking for the PPE. The PPE is the veterinarian’s opinion or findings about the horse on the day the veterinarian actually saw and evaluated the horse. That means that the veterinarian does not ask for prior medical history on the horse and does not seek to learn about the horse’s prior medical history. In other words, the PPE is a report of what the horse looked like on the day the PPE was performed. The PPE may also include a disclaimer at the end of the report stating that the examining veterinarian does not opine that the horse should be purchased and further that the horse may have other conditions which could affect the ability of the horse to perform as intended.  

The PPE will usually include a seller’s statement or answers to questions about the horse, but not always. A PPE will also have a series of findings related to the horse’s overall appearance and health. Findings related to soundness (level of lameness), temperature, attitude, comfort, overall condition will be noted in the PPE. In general practice today a veterinarian who performs the PPE will not opine on whether the horse is “suitable” or not to perform as a sport horse or dressage horse, etc.  

When requested the PPE will also include radiographic studies of the horse taken in conjunction with the physical examination of the horse. Radiographic studies are a valuable tool in the evaluation process of a horse purchase. (A buyer should ask the seller for prior radiographic studies if done prior to the PPE. Where practicable, the buyer should also request any prior radiographic studies done on the horse being evaluated for purchase.) 

Given the above, the real purpose of a PPE is to assist the buyer in making their “risk assessment” related to the horse and its purchase. The PPE should assist the buyer in their decision on what price to pay for the horse and what level the horse should perform at given its physical condition on the date of the PPE. When in doubt the buyer may want to consider a second evaluation from another veterinarian.  

To conclude, the more information the prospective buyer has about the horse the better. A buyer should ask for and receive as much past and present medical information about the horse under consideration prior the actual sale of the horse. This information will, when combined with a PPE, give the purchaser a more comprehensive view of the horse’s health history which will allow for the buyer’s better assessment of risk in the purchase and hopefully allow the buyer to execute a better purchase price and terms for the horse.  

Any purchase of a horse should include the help of an experienced equine lawyer especially when the health of the horse is a key factor in any purchase – which is usual.  

For further questions regarding the PPE or its use feel free to contact our offices at info@cataneselaw.com or (818) 707-0407.