Equine Sport Solutions (ESS),
is a veterinary practice based out of Colorado Springs, promoting the pursuit of excellence in the equestrian sport.

Pre-purchase Examination

Our sports medicine practice in Colorado Springs takes pride in sending you the most qualified equine vet for your pre-purchase examination (PPE).

Pre-purchase examinations (PPEs) evaluate a horse prior to sale. They are designed to protect both the seller and the buyer, by an equine vet pointing out evidence of old or active illness/injuries/faults so that there are no surprises down the road. PPEs are commonly misconstrued as an attempt to devalue a horse. Rather, they should be considered as a roadmap for the future. At Equine Sport Solutions, we never “pass” or “fail” a horse. There is no such thing as a “perfect” horse, and a good equine vet should point out a few things that may be discussed. These faults may have no bearing on the intended use of the horse, OR they may limit the intended use of the horse, OR they may need to be tended to intermittently so that the horse may continue in its intended use (i.e. “maintenance”).

For example…Snowflake, a 16-year-old Quarter Horse is being considered for purchase as an entry level barrel horse. During the PPE conducted by our equine vet, Snowflake flexed positive to both hocks and subsequent x-rays of the hocks showed moderate arthritic changes. The vet may discuss that these arthritic changes are expected in an older Quarter Horse that has been used competitively as a barrel horse for multiple years. Future treatment strategies for the hocks may be outlined so that the horse may remain comfortable during its athletic activities. The buyer then would determine if he/she is comfortable with the continuing cost of maintenance following the purchase of the horse.

A basic PPE performed by Equine Sport Solutions includes:

1.  Physical examination:  A basic evaluation of the horse’s appearance, disposition, conformation, heart, lungs, and eyes.  The musculoskeletal system is extensively evaluated and limbs are digitally palpated individually.  Hoof testers are placed on each foot.

2. Moving evaluation: The horse is evaluated by our equine vet on multiple surfaces, walking and trotting in a straight line, and circling both directions. Flexion tests or stress tests are performed on each limb, which evaluate the ability of specific joints or a combination of joints to return to normal function/mobility after stress has been applied. This can be compared to a person kneeling for a period of time. When the person first rises, the knees and ankles are sore and walking is difficult. After a period of time, they do not hurt any longer and the person is able to walk normally. A vet expects a horse to limp a couple of steps before returning to normal. If this period is delayed, the area that has just been stressed should be evaluated further. Sometimes, Equine Sport Solutions recommends evaluating the horse under tack.

3. Coggin’s Testing:  Equine Sport Solutions requires that a Coggin’s test either be presented or performed as part of our evaluation. ​

Additional tests may include:

1. Radiographs: Equine Sport Solutions always recommends radiographs (X-rays) as a part of a pre-purchase exam in a horse that is intended to be used in an athletic endeavor. Just because a horse may have a very low asking price doesn’t mean that radiographs should not be performed.  Radiographs can point out future problems or things that may incur additional costs following a sale.  A “cheap” horse can turn into an “expensive” horse later by skipping this step. ​

Radiographs are charged separately or can be purchased a la carte; however, we offer a package of 32 films at a significantly discounted price so that we can provide our best, most inclusive impression.  It includes imaging of the following:

a. 4 views of each front foot (navicular series)
b. 4 views of each front fetlock
c. 2 views of each hind fetlock
d. 4 views of each hock
e. 2 views of each stifle

As a sports medicine focused practice, we own a completely wireless digital radiography system that allows our equine vet to perform radiographs stall side for immediate image evaluation.

2. Ultrasound:  This is not commonly performed during a PPE, but if a seller has disclosed an old soft tissue injury (i.e. bowed tendon), then an ultrasound examination may be requested by the buyer to confirm the injury as healed.

3. Bloodwork:

a. CBC/Chem:  A complete blood cell count and biochemistry panel is recommended to evaluate the horse’s internal organ function.   A very sound horse can still be sick inside!
b. Drug screen.