Passed PPE arrived deathly ill

My beloved horse suffered from a rare MRSA infection that required his eye to be removed after 2-months in ICU. He survived but will never show again.

I decided to buy another horse to show and stumbled across a really phenomenal 3-year old mare. I paid one vet to examine her thoroughly via PPE and health certificate. She passed.

The equine haulers couldn’t get her before the certificate expired so I paid another vet to examine her again. Upon pick up I was called because her eye was runny. When she arrived to the layover facility she had a fever of 105.5 and was taken directly to my equine vet the following morning.

She arrived in horrible condition! Thin, weepy, congested, and very feverish. Her fever remained high for a week despite IV meds. I paid to have xrays done on her head just in case it was an abscessed tooth and hired a leading equine dentist to examine her. XRays were inconclusive and she was sent to the Univeristy for a CT scan.

During that CT scan the vets were forced to perform an emergency trach to keep her breathing because there is a huge mass in her face. I was told that it has overtaken both nasal passages and filled six of her sinus cavities. The pressure of this mass is immense and she isn’t well enough for surgery today.

I’m no vet but this didn’t happen overnight…how did everyone miss this!!!

I’ve had her for a month and have spent the equivalent of her purchase price on vet bills. Do I have any power to hold anyone accountable?

So sorry to hear this news. By any chance did you get equine mortality with major medical on this mare?

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Did the vet who did the PPE perform tests that would have caught the mass? I think it will be hard to prove she had a fever at the time of the PPE but if the mass was that large you would think maybe there would have been some sign of it earlier? But maybe not since it was only caught on CT? What did the PPE say? Anything that must have been negligence in light of the size of the mass?


I did all of the paperwork but truthfully don’t know if any of it was processed. So, due to the nature of things and how quickly it’s all happened I’m going to assume she will be uninsurable if it wasn’t done. I did reach out to the insurance company but have yet to hear back (due to quarantine).

The vets are telling me that they need to do a blood transfusion amongst other things. It will be a minimum 2-week stay following surgery on Monday.

I’m blessed that I can afford these vet bills but heartbroken that she was being ridden/worked with these problems before she arrived. My heart is so heavy for this sweet girl.


If they would testify to this, then I think you could explore the possibility of a malpractice claim against the PPE vet.


Oh wow…I can’t even imagine…what a rotten thing to have happen! Is she a good patient? Have you done any bonding with her in the hospital?

Guess I’m not sure what should have been caught on the PPE and health certificate exams…the mass or the fact the horse was sick/running a fever. The mass didn’t appear to be noticed on physical exam from your vet(s), on X-ray or any thing prior to the CT scan, so don’t see how a basic or even thorough PPE would have known. The fever may have been totally unrelated and popped up in transit…nothing showing on prior exams to make a vet think anything was brewing.

Sorry this has happened to you and the horse…hoping for a positive outcome.


Evidently, she is the perfect patient and is such a kind mare on the ground. We all absolutely adore her and truly want what is best for her.

I am just sick right now by it all. The equine hospital isn’t having visitors so I will have to wait until she is discharged to go home. She has been and will return to my veterinarians house until she is fully recovered and healthy.


Well, a key fact that I failed to note on my original post is how horrible misshapen her head was upon arrival. That was in addition to the fever, nasal discharge, etc. and we thought she had developed an abscessed tooth during transit.

When I notified the previous owner of this I was told that it was caused by pollution and her breeding. My husband is an attorney and is exploring our legal options.

As much as I adore the mare, I wouldn’t have purchased her (or taken her for free) had I known the extent of things. To say I am disappointed is an understatement.


3 vets seem to say the mass shouldn’t have been missed but OP hasn’t shared their reasoning. What is their reasoning? That it would have impacted the mare’s breathing in a way that would have shown up while jogging her during the PPE? Or was she scoped or something during the PPE?

I am curious because my inclination was also that this sounded like something latent that would only be discovered during a far more invasive exam than what we typically consider normal for a PPE (I don’t know anyone who does CT during a PPE and I think most people don’t scope unless there’s a specific REASON to, i.e. roaring etc.) Curious what about this mass was so patent that it would show up on a typical PPE. I would like to know to be on the lookout for something similar in my horses or on future horse purchases.

I am glad she’s being a good patient. Hopefully she will come through this with flying colors and soon this will be behind her/you.


OP updated while I was writing my last post. Misshapen how? I cannot IMAGINE a major facial abnormality would not have been noted on a PPE. Even if it was only cosmetic, it seems like the kind of thing a vet would note?! WOW.

So the owner admits the horse had a misshapen head pre-sale too? Was it somehow concealed in the photos/videos?


I wonder if the process of shipping exacerbated the problem, especially if she was tied so she couldn’t get her head down? Could the infection have grown substantially during the time she was being shipped?

It sounds like she was shipped a good distance.


Something similar happened to a friend last year. They bought a horse from a large reputable sales barn in the US. The horse passed a PPE before my friend traveled to try it with her coach. When they visited, they noticed a snotty nose. Vet checked, wasn’t concerned but started antibiotics. Buyer requested horse not be moved until infection gone. The horse was then CLEARED by same vet for international travel and shipped 3 days later before antibiotics finished and arrived at buyers barn still with snotty nose, no fever. Local vet did a culture a few days later, positive for strangles. Horse required several unsuccessful attempts at gutteral pouch lavage then surgery to clean out multiple polyps. Horse was also carrying Herpes.
New horse had been quarantined on arrival but strict biohazard precautions weren’t put into effect til strangles culture came back positive. The whole barn was then quarantined. Several other horses got herpes but no other cases of strangles, thank goodness.
No way that horse should have been cleared for shipping- vet was definitely negligent!


She’s from NY and shipped to NC for training. I bought her in NC and shipped her to Tx

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truthfully a lot of the medical stuff is so far over my head. What I do know is that the vets observed her lunge w/t/c, ridden on the flat, and jog in-hand. Her breathing was very audible and struggled to catch her breath.

Once on the truck, they monitored her VERY closely throughout the duration of her trip. When she got off of the truck my vet believed she had fractured her face based on how severe the swelling was.

I wish that I could do a better job of explaining it all but I’m just frazzled.

looking for photos now!


A PPE might have turned up decreased air flow in the left (?) nostril vs. the right, or exercise intolerance, or inspiratory stridor.


If my vet did a PPE and the horse struggled to breathe you’d bet I’d expect THAT to be noted!


OP, I am not sure over the confusion over the processing. I have been licensed since the beginning of time. When I submit a mortality/MM coverage application, I get a binder on it immediately. Now the insurance company does have the right to decline coverage subsequently if the application contained fraudulent information. It sounds like you were very responsible, did all the right things, and was not attempting to defraud. Did you call in the major medical claim – you are supposed to do so as soon as their is the need for a veterinary intervention. Hopefully you did file notice in a timely manner,

The insurance carrier has to respond to your notice of a claim. They may deny coverage, but they don’t have the option of saying nothing. Keep a record of your actions. You do have the right to go to your state insurance department to contest a denial. I do think insurance is the likeliest way to be made whole again.

I suspect the seller had some inkling of a problem, but that may be hard to prove with 2 vettings that were acceptable to you. I also suspect that trying to hold the vets responsible is going to be an uphill battle. That’s why I would be focused on the insurance.

And I am very sorry, OP, that you are going through this. You sound like a wonderful owner who does right by her horses. I am sending jingles to both you and your mare.


The thing about PPEs, is that horses don’t “pass” or “fail” them. The vet provides a report and the purchaser gets to decide what to do as a result of the report. The report may we’ll have stated a whole lot of information about the horse’s breathing and headshape - but that was information provided by the vet to the buyer so the buyer could make an informed decision. If this information is included in the vet report, I doubt the vets could be held liable. And if it was included in the vet report and it wasn’t provided to the insurer, I very much doubt that there will be an insurance pay out.


Agreed, there’s no way I’d buy a horse that was struggling to breathe!

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