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A Pre-Purchase Examination or Vetting, is an important step in the process of buying a horse.

Buying a horse or pony is an exciting time, but how do you know that the horse you are buying is suitable health-wise for the job you want it to do?

During a Pre-Purchase Examination (PPE), our experienced vets look for subtle problems which are easily overlooked in the excitement of making a new purchase.

If you plan on taking out insurance for vet fees for your horse, many insurance companies request a copy of your horse’s PPE certificate prior to the commencement of insurance cover. Therefore, you should check your insurance company’s requirements.

The Examination

There are two ‘levels’ of pre-purchase examination, the standard ‘five stage vetting’ and the more limited ‘two stage vetting’. Generally we would recommend a five stage vetting for any ridden horse, regardless of value, as some problems will only become apparent following strenuous exercise. The cost of a vetting is a relatively small part of buying a horse, and certainly cheaper than buying a horse with a problem!

They can be carried out at your yard or at our equine clinic.

1st stage – Passport and microchip check, eyes, body, heart, lungs, feet, front teeth, conformation etc.

2nd stage – Dynamic assessment including flexion tests and lunging on both firm and soft surfaces.

3rd stage – Rest

4th stage – Strenuous exercise (usually ridden)

5th stage – Final dynamic assessment

Additional options

Bloods should be taken at the time of a vetting. These bloods are stored by an external laboratory for a period of six months and can be analysed for the presence of sedatives and anti-inflammatory medication, in your horse’s bloodstream at the time of the vetting, if required.

Radiographs (x-rays) may also be taken and are often requested by insurance companies if you are insuring your horse above a certain monetary value. These can show if there are any joint abnormalities which may become a problem in the future, such as OCD in a young horse. Generally we will take x-rays of the feet, fetlocks, hocks and stifles, but further images of other joints and/or the spine can be taken if required.

Problems commonly encountered during a pre-purchase examination may include:

  • Eye problems
  • Lameness
  • Conformation
  • Respiratory abnormalities
  • Heart murmurs or irregular heartbeat
  • Sarcoids/ melanomas etc.

These conditions may render the horse unsuitable for purpose or reduce the value of the horse for resale.