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Pre-purchase examinations

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.

Horse trotting up in vetting

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

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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.