Pre-Purchase Examinations

Safeguarding the purchase of a new horse

Often called a ‘vetting’, the pre-purchase examination is available to assess a horse’s current and likely future fitness for intended purpose, reducing buyer risk. It is a thorough examination of the chosen horse to identify and assess those
factors of a veterinary nature that may affect the horse’s suitability for its intended use.

What levels of vetting do we provide

We offer 2 levels of vetting:

  • '5 Stage' pre-purchase exam
    RECOMMENDED as the most appropriate for any prospective purchaser.
  • Limited ('2-stage') pre-purchase exam
    The limited examination can only be taken once a signed disclaimer acknowledging the limitations of this exam.

What is involved with each level?

5 stage Pre-purchase examination

Approximately 2 hours:

  1. A full clinical examination, including an assessment of the horse’s age and checking for a microchip.
  2. The trot up, an examination of the horse’s gait, carried out by looking at the horse in walk and in trot.
    Flexion tests are generally carried out at this point.
  3. The strenuous exercise stage. This is preferably carried out ridden, although unbroken horses can be examined on the lunge.
  4. A period of rest, including monitoring the horse’s recovery rate.
  5. A second trot up and final assessment. Blood sample taken for storage or immediate drug testing . Please note the samples are stored for 6 months only.

2 stage Pre-purchase examination:

Approximately one hour and only involves stages 1 and 2 as above

Things you need to consider:

Should I use the vendor's (seller's) vet?

It is practice policy not to examine horses that are owned by an existing client for reasons of a potential conflict of interest.

Dealing with my insurance company.

Insurance companies can vary in their requirements so if you are planning on purchasing insurance it is worth checking with them before you proceed to make sure you get the cover you want.

In some instances, radiographs or other extra procedures may be required by your insurance company.

Does the horse have a valid passport?

It is now illegal to sell a horse if it does not have a valid passport. Make the vendor aware of this and ask them to have the passport present at the vetting.

When was the horse last shod?

We prefer the horse to have been shod within the previous 4 weeks so that loose shoes or over-long feet do not compromise the examination. Likewise we prefer them not to have been shod within the last 48 hours as we sometimes see problems arise from changes in foot balance.

Is the horse fit to be examined?

A thorough five-stage vetting cannot be performed on an unhandled horse.

If the horse suffers from any lameness, illness or limb swelling in the days leading up to the vetting it is likely these will be detected on the examination and could deem the horse unsuitable.

It is preferable to delay the vetting until the horse is back to normal.

Are the premises at which the examination is to take place, suitable?

We will need a stable, preferably one where reduced or lower light levels are possible for full examination of the eyes.

There needs to be a level firm surface for the trot-up and somewhere suitable for the strenuous exercise phase. A field is not a suitable level firm surface for the trot-up.

There also needs to be someone to ride the horse if a 5 stage examination is being performed.


Terms and Conditions for Pre-examinations

All our Veterinarians are experienced in carrying out Pre-purchase examinations. We strongly advise potential purchasers to read the new BEVA guidelines on Pre-purchase examinations as these provide a thorough overview of the procedures involved and what can be expected.

Note that a vetting is not the same as an insurance examination. It is quite possible to "pass" a vetting yet later to find that insurance proves difficult because of the findings. The vetting assesses a horse's suitability for the purchaser's intended use while the insurance companies are more interested in making exclusions on anything that is not strictly normal. It is always wise to obtain insurance cover before purchase, rather than afterwards, in case any exclusion might change your opinion as to whether or not to buy.


Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about our services

Email:   Telephone: 01737 246109

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