Pre-Purchase Examinations

A pre-purchase examination (also known as a ‘vetting’) can help a potential purchaser determine, as far as is possible by clinical examination, whether a horse or pony is suitable for the intended use. There are two types of pre-purchase examination – a ‘two stage’ and a ‘five stage’.

Vets have developed a general routine of examination which has been found to be satisfactory as a means of detecting signs of disease and injury. This examination is conducted in five stages and all the stages should be completed. If this has not been possible or required, it should be made clear on the certificate in what way the examination has been varied and that any opinions are based on this restricted examination.

Some clients opt for a ‘two-stage’ examination, which just incorporates the first two stages below. If you request a two-stage vetting, you will be asked to complete & sign a form confirming that you understand that such a limited examination may not reveal certain conditions which may have been discovered during the course of a full 5 stage examination. You can download the form here.

The full five stage examination consists of:


Stage 1 – Preliminary Examination

This is a methodical examination of the animal’s body to assess general appearance and condition. It includes examination of the teeth, the resting heart, the eyes by opthalmoscope, the skin, the limbs and feet and flexion of the limb joints to reveal pain or limitation of movement.


Stage 2 – Trotting Up

The animal is walked and trotted on hard, level ground in order to detect gross abnormalities of gait and action.


Stage 3 – Strenuous Exercise

The animal is given strenuous exercise (1) to make it breathe deeply and rapidly so that any unusual breathing sounds may be heard (2) to increase the action of the heart so that abnormalities may be more easily detected and (3) to tire the animal so that strains or injuries may be revealed by stiffness or lameness after a period of rest.


Stage 4 – A Period of Restricted Rest

The horse is allowed to stand quietly for a period. During this time the breathing and the heart are checked as they return to their resting levels.


Stage 5 – The 2nd Trot and Foot Examination

The horse is walked and trotted again, turned sharply and backed, in order to reveal abnormalities exacerbated by the strenuous exercise stage.

Book a Pre-Purchase Examination

To book a pre-purchase examination please complete the form (below) and one of our staff will contact you shortly to arrange a mutually suitable time to visit;

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