Vetting For Purchase

Having an examination carried out by an experienced veterinary surgeon is advisable before any purchase of a new horse or pony. A pre-purchase veterinary examination (or Vet For Purchase) will entail a detailed physical and soundness evaluation to help identify potential risks associated with purchase, and whether a horse is likely to fulfill the needs of a new owner in respect to the horse’s intended use. The vendor may choose to have a Five Stage or Two Stage Veterinary Examination for Purchase carried out following guidelines laid down by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in conjunction with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA).

We have vets that are very experienced in undertaking pre-purchase examinations or 'vettings' for horses of all types and ages, from top level international performance horses, to leisure horses or family ponies. These may be either carried out at one of our own facilities or we can travel to wherever the horse is kept in the UK or abroad.

A five stage vetting examination consists of:

Stage One – Preliminary Examination

This is a thorough external examination of the animal at rest using visual observation, palpation and manipulation to detect clinically apparent signs of injury, disease or physical abnormality.

Stage Two – Trotting Up

The animal is walked and trotted on hard, level ground. Flexion tests are performed on all four limbs. Where there are suitable facilities horses are observed lunged on a hard and soft surface.

Stage Three – Strenuous Exercise

The animal is given sufficient strenuous exercise (usually ridden) to;

1. Make it breathe deeply and rapidly so that any unusual respiratory sounds may be heard.

2. Increase the action of the heart so that abnormalities may be more easily detected.

3. Work the horse so that strains or injuries that may be exacerbated by exercise will be revealed after the rest period.

4. To observe any lameness that may only be present when the horse is ridden under saddle.

Stage Four - A Period of Rest

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

Stage Five – The Second Trot Up

1. To check for any lameness.

2. The horse is backed up and turned sharply to the left and right in order to try and detect neurological abnormalities.

A two stage vetting examination consists of:

Stage One and Two as detailed above.

A two stage vetting is a limited examination and prior to being carried out a "limited prior to purchase examination" form must be completed by the purchaser. This form confirms that you are aware that only a two stage vetting is being carried out and that you are aware of its limitations.

Full guidance notes on the examination of a horse for a potential purchaser can be found at:

Additional Diagnostic Examinations

You may wish to have further diagnostic examinations carried out on your prospective purchase that do not fall with in the normal five stage evaluation. This may normally involve radiographs (x-rays) to assess for potential underlying orthopedic or lameness issues, endoscopic examination to assess the airways or to detect potential previous surgeries, ultrasound examinations to assess soft tissues, full dental examinations, pregnancy diagnosis, or blood tests for general health or specific potential diseases. These can be discussed or requested when booking in an examination and may be determined by any specific purchaser reservations, intended use or specific concerns arising during the vetting.

As part of our routine procedure, a blood sample is taken that can be later used to detect the presence of anti inflammatories/painkillers or sedatives that may have be present at the time of the examination. This sample is stored for a period of time (usually around 6 months) and can be analysed at the purchaser's request.

Vetting For Insurance

Your insurance may require a certificate of examination for insurance purposes if you do not have a certificate from a prior to purchase examination. We do offer examinations for these in Two or Five stages similar to the Vet For Purchase examinations. These are not to be considered as a Vetting Prior to Purchase and will not identify specific risks for an intended use and can only be requested by the owner of an animal. If you have further questions regarding these exams please contact one of our offices. Please contact your intended insurance company to know if you require such an examination.