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  • Horse Pre-Purchase Examination is called Vetting

Pre-purchase examination ('vetting') is a very important part of buying a horse to pick up any issues which may affect the performance of the horse or the safety of the horse and rider. The pre-purchase examination aims to identify and quantify that risk in order to help you decide whether you with to proceed with your purchase.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and British Equine Veterinary Association has divided the vetting process into five stages which are detailed below. You can choose to stop after two stages (‘2-stage vetting’) or go on to complete the full five stages (‘5 stage vetting’). We suggest that the 5-stage process is more likely to show any underlying issues which may be exacerbated by exercise (please see ‘notes’). This would always be recommended if the horse is expected to compete, even at a low level, or if the horse is of significant value. If you would like more advice on which vetting to choose, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Stage 1 - Clinical examination

Full and detailed clinical examination to include heart, lungs, eyes, identification of any abnormalities of the skin, limbs, tendons, feet, shoeing etc. We will also examine all documentation and check microchip (passport MUST be present).

Stage 2 - ‘Trot-up’

The horse will be walked, trotted and lunged on hard and soft level surfaces. This will be followed by flexion tests of all four limbs. Flexion tests aim to assess any underlying lameness that has not been revealed by standard trot-up techniques.

Stage 3 - Strenuous Exercise

The horse will be subjected to strenuous exercise at a level appropriate to the fitness and required job of the horse (e.g. a 4* eventer will be subjected to heavier work than a child’s pony). This test, which is preferably performed ridden, will allow the heart, lungs and airway to be checked when in work, also any underlying lameness issues that exist under saddle or during exercise will be noted.

Stage 4 - Period of Rest

The horse will be allowed to recover to resting levels. Breathing and heart rate will be assessed to check normal recovery as well as any post-exercise stiffness.

Stage 5 - The second trot and foot exam

The horse will be trotted up again, in some cases flexion tests and lunging will be repeated.

Additional Procedures

Blood Sample
A blood sample is always taken from the horse. This is stored by a 3rd party and can be tested for painkillers, sedatives etc. should a dispute arise. It is not tested routinely.

Radiographs can be taken on request. These may be done as standard within the racing industry. A full series of radiographs are advised for high value horses expected to compete to a high standard. Additionally, specific areas can be X-rayed if they are flagged as an area of concern during the vetting.

Endoscopic Evaluation
The airway of the horse can be checked for any abnormalities which may affect the horse’s ability to breathe effectively at high exercise intensity.

Ultrasound Examination
Scanning of the tendons and ligaments within the limbs if offered if an abnormality is identified within the vetting. Alternatively, this procedure can be performed as standard if required.


Some insurance companies require a vetting certificate or additional procedures in order provide cover to your horse. This should be discussed with your insurance company.

Limited examination
The two-stage vetting is a ‘limited examination’ and may fail to detect some conditions which may affect the horse at the time of purchase, since no assessment during and after strenuous exercise is performed. We must receive a signed disclaimer to state these terms are understood and accepted. This is a standard Royal College procedure and is required by all Veterinary Surgeons.

Vetting Registered Horses
As per British Equine Veterinary Association guidelines – If we are vetting a horse that belongs to a registered client the veterinary history of the horse will be requested to be disclosed to the potential purchaser.

We request that all Pre-purchase examinations are paid for at the time of booking.