Pre-purchase Exam

About Pre-Purchase Examinations

Before booking a pre-purchase examination (vetting), you will have already assessed the horse yourself and decided that he/she is suitable for the job that you wish him/her to perform. Unfortunately, no purchase of an animal will come without risks and therefore the purpose of our examination is to provide you with a veterinary perspective of the suitability of the horse for your needs, and to help you reach an informed decision before purchasing the horse.

We do this by assessing the health of the horse on the day that it is presented to us, and using our experience to identify and quantify any risks of the horse not fulfilling their future job intended. It is vital that you communicate your expectations of the horse to us before the exam, as the horse’s future role will heavily impact our interpretation of their suitability for you. Please note that we will be assessing the horse at a single moment in time, and while our aim is to identify any potential risks, our assessment on the day cannot guarantee that the horse’s condition will not change significantly at a later stage.

When booking your pre-purchase examination, consider the scope and depth of the exam that you will wish us to perform as a 2-stage vetting will have limitations in comparison to a 5-stage vetting. You as the purchaser, are very welcome to be present at the time of the examination. 

There are two forms of pre-purchase examination typically performed ; a 2-stage vetting and a 5-stage vetting. 

2-stage vetting

A 2-stage vetting involves a thorough examination of the horse’s general health, eyes, heart, teeth, limbs and body. We will palpate the horse to identify any lumps and bumps that may concern us, and also ensure that the horse’s passport documentation matches the horse presented to us. The second stage involves us performing a full soundness exam, trotting the horse up on the straight and on the lunge, performing flexion tests if appropriate and assessing the horse’s movement on the hard and soft surface. 

5-stage vetting

A 5-stage vetting will involve the same first two stages as above, and then go on to a strenuous exercise test of walk, trot, canter and gallop if appropriate. The vet will assess the health of the horse during and after exercise which includes listening for abnormal breathing sounds, the heart rhythm and any other factors impacting performance. The final stage will then involve a repeat of the lameness exam with a trot up, lunge and flexion test depending on the vet’s observations so far, and to ensure that the findings prior to exercise match those found after exercise. 

All our vettings will include a blood test that is sent to a specific laboratory in Newmarket, on behalf of the Veterinary Defence Society and stored for 6 months. The purchaser of the horse can request for the bloods to be tested immediately, or at any point in the 6 month time frame for the presence of sedatives, pain killers or other substances if there is a dispute about the condition of the horse after sale. There may also be a requirement to test the bloods for general health or infectious disease status, please notify the vet if this is relevant for you. 

It is common for insurance purposes, young horses and those owners wanting greater reassurance, to perform additional services such as radiography of the lower limbs. The services that we can offer in addition to the pre-purchase exam include:

Radiography: Imaging of the lower limbs is routinely requested and may be a requirement for some insurance policies. Please check your insurance policy for which images are required. We can look for joint disease, injury, foot balance and bone fragments in young horses. 

Ultrasound: Imaging of the tendons and ligaments of the lower limbs for evidence of soft tissue injury or disease.

Endoscopy: Imaging of the upper airways after exercise is occasionally performed.

Pre-purchase exam form

DisclaimerPlease read all of the information provided before completing this form. Completion of this form is an appointment inquiry only, and you will be contacted by one of our vets for confirmation of your appointment. For the purpose of a pre-purchase examination, the vetting cannot be performed by a practice who have an association with the vendor or current owner of the horse to be sold. 

    Purchaser details
    Vendor details
    Details of horse

    Is the horse going to be insured?

    Has the purchaser placed a deposit on the horse prior to the pre-purchase exam?

    Details of vetting

    Do you need a 2 stage, or 5 stage vetting?

    Additional services

    Do you require x-rays?

    If yes, please specify

    Do you require ultrasound examination?

    Do you require endoscopy of the upper airways?

    Do you require blood testing for Strangles?

    In order to get the best assessment of the horse on the day, we ideally require certain facilities including: a dark stable; a flat surface for the trot up; a hard, non slip surface for lunging; an arena to lunge and ride in. Please specify if these facilities will NOT be available.

    AvailableNot available

    If no, please specify


    I confirm that I wish to proceed and the information above is correct to the best of my knowledge.