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Pre-Purchase Examinations (Vettings)

If you wish to book a vetting, or if you want to discuss anything relating to a vetting, please contact us on 01277 823808, or complete the form below


Most horse owners know Pre-Purchase Examinations (PPE’s) as vettings. They are a thorough, in-depth and repeatable clinical examination that our vets carry out to advise you about the medical suitability of the horse you consider buying. Before we go to vet the horse, make sure you have inspected the horse, perhaps with an experienced friend or instructor, and make sure you try before you buy! Ride the horse in the circumstances you hope to use it, and ask the seller to lunge and trot it up for you. We recommend you film the horse and look back before calling us to go and inspect the horse on your behalf. As always, we are available to discuss concerns with you and would welcome a phone call about any worries as soon as you have them.


Most procedures are standardised and laid out by the British Equine Veterinary Association. The most important point of vettings is that they are done for the buyer and that the interpretation and suitability of the horse is completely bespoke for the buyer’s circumstances and what they intend to use the horse for. Any findings that we make will be reported to you the buyer, and every abnormality or clinical finding will be discussed and interpreted for your individual needs. Of course, the examination is only able to look at the horse on a given day, but many tests are done to try and help owners make informed decisions about the likelihood of suitability in the future.


Extra tests, such as radiographs, endoscopy camera examinations, ultrasound scans or further blood samples can be appropriate in some circumstances, and may be recommended after the clinical examination, or may be required because of the value of the horse or the insurance requesting it.


Be careful with deposits to secure the horse purchase as it may be difficult to have them returned if the horse turns out not to be suitable. A period of trialling the horse can be a great way to become acquainted with the horse, but returning a horse after having it for a while can be heart-wrenching, especially if children are involved. We recommend a vetting before taking the horse on loan, and another consultation later to avoid disputes.


One of our vets will carry out the detailed examination, which you can expect to take 1.5 - 2 hours. Any anomalies detected will be discussed with you. Following the examination, based on all of the findings and considering your needs, the vet will advise you as to whether or not the horse is suitable for you.


Please be aware clients who have recently registered, or are registering for the purpose of the vetting, will be asked to pay for the examination when booking. This is fully refundable if the examination is cancelled more than 24 hours before it is scheduled to take place. Cancellation within 24 hours of the scheduled vetting will result in only 50% of the fee being refunded. Should the horse prove to be unsuitable on the day, a proportion of the fee may also be able to be returned if the vetting is stopped early.



The Five Stage Vetting

Stage 1 - Preliminary examination

This is an examination at rest in the stable, and standing on a flat surface where the horse is checked thoroughly for any abnormalities, the heart, lungs and eyes are examined, and the horse’s conformation is checked. A brief teeth exam is included to verify an estimation of the horse’s age but a full dental examination including a gag being placed is not included

Stage 2 - Trotting up

During trot-up phase where our vet will make a thorough assessment of the horse’s musculoskeletal system.  The horse will be walked and trotted in straight lines and circles.  Flexion tests will be carried out on all four legs.  This stage is  likely to detect any lameness or gait variations.

Stage 3 - Strenuous exercise

The horse will be ridden or lunged and all paces will be assessed, as well as a further examination of the horse’s heart and lungs during exercise. Obviously many abnormalities and resistances can only be detected during this stage.

Stage 4 - A period of rest

The horse will be allowed to recover and our vet will carry out a foot examination and some routine paperwork will be carried out. Passports will be checked and we always recommend taking bloods to store or analyse in case the horse was presented with any medication that could have altered how the examination went.

Stage 5 - Second trot

This consists of a final trot-up where the horse is checked for any soreness that may have occurred due to the strenuous exercise. After work and a recovery period, some problems may well become more apparent.


The Two Stage Vetting

A two-stage vetting consists of stages 1 and 2 only. Many conditions cannot be detected with this limited examination. Vets are required for the purchasers to sign a waiver to accept that this is a very limited examination that may not reveal many potential future problems. This may be acceptable in certain circumstances, for example when purchasing youngstock, or for insurance purposes. If you think you need a 2 stage vetting, a vet will need to speak to you about this before the examination.

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