Horse Pre-Purchase Examination

Buying a new horse is a very exciting prospect, but before you buy, you should think carefully about what type of horse or pony you are looking for, and its intended use.

New Horse PurchaseWhen you have found what you hope to be your ideal horse, we strongly recommend a pre-purchase veterinary examination. Whilst this may seem costly, it may save you a lot of money in the future. A pre-purchase examination reduces the chance of buying a horse that may have health problems or become unsound in the future. If you choose to insure the horse, your insurance company may request the examination prior to insurance. Veterinarians have developed a general routine of examination recognized by BEVA (British Equine Veterinary Association) which has been found to be appropriate as a means of detecting signs of disease and injury.

The full 5 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 sufficient 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 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 second 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.


Although a pre-purchase examination may identify possible concerns for the future, it is not a guarantee, and should be viewed as a risk assessment.

If you would like to arrange a pre-purchase examination, carried out by one of our experienced veterinary surgeons, then please phone us to arrange a time and day.

We will require the following information when you book:

  1. The name, age, breed, height, sex and colour of the horse to be examined, the intended use of the horse, and any specific concerns you may have.
  2. The full name, address and contact number of the current owner of the horse. We are unable to carry out pre-purchase examinations on horses that are already under the care of our practice, as it is deemed as a conflict of interest.
  3. The location of the vetting, and directions to get there.

Facilities required:

  1. Dark Stable - to allow thorough examination of the horse's eyes.
  2. Hard, level trot up area. (e.g a quiet road)
  3. Tack, rider and an area suitable for strenuous exercise.
  4. Firm lunge area if possible. (will require lunge rein)

Points to advise the vendor of:

  1. The horse will need to be stabled overnight, or at least 3 hours prior to examination.
  2. A blood sample is routinely taken.
  3. The relevant passport and any relevant vaccination cards are to be made available for the vet.

For very young or unbroken horses, a 2 stage vetting is available, and may be more appropriate. This is a very limited examination, and you will be required to sign and return a consent form before the vetting may proceed, confirming you understand the limitations.

To download the consent form click here.