A Pre-Purchase Examination (PPE) is important when purchasing a new horse. It consists of a standard 5 stage clinical examination performed on behalf of a prospective purchaser to assess the horse about the purchasers’ intended use. Our vets are experienced in performing PPEs which can be performed on behalf of existing clients or new non-registered clients.

If the horse to be examined is already registered at the practice, we will require permission from the current owner to disclose the full clinical history known to us, to the prospective purchaser. If this permission is not granted, we may be unable to perform the vetting due to a potential conflict of interest.

The PPE can be performed at the yard if there are suitable facilities or at our clinics, and consists of the following 5 stages:

Stage 1: 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. It includes an examination of the incisor teeth, a thorough examination of the horse’s eyes in a darkened area and auscultation of the horse’s heart and lungs at rest. Examination of the eyes does not include dilating the pupil but should include examination of internal and external structures.
The standard examination does not include examination of the inside of the prepuce (sheath), a detailed mouth examination with a speculum, a height measurement 
or any examination for pregnancy.

Stage 2: Walk and trot, in hand
The animal is walked and then trotted in hand to detect abnormalities of gait and action. Ideally, this is carried out on firm, level ground. The horse is turned sharply each way and is backed for a few paces. Flexion tests of all four limbs and trotting in a circle on a firm surface may be carried out if the examining veterinary surgeon considers it safe and appropriate to do so.

Stage 3: Exercise phase
The horse is given sufficient exercise to:
Allow assessment of the horse when it has an increased breathing effort and an increased heart rate.
Allow assessment of the horse’s gait at walk, trot, canter and, if appropriate, gallop.
Allow assessment of the horse for stage five.
If ridden exercise is not undertaken, then this stage may be conducted by exercising the horse on a lunge. It should be made clear on the certificate what form of exercise was undertaken.

Stage 4: Period of rest and re-examination
The horse is allowed to stand quietly for a period. During this time the respiratory and cardiovascular systems may be monitored as they return to their resting levels.

Stage 5: Second trot up
The animal is trotted in hand again to look for any signs of strains or injuries made evident by the exercise and rest stages.

Blood Sample - A blood sample will be taken and stored for 6 months. This can be tested if concerns arise during or following the PPE, for substances such as sedation or pain killers.

Further Diagnostic Testing - We offer further diagnostic testing as requested by the prospective purchaser or insurance company including radiography, ultrasound assessment of the limbs and endoscopy of the respiratory tract during rest and exercise.

Following the PPE, our vet will discuss their findings with the prospective purchaser (in person if they are present at the vetting or over the phone) and will form an opinion as to whether any findings may negatively impact the horses' suitability for its intended use. A written certificate will also be produced with these findings.

Our vets can perform a limited 2 stage PPE at the clients' request, which consists of the first 2 stages described above. The veterinary opinion will be based on this restricted examination and therefore clients will need to complete a “Limited Prior to Purchase Examination Form” confirming that they understand and accept that the limited assessment may not identify certain conditions that may have been discovered during a complete 5 stage PPE.

For further information regarding PPEs or to arrange an appointment please call our reception team on 01834 860871.

Pre-purchase Examination