Equine Pre Purchase Examinations (Vetting)

We regularly perform pre-purchase examinations (PPEs), otherwise known as vettings, of horses for prospective purchasers. We will perform PPEs on behalf of clients or non-clients. A PPE provides a veterinary opinion on that day, on the basis of the examination, to help guide a purchaser’s decision whether or not to go ahead with purchase for an intended use.

A PPE is a set examination at an industry standard and can consist of 2 stages (limited PPE) or 5 stages (full PPE). A 2-stage PPE is limited and certain conditions which could have an impact on ridden work, which would be picked up on a 5-stage (such as the response of the heart to exercise or wind noise during exercise) may be missed, so the opinion of suitability for purchase is based on restricted information.

If a purchaser is intending to insure a horse, they should check with prospective insurance companies what may be required by the insurance company in advance e.g. 2-stage/5-stage, x-rays etc.

The Examination

Stage 1: Preliminary examination

This stage involves a full visual and physical examination at rest. It includes checking the horse against the passport, checking incisors, examination of the eyes using an ophthalmoscope, auscultation of the heart and palpation for lumps, bumps, abnormalities and scars.

Examination does not include examination within the sheath, full oral/dental examination, check for pregnancy or a height measurement.

Stage 2: Walk and trot in-hand

This stage involves seeing the horse walked, circled, reversed and trotted up in a straight line on a flat, firm surface. We also perform flexion tests on all four legs and see the horse lunged on a suitable soft surface.

We routinely ask to see all horses lunged on a firm surface as well. This is an important part of the PPE, but if there is not a suitable firm, non-slippery surface available we may have to skip this step and will note this on the form.

Stage 3: Exercise phase

The horse is ideally assessed under saddle during this stage at walk, trot, canter and gallop (if appropriate). This stage is tailored somewhat to the type of horse and facilities available, for example a racehorse will require a long gallop and a child’s pony will not to assess wind and post exercise heart rate/rhythm.

If ridden exercise is not possible a horse may be assessed by loose schooling or lunging, but this will be made clear on the paperwork.

Stage 4: Rest phase

The horse is returned to the stable and a period of rest is given. Heart and lungs may be assessed as the horse recovers from exercise. Other aspects of the PPE may be reassessed following exercise.

Stage 5: Second trot-up

Most or all of stage 2 is repeated to assess the horse after exercise and rest. Underlying injuries or aches may become more evident at this point in the examination.

Blood Sample

This is part of the 5-stage (but can be requested to be added to a 2-stage) and is taken for storage for 6 months. This can be tested at a later stage if it becomes suspected that there may have been medication in the system at the time of examination which could have affected the outcome of the PPE.

Additional procedures

Additional procedures such as x-rays or ultrasound may be advised by the veterinary surgeon due to findings during the examination. In some instances insurance companies may request additional procedures such as x-rays. Purchasers sometimes request additional procedures to relieve any concerns they may have about the horse or based on past experiences.

PPE Certificate

After completing the PPE or possibly during the PPE the vet will call you to discuss his/her findings. Following successful completion of the PPE you will be emailed a pre-purchase certificate. If it has been successful the certificate will state that it is the opinion of the veterinary surgeon that the horse is suitable for purchase, but please be aware this is not a guarantee.

Insurance considerations

Please note that all findings will be recorded on the PPE paperwork. This may have an impact on insurance if the purchaser intends to get the horse insured. Some insurance companies may interpret certain findings at PPE as causing a higher risk, and thus may put exclusions on the policy. For this reason, we recommend acquiring insurance after the PPE and prior to purchasing the horse.

Seller’s warranty

This is the responsibility of the purchaser to gain from the seller to say that the horse has not been previously medicated, had surgery, have vices or behavioural abnormalities etc.

Equine Vets Devon

Booking a PPE

  • Please ensure suitable facilities exist (dark area to examine eyes, suitable trot up, suitable hard and soft lunge surfaces).
  • Make sure the passport is present!
  • Tell us about any concerns you have about the horse.
  • Find out about any additional procedures that may need to be performed in advance.

Register with us today