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.
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 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.