What is it?
A pre-purchase examination or "vetting" is a thorough clinical examination carried out on behalf of a potential purchaser to identify and assess factors which may affect a horse's suitability for it's intended use.
It is a standardised examination protocol followed across the UK and a very sound investment in the future.
Types of examination
Pre-purchase exams are referred to as 2 Stage or 5 Stage. A 2 Stage PPE involves exactly the same first two stages as a 5 Stage and they are performed just as thoroughly as in the 5 Stage examination.
However, the omission of the final three stages does carry the risk of not detecting some problems so in most cases we would suggest performing the full 5 Stage examination.
What do we need?
It is ideal to see the horse in its normal environment, however occasionally this is not suitable.
We require a stable that can be darkened in order to perform the eye examination. A flat, firm area is needed to perform the trot ups as well as an area for lunging the horse, preferably on a firm level surface.
Additionally for 5 Stage exams we need a suitable place to perform the ridden phase in walk, trot and canter - preferably a ménage - and also rider for this phase.
We will also need to see the horse's passport.
What is Involved?
Stage 1: A thorough examination of the horse at rest.
This includes listening to the heart beat and lungs, examination of the eyes with an opthalmascope, examination of the teeth, and thorough examination of the feet, legs and entire body.
Stage 2: Walk and trot, in hand.
The horse is examined for soundness and gait abnormalities. In most cases flexion tests will be performed, along with examination on the lunge an a firm surface. The horse is also walked backwards and turned in tight circles for neurological function.
Stage 3: Exercise phase.
Usually performed ridden, at walk, trot, canter and gallop, if appropriate. This allows the horses wind and heart to be assessed at work and allows further opportunities to detect lameness or gait abnormalities amongst other things.
Stage 4: Resting phase.
The horse is allowed to cool down and the heart and lungs are re-examined as the horse returns to rest.
Stage 5: Second trot up.
The horse is again trotted in hand which allows injuries made evident by the previous exercise to be detected.
Blood samples are routinely taken and sent for storage to allow for future testing should a dispute arise following purchase.
The horse's microchip will be read and the passport will be examined and its number recorded.