Five Stage Vetting (Pre-Purchase Examination)
The standard examination is conducted in five stages, although the exact sequence of the
examination may vary. The stages are:
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
will include examination of internal and external structures.
The 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
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 will 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:
1. Allow assessment of the horse when it has an increased breathing effort and an
increased heart rate.
2. Allow assessment of the horse’s gait at walk, trot, canter and, if appropriate,
3. Allow assessment of the horse for the purpose of stage five.
If ridden exercise is not undertaken then this stage may be conducted by exercising the
horse on a lunge.
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 will be monitored as they return to their resting levels. The horse will be identified by recording the horse’s markings in the form of a diagram and written description as well as searching for a microchip and inspecting any available documentation.
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.
Flexion tests and trotting in a circle
Blood Sample: A blood sample will be taken for storage (usually for 6 months) for possible future analysis to detect substances present in the horse’s system at the time of the examination that might have masked any factors affecting the horse’s suitability for the purchaser’s intended use.