Pre-purchase Examination (PPE) - Vettings

Horse Vetting in Somerset, Dorset and Devon with Evolution Equine Vets

Our experienced equine vets are happy to travel far and wide to examine horses on behalf of our clients. We recommend that all horses undergo a veterinary exam prior to purchase. This helps to assess their soundness, health and suitability for your intended use.

What is a Pre-Purchase Examination (Vetting)?

The pre-purchase examination is standardised and carried out in accordance with guidelines from both the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). The introduction from their guide is here. This means that the same vetting examination is performed on every horse we examine, however the interpretation of findings will take your specific requirements into account. It is important to remember that much like humans, very few horses are perfect! This means that in most pre-purchase examinations we identify some abnormal findings. The long-term implications of any abnormality found will be discussed and we are therefore able to give an opinion as to the suitability of the horse for its intended use.

A pre-purchase examination identifies detectable abnormalities on the day of the examination. It does not give a long-term guarantee of future health or soundness.

The extent of exam required will vary according to your needs, either a 2 stage or a 5 stage vetting / pre-purchase exam may be suitable. This can be discussed with Evolution Equine Vets when enquiring about 2-stage or 5-stage vetting, but here is a brief overview of our vetting process.

For a free initial discussion about your horse vetting options, please call 01278 734828 or email

What type of Pre-Purchase Examination should I have?

The five stage vetting examination takes the following format:

Equine Vetting Stage 1: Preliminary examination. Identification of the horse including the presence of a microchip. A clinical examination of the horse including assessment of the eyes, heart, lungs, teeth, feet, limb and body palpation.

Equine Vetting Stage 2: Trot up. Walk and trot in hand in a straight line and flexion tests, possible lunging. Turning and backing up.

Equine Vetting Stage 3: Strenuous ridden exercise. Unbroken horses may be lunged.

Equine Vetting Stage 4: Period of rest. This may elicit any stiffness when the horse is re-examined at the 5th stage.

Equine Vetting Stage 5: Final Trot up, which may include repeat flexion tests and possible lunging on firm and soft surface where appropriate. With the vendor’s permission a blood sample will be obtained at this stage of the vetting, this is stored for 6 months.

In some circumstances the purchaser may wish to have a more limited examination involving only stages 1 and 2. In this instance purchasers should be aware that a two stage examination does not provide the same comprehensive information as a five stage examination about the horse. This means that some abnormalities may not be identified.

What additional procedures can be performed?

It is not uncommon for additional procedures to be performed either at the request of the purchaser or the insurance company. These include radiography, ultrasound scans, endoscopy, pregnancy diagnosis and a breeding soundness exam. As mentioned above, a blood sample is taken and stored for six months. This can be analysed for the presence of medications if required.

Are there any requirements for a Pre-Purchase Examination?

The horse should be clean, well groomed and stabled for a minimum of three hours prior to the vetting. The horse’s feet should be recently shod/trimmed, but the use of hoof oil should be avoided. A hard level surface is required for the trot up portions of the examination and a school or other appropriate area is required to watch the horse exercising. A dark stable is also required to perform a detailed eye exam. In some cases, the facilities may not be suitable for certain aspects of the vetting to be performed safely for the horse and handler. In these instances, we reserve the right to stop the vetting.

Please remember that it is illegal to sell a horse without a passport, and this will be required for checking at the vetting.

What are the requirements of my insurance company?

It is best to check the requirements of your chosen insurance company before arranging for a vetting. As a rough guide a horse with a market value of greater than £1500 will require a two stage vetting, whilst a horse with a market value of more than £5000 is likely to require a five stage vetting. However different insurance companies have different policies, so this should definitely be checked prior to engaging a vet to perform a vetting. In some cases insurance companies will request a set of Pre-Purchase radiographs to be taken at the time of the vetting.

Should the Purchaser be at the vetting?

Our vets advise purchasers to be present during the vetting. This not only makes it easier to discuss any concerns that the vet may have, but equally they are able to address any questions that you may have at the time. We appreciate that in some situations it is not convenient or practical for a purchaser to be present at the vetting. In these instances we advise that the purchaser is available on the phone, should the need arise to discuss any issues arising during the vetting. In any case, we will speak with you prior to the examination regarding your expectations and concerns.

Introduction from the BEVA/RCVS Guidance Notes on the Examination of a Horse on Behalf of a Prospective Purchaser (amended 2011)

"The aim of the pre-purchase examination is to carry out a thorough clinical examination on behalf of a potential purchaser to identify and assess factors of a veterinary nature that could prejudice the horse's suitability for its intended use. Each pre-purchase examination is carried out on behalf of a specific prospective purchaser so that the opinion can be based on that purchaser's individual needs and intended use of the horse. Examinations performed on behalf of a seller are not advised except in the case of a few specified auction sales.

Before performing a pre-purchase examination the veterinary surgeon should endeavour to ascertain who is selling the horse and the horse's identity. If, as a result of such information, the veterinary surgeon feels any conflict of interest, which means he/she cannot act wholly in the interests of the purchaser, the veterinary surgeon should decline to perform the examination. If the veterinary surgeon feels able to act without conflict, the fact that the seller is an existing client of the veterinary surgeon's practice should be declared to the purchaser in advance of the examination. Additionally, if the veterinary surgeon, or his/her practice, have any prior knowledge of the horse from any source, permission should be obtained from the seller for full disclosure to the purchaser of all such information that might be relevant. If this is not possible, for any reason, the veterinary surgeon should decline to perform the examination.

A standardised clinical examination is performed. Its findings will be assessed by the veterinary surgeon, who will form an opinion as to their significance and any possible adverse implications for the prospective purchaser's intended use of the horse. The findings and opinion may be reported to the purchaser verbally at the time of the examination or soon afterwards, as well as being documented in a certificate that is issued to the purchaser. If the purchase does not proceed a certificate may not be completed unless the purchaser requires one. Certificates are not transferable to another purchaser.

The pre-purchase examination provides an assessment of the horse at the time of examination to help inform the potential purchaser's decision whether or not to continue with their purchase. It is not a guarantee of a horse's suitability for the intended purpose."

The full text of these guidance notes to Pre-Purchase Examination can be found here on the BEVA website.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us on 01278 734828 to speak to one of our equine vets.

If you would like to book a vetting then please click here.