Pre purchase examination

Choosing a horse

The decision to buy a new horse can be life changing. It has been equated to buying a second hand car and there are indeed a few similarities. The object of your desire is an unknown quantity which is always likely to possess a few surprises, the reputation of horse dealers is often considered akin to second hand car dealers, and the question of price and value are often difficult to establish until after the deed has been done.

There are also some obvious differences. There is the responsibility of owning a horse, the emotional attachment (often no better example than a teenage daughter), and an ongoing need for day to day care (you cannot just park it in the garage). If things do not work out as hoped, disappointment, heartache and financial loss may be the end result.

We would therefore recommend that you take every opportunity to try and reduce the likelihood of a less than optimal outcome.

  • Always spend as much time as possible with the horse prior to purchase. Establish whether this is a suitable horse for you and try to determine something of their character as well as their ability, range of movement etc.
  • Ask the current owner as many questions as possible to fill out this knowledge. E.G. Can the horse be turned out with others? Can you hack out by yourself? Does the horse possess any stable vices?
  • Whenever possible take somebody with you. However experienced you are, two pairs of eyes are always better than one, and for relative novices the help of an instructor or knowledgeable friend at this juncture can prove invaluable.

Getting a veterinary opinion

Once you have determined a potential purchase, we would recommend that you get a veterinary opinion on the suitability of purchase. The purpose of the examination is to assess the horse's current and likely future soundness, and identify current health status, any pre-existing conditions and fitness for intended use. The intention is not to offer a caste iron guarantee but more to point out issues particular to the subject, and therefore reduce the risk in purchase. In our practice, we offer a range of examinations for all levels.

  • Full five stage vetting which is recommended in most instances.
  • A two stage vetting to give a basic assessment of health and soundness.
  • Pony vetting.

All the above are conducted with full attention paid to any defects that may be apparent within the scope of the examination,but also with an eye on the suitability of the potential purchase to fulfil the requirements of the purchaser. We would therefore encourage the purchaser to be present at the time of purchase if at all possible, or at least we will try to communicate with the purchaser prior to examination so that we can try to understand more fully the suitability and aspirations of purchase. This is particularly important for purchasers who are not regular clients of the practice.


There are occasions on which the intended horse is already known to the practice. In these situations we recommend that the clinician who conducts the examination is not the vendors usual vet to maintain impartiality and in no way prejudice the outcome. With the vendors permission the previous clinical history as stored on practice computer records may also be released to the purchaser.