Buying a horse is an exciting prospect; once you have found the horse for you, we would strongly recommend that the horse undergoes a Pre-Purchase Examination (PPE or “vetting”).  The examination consists of five stages that are designed to assess the horse in relation to the purchaser’s intended use for it; the PPE should not only identify any existing health problems, abnormalities or concerns, it may also help to identify potential problems that may occur in the future (although it does not guarantee the future soundness of the horse).  At Farr & Pursey Equine, we are happy to perform PPEs for our own clients and on behalf of non-registered clients at the vendor’s yard.

The five stages involved in the standard PPE consist of:

Stage 1:  Clinical examination of the horse at rest. This is a thorough external examination of the horse at rest using observation, palpation and manipulation to detect physical abnormalities and signs of injury or disease.  This includes thorough palpation of all the limbs, using a stethoscope to listen to the heart and lungs, and using an ophthalmoscope to examine the horse’s eyes in a dark stable.  The examination does not include examination of the inside of the sheath, a detailed mouth examination with a speculum, a height measurement or any examination for pregnancy.

Stage 2: Observation of the horse walking and trotting.  This is performed in hand in a straight line on a hard, level surface to detect any lameness or gait abnormalities.  Flexion tests of all four limbs and trotting on a small diameter circle on a firm surface are also performed, if the examining vet considers it safe and appropriate to do so; these tests help to detect subtle lameness issues., including flexion tests. The horse is normally also trotted on a small diameter circle on a firm surface to detect subtle lameness issues.  The horse is also turned tightly each way and backed for several steps.

Stage 3:  Observation of the horse performing strenuous exercise, normally under saddle.  The horse is given sufficient exercise to allow assessment of the heart and respiratory systems’ response to exertion and to allow assessment of the horse’s gait at faster paces.  If ridden exercise is not possible (e.g. because the horse has not yet been broken), this stage may be conducted by exercising the horse on the lunge.

Stage 4:  Rest period to allow for any stiffness induced by the exercise to become apparent. During this time the respiratory and cardiovascular systems are monitored as they return to their resting levels and the horse’s markings are usually recorded during this time.

Stage 5: Second trot up and flexion tests.  The horse is trotted in hand again to check that the strenuous exercise has not exacerbated a subtle underlying lameness problem.  Repeat flexion tests and trotting in a circle on a hard surface may also be performed.

We would advise that all horses undergoing a PPE have a blood sample taken.  This sample is stored for six months in an external laboratory and, should any concerns arise after the PPE, the blood can be tested (at an additional fee) for substances such as sedatives and anti-inflammatories.

Depending on the horse’s intended use or, occasionally, as a requirement of the purchaser’s insurance company, it may be necessary to perform further diagnostic tests such as x-rays, ultrasound examination of the legs or endoscopy of the respiratory tract. Please contact us for further information regarding these tests.

Following the PPE, the vet will form an opinion as to whether any of the findings may negatively affect the suitability of the horse for the purchaser’s intended use. All the findings will be discussed at length with you, the purchaser, either over the phone or in person if you have attended the PPE. A written certificate will follow; if you are planning on insuring the horse it is advisable to wait until you have received the certificate and confirmed the insurance policy with the insurance company before committing to the sale, just in case any exclusions are placed on the policy which may impact your decision to go ahead with the purchase of the horse.

We would always recommend that horses undergo a five stage PPE but, occasionally we are asked to perform a less comprehensive, two stage examination which involves only the first two stages as outlined above. Prior to the two stage PPE you will need to sign a “Limited Prior to Purchase Examination Form” which confirms that you understand and accept that a limited examination may not reveal certain conditions which may have been discovered during the course of a full five stage PPE.

To download the Limited PPE form CLICK HERE

For more information or to arrange a PPE, please contact the practice.

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