Pre-purchase examinations are designed to provide information on the health and soundness of a horse that you are looking to buy. They should only be performed by a registered veterinarian, and are best done by an experienced equine clinician who is not the routine veterinarian for that horse.

The veterinarian works on behalf of the buyer and therefore reports to the purchaser on any findings or abnormalities detected. It involves checking the horse’s identification, eyes, teeth, heart, lungs, skin and is very useful for detecting any obvious problems with joints, tendons and feet which are common causes of lameness. After a general clinical examination is performed the veterinarian will perform a lameness examination by watching the horse walk, trot and canter, and by perform flexion tests. For a full Five Stage Pre-purchase Examination the horse will also be observed while ridden under saddle and re-examined after exercise.

If you are paying a lot of money for the horse or there are some obvious abnormalities on the examination, then further diagnostic tests such as x-rays, ultrasound or endoscopy may be recommended to make sure there are no underlying problems. While a pre-purchase examination is not a definite guarantee against problems in the future, it does help to prevent the risk of buying a horse with health or lameness issues that are present at the time of purchase, and should therefore be seen as an investment. It should be noted that pre-purchase examinations do not determine rider suitability and this is the responsibility of you the buyer to determine by riding the horse and getting advice from experienced people from within your riding discipline. (Download the forms here!)

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