Pre-Purchase Vettings

Pre-Purchase Vettings

Once you’ve chosen a horse or pony that you would like to buy, before making the final decision, it is advisable to have a Pre-Purchase Veterinary Examination (PPE Vetting) performed, which is commonly referred to as a PPE, Vetting or Vet’s Certificate. Investing in a PPE will often save you money, time, effort and heartache in the long run. You should discuss with the veterinary surgeon who will be doing the examination what type of work you intend the horse to do. If the horse passes the examination then a certificate will be issued by the veterinary surgeon. This certificate can be used for insuring the horse or pony when the sale is completed.


The Five Stage Vetting
This is carried out in accordance with guidelines laid down by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). At the time of the examination a blood sample is always taken. The sample is stored for 6 months and if the horse subsequently becomes lame, the blood can be tested. This insurance policy protects buyers, sellers and veterinary surgeons.

The 5 stage test may take a couple of hours to complete and someone will need to be available to ride the horse.

Stage 1
We observe the horse at rest in a darkened stable and check normal parameters, such as temperature and heart rate. We look at the eyes and listen to the heart and chest. We will ask about any stable vices, however you should discuss this with the seller since, in the short time that it takes to do the test, the vet cannot warrant that the horse is free of them. The horse will then be taken outside, in good light, and be examined for lumps, bumps, blemishes and old injuries. The teeth will be checked to determine the age. Body condition and conformation will be noted.

Stage 2
We see the horse walked and trotted in hand on a hard surface, looking for signs of lameness. Flexion tests are carried out at this stage.

Stage 3
The horse is ridden under saddle, checking for reaction to being mounted. Initially, the horse will trot and then undertake more vigorous exercise. We will listen for abnormal ‘wind’ noises during work and heart abnormalities afterwards.

Stage 4
This is a cooling off period and allows us to check for signs of stiffness after exercise.

Stage 5
We look with greater depth in areas that were of concern in previous stages. A blood sample is collected and stored. We will ask for a final trot up with flexion tests.

On completion the veterinary surgeon must then give their opinion, as observed on that day, to the prospective buyer as to whether, on the balance of probabilities, the horse will be suitable for the type of work that the buyer requires the horse for. Almost no horse is free from abnormalities and the veterinary surgeon’s opinion is not so much an issue of pass or fail, rather it is to make perspective purchasers aware of the level of risk that they are taking on.

To discuss the requirements for your PPE or to discuss a potential purchase with out of our equine vets, then please fill in the form below or contact one of our branches.