5 Stage Pre-Purchase Examination


Stage One

Stage One is observation and a thorough clinical examination of the horse. The horse should ideally be rested in a stable for 3 hours prior to the examination.

  • Identification of the horse is confirmed by comparison to its passport and scanning for the presence of a microchip. The vaccination status is checked and advice given where necessary.
  • The horse's demeanour and temperament is assessed before and throughout the examination, paying particular attention to vices or behavioural abnormalities.
  • The head and mouth are examined including assessment of the horse’s age, condition of the incisors and a brief assessment on the front cheek teeth, including the presence of wolf teeth.
  • The horse is palpated all over in order to identify any abnormalities, such as signs of old injuries, scars, lumps or bumps. This will also include an assessment of spinal reflexes and mobility.
  • The lungs and heart will be assessed with a stethoscope.
  • With the horse in a dark area, the eyes are examined with an ophthalmoscope. The horse is then taken outside and stood square. This allows assessment of conformation and observation of any visible problems.

Stage Two

Stage Two involves a lameness and foot examination. It should be carried out on a hard, level surface and involves walking and trotting up the horse in a straight line, looking for signs of lameness or gait abnormality.

  • The feet are assessed for conformation faults, balance and horn quality.
  • The style and type of shoeing is noted.
  • The horse will be turned in a tight circle ('turned short') and reined back.
  • Flexion tests will be carried out on all 4 legs.
  • In addition the horse may be lunge or trotted on a hard circle. This can help identify subtle problems.

Stage Three

Stage Three requires strenuous exercise, preferably ridden (but can be lunged). Unbroken horses may be loose-schooled. The horse will be assessed for a dipped or cold back during saddling and mounting. The horse is observed while tacking up for behavioural abnormalities. The horse is assessed for soundness and co-ordination once mounted and during ridden exercise at walk, trot and canter. Depending on the prospective use of the horse gallop may be required. The wind is assessed with the horse in canter. The heart and respiration is assessed immediately after this strenuous exercise.

Stage Four

Stage Four is a period of rest until the heart and respiratory rate return to normal. This may elicit any stiffness when the horse is re-examined at stage five. During this time the heart rate and rhythm is assessed during recovery from exercise.

Stage Five

Stage Five involves a final trot up and assessment. Walk, trot, circles on both reins and reining back are required. Flexion tests or lunging on a hard surface may be used if any lameness if suspected. A blood sample will also be taken and stored for 6 months; alternatively this can be tested immediately if desired. This is to identify any drugs such as sedatives, steroids or anti-inflammatory painkillers (e.g. ’bute).

Contact Us to arrange a Five Stage Pre-Purchase Examination