The pre-purchase examination provides an assessment of the horse at the time of examination to help inform the potential purchaser decision whether or not to continue with their purchase. It is not a guarantee of a horse's suitability for the intended purpose.
The standard examination is conducted in either two or five stages, although the exact sequence of the examination may vary. If a two stage is required a disclaimer form will need to be signed and returned previous to the vet attending.
The stages are:
Preliminary examination This is a thorough external examination of the animal at rest using visual observation, palpation and manipulation to detect clinically apparent signs of injury, disease or physical abnormality. It includes an examination of the incisor teeth, a thorough examination of the horse's eyes in a darkened area and auscultation of the horse's heart and lungs at rest. Examination of the eyes does not include dilating the pupil but should include examination of internal and external structures.
The examination DOES NOT include examination of the inside of the prepuce (sheath), a detailed mouth examination with a speculum, a height measurement or any examination for pregnancy.
Walk and trot, in hand The animal is walked and then trotted in hand to detect abnormalities of gait and action. Ideally this is carried out on firm, level ground. The horse is turned sharply each way and is backed for a few paces. Flexion tests of all four limbs and trotting in a circle on a firm surface may be carried out if the examining veterinary surgeon considers it safe and appropriate to do so.
Exercise phase The horse is usually ridden and given sufficient exercise to:
Allow assessment of the horse when it has an increased breathing effort and an increased heart rate. 2. Allow assessment of the horse's gait at walk, trot, canter and, if appropriate, gallop. 3. Allow assessment of the horse for the purpose of stage five. If ridden exercise is not possible for any reason then this stage may be conducted by exercising the horse on a lunge, but this fact should be made clear to the purchaser and on the certificate.
Period of rest and re-examination The horse is allowed to stand quietly for a period. During this time the respiratory and cardiovascular systems may be monitored as they return to their resting levels.
Second trot up The animal is trotted in hand again to look for any signs of strains or injuries made evident by the exercise and rest stages.
Flexion tests and trotting in a circle Flexion tests and trotting in a circle on a firm surface are not mandatory parts of the standard procedure, but they can sometimes provide useful additional information about a horse. There may be circumstances when the examining veterinary surgeon concludes that it is unsafe or inappropriate to perform such tests.
Blood Sample A blood sample may be taken for storage (usually for 6 months) for possible future analysis to detect substances present in the horse's system at the time of the examination that might have masked any factors affecting the horse's suitability for the purchaser's intended use. If a blood sample is not taken then the reason should be noted on the certificate.
Identification of the horse The horse should be identified by recording the horse's markings in the form of a diagram and written description as well as searching for a microchip and inspecting any available documentation. The diagram may be omitted if the presence of a microchip can be confirmed by scanner and the diagram of an accompanying passport matches the horse. In this instance, both microchip and passport numbers should be recorded on the certificate.