Guide to Vetting a Horse Before You Buy

Horses are expensive to buy and when you invest a large amount of your money in one, it is important that any equine partner you buy is fit and healthy for the job you have in mind.

While the possibility of your new horse developing a severe medical condition cannot be completely eliminated, having your horse vetted before you purchase him will help you to know exactly what you are buying and assist you in finding a fit and healthy horse that is capable of doing the activities you want.

The Vetting Process

There are two types of vetting available; a two stage and a five stage. A two stage vetting is less comprehensive but will give you an indication of the horse’s current health and highlight any lameness or conformation issues. A two stage vetting costs around £75 and takes about an hour.

A five stage vetting is a thorough examination of the horse at rest and during and after strenuous exercise. Some insurance companies will not insure a horse over a certain value or insure a horse for loss of use without a five stage veterinary certificate. A full vetting costs around £250 and takes around 2-3 hours.

Stage 1 – Stable examination

The horse will be examined at rest in a stable. The vet will note if the horse has any vices, check the eyes and the heart.

The horse will then be taken outside and examined for any wounds, scars, growths, swellings or heat. The teeth will be checked to determine the age of the horse.

Stage 2 – Assessment in hand

The horse will be walked and trotted up in hand on a flat, hard surface. The vet will make sure that the horse shows no sign of lameness and may carry out flexion tests to further assess the horse.

Stage 3 – Strenuous exercise

The horse will be required to carry out a period of strenuous exercise, either ridden or on the lunge. The vet will monitor the horse’s heart and respiration rates and check for any abnormal breathing noises.

Stage 4 – The cool down period

The horse will be rested for 30 minutes after the previous strenuous exercise. The horse will be checked for any stiffness and the heart and breathing rates will be measured. At this point there is usually the option to have blood samples taken and stored in case they are needed at a later date.

Stage 5 – Final examination

In this stage, the horse will be trotted up to make sure that they have recovered fully from the strenuous exercise. Any other areas of concern that have arisen during the vetting will also be re-examined.

Some horses for sale are advertised with a recent vetting certificate provided. Be very wary of this, as the horse could have been injured after this vetting took place.

The results

The vet will fill out a document detailing all the tests carried out and any findings. They will either pass or fail the horse and will detail any abnormalities that might affect the horse’s ability to carry out the activities you would wish to do if purchased.

The vet will not suggest whether you should buy any horse for sale, that is up to you based on the evidence supplied by the vet.

Equestrian online editor and horse lover

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