The Equine Vetting Process

Purchasing a new horse or pony can be a daunting decision and whatever the animal’s intended purpose, it’s advisable to have an expert opinion on hand to help. Our equine veterinary team at Pilgrims Veterinary Practice in Hampshire has helped many equine keepers over the years and are well versed on the RCVS/BEVA’s 5-stage equine vetting process. Here’s what you need to know.

Book an equine vetting

Equine vetting, or a pre-purchase examination, is a series of checks carried out by a vet to evaluate, as far as is possible by clinical examination, whether the horse or pony is fit for purpose. It should only be carried out by an experienced equine vet and could save you a lot of expense and heartache in the future.

You can request a 2-stage or 5-stage equine vetting, but it’s recommended that every horse or pony regardless of their value or cost should have one.

  • Stage 1 – Preliminary examination
  • Stage 2 – Trotting up
  • Stage 3 – Strenuous exercise
  • Stage 4 – A period of rest
  • Stage 5 – The second trot and foot examination

The vet may carry out slight variations on the RCVS/BEVA’s guided process where there are good clinical or practical reasons. Other important factors include:

  • Identification – The vet will attempt to verify the horse’s identity from a written description and diagram detailing their markings, as well as scanning for a microchip and checking their passport. A blood sample may be taken (stored up to 6 months) should further testing be required to check for potential substances in the horse’s system that could have affected the vetting process.
  • Certificate – All clinical findings & information within the horse’s documentation (includes a valid PIO passport) relevant to the veterinary opinion must be included in the certificate – copies of this information should be retained.
  • Conflict of interest – If the equine vet you choose to carry out the pre-purchase examination is the vendor’s vet also or has a personal relationship with them, the vet must disclose this. If you’re happy to continue, the vet should follow additional safeguards to ensure the vetting is fair and perceived to be fair by you.
  • An indication not a guarantee – Following a clinical examination of the horse, the equine vet will give you an indication, in their professional opinion, as to whether the horse is fit for your intended purpose. This is not a guarantee and the final purchase decision is still yours.
  • Limitations of equine vetting – If any of the five stages are omitted, the vet’s opinion can only be based on the stages carried out, which could then exclude a clinical check for signs of disease, injury or abnormality. Also, a vet cannot accurately confirm a horse’s age, or spot any vices (objectionable habits) that are not present during the pre-purchase examination, or know about any previous treatments or conditions that are not detailed in the horse’s documentation (unless they are the vendor’s vet also).

If you have questions about equine vetting, give us a call on 01425 657700 and our equine team will be happy to help.