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Pre-Purchase Examinations


When purchasing a horse, it is sensible to have a pre-purchase examination carried out. This serves to identify any pre-existing problems which may hinder a horse’s future performance and reduce buyer risk.

Avonvale regularly perform pre-purchase examinations (PPEs) also referred to as “vettings”, to reassure the purchaser that they are buying a healthy sound horse.

A typical full pre-purchase examination will consist of five stages:

Stage 1: A thorough clinical examination of the horse at rest to detect any apparent signs of injury, disease or physical abnormality. It includes thorough palpation of all the limbs, listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope and an examination of the horse’s eyes in a dark stable with an ophthalmoscope.

Stage2: Observation of the horse walking and trotting in hand in a straight line on a hard, level surface, including flexion tests and trotting on a small diameter circle on firm surface to detect subtle lameness issues.

Stage 3: Strenuous exercise, normally under saddle/lunged. This allows further evaluation on the way the horse moves and assessment of the heart and respiratory system.

Stage 4: Rest period. To monitor horse’s return to normal heart and respiratory rate.

Stage 5: Second trot-up to review any stiffness or lameness seen after work.

A blood sample can also be taken and stored for six months at the HFL Laboratory in Newmarket, in case problems arise at a later date. This can be tested at additional cost for certain sedative and analgesic drugs.

Further diagnostic tests such as x-rays/ultrasound/ endoscopy of the respiratory tract can be performed if required.

Occasionally we are asked to perform a less comprehensive part pre-purchase examinations, which will only include the two first stages outlined above. This limited examination may not reveal certain conditions which only become apparent during the course of a full five stage examination.