Pre-purchase Examinations

Horse eye examination for pre-purchase examination

A veterinary examination performed prior to finalising the sale of a horse can identify signs of existing or potential medical and/or performance issues.

What is a pre-purchase exam?

A pre-purchase exam gives you an unbiased, professional opinion on what risks may exist to your potential future horse’s health and performance.

The full examination is a thorough procedure including observation of the horse on the ground, during trot up, circling, ridden exercise and during the recovery phase. Optional additional diagnostics such as x-rays, endoscopy, reproductive exam, etc. can be performed. Following this, a report of the examination findings is prepared for you including information the seller discloses on the previous health of the horse.

What to expect during a pre-purchase exam?

Stage 1-2 exam:

The horse is first thoroughly examined at rest in a quiet environment where it is comfortable. The horse is then watched on the ground at the walk and trot. Flexion tests are performed, which helps highlight any potential problem joints or areas of the horse that might not be immediately obvious otherwise.

Stage 1-5 exam:

Following the stage 1-2 exam, the horse is observed under saddle. Certain performance issues are highlighted under saddle that may not be observed otherwise. After exercise, the horse is examined for signs of heart or lung abnormalities. It’s ability to recover from exercise is also evaluated. A post-exercise trot up and exam is also performed.

Findings of the prepurchase exam are not shared with the seller unless the buyer consents to this.

How to prepare for a pre-purchase exam?

Prior to the exam, feel free to discuss with the veterinarian if you have any concerns about the horse, or if you want them to pay special attention to anything.

The examination is normally performed at the property the horse is at while awaiting sale.

It takes at least an hour to perform and often may require 2-3 hours of a handler’s time.

All examinations require:

  • Somewhere safe and secure to check over the horse
  • A dark area is useful for eye/teeth checks
  • Trot-ups are best done on a 100m stretch on a surface like concrete or tarmac
  • A secure firm surface for lunging on a 20m circle
  • If ridden exercise is to be examined (this is recommended for all horses/ponies being sold for ridden use), a suitable area for work at walk, trot, and canter (plus gallop if a high-performance sports horse) as well as an able rider being available
  • For horses being sold as fit for jump work, it is preferred they are seen over jumps at their usual performance height
  • Likewise, dressage and show horses should be able to perform work in an outline.

Prior to performing an examination the potential purchaser of a horse must fill out the required paperwork to ensure the correct type of examination can be performed.

If you are interested in having us perform a pre-purchase on your next horse/pony, please contact the clinic on 09 2382471to obtain these forms.


Franklin Vets

Franklin Vets - excellence in veterinary care for dairy, farming, lifestyle, equine and household pets. BESTPRACTICE ACCREDITED NZ.