Pre-purchase Examinations

Owning and caring for a horse is a huge investment, both emotionally and financially. The purchase price of the horse is just a small fraction of what it costs to keep a horse well cared for and that is why it is so important to minimise the risk of purchasing a horse with existing health issues. To reduce this risk, we strongly recommend prospective purchasers employ an experienced equine vet to undertake a pre-purchase examination.

It is important for horse purchasers to understand that a pre-purchase examination does not evaluate ‘soundness’ nor does a horse ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ the examination. Rather, the aim of the examination is to identify, assess and evaluate the risk associated with purchasing the horse for its stated purpose. Prospective purchasers who engage the services of The Animal Doctors @ Pakenham will be able to make an informed decision following a pre-purchase examination conducted by an experienced vet whose work is 100% dedicated to horses.

Dr David Clemence will conduct an extensive clinical examination, often referred to as a ‘five stage’ examination. The five stages are:

  1. General examination, including eyes, lungs, heart, mouth, feet and overall conformation
  2. With the horse on the lead, walking and trotting on a hard surface in a straight line. The vet will perform flexion tests, apply hoof tests and turn and back the horse.
  3. Observation of the horse being worked on the lunge or under saddle for about 20 minutes
  4. While the horse cools down, further examination and assessing of any issues.
  5. Final trot up and taking of bloods if requested.

This comprehensive examination usually takes around two hours and requires the following facilities:

  • A flat, hard area (concrete or a driveway) where the horse can be walked and trotted
  • A place where the horse can be ridden or lunged
  • A dark stable (for examination of the eyes)

Following the examination, our vets will call the prospective purchaser to discuss the findings. A full written report will follow shortly after. This comprehensive report will include all findings on the day of examination. The seller is also required to complete documentation that requires any past injuries, illnesses and medications to be disclosed. It is important to remember that the veterinary report is not a guarantee and provides no warranty, what it does provide is an experienced, professional assessment of the risk associated with buying the horse based on the findings on the day of the examination.

On occasion, the vet will recommend further examinations to understand more about one or more of the pre-purchase examinations. Further testing may include radiographs, ultrasounds, endoscopy and/or blood testing. Further examination will only take place at the purchaser’s request.

The final decision regarding whether or not to buy a horse always rests with the prospective purchaser. Our experienced, equine-only vets are available to discuss with the purchaser any aspect of the pre-purchase exam in more detail if required.

It is important to note that the information obtained by the prospective purchaser as a result of the pre-purchase examination is confidential. We will not discuss our findings with the vendor, or anyone else, unless give explicit permission by the prospective purchaser.