There are two types of vettings (pre purchase examinations), explained below. We generally undertake these on the yard where the horse is being purchased from. We can also undertake vettings for insurance.
Two stage vettings involve
A thorough preliminary examination
This takes into account not only the obvious points concerning the eyes, heart, lungs (at rest), but also the horse’s conformation and its potential implications, any evidence of previous or current injury, external tumours, skin conditions, dental problems and a whole raft of potential pitfalls.
An examination at walk and trot
Obviously this examines soundness, but also more subtle gait changes and neurological conditions can be detected at this point.
Five stage vettings involve
A five stage vetting starts with the two stages above but then continues on with:
The strenuous exercise phase
The horse is worked so that it is breathing heavily and its heart rate is raised. This also allows a far better examination of soundness in ‘wind and limb’.
A period of rest
Final trot up and foot examination
Occasionally lameness or stiffness can become apparent as the horse cools down, which might not have been noticed initially when the horse had been brought from his stable.
During vetting we also take a blood sample which is sent for storage at a specialist lab. In the event of a dispute, for example over whether drugs had been administered prior to the purchase of the horse, this sample can be tested and act as an invaluable safeguard for everyone concerned.
What is the difference between a 2-stage and a 5-stage vetting?
A two stage vetting omits the final three stages listed above. The first two stages are conducted just as thoroughly as in the full five stage examination; it is important however to realise that some problems simply might not become apparent in this limited version.
What do we need?
For the examination to be conducted properly we require a handler, a level hard surface to trot up on, and a stable or other suitable area that can be darkened for the eye examination. In addition for a five stage vetting we normally require a rider, and a level non-slip surface where the horse can be exercised at walk, trot, and canter – a school is ideal. The horse’s passport should also be available – please note it is illegal to sell a horse without a valid passport!
During the examination we may find something that we feel requires further investigation before we can ‘pass’ the horse – or not as the case may be. Insurance companies may also request X-rays before they will insure a horse, especially in more expensive animals. This can be done on-site though when many X-rays are to be taken it is usually most practical to bring the horse into the practice. It may also be necessary for us to consult specialists if we feel we have discovered anything particularly unusual.