Vet Services Hawkes Bay Ltd

Opening Hours: Find Your Clinic

Equine newsletter – Pre-purchase examination

Equine newsletter – Pre-purchase examination


Shopping for a horse or a pony can be a minefield – first is the finding of a suitable horse/pony, then follows the input from friends/family, your trainer or coach, and the seller; you can be left feeling a little overwhelmed. Throw in a dishonest seller, and you can be left in a real situation.

One constant in all of this, is the Veterinary Pre- Purchase Examination. Vets who conduct Pre Purchase Exams have undergone special training to do so. There is a strict set of guidelines, set out by the NZ Equine Veterinary Association, that dictates how the examination is conducted, and every vet is bound by this.

What is involved?

There are two options; a partial examination (1-2 stage) and a full examination (1-5 stage)


1. Preliminary examination at rest – a very thorough clinical exam; includes checking eyes, skin, heart, lungs, teeth, limbs, joints, back, feet etc. etc.
2. Examination during walking, trotting, turning and backing (includes flexion tests and lunging)

3. Examination during and immediately after strenuous exercise (includes getting the heart and respiratory rates up to check for abnormal noise or heart rhythm issues, and checking for lameness/gait abnormalities under saddle)

4. Examination during the period after exercise (checking recovery rate)
5. The final examination during walking, trotting, turning and backing (checking for any lameness or gait abnormalities brought on by exercise)

There are further optional extras, including radiography (x-rays), endoscopy (scope), ECG, reproductive exam, and blood testing for the presence of anti-inflammatories.

We cannot stress enough the benefit of doing a pre-purchase exam prior to purchase. Too often we are presented with recently purchased horses and ponies that are lame, often with a subtle low grade, performance limiting lameness. The horse may not be able to do its job, the horse is unable to be subsequently sold, and it may be a costly process identifying the lameness, let alone treating it.

Would you buy a second hand car without getting your mechanic or the AA to check it over? What about a house? Then why not for a $5000 to $100,000+ horse?!

Many insurance companies require a pre-purchase exam to be performed prior to them providing insurance cover.

We have vets across all of our clinics who perform pre-purchase exams regularly – if you have any questions or queries, please feel free to give us a bell


Back to Articles