Pre-Purchase Examinations

Pre-Purchase Examinations at South Coast Equine Veterinary Pratice, Merooo Meadow NSW.

You think you have found your dream horse and rightly want to make sure that the dream has a good chance of lasting. A Pre-Purchase examination is the best way to be confident your prospect is healthy.


At South Coast Equine Veterinary Practice we follow the Equine Veterinarians of Australia guidelines to carry out a pre-purchase examination. It takes about an hour or more to carry out the examination thoroughly. It is advisable for both the owner or knowledgable agent and the buyer to be present but often the buyer is located a distance away, in which case make sure you speak to the vet performing the examination before and after, so both of you are communicating effectively.

The horse is examined for identification and any known medical issues or treatments. The owner signs the document stating their knowledge of the horse’s medical history. The vet then examines the horse, checking eyes, skin, heart , lungs, legs , feet, movement, etc

Then the horse is examined in hand at walk and trot, on a straight line for any signs of lameness. If no lameness is seen, the vet will then flex up each leg and hold it for about a minute. This applies pressure to the joints. The horse is then trotted off and subjectively assessed for the effect of the flexion on its soundness.

Following flexion tests the horse is then lunged so walk trot and canter can be viewed in both directions. Many horses are not lame on a straight line but are lame on a circle, hence this is a very important part of the examination.

Throughout all of the examination the horse’s temperament and behaviour are being noticed and whilst not necessarily affecting the horse medically, they can certainly make the reliability of the examination better or worse.

For example a poorly behaved horse who doesn’t trot well in hand can make lameness assessment much harder.

The other thing to remember is that this is an external examination, done on a day. It doesn’t mean that in 3 months time or even tomorrow that the  horse will be healthy or sound. However combining the information this examination gives you with your own knowledge of the horse should allow a more confident purchase. If there are medical issues further testing may be advised eg radiographs, ultrasound, drug testing.