There is risk associated with the purchase of any horse. In order to manage that risk, we advise prospective purchasers to employ an experienced equine veterinarian to undertake a pre-purchase examination. A pre-purchase examination is not an examination for soundness and the aim is not to pass or fail a horse.

Instead the aim of conducting a pre-purchase examination should be to identify, assess and attempt to quantify the risks associated with purchasing the horse for its intended purpose. It is very important that the horse is currently fit and in athletic training because, for example, it is very difficult to assess the suitability of a horse for any purpose if it has been spelling in a paddock for three months.

In order to adequately assess the horse, the minimum examination undertaken by our practice is the five stage examination. This is an extensive clinical examination that often takes between one and two hours.


–            A dark stable in which to examine the eyes.

–            A hard driveway or concrete area on which the horse can be walked and trotted out in hand.

–            An area in which the horse can be ridden or lunged.

If the vendor does not have these facilities, it may be advisable to consider transporting the horse to another location at which these facilities are available.

  1. General clinical examination including eyes, heart, lungs, mouth, feet and conformation.
  2. Walking and trotting out in hand on a hard surface in a straight line. Application of hoof testers, turning, backing and flexion tests.
  3. Observation under saddle or on the lunge. The vendor will be expected to ride or lunge the horse at the trot and canter for at least fifteen to twenty minutes.
  4. The horse is then allowed to cool down.
  5. Final trot up. Walking, and trotting out in hand on a hard surface in a straight line. Lunging on a hard surface. Repeat flexion tests.

Finally, the veterinarian undertaking the examination will discuss all findings with the purchaser and provide a written report within twenty four hours. The veterinary report is not a guarantee and no warranty is given or implied, the veterinary report is a professional assessment of the risk associated with purchase of the horse on the basis of the findings on the day of the examination.

On the basis of the findings of the five stage examination, your veterinarian may suggest, for an additional fee, diagnostic testing such as radiographs of a suspect joint or an ultrasound examination of a thickened tendon.

Alternatively, additional diagnostic testing can be undertaken as part of the initial pre-purchase examination. The types of diagnostic testing routinely undertaken include, but are not limited to;

  1. Routine radiographic studies are often taken of knees, fetlocks, hocks, stifles and front feet.
  2. Ultrasound examination of tendons.
  3. Endoscopic examination of the upper respiratory tract.
  4. Complete body profile blood testing to look for sub-clinical disease and assess organ function.

When requested, we are more than happy to make copies of our radiographs available to interstate veterinarians. Our practice has an online repository and a 30 day link to our radiographic study can be emailed to your own veterinarian. Your veterinarian will have instant access to our DICOM files, which will allow them to provide their own advice, with the knowledge that the images they are assessing are of sufficient quality to be relied upon. This is one way that we can help ensure a timely and straightforward purchasing experience for interstate clients.

The final decision to buy the horse rests with you, the purchaser. If there is any aspect of the pre-purchase examination findings that you don’t understand, please feel free to ask us as many questions as you please, before making your final decision.

If the horse is owned by one of our clients, as a general rule, we will not undertake a pre-purchase examination.

All information obtained during the pre-purchase examination is owned by the purchaser who has paid for the pre-purchase examination. We will not discuss the details of our findings with the vendor without the permission of the purchaser. Nor will we discuss the details of our findings with any other prospective purchasers unless they retain us as the veterinarian to undertake an examination on their behalf.

Before undertaking a pre-purchase examination we suggest that all prospective purchasers give consideration to the following;

  1. Retain a professional trainer to ride the horse and give advice as to the suitability of the horse for its intended purpose.
  2. In respect to show animals, sight an original and current measuring certificate.
  3. Sight original registration papers and determine that the vendor is the listed on the registration papers as the last owner.
  4. Obtain a written and signed medical history from the vendor.

Please download the form at this link and complete, return the pre-purchase examination booking form to our office.

The form can be emailed to or faxed to (03) 5978 0457.