Pre-purchase examination – (horse vetting)

Buying a horse can be expensive and stressful, more so if it doesn’t work out. We can give you sound advice to help your decisions. 

We can perform pre-purchase examinations throughout the UK and abroad. Dr Espinar has knowledge of the equine industry; his over 20 years of experience and qualifications gives him an exceptional insight when assessing horses.

A pre-purchase examination (or vetting as they are commonly known) involves examining the horse to determine its suitability for its intended use. 

In an ideal world buyers expect horses to pass or fail (and that may be the case), however more often it is an exercise of gathering factual information and giving an associated risk so you can make an informed decision.

We follow the BEVA recommended protocol for the two types of pre-purchase examination: a 2 stage or a 5 stage. A 2 stage vetting is a limited examination. Therefore we would encourage you to perform a 5 stage exam for complete assessment. However, there may be situations where this is not possible, so we can discuss the merits of each depending on your needs.

The pre-purchase exam involves 5 stages and two extra “optional” procedures that can be performed in either a 2 or 5 stage vetting: flexion test and lungeing on a hard surface. A blood sample may be taken for storage (up to 6 months) for possible analysis for substances that may have influenced the horse.

Emiliano Espinar Veterinary Surgeon

Additional procedures such as x-ray and ultrasound can also be performed by prior request. Its important that there are adequate facilities to perform the vetting. Ideally a stable dark enough to allow eye examination, level firm trot up area (at least 20metres), safe riding area, firm surface for lungeing and a cup of tea!

If you would like to see what pre-purchase examinations involve, more details can be found here:

Pre-purchase examination explained:

Sample pre-purchase certificate:

At the end of the vetting, results are discussed with the buyer. We give an assessment on the horse’s suitability for purpose including factors that may impact this. If there is a problem that can compromise the horse’s welfare, this can be discussed with the vendor at my discretion. Opinions are based on how the horse presents that day, and vettings are non-transferable . This means that the seller cannot use the results of your vetting as proof that the horse will pass a future vetting with another purchaser.

   Pre-purchase x-ray opinion services

We frequently examine radiographs or other diagnostic material such as sales videos, and/or imaging if these are provided when you are considering buying a horse and want an expert opinion. We can provide you with a written report. It is very important you understand all the facts and increased risks before purchase.


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 Registered company number: 11193036