Stage 1 – The first stage of the vetting is a examination with the horse stabled. Here any abnormal behaviours, signs of unsuitable temperament, etc will be noted. The vet will also check the general condition of the horse like check the eyes, nostrils, lymph glands, muscular development, spine, limbs and also check for wounds, swellings, growths, scars, heat, etc. Once the vet has checked the horse over thoroughly the vet will view the horse at walk on a firm, flat surface to check that the horse shows regularity, suppleness and shows no sign of pain when moving.
Stage 2 – In Hand Examination During Stage 2 the vet will require that the horse is trotted up on a flat, hard surface viewing the horse from behind, in front and from the side. The vet will look for regular, straight movement without restriction or any indication of lameness or pain. The vet will also view the horse being turned and moved backwards to further assess the movement of the limbs. The vet may also carry out a flexion test – where each limb is lifted and held for a period of time before being released with the horse immediately being trotted and the vet views whether there is any abnormality in movement as a result of this flexion. The flexion test can be useful in assessing the seriousness of problems already identified and can also expose lameness problems not otherwise found. However, flexion tests can cause lameness in sound horses if applied too vigorously and so any doubt over the results of this part of the test should be discussed fully with the vet once vetting is completed as some unsoundness after a flexion test may not necessarily mean the horse will not be suitable for the intended use.
Stage 3 – Strenuous Exercise The vet will then watch the horse carrying out strenuous exercise in order to note the horse’s respiration and heart rate. If the horse is unbroken then exercise will be carried out on the lunge, otherwise the horse will normally be ridden. The horse will be required to walk, trot and canter with the vet listening for abnormal sounds and at the end of the exercise the vet will examine the heart and lungs.
Stage 4 - Rest Period After completing Stage 3 of the vetting the horse will be rested for up to 30 minutes when the heart and lungs will be examined again and blood tests taken.
Stage 5 – Trotting Up and Foot Examination The horse will be trotted up again in order to note that it continues to move soundly after completing stage 3. The Vetting Results Once the vetting is complete the vet will fill out the necessary documentation and either “pass” or “fail” the horse. The results will record any abnormalities and signs of ill-health and will record their significance based on the use the horse is intended for. In some cases there may be areas in which a problem or potential problem has been identified. However, if the horse is particularly desirable it may be that further tests may be beneficial to establish the seriousness of the problem identified and whether they can easily be treated before deciding whether to buy the horse or not. It is not the responsibility of the vet to make the decision as to whether to purchase the horse or not, but to provide a professional opinion of the health of the horse with the intended use borne in mind. If there is any doubt as to the suitability of the horse for its intended purpose based on its health it is important to discuss these fully with the vet so that an informed decision on whether to purchase the horse or not can be made.
Stage 5 – X-Rays (if requested)
Stage 6 – Bloodcheck (if requested)