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For Equine Vets Everywhere

Revised Pre-Purchase Examination Certificate and New Pre-Purchase Examination Guidance Notes

On 2nd June 2011 the RCVS Council approved a revised pre-purchase examination certificate and a new "guidance notes*" to replace the existing "joint memorandum" (*the Guidance Notes were further updated in 2012). These documents were developed by the BEVA Pre-purchase Examination Committee, chaired by Malcolm Morley, and came into use on 8th September 2011, the first day of BEVA congress. The documents had been overdue for review, remaining unchanged since 1986. As an example, the existing joint memorandum states that "in the present state of knowledge, it is not possible to store and analyse blood samples" and makes no mention of flexion tests or trotting on a circle on a firm surface. The certificate has been updated to reflect current practice and comply with recent RCVS guidance regarding examinations where the seller is a client of the examining veterinary surgeon.

Key facts:

(1) The current documents remain in use until the 8th September 2011.

(2) The new "BEVA/RCVS Guidance Notes on the Examination of a Horse on Behalf of a Prospective Purchaser (amended 2012)" replace 2011 version which had replaced the joint memorandum. They are available in the public domain and have been written in plain English for prospective purchasers as well as veterinary surgeons.

(3) The new certificate records whether the seller or their agent are clients of the examining veterinary surgeon or their practice.

(4) The new certificate records whether the examining veterinary surgeon or their practice have attended the horse and if they have, an opinion is given regarding the significance of any veterinary history.

(5) Flexion tests and trotting on a circle on a tight surface are still not mandatory parts of the examination because, although they can be useful, there may be occasions when they are inappropriate, unsuitable, unsafe or impossible to perform. However, many purchasers expect them to be performed and so the new certificate records whether or not they were done. If they were not performed, the certificate also records the reasons for omitting them.

(6) If a blood sample was not taken then the reason for omitting it is recorded on the certificate.

(7) The new certificate has advice regarding a seller's warranty and obtaining insurance.

(8) The term "aged" now refers to horses considered to be over 15 years old, whereas previously it could be used for horses considered to be over 8 years old. This is not the result of a change in the understanding of ageing horse by dentition but because calling a horse "aged" when it might be less than 15 years old does not reflect common usage of the term.

The Veterinary Defence Society will continue to distribute the pre-purchase examination certificates.