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For Equine Vets Everywhere


Before you buy, think carefully about what type of horse or pony you are looking for. When you acquire a horse it becomes your responsibility 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, depending on you for its health, comfort and safety. There are four main points to consider when purchasing a horse or pony:  

  • What you are using it for
  • The facilities you have available
  • The amount of time you have to exercise and look after it
  • The cost of both buying and keeping it

Take a knowledgeable friend with you when viewing prospective purchases. Not only will they be able to give you a second opinion on suitability but they may also be able to spot any potential problems.


When you’ve found your ideal horse or pony, it is advisable to have a pre-purchase veterinary examination carried out (or vet’s certificate as it is commonly known). The Five Stage Veterinary Examination for Purchase is carried out following guidelines laid down by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) in conjunction with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA). The examination should be carried out by an experienced veterinary surgeon who will report on whether it is advisable to go ahead with the purchase. Try to use your own veterinary surgeon, who will appreciate and advise on your requirements. Having a horse examined prior to purchase is not cheap, but it may well save you money in the long run. If the horse passes the examination, then a certificate will be completed by the veterinary surgeon, which may be used for insuring the horse or pony when the sale is completed.

You may also be interested in viewing the BEVA/RCVS Guidance Notes on the Examination of a Horse which has been produced jointly by the British Equine Veterinary Association and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (and is Supported by the Veterinary Council of Ireland and Veterinary Ireland) and is intended to provide general guidance for both the veterinary surgeons and prospective purchasers on what is to be expected of pre-purchase examinations of horses. The term “horse” is meant to include ponies and foals.


A vendor’s certificate is sometimes issued by the vendor or by the vendor’s veterinary surgeon prior to selling the horse. It is not, nor should it be regarded as, a substitute for a pre-purchase veterinary examination.