Stage 1: Preliminary examination. This is a thorough, detailed clinical examination of the horse at rest, with relevant history noted, and passport/microchip details checked. It includes auscultation of the heart and lungs at rest, examination of the skin, limbs, and feet, and flexion of the joints to assess for any pain or reduced ranges of motion. An ophthalmic examination is performed of both eyes and the mouth is briefly examined, with or without a dental gag. A detailed dental examination is not a routine part of a vetting but can be requested upon booking.
Stage 2: Trotting up. The horse is walked and trotted in hand on a firm, level ground to look for any evidence of lameness or gait abnormalities. The horse is turned sharply in both directions and backed for a few paces. Flexion tests are performed and, where suitable, a hard lunge may be performed.
Stage 3: Strenuous exercise phase. This stage involves ridden assessment of the horse at a sufficient exercise level for its intended use. The aim is to increase the horses respiratory and heart rate to allow for any unusual breathing sounds or cardiac abnormalities to be detected. All 3 gaits will be assessed for abnormalities that may appear due to the animal tiring.
Stage 4: Rest period. The horse is allowed to stand quietly for a period of time in the stable. The heart and lungs are checked during this time as they return to their resting levels.
Stage 5: Second trot up. The horse is walked and trotted again as performed in stage 2 to reveal any abnormalities exacerbated by the strenuous exercise stage. Flexion tests may be performed again.