I would think this principle goes without saying but, based upon my experience recently, it may not, so I will say it:
If you are purchasing a horse from a vet, do not rely on him or her for your prepurchase examination of that horse.
While most vets are wonderful, honest folks, there are a few who are not and you can avoid worrying about which is which if you have an independent, neutral veterinarian conduct your prepurchase examination on any horse you are considering for purchase from a veterinarian. Frankly, most of the good veterinarians I know would refuse to do the prepurchase examination for you if they were selling you a horse for fear of having it even LOOK like a conflict of interest – and wanting to avoid that concern altogether by having a neutral vet come in to conduct the prepurchase exam.
The less savory seller vets will tell you that they will do the prepurchase for you at a discount to lure you into thinking that’s the way to go. And before folks yell at me for that statement, I will say that I am certain there are perfectly fine, nice, honest vets who sell horses and offer a discounted prepurchase examination if you use them. But my point is that you will not know which are the good folks who are genuinely trying to help you by doing the exam themselves and which are the vets who are trying to get you to let them conduct the prepurchase examination for their own selfish reasons. So, in my professional opinion, the best practice is to avoid the scenario altogether and get a vet who has no connection whatsoever to the seller of the horse. For example, they didn’t go to vet school together, they weren’t in each other’s weddings, their kids don’t play little league together….you get the point. Just like when hiring a lawyer, you want a vet doing your prepurchase examination who ONLY has YOUR interests at heart and does not have any vested interest – financial, social or emotional – in the seller vet or in whether you purchase the horse or not.
Good luck out there!
If you get into a bind and need assistance or just want to ask some questions to avoid getting in a bind, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I often will answer a short and simple question for free if I have time and know the answer off the top of my head! If you don’t hear back from me quickly, it’s not because I don’t love you or think you have a great question or because I don’t know the answer (usually), I’m probably just really busy and haven’t had a chance to email back. And you can always buy the first hour of my time for $250 (my usual hourly rate for 2012 is $325). Lots of folks will save up all their equine (and some corporate or real estate) legal questions and short documents and sit with me for an hour and we will do as much as we can during that hour and it’s only $250. You can check out my Twitter feed @nchorselawyer as well as our firm’s Equine Law Group web page at www.rl-law.com if you’re interested, and yes, in addition to providing what I hope are interesting and informative stories, this blog and the Twitter feed referenced above are also advertisements for legal services. I have to tell you that in bold, says the State Bar.