The Pre-purchase Exam and Vet Certificate
A buyer may not consider this necessary when the seller can produce a recent certificate of such an examination, but nevertheless the best plan is to obtain an independent opinion because the horse may not have shown symptoms of a serious defect previously.
Should the buyer wish to have the horse on trial, they must remember that nothing must be done to the horse such as removing the mane or replacing the shoes (even if those the horse is wearing require removal) until they have made up their mind whether to retain or return, because should they do so, it constitutes “purchase” and legally the seller is entitled to refuse return.
The buyer must understand that, from the stand point of the veterinarian, the horse can only be classified as suitable or unsuitable for purchase. The veterinary certificate will list the defects detected in the horse and will offer an opinion on the significance of the fault in relation to the purpose for which the horse is to be used. i.e. racing, dressage, jumping, or breeding.
Very often a prospective buyer may have noticed a particular vice and they should always mention this to the veterinarian because some vices or habits are not always visible at the time of the pre-purchase exam. You should also remember that a vet certificate does not indicate freedom from a vice. Nevertheless, the seller is under obligation to disclose to the buyer any vice or bad habit that is within his knowledge as failure to do so can nullify the transaction and horse can be returned.
Traditionally the maxim caveat emptor has been the rule of the law and a party who has bought a defective horse has no remedy, unless there is evidence either of express warranty or of fraud. In the general sale of a horse the stellar only warrants it to be an animal of the description it appears to be and nothing more; if the purchaser makes no inquiries to its qualities and turns out to be unfit for its use, he cannot recover against the seller. Veterinarians are expected to explain and record any medical abnormalities/concerns revealed while performing the exam but they are not, however, guaranteeing the soundness of the horse.