Perhaps the most satisfactory procedure for the less experienced to adopt in horse-buying, is to resort to a dealer of good repute, and place yourself in his hands - telling him what you want and the price you are willing to pay. If he will find the horse, allow a trial of him, and a veterinary examination, what more can be desired? If sound and suitable, and the price not much more than you stipulated to give, there is an end to the search. The money should not be paid before the trial or the examination, and if the dealer is respectable and cares for his good name, he will deal fairly with a customer who trusts him. No verbal warranty, can, as a rule, be relied upon. If a dealer verbally warrants a horse sound, or free from vice, or quiet to ride or drive - though few dealers who do not desire lawsuits will do either - and the animal turns out differently, the chances of a favourable issue of a trial in a court of law, if he will not take the horse back, are very risky. If the horse does not suit after purchase, a reputable dealer will change it for another, though probably he will expect more money. After a long experience of dealers, this mode of purchasing can be recommended to those who have neither the time, patience, skill, or judgment to buy in fairs or at auctions. The latter are quite as risky as fairs, unless the horses are well known before the sale.
In buying from private persons, if they are known to the buyer or his friends as trustworthy, there is less hazard than in purchasing at fairs or auctions. Nevertheless, if the character of the horse is not known, or his good or bad qualities not apparent, much circumspection is generally necessary. The old maxim holds good here as elsewhere, that "the buyer hath need of a thousand eyes, but the seller only one;" and in selling a horse, conscience is often strangely kept out of the way. If the capabilities of the horse are in doubt he should be tried and carefully tested, and a veterinary examination obtained. A clear understanding of the terms of purchase should always be arrived at.
As a general rule, if it is desired to be on the safe side with regard to soundness or practical usefulness, the horsebuyer had better obtain the professional opinion of a veterinary expert, whose knowledge and experience should be a reasonable guarantee of protection from imposition and loss. Immense numbers of horses are purchased on the understanding that they will pass a veterinary examination, and the veterinary surgeons who are entrusted with the serious responsibility of examining them, are bound to use their best endeavour to discharge this duty faithfully and well. A warranty of soundness they cannot give, but they furnish a certificate stating that their examination has had a certain result, which, so far as their opinion goes, must be accepted as correct. The veterinary surgeon is the intermediary or arbiter between the buyer and seller, but he is bound to protect the interests of the buyer by candidly and truthfully giving his opinion. To both buyer and seller this is a fair course to adopt, and greatly facilitates business, while obviating recourse to the expensive and unsatisfactory arbitrament of the law.