The veterinarian today who participates in a purchase examination is frequently put in the position of either passing or failing a particular horse. Many times one will hear, "I will buy this horse if it passes the vet." In my opinion, the veterinarian's role is to provide additional information to the buyer so that he or she is then in a better position to negotiate the final purchase. However, since many buyers are inexperienced with regard to horses, they depend completely on the veterinarian to determine whether or not they will buy the horse. If the veterinarian continues in this role as the final word, he or she is essentially guaranteeing that particular horse. This is not the veterinarian's obligation and should be the obligation of the seller. The contract for purchase is between the buyer and seller, and the veterinarian should function strictly as an advisor to the buyer. I believe the future of purchase examinations should lie along this path, with the veterinarian no longer burdened with passing or failing a particular horse.
It is appropriate to discuss how one explains to a purchaser the future of a particular horse when abnormalities have been seen in the radiographs. There is no way to predict the future, and all one can give is a "guesstimate" of the animal's future usefulness. I prefer to use the terms "optimistic outlook" and "pessimistic outlook" when discussing this with the buyer. When there are definite radiographic abnormalities that might be significant, I make a judgment based on these changes, the clinical evaluation of the horse, and my experience with the effect of similar changes on other horses. It is then up to the purchaser to decide with this information as a foundation for his conclusions.