I never had a specialty in veterinary medicine. I worked on every conceivable species during my practice career, even dolphins and whales. We did a lot of zoo and circus practice. You name it; livestock, pets, birds, elephant. However more than any other species, I did horse practice, which made me happy.

An important part of horse practice was pre-purchase exams. I did so many, up to four in a single day, that it almost became a specialty.


Many of my colleagues, including some in 100% equine practice, refused to do pre-purchase exams. They were afraid that the controversies which inevitable result when examining a horse prior to purchase often disappoint or even anger either the seller or the buyer. Therefore some equine practitioners refuse to do them because they are afraid that the resulting disappointment may cause the loss of a client.

I did not let those concerns inhibit me from doing a pre-purchase exam, providing that I did not already know that the horse had an unsoundness problem, or a potential future problem.

So that’s why we did so many such exams in our practice. My associate and partner, Dr. Larry Dresher, had the same principles as I did.

We would objectively and conscientiously, and thoroughly examine the horse and write out everything we saw, whether positive or negative. This was not difficult for me because I am a very realistic, objective person, and I am very dedicated to the ethics and reputation of my profession. Dr. Dresher obviously had the same motivation.

Did we lose any clients for spoiling sales? A few. So what? Our integrity simply increased the popularity and reputation for our services.

Recently, many years after retiring from practice, I was in a local feed store. One of the customers said, “Aren’t you Dr. Miller?”

I said, “Yes.”

She said, “I remember you. People used to say “If you’re buying a horse, call the Conejo Valley Vet Clinic, but if you’re selling a horse get someone else.”

I hadn’t heard that since I retired, but I heard it frequently before I retired.