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View Full Version : Have you ever bought a horse with minor arthritic changes?



Lexus
Sep. 15, 2009, 10:15 AM
I was going to go look at a potential 3' hunter however I found out from the seller that the horse has been previously vetted and found to have minor arthritic changes in one of the small hock joints. The horse is relatively young, never taken a bad step and has never had any sort of joint maintenance (no injections or oral supplements) It is also sweet, simple and completely suitable for the job I need it for. I need to eventually resell the horse but I don't need to resell to make alot of money over the purchase price.

I'm interested in other's decisions to buy a horse with less than perfect xrays with the condition that some day the horse needs to be resold (and yes, I say this knowing full well that horses like to find ways to hurt themselves and come with no guarantee!!)

spmoonie
Sep. 15, 2009, 10:22 AM
Really, there is no way of telling how long the horse will last. Those may be the only arthritic changes that horse ever sees, or it may be ready to retire in 2 years. It probably wouldnt bother me much. ANY horse that jumps is going to have at least small arthritic changes at some point. Its inevitable. If everything else about the horse is right, I wouldnt worry too much. There are a lot of things you can do to help prevent/reduce any further changes (injections, supplements, etc).

ETA: When I got my guy, he had some wear and tear on him, however, Im not ever going to sell him, so it didnt bother me. We have had people come to look at horses similar to the type you mentioned (young, slight arthritic changes) that decided to pass on them. Its a shame because some of them are excellent horses.

Skip's Rider
Sep. 15, 2009, 11:25 AM
Eight years ago I bought a 12-year-old Appendix QH that had arthritic changes in his left hock -- more than minor. I bought him because he was the perfect fit for me at the time, he had a great temperament, and the price was right (not cheap, but not $$$$$). I showed him for 3 years with the final year being at 3'. I found a new mount, and Skip became my daughter's horse. He's 20 years old now and is still doing great. He was on Cosequin for the first four years, but when he was ~16 that didn't seem to be enough. I put him on Lubrisyn, and he did great! I wish I'd had the Lubrisyn when I was showing him in the AAs! Anyway, last year I switched him to Flex-Force, and he's doing even better than he was on the Lubrisyn. He still jumps 2'6" courses with ease.

So, the bottom line is that minor arthritic changes may mean something or may not. I've had great luck with this horse and a little maintenance. Good luck!

Lexus
Sep. 15, 2009, 11:52 AM
ETA: When I got my guy, he had some wear and tear on him, however, Im not ever going to sell him, so it didnt bother me. We have had people come to look at horses similar to the type you mentioned (young, slight arthritic changes) that decided to pass on them. Its a shame because some of them are excellent horses.


This is really the input I'm looking for. Does this issue cause the majority of potential customers to walk away or not even look, or if priced right, is there still a significant market. Leasing is also an option since I have my own farm and the horse can come home if need be.

Beethoven
Sep. 15, 2009, 11:55 AM
I bought my 18 yr old OTTB as a 9 yr old with bone spurs in both front legs and athritic changes in his right hock. He has been very sound. Currently recovering from a high suspensory strain, but before that he was still jumping 4 ft plus. :yes::D

So, yes I have and definatly would.

Janet
Sep. 15, 2009, 12:03 PM
Is the horse currently sound?

How does the horse's current workload comapre to your anticipated workload?

Couture TB
Sep. 15, 2009, 12:06 PM
Most likely quite a few people have bought horses with minor arthritic changes. Most horses have them. Most are fine though might need injections or adequon etc later.

Lexus
Sep. 15, 2009, 12:16 PM
Is the horse currently sound?

How does the horse's current workload comapre to your anticipated workload?

Currently and always has been sound. Workload is the same as I would ask.

horsepoor
Sep. 15, 2009, 12:17 PM
I vetted several horses last year that had deal breaking problems show up (I won't touch problems in feet or stifles). I would have been very happy to find just arthritic changes in the hocks -- that to me is manageable as the hocks are pretty forgiving. One of my current horses was purchased as a green 5 year old and he had some hock arthritis show up on his x-rays, but that didn't bother me (nor him!) a bit and now 3 years later, I think we have injected the hocks twice.

Can you get the x-rays from that other pre-purchase? If so, would be good to have your vet look at them prior to spending money on the whole vetting. Sometimes what someone describes as one thing turns out to be another -- I had some x-rays that my vet looked at for me that the seller said were "pretty normal" for the 5 year old I was looking at. There were some really ugly things going on in a couple of joints that made me not even pursue having the horse vetted.

Good luck!

Renn/aissance
Sep. 15, 2009, 01:50 PM
Wouldn't bother me if he's sound under the same workload you're likely to give him, unless "relatively young" means four years old. Even better if you can see previous X-rays. Especially since he has had no joint maintenance and is sound, this sounds like almost a non-issue.

magnolia73
Sep. 15, 2009, 01:51 PM
I bought a green horse with changes in one hock. According to the seller, the hocks were a deal breaker for multiple interested buyers. That said- she was unproven and green, but otherwise, very sweet, quiet and nice.

I think if a horse had a show record, and the hocks were nothing more than issues on an x-ray or even simply needed occasional maintenance, it would be less of an issue. Most horses that have done something will have an issue here and there.

Haalter
Sep. 15, 2009, 02:35 PM
I think a better question would be, "Have you ever bought a horse WITHOUT minor arthritic changes" :lol: If you are talking about a horse that's ready to step into the show ring with an ammy or a junior at 3', I would be willing to bet that 90% of those horses have some degree of arthritic changes somewhere. It's just something that happens with horses that jump.

The questions would be, is the horse sound, how bad are the x-rays, and what is the horse's performance history. If as you say, the horse is sound and has always been sound, the x-rays show only minor changes, and the horse has been performing successfully already at the job for which it's intended, I don't see what you described as a major issue. As far as resale, IME knowledgeable/experenced trainers/buyers would not be seeing any big red flags based on what you've described.

shawneeAcres
Sep. 15, 2009, 03:00 PM
Most horses that have had a serious "job" have arthritic changes. Do some people walk away, yes, but usually theya re people with unrealistic expectations from a vetting. What I want to hear though is 1) is horse doing the job intended with no major issues (or if price is right, with "maintainable" issues) 2) age, how old is said horse? I would balk more at a 5 yr old than a 10 yr old with changes, and most buyers feel the same way

findeight
Sep. 15, 2009, 03:02 PM
2 questions...how young is "young" and how long has he been in a 3' schooling program/showing at 3'? I bought one for 3' with evidence of ocd but it was 9 years old and had been in work for a solid 6.

Most of them can handle a 3' program with various issues-as long as you are sure you know what's going on, it is of little consequence EXCEPT some management will be needed.

Everybody throws out "oh, yeah just do yada yada yada" and that is right but they sometimes don't take into consideration what that is going to add to the monthly cost with one. As long as you are willing to do a little maintainence and be a little careful with footing and workload, should not be an issue.

poltroon
Sep. 15, 2009, 03:11 PM
I think a better question would be, "Have you ever bought a horse WITHOUT minor arthritic changes" :lol: If you are talking about a horse that's ready to step into the show ring with an ammy or a junior at 3', I would be willing to bet that 90% of those horses have some degree of arthritic changes somewhere. It's just something that happens with horses that jump.

The questions would be, is the horse sound, how bad are the x-rays, and what is the horse's performance history. If as you say, the horse is sound and has always been sound, the x-rays show only minor changes, and the horse has been performing successfully already at the job for which it's intended, I don't see what you described as a major issue. As far as resale, IME knowledgeable/experenced trainers/buyers would not be seeing any big red flags based on what you've described.

Ditto.

I would add that my mare, who I bought with minor arthritic changes at 11, is still sound and moving fluidly at 24.

Lexus
Sep. 15, 2009, 03:28 PM
Thanks, this all very helpful. The horse in question is 7 and has 2 years of moderate (once or twice a month) show experience at 2'6" and 1 year at 3' at the A and AA level.

AHorseSomeDay
Sep. 15, 2009, 05:33 PM
When I got my horse vetted out, the vet told me no horse ever passes 100% clean. Every horse has something. As long as it's not too major there is no problem with changes in the hocks. The vet told me most horses have some changes in their hocks.

wanderlust
Sep. 15, 2009, 08:37 PM
I bought a just-backed 3yo with very minor arthritic changes in the hocks. Both vets who looked at the x-rays (one an upper level dressage rider, one rides the big jumpers, both specialize in sporthorses and lameness) said "No big deal, pretty much as soon as a horse starts work he'll show some mild degree of changes." Lower hock joints are generally pretty manageable, and at some point the joint may fuse and cease to be an issue.

sansibar
Sep. 15, 2009, 08:43 PM
I bought my horse 2 years ago when he was 7, with minor arthritis in a knee, now 2 years later it has escalated to the point of him barely being pasture sound, and he is only 9, and three of his legs are highly arthritic. And at this point he will never again be hacking sound, and only a year ago he was going to be my jr/am jumper. Just my experience.

It may affect him, or it may never show up again, really we never can know. I would get a few vets opinions on the severity of the arthritis.

Haalter
Sep. 15, 2009, 08:53 PM
Re: Sansibar's comment - knees are VERY different from hocks. I would be a lot more worried about changes in the knees vs the hocks. Jumping is very hard on compromised knees and IME veterinary prognosis is generally more guarded.

AndNirina
Sep. 15, 2009, 10:02 PM
I vetted two horses when I was looking and passed up the first, a TB gelding who was 9 and had significant changes in one hock and stifle and mild in the other. He had not had any maintenance done, but I was willing to do some future preventative maintenance. While the hock bothered me a bit (mostly due to the amount of change for his age and relative lack of a hard program), it was more the stifle changes that I was concerned about.

I ended up buying horse #2, an 11 year old mare who came from a much more intensive program and had minor changes in both hocks (mostly equal amounts of arthritis) but nice, clean stifles. She had had regular maintenance and hock injections as needed. We still continue maintenance on her two years later: injections as needed, monthly Legend and joint supplements daily.

For me it came down to the horse that had changes that were only in the hocks, not the stifle, and that were bilaterally equal. She's been amazing.. sound and with a great, easygoing personality.

Blacktree
Sep. 15, 2009, 10:44 PM
When I vetted my TB gelding, I was told that he had 'beginning arthritic changes in his lower right hock joint'. But I was also told that at 6 yo (as he was), most horses have some beginning arthritic changes somewhere, and that was one of the better places for it to be - since it could later be fused or injected, and may even fuse on its own. I did eventing up to intermediate level and 4'6" jumpers on him until he was 17. Now, at 20 years old, knock wood, he is still sound - I never had to do any injections. I did have him on MSM for the first few years as preventive maintenance though, then I put him on a feed through gloucosamine/condroitin/msm (sp?) supplement as he got older. :)

DancingQueen
Sep. 15, 2009, 11:22 PM
On question A my answer is no, it would not stop me from buying a horse I really liked for myself. Good thing is that now you know about it and you can do whatever maintenance your vet recommends.

The follow up, will it affect resale. Hmmm, yes perhaps a little. IMO again, the key is that you know about it and can price him accordingly. If you when you decide to sell the horse say to the buyers, this horse has some arthiritic changes, they have been maintained and here's the old x-rays for comparison. He is priced accordingly.
Then the new buyers should not IMO be any more reluctant to buy him then you are now.

As mentioned, hardly any horse vets completely clean. It's simply a matter of finding out what could present a possible problem in the future and weigh that against the workload and how much you like the horse.

Anything can happen, pictures that are OK today could be looking very different in 4 years time. I think from a sellers perspective the most important thing is to be prepared. If you are concerned with how these changes might affect his resale value and he's priced in the higher range you might want to take your own set of pictures before you even put him on the market. Or even somewhere midways just to monitor whatever changes might have occured.
Again, as a buyer, if I hear that a horse has some changes and they have been maintained a certain way before the PPE I'll be much less likely to pull out or make a stink. Just my thoughts though.