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View Full Version : Validity of x-rays/flexions/clean legs



Soldier06
Mar. 14, 2010, 09:14 PM
I wish horses were a little more cut and dry (doesn't everyone :lol:). Without going into too many personal details how much merit do you put into x-rays, tight legs, and flexions.

When you go to buy a horse will you trade one for the other (ex flexions over x-rays)? Which of the three is most important and which is the least?
What are aliments that you are willing to live with? Absolute no's?
Who owns the horse that *shouldn't* be sound (based on x-rays/flexions/legs) and is? Who owns one that should be and isn't?

The vets and horses need to agree that their flexions and x-rays will be somewhat indicative of their future.

PhoenixFarm
Mar. 14, 2010, 09:31 PM
The vets and horses need to agree that their flexions and x-rays will be somewhat indicative of their future.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH AHAHAHA! Phew! Hang on, gotta catch my breath! Aren't you cute?

OK seriously, I'll try to answer your questions.

My overarching comment would be that, in general, my acceptance of anything on a vetting has to do entirely with what the horse is currently doing for living, and how that will compare to what he's going to be doing when in my or my client's possession. Also important, my relationship with the seller. If it's a good friend or business acquiantance I trust to give me the whole story (which usually means I've already been told what to expect on a vetting, or been told, hey, I don't know anything about the horse's history, but he's been doing x-y-z and been fine), then I'll be more forgiving than someone I don't know from a hole in the wall.

Without going into too many personal details how much merit do you put into x-rays, tight legs, and flexions.

Tight legs, hardly any merit.
X-rays, slightly more merit.
Flexions, merit depends entirely on the situation (the vet doing the flexions, how they do them, the age, balance, and current work load of the horse, etc.)

When you go to buy a horse will you trade one for the other (ex flexions over x-rays)? Which of the three is most important and which is the least?
Tight legs are meaningless to me. I've had horses that looked like jewelry stores who never took a funny step, and tight clean legs riddled with soft tissue injuries and bony changes.

If a horse has bad flexions or xrays, I'd evaluate them individually based on what/where the issue was, and the workload I would expect of the horse compared to what it's been doing. 1 or 2 out of five hock flexions, and age/work appropriate changes on the xrays of a horse actively competing successfully at or above the level I'd want out of him wouldn't phase me, though I might look for a slight good faith break on the price. Ankle issues make me more nervous. Youngsters or horses I'd be wanting to move up from their current level with issues make me more nervous.

What are aliments that you are willing to live with? Absolute no's? Neurologic issues are no's. Other than that, good and bad, it's all a sliding scale. There is no perfect horse.


Who owns the horse that *shouldn't* be sound (based on x-rays/flexions/legs) and is? Who owns one that should be and isn't? I've had both.

deltawave
Mar. 14, 2010, 09:37 PM
They all tell you something entirely different, and none of them predict the future.

Give me excellent conformation, a horse that doesn't pound along the ground and isn't "hard on itself" moving, great feet and good genes over the voodoo of a PPE any day.

Soldier06
Mar. 14, 2010, 09:54 PM
"The vets and horses need to agree that their flexions and x-rays will be somewhat indicative of their future."

That was a sarcastic comment, I know that is impossible.:)
I get that there is no perfect horse, current horse is sporting a different aliment/lump/bump in every leg, and has had bad flexions in the past, though he has perfect x-rays. He has ehh conformation, looks pretty ugly w/o good muscling and weight though (not a super attractive build).
One of the beautiful confo horses will likely never be more than a pasture pet (excluding details but it's not an injury). Light mover, just a beautiful horse. He *should* be sound.

The horse in question is in between the two "extremes" mentioned above, tight legs, sound, light mover, decent confo (better than my current one) but "questionable" x-rays. Vet is looking at the films and his opinion is very respected and trusted, so I'm not going off what I'm simply being told.

Ultimately I'm trying to figure out how much of a gamble this horse is. :) We gambled with the first, and got lucky, in all honesty I don't think I'll get that lucky again.

Just trying to figure out what people have seen/lived with.

ETA- I'm talking about a prospect vs a seasoned competitor

deltawave
Mar. 14, 2010, 10:07 PM
There are always very notable examples that defy expectations, but I wouldn't count on that as a norm, by definition. Especially in a young prospect, I'd probably reject X-rays altogether, and flexions as well. What do they tell you about potential? NADA. Let me see the critter MOVE, let me see its feet, its parents, and their other offspring if possible, with an eye towards soundness in the family.

Fharoah
Mar. 14, 2010, 10:09 PM
Having been through lameness. Having my horse flex negative when diagosed with articular ringbone. If I ever buy another horse (don't plan on it) it will have clean radiographs, negative flexions tight legs and no lameness. However I will probablly never get another horse and probablly never find such a horse. If said horse is proven sound doing his job you may be fine. If it is a resale prospect (crapshoot really) no want a horse with that passes a vet check with flying colours. But I am not the person to ask I am lameness phobic, to much heart break for me.

asterix
Mar. 15, 2010, 10:07 AM
What PhoenixFarm said.
All of it.

I'd take some leeway on a horse doing the job I want. Young horse, not yet really working, no leeway.

Still had that go horribly wrong -- but NOT because of xrays or flexions. Soft tissue. Killer stuff. Unless you want to ultrasound every leg (and even then it will only talk to you about the past and present, not the future), it's a crap shoot.

Blue Star
Mar. 15, 2010, 02:44 PM
Funny you should ask....we were just chatting how the two or three best young prospects we ever bought had great breeding, had been sound in their discipline at lower levels and were only priced in a range we could afford because some other prospective buyer had not liked the vetting results. In each case the horses went on to successful carreers and remained more sound than horses that vetted perfectly every time. So, it's a crap shoot...but one that lets me take a chance on a less than perfect vetting in order to get a quality horse I could not afford otherwise.:yes:

BuddyRoo
Mar. 15, 2010, 03:03 PM
A horse who is sound in front of me while being worked + decent rads would definitely be chosen over one who flexed off lame and had good rads or was working soundly.

I don't put a ton of value on flex tests.

I do put value on sound work and I like seeing rads.

twofatponies
Mar. 15, 2010, 07:04 PM
This is one of those threads that is so timely it makes you think about coincidences...and so useful I will be filing it my brain for future reference. :)

Have been having the "usefulness of PPE stuff" conversation lately, especially in regards to the very low-end, middle aged horse.

In my small experience: first horse, 10 yo, knew her, was sound. Bought her. Had fairly frequent, mysterious front end lamenesses on and off over the next few years. Xrays showed some minor artifacts that vet said she'd seen in sound horses and she'd seen in lame horses, so not definitive. Treated and shod various ways. Eventually had unrelated injury and was rested for a year with no shoes. Came back 100% sound, remained 100% sound in front ever after even under a lot of mileage. Now has hind end (stifle) issues due to cysts (we found them several years ago, but they are only now starting to bother her more.

Second horse: spooked by problems with previous horse I had this one xrayed til she glowed in the dark. Joints like marble despite 6 years as a hard-used Amish horse. Remained sound as a bell in hard (by pleasure standards) work with me. Died three years later of a brain tumor. Oops.

Third horse: hm. I won't do a PPE, I think. If it seems to call for it I'll move on to something else. Looking for cheap, pleasant, kind-eyed, sound to the eye and ear on the day I see him. Will take my risks with hidden mysteries. Turned down a really sweet guy today because of something in his knee - no heat, no pain to firm pressure with my fingers, but didn't quite have full range of motion, lump on side - scar tissue? arthritis? not worth the risk at his age. A shame, he was 100% otherwise.

Lone
Mar. 15, 2010, 09:02 PM
Well, having had a history of craptastic luck on horses and their soundness issues, I pretty much put importance in everything! Not that I expect complete perfection, but I would shy away from positive flexions, surficial blemishes on legs, etc.

In effort to find myself a very SOUND young horse this go around I had my mare hauled to a well respected clinic for her PPE and dropped a lot of money on various/excessive xrays. Including, x-rays on her fetlocks, low and behold she has a big ol' bone cyst that was missed in the x-ray because she was putting too much weight on the leg when the image was taken. And she has some other mysterious lameness that occurred about 8 months after we got her which still hasn't been resolved or diagnosed 6 months later. So... clearly my diligent PPE didn't help us out very much!

I'm not sure how that will change things for my next horse purchase (which will be several years down the road). I'm undecided if I'll still try and do a big PPE workup like I did last time, or just hit the basics and hope for the best.

Gry2Yng
Mar. 15, 2010, 09:34 PM
Xrays showed some minor artifacts that vet said she'd seen in sound horses and she'd seen in lame horses, so not definitive.

FWIW, my definition of "artifact" is something that shows up in a radiograph or ultrasound that is not actually PART OF THE HORSE, just a function of the picture (shadow, the way the wand was held, etc). Other people may have a different definition, wondering?

twofatponies
Mar. 15, 2010, 11:14 PM
FWIW, my definition of "artifact" is something that shows up in a radiograph or ultrasound that is not actually PART OF THE HORSE, just a function of the picture (shadow, the way the wand was held, etc). Other people may have a different definition, wondering?

That would be my totally unofficial, uneducated use of the word! ;)

Trying to recall, I think the vet may have referred to them as "changes" or something vague like that? It was years ago...

deltawave
Mar. 15, 2010, 11:43 PM
FWIW, my definition of "artifact" is something that shows up in a radiograph or ultrasound that is not actually PART OF THE HORSE, just a function of the picture (shadow, the way the wand was held, etc). Other people may have a different definition, wondering?

Me too. Things that are actually THERE but don't mean anything are "incidentalomas". :D

scribbles
Mar. 15, 2010, 11:59 PM
I have a mare that should not be sound according to x-rays but is. BAD hock picture.

Soldier06
Mar. 16, 2010, 06:22 PM
Thanks for all the replies.

This horse falls into a "gray area". There are a few issues, the majority being manageable with maintenance (injections) but 2 that could go either way- career ender or never bother. The maintenance is fine, when you add it all up, it really becomes uncertain as to how much maintenance will be needed or if the horse will even hold up.

Again thank you for all of your experiences and opinions, keep them coming!

CHT
Mar. 17, 2010, 12:18 AM
I more or less go with my vets advice. She knows me and my level of tolerance (and intolerance, usually based on past experience) and knows the conditions my horses tend to live and work in.

Hoof issues for example (such as navicular, club foot, changes to the coffin bone) scare me off, whereas hock issues and chips tend to be less scarey for me (depending on severity and location). A horse with an issue bad enough, or that has been left untreated long enough to cause secondary issues such as back pain or uneven muscling tend to be of more concern for me.

I have learnt from experience, that if a horse has one issue, make sure that is the primary issue and not due to compensation for another issue that the seller may have nerved or injected to prepare the horse for sale....

On the other hand I seem to have an affinity for horses with either left front bone chips or heart murmurs, so if anyone is looking to unload a horse with one of those issues, I'm your sucker (I mean buyer...)