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View Full Version : How much does a known but manageable physical issue affect your decision to purchase?



Punkie
Apr. 4, 2011, 11:04 PM
I'll try to keep this vague.

You are horse shopping. You come across a GREAT horse. Right size, great personality, good build, talented jumper. Perfect child/adult horse. Fast and clean but not difficult to ride. A little older (in the early double digits), but not a crazy amount of miles on him. Some manageable personality quirks, but very pleasant to handle overall.

Here's the twist. There is a known and fully disclosed issue in a major joint. The joint is not healthy but the horse has never been lame on that leg (or any other for that matter) in his life. Horse has only ever had two owners and this can be verified. Owners have years worth of xrays on joint and no changes have been seen in over 4 years. The horse in maintained with injections and legend/adequan.

You are used to the typical maintenance that goes into show horses and have no problems doing injections/im/iv meds, but your horses have always vetted "clean" (a relative term, I know, but clean compared to our hypothetical horse) so you weren't going into any horse knowing that there was already a "problem" present.

If this horse was clean and clear, he would be priced in the mid/mid-high 5 figures. Because he's not, he's priced in the mid-low/mid 5 figures.

Based on this information, would you buy the horse? For argument's sake, let's pretend that leasing isn't an option and the owners aren't going to make a DRASTIC price cut (they might take 5K less than asking, but no more).

supershorty628
Apr. 4, 2011, 11:27 PM
I would buy it.

Czar
Apr. 5, 2011, 07:00 AM
I would have no problem with the physical issue but the horse would have to be CHEAP.

To me, it doesn't matter how long his show record is or how nice he is...there are lots of horses out there so if you have something with a known deterrent for buyers; you'd better price accordingly. Also, he's NOT clean so it doesn't matter what he WOULD HAVE sold for.

Just my .02

shalomypony
Apr. 5, 2011, 07:31 AM
I'd prefer high four figures,but that's all relative.If you have the bucks then go for it.

hj0519
Apr. 5, 2011, 07:41 AM
I've been in this situation before and bought it. Unfortunately, after years of the joint not bothering her/being an issue, a year after I got her she started having soundness problems. I probably wouldn't do it again.

Reagan
Apr. 5, 2011, 07:58 AM
I've been in this situation before and bought it. Unfortunately, after years of the joint not bothering her/being an issue, a year after I got her she started having soundness problems. I probably wouldn't do it again.

Reading your post this is exactly what I thought. What if this is the year there are changes to that joint and all of a sudden he is not servicibly sound anymore. If you can afford to take the risk of having a field potato, go for it. Me personally, the price better be very low for me to consider it.

One very positive aspect, though, is they are disclosing everything and giving you access to all his x rays. I would have my vet look them over and get his opinion also.

Zenyatta
Apr. 5, 2011, 08:00 AM
I would not buy the horse.
Find one that doesn't have major issues. Starting off with a problem is just going to lead to heart ache.
The joint will eventually bother the horse, it's just a matter of when.
I've watched this happen many times, the time and money spent was horrendous.:cry:

FrenchFrytheEqHorse
Apr. 5, 2011, 08:03 AM
I bought this one once, too. X-rays were terrible in a critical joint, vet cautioned us against what the films said, etc. We knew the old owners, and the horse was sound over the two month period we had him in our barn before we bought him. Was 12 when we purchased him, doing the 3' hunters/equitation. We bought him because the price was right. Other than the x-rays being HORRIBLE, the horse was perfect for me at the time.

Unfortunately, within about 18 months, he developed severe arthritis in the region (despite a pricey, closely monitored maintenance/exercise program) and had to be retired. Looking back, I wouldn't do this again unless the horse were really, really cheap and I was in a position to retire another one. The early teens is a risky age- the onset of lots of degenerative conditions often begins at this point, and can have a devastating effect on borderline issues that didn't cause obvious problems for the horse in its younger years.

Of course, all of that is relative. A good friend purchased a superb 3' packer for a song about 15 years ago despite having one of the ugliest ankles I've ever seen on a film. He's in his early 20s now and just recently stepped down to the 2'6". For her, the risk certainly paid off, though I'd venture to say that her situation was more exception than rule.

Equisis
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:12 AM
I wouldn't do it. Bought a horse in a somewhat similar situation (cheaper, as he was a greenie) who had potential oozing out his ears and was fantastic for about a year and a half. Since then, it has been a struggle to keep him sound and happy in light work and his competition days were over almost before they began. This isn't to say that it is always the case, but I took a risk and unfortunately it did not work out. You need to decide how much of a gamble you're willing to take, and what you'll do if he ends up unusable. I now have an energetic, chow-hound 10-year-old retiree, so I won't take that risk again.

kelsey97
Apr. 5, 2011, 09:46 AM
I agree with the general consensus: buy it if it's CHEAP, otherwise walk away.

alto
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:01 AM
The expectation of soundness may also depend on you managing him exactly the way he is currently managed - will you ride him at the same level, keep him on similar footing (stall & field), show him about the same etc etc

danceronice
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:11 AM
It would have to be dirt, dirt cheap with no other purchasing options available. I don't actually approve of "he's sound if you keep injecting him" anyway so I'm not likely to buy a horse I have to constantly be sticking with needles, but even so as mentioned there's a LOT of horses for sale at decent prices who aren't an accident waiting to happen. "It's never been a problem" are famous last words.

Monarch
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:33 AM
I have known similar situations and had personal experience with same. Some worked out wonderful for years and others not so. The only advise I can give is go with your gut.
M

Ozone
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:50 AM
Even if he was cheap - dirt cheap still, I would not purchase this horse. He'll end up costing you heartache. For the price the owner wants for him + the maintance he'll run you, you are better off finding something else.

It all sounds good right now but who's to say a year down the road that he's not going to make you a pretty expensive pasture mate. Not worth it to take on problem horses that you intend to ride/show.

findeight
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:52 AM
I wouldn't spend 25k on it...and you say low 5 figures so I am thinking it's around there???

Also, you say you are buying for Ch/Ad? Is that Jumpers??? There is nowhere to move down to and stay rated so if that is your desire??? I wouldn't at that price.

While being relatively lightly used can be a very good thing, it may not be here because if you do go to use him more-like in taking 2 lessons a week to learn to ride him??? Then go to more shows? It might break him.

Now, I bought one around age 10 with known issues, OCD in hocks, as a 3' Hunter and got 5/6 years out of her there plus another 4 at 2'6" before she retired. But knew I could (probably as you never really know) keep her as well as knowing, at my age, she would be the last one.

No idea what your situation is. Keeping it forever or having to support a gimp for life and not ever get another horse while it lives as you can only keep one??? If I had been younger and less financially secure? I never would have bought that horse.

So I have to say probably not. Depends on your situation. Have to add his age and that joint make a resale problematic if he does not work out and you cannot keep him while you get something else.

sar2008
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:11 AM
Not for low 5 figures. Maybe mid-upper 4 figures.....As long as he has been competing sound and in consistent work and held up on the joint, absolutlely.

Summit Springs Farm
Apr. 5, 2011, 11:18 AM
I think it could go either way, you could be lucky and it not bother him or he could start to feel it.
I really don't think there is anyway know for sure.
One thing is for sure he has changes and that is not going away, so it really becomes a matter of not if but when.

equinedriver
Apr. 5, 2011, 12:24 PM
I have bought several of these, but never for more than high 4 figures, even horses that had been 6 figure horses.

They generally work for me because my horses live out, yes even the show hunters, and move around and have hills in their pastures, water streams to cross coming and going etc. and I have a solid reputation for the turn out and condition of my horses. People are shocked when they find out they live turned out in groups 24/7. Even the black ones.

Several of them the vets advised me to buy strictly because my barn situation would be so beneficial for them, they said if they were going to a "show barn" they would NOT advise getting them.

All of mine did well, and didn't have one that had to retire. I stepped a few of them down to the low stuff, and passed one on to a kid for a walk trot horse, but ALWAYS made sure they stayed in the same type of environment.

If you are looking at this horse to be stalled at a show barn and do the shows week in and week out, I would stay away.

If the horse is going to live turned out and do shows 1 or twice a month, I would probably take it for high 4 figures, but not much more.

Jessyka89
Apr. 5, 2011, 12:32 PM
Personally, I would pass. There are too many nice horses out there for sale that don't have problems (think Canter horses, etc.)

However, it's not me buying the horse. I'm assuming you are not planning on re-selling the horse in the future. Can you take on a retiree if you end up having to retire said horse sooner than expected?

I'm going through a problem with my pony mare. We just found out she has cushings. My vet was extremely surprised by it. She can still show, be ridden, everything. She doesn't look like a cushings horse. She has no other issues, maintenance problems, nothing. It's actually very easily managed. I was trying to sell her, but unfortunately I know now that the chances of selling her are slim to none. I've resorted to trying to lease her out and I just know she will probably have to be retired earlier than expected and will become my niece's pony.

ComeAbout
Apr. 5, 2011, 01:11 PM
Noone has a crystal ball. A horse with perfect xrays one day can be lame the next. Most horses in the barn that have a little 'something' in an xray ultimately go lame for a totally different and unrelated issue. If the horse is
otherwise perfect for you, you can afford the asking price, and can afford the maintainence required I say go for it.

Punkie
Apr. 5, 2011, 01:18 PM
Personally, I would pass. There are too many nice horses out there for sale that don't have problems (think Canter horses, etc.)

However, it's not me buying the horse. I'm assuming you are not planning on re-selling the horse in the future. Can you take on a retiree if you end up having to retire said horse sooner than expected?

I'm going through a problem with my pony mare. We just found out she has cushings. My vet was extremely surprised by it. She can still show, be ridden, everything. She doesn't look like a cushings horse. She has no other issues, maintenance problems, nothing. It's actually very easily managed. I was trying to sell her, but unfortunately I know now that the chances of selling her are slim to none. I've resorted to trying to lease her out and I just know she will probably have to be retired earlier than expected and will become my niece's pony.

The difference between this horse and a CANTER horse or something similar is that this horse is completely finished and has a proven show record.

It's such a tricky situation. It's very hard to make a decision.

Lucassb
Apr. 5, 2011, 01:23 PM
Whether I would take a chance on a horse like this would depend on a number of things, like whether I could afford another horse if this one became unsound, whether I had the facilities to keep a horse that couldn't show or perhaps could only show at a reduced schedule/level, etc. I would also consider whether resale - even at a much lower price - was a concern (in which case, frankly, I would pass.)

If I could afford to buy the horse even if he did not remain sound over the medium to long term, I might consider the purchase... sometimes there is considerable value in a packer type, even one with issues. In that case you are really essentially buying riding lessons, not a long term competitive partner, and it can be worth it even if you are only able to ride them for a season or two. However, in that case, I would want to know that I had the means to retire the horse (or keep him comfortably in a lower level job) and could afford another animal to keep going on.

Czar
Apr. 5, 2011, 01:24 PM
The difference between this horse and a CANTER horse or something similar is that this horse is completely finished and has a proven show record.

It's such a tricky situation. It's very hard to make a decision.

I agree & there's almost no price tag you can put on the invaluable experience that a quality, made horse can give you...provided he stays sound enough to give you that experience ;)

Rel6
Apr. 5, 2011, 01:25 PM
Honestly, its a gamble. Could work out amazingly...could be horrible. I would shop around more, keeping this horse in the back of your mind.

I have a success story about something similar...

I tried a jumper to lease for six months, fell in love and brought her into my barn. She failed the vet test. Miserably. My trainer got on her and said she felt unsoundness in all four legs...but no real lameness. She had been doing jumpers for about five years and the 4ft hunter the two years before that, and I was told that ch jumper school master was going to have wear and tear no matter what. We talked to her owner who said she was do to have her hocks done and said she'd pay for them if we leased her. Since it was only a six month lease I went for it.

She never took a single lame. Not one. We chased points and had one week where I would show three times a week. I was doing three divisions a show. Seriously, not a single lame step.

She went back to her owner in November. And in March? My barn bought her. I leased her the next year and the only off step she stook was after getting kicked in the hock. She got a week off, ten stitches, and came back perfectly sound.

My barn has now owned her for three years and she has not taken a lame step. This is a horse that the vet said was borderline unridable in all four legs.

On the other hand? My friend got an 85k bigeq horse that vetted completely clean. Two months later it goes lame. They found crippling arthritis. He's now a flat horse in ihsa.

You're flipping a coin with any horses...he could colic and die before his joint ever presents a problem. Morbid, I know, but its just so variable...

Elouise
Apr. 5, 2011, 05:48 PM
I have to say - I am on the fence. I guess it depends on whether you need THIS particular horse. And is this horse a bargain for its experience, temperament, show record and can take it's rider to places that we dream of etc.

You should really look at any horse purchase as a "long term lease". The lease length depends on the horse. Can you afford to retire him/her? Are you investing your last dime in this one? Can you afford the high 5 figure horse. What is going to make you happy? Vet bills and winning?

But you know what - any horse can crap out within a month or two of purchasing it, pass vet or fail vet. We vet them to determine if we can live with their issues.

I passed on one horse that my vet said "run, don't walk away from this one" and you know what - that thing has been doing 25 shows a year with the person who bought him for the last three years. I have no idea how because it's rads were b-a-d!!! (But that ones price had been reduced to 80% of the original (if it were a clean vetting) asking price and I still walked away.)

So who knows. It's always a gamble. Do you feel lucky?

mvp
Apr. 5, 2011, 06:10 PM
Whether I would take a chance on a horse like this would depend on a number of things, like whether I could afford another horse if this one became unsound, whether I had the facilities to keep a horse that couldn't show or perhaps could only show at a reduced schedule/level, etc. I would also consider whether resale - even at a much lower price - was a concern (in which case, frankly, I would pass.)

If I could afford to buy the horse even if he did not remain sound over the medium to long term, I might consider the purchase... sometimes there is considerable value in a packer type, even one with issues. In that case you are really essentially buying riding lessons, not a long term competitive partner, and it can be worth it even if you are only able to ride them for a season or two. However, in that case, I would want to know that I had the means to retire the horse (or keep him comfortably in a lower level job) and could afford another animal to keep going on.

This is the right set of questions to consider. You are buying riding lessons in this horse.

Others to fold into you cost/benefit analysis:

Are you or is your trainer well-connected so that you have a ready market for this horse when he needs to move down from the level you want him for? Does you trainer have a track record of helping clients sell their horses this way?

Does the horse have the kind of mind that will make him useful and rideable to a 3' or 2'6" rider?

Would you feel comfortable selling him to someone running a lesson program? Will his maintenance when you are done be prohibitively expensive for that market?

It may be that the owners are "getting out while the getting is good." If you can afford to be the last owner of this horse, that's great. If you know you can't or don't want to retire him at, say, 14 and that might happen to you, then the financial risk to you is much higher than it would be for someone else.

findeight
Apr. 5, 2011, 06:44 PM
On the other hand? My friend got an 85k bigeq horse that vetted completely clean. Two months later it goes lame. They found crippling arthritis.



Ummm...I just can't let that slide by. Arthritis is NOT some quick moving disease that can turn a horse into a cripple 8 weeks after a full set of xrays showed no sign of it. Either they never took a new set of x rays and used a previously taken set from some time back (provided by the seller), did not use any xrays at all or something else was going on.

It does not pop up out of nowhere and is easily seen at the very early stages-years before it really becomes a problem. Sometimes it never does become a problem.

Elouise
Apr. 5, 2011, 06:52 PM
[QUOTE=findeight;5530650]Ummm...I just can't let that slide by. Arthritis is NOT some quick moving disease that can turn a horse into a cripple 8 weeks after a full set of xrays showed no sign of it.


Eight weeks might be a tad quick, but I knew one horse that it went from very sound with clean x-rays (at 4 years old) to so lame they had to put it down at 6 years old because of crippling arthritis throughout it's body. The vets couldn't believe how bad it was and how quickly it came on. They thought it must of been some sort of metabolic thing.

I have found that with horses...never say never.

findeight
Apr. 5, 2011, 07:00 PM
The claim was dead sound with a perfect PPE and a complete cripple from arthritis 8 weeks later.

That is a reach. Unless they skipped the xrays completely and the drugs wore off. That WOULD take about 8 weeks.

Rel6
Apr. 5, 2011, 10:36 PM
Ummm...I just can't let that slide by. Arthritis is NOT some quick moving disease that can turn a horse into a cripple 8 weeks after a full set of xrays showed no sign of it. Either they never took a new set of x rays and used a previously taken set from some time back (provided by the seller), did not use any xrays at all or something else was going on.

It does not pop up out of nowhere and is easily seen at the very early stages-years before it really becomes a problem. Sometimes it never does become a problem.

Horse was sound at purchase, but when they went back and looked at the vet check xrays they found the arthritis (vet got an earful for that, let me tell you.) I don't think the horse went dead lame, but was clearly off. Sorry if I misrepresented that.

hollyhorse2000
Apr. 6, 2011, 03:07 PM
A few things to consider:

Horse is being lightly used now -- will you be using him more? That's a risk.
You are "buying" his training and show record, but if the joint issues gets worse, will you be satisfied with stepping down your fences? or switching to dressage? or ending up with just trail horse? some people adjust to their horse's age or infirmity and some don't. (no judgement either way, just a statement)
If you add the maintenance to his purchase price, could you not buy a more expensive but sounder horse?
You must understand that you may end up "owner for life" with a horse with a known "defect" and no re-sell value. May or may not make a difference to you.

Good luck. It's a hard choice.

I bought a former A show horse for her talent and experience and thought the quarter crack(s) in her feet were not a big deal. They were and are, despite some of the best farrier and vet attention on earth and enormous sums of money. I love her to death but would be hard pressed to go down this road again.

GotSpots
Apr. 6, 2011, 03:33 PM
Also depends on what "the major issue in the joint" is. For example, I've bought one with a major, old, cold, chip in a joint. Horse was doing the job I wanted him to do exceptionally well, there were no signs that the chip was causing issues, and no reason to think it would start. Horse has competed extensively for the past three years, and I still think it was one of the best purchases I've ever made. But I've passed on one with major changes in a fetlock and one with good sized arthritis in the hocks when there seemed to be some adverse impact on how the horse is going now, and we could see fill and reactivity on the PPE.

In short, no horse is "perfect" - I've never had something vet completely cleanly, and I think with digital xrays, it's getting easier and easier to see changes that might or might not be a long term issue. If the horse is doing the job you want them to do without heroic measures, I'm often much more willing to take the risk, particularly for a horse who is going to be teaching someone a new level and/or has some room to step down down the road. If it is taking an enormous amount of effort to keep the horse going to the ring now, that's more of a red flag than the films are.

SnicklefritzG
Apr. 7, 2011, 12:21 AM
Yeah, digital rads show you everything, for better or worse. The more you xray, the more data you will have to sort through and (possibly) fret over.

Since it is a buyer's market, take the time to think through various scenarios with this horse to see if you can live with the different outcomes. If you're still feeling uncertain, don't do anything. Wait a week or two or whatever then come back to it. Don't force something that causes uncertainty or. Wait for the right horse to come to you.

RockinHorse
Apr. 7, 2011, 08:49 AM
On the other hand? My friend got an 85k bigeq horse that vetted completely clean. Two months later it goes lame. They found crippling arthritis. He's now a flat horse in ihsa.




Horse was sound at purchase, but when they went back and looked at the vet check xrays they found the arthritis (vet got an earful for that, let me tell you.) I don't think the horse went dead lame, but was clearly off. Sorry if I misrepresented that.

Personally, I would not characterize that horse as "vetting completely clean" then.

MintHillFarm
Apr. 7, 2011, 10:18 AM
Noone has a crystal ball. A horse with perfect xrays one day can be lame the next. Most horses in the barn that have a little 'something' in an xray ultimately go lame for a totally different and unrelated issue. If the horse is
otherwise perfect for you, you can afford the asking price, and can afford the maintainence required I say go for it.

I agree with every post and most of all this one.
It can be a combination of luck, work load and management.

whatnow
Apr. 7, 2011, 10:53 AM
I think that you have to look at this horse as a lease. If you can lease a similar type horse for the same amount or less for a year then you might want to go that route. If this type of horse would be much more to lease for a year then maybe it makes sense to take the chance and purchase it.

Like everyone says, you have no guarantee that they will stay sound even with the cleanest vetting.

I'd have a backup plan of where it is going to go if it becomes unusable. Can you afford to retire it, will anyone take it as a donation? Those questions are better answered prior to you buying it when you are not emotional and stressing about a horse you can't ride.

AndNirina
Apr. 7, 2011, 11:24 AM
I have been in this situation and bought a similar horse, although a hunter. The few years that I was able to show her (still in her early teens) were amazing and she taught me a lot. She is now retired at 15, after trying everything possible to help her issues. I was offered another horse a few months ago that will/would turn out to be the same scenario. I declined, knowing that I was not interested in going down that road again. There are a lot of horses that need homes these days. If it were me, I would pass and try to find something more sound.

paulaedwina
Apr. 7, 2011, 05:49 PM
I'd pass. The horse market is FULL these days. Surely you can find another horse to suit your needs without this issue.

Paula

Prime Time Rider
Apr. 8, 2011, 12:31 AM
I bought a packer type 3' show hunter with tons of experience (was Zone Champion Children's Hunter) knowing that he had arthitic changes in a fetlock joint (he was 13 when I bought him). We injected the joint (once) and I have him on a joint supplement. Almost 2 years later he's sounder than when I bought him. I think the minor maintenance that I have him on has made a huge difference. I lesson on him a 2 or 3 times a week and my husband trail rides him once or twice a week. I bought him with the idea that if he didn't stay sound enough to jump I could hand him down to my husband to trail ride. Buying an older horse with a known joint issue was a gamble, but in my case, the gamble has paid off. If you have a use for him after his jumping career is over, I would consider buying this horse. If not, and if you can't afford to retire him, I would keep looking. At his age and with a major joint issue he's a depreciating asset.

tamarak_equestrian
Apr. 8, 2011, 11:44 PM
Noone has a crystal ball. A horse with perfect xrays one day can be lame the next. Most horses in the barn that have a little 'something' in an xray ultimately go lame for a totally different and unrelated issue. If the horse is
otherwise perfect for you, you can afford the asking price, and can afford the maintainence required I say go for it.

THIS. Really, a clean vetting is a safety blanket - it makes you feel better about making the purchase, but it doesn't guarantee you anything. I've seen lots of people buy horses that passed the vet check, only to have the horse go lame within the first year.

If the horse in question has had this problem for a long time and has always been sound with normal maintenance, and you're willing to keep up with that, you're not too concerned with resale value, and you really feel like it's "the one", then I would go for it. If you like the horse but aren't really over the moon about it, then I would pass.

tullio
Apr. 9, 2011, 08:56 AM
The question that immediately came to mind for me was - well, what are your goals for the horse? If you want to get out there and show next weekend and have a good experience (knowing that it may be a short term thing) then it sounds like this horse might be the right decision. If you are looking for something to bring along, that will have significant resale value, then this is not probably not the horse for you.

In December I bought a horse that did not vet completely clean - with over 50 starts at the track, I wouldn't have expected him to. But we thought his issues were manageable and knew he would be in only light/moderate work, and I adored his personality and way of going. I was comfortable with his price and the possibility that he may not be sound forever, and I may need to maintain him through an early retirement. So far it is working out well and I'm glad to have him, but I had no illusions going into the deal.

As long as you are okay with the 'worst case scenario', then buy the horse and enjoy him!

Rel6
Apr. 9, 2011, 02:43 PM
Personally, I would not characterize that horse as "vetting completely clean" then.

Obviously in hind sight he wasn't, but at the time it was missed and they found nothing wrong.