My friend is thinking about going to try out two horses that have had this procedure done on a hind suspensory ligament. One competed through Intermediate, had the surgery/rehabbed, and has gone on to compete again through Training. The other one competed Training/Prelim and has gone back to Training as well. Both of the owners say the horses would have been back competing Prelim if the season had not just ended. They are priced accordingly because of this.
My friend talked to me about it and said that her trainer advised against going to see them. The trainer says she has seen too many horses re-injure themselves to recommend buying a horse like that. She said she would be more than willing to go look at the horses with my friend, but she just wouldn't recommend it and wouldn't buy herself a horse like that.
Friend is wondering what to do. Any opinions on this?
ETA: My friend is looking for a Novice-Prelim horse, possibly Intermediate but probably not.
My horse just had this done a month ago, so unfortunately I can't tell you if it worked or not. When looking at the literature, the surgery seems to provide the horse with a much better chance at recovery than just rest. In the studies some of the horses were competing back at their previously levels.
However, I personally would not buy a horse with a previous suspensory injury, no matter what the treatment and rehab, because it is a big risk to take. Unless the horse is dirt cheap and you have a field to retire him to in case he breaks, I wouldn't look at them. Your friend should also find out how long ago was the surgery. I would be even more wary if they only had a season of competition under their belts after recovering.
Actually, lots of times I'd rather have had a horse who had the surgery done than one who was NQR for ages at a time and never really got it resolved. It's not as risky as you'd think -- and there are alot more horses who have had it done and come back to very solid careers (including some upper level horses you would never think of) than you'd imagine. The critical issue is how the rehab went. Slow, careful, and correct, and you may end up with a fantastic horse who has healed tremendously. What you want to look at is whether the horse has come back to the level at which they were competing before (or to a level that is sustainable for them - meaning the level you'd want them to compete at) and what kind of program they're on to maintain. You can find some amazing horses this way - advanced prospects who might end up being happier at the lower levels but are still super fancy and will clean up at Training/Prelim plus.
I'd go look at them. She may not like either of them so it may be a moot point. If she does like them...then get a VERY good PPE done by an experienced sports vet. Ultra sounds and all...perhaps have more than one vet look at the ultrasounds. Then talk with your vet and really understand the risks. To me it would matter how they move and are put together...in otherwords...why they did they get the injury to begin with. For some it was just a freak step...others are more prone to them based on how they are put together. If after talking with the vet...you still want to move forward...then make a fair offer.
sometimes you can do a partial PPE....just look at the old injury first...only if that passes then do you continue on with the rest of the PPE and offer.
There are risks in owning any horse...
** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **
I would just like to add that it will also depend quite a bit on what your friend's plans are. If she wants a horse that has quite a bit of experience then it will be much more likely that she will have to weigh the risks of old injuries. While a "healed" suspensory injury can be a big risk, there are exceptions to every rule. It may depend a lot in the end if your pal is willing/able to retire the horse earlier than another in exchange for a lower sale price & more miles.
From my experience as a vet tech for a sports medicine vet I also second BFNE's recommendations about a REALLY good PPE. Also, if they are willing, it would be excellent to get as much info as possible about the severity of the original injury. Every injury is different and I have known horses that have come back never to have a problem again, others who were fragile and required delicate handling but sill served their rider's purpose and others that really never healed properly.
IMO, if the sellers seem shady or reluctant to be candid about the injury I would not go further. It is important that rehab was done "well" (as mentioned above) and you may be able to glean info regarding the seller's horsemanship when you meet them. This is kind of a gut-reaction thing (or a reputation thing) but might be helpful to keep in mind.
"We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals" Immanuel Kant
She is going to talk to her vet about it, but I think she is planning on going to try them out. I definitely wouldn't call the prices dirt cheap , but they are a good bit less than what they would be otherwise. She's looking for something with experience.
I don't know all the details of the injury, but she said the owners are being very upfront about it. I don't think they are refusing to disclose anything about their horses which is great! They have been very honest.