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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug. 1, 2002

    Question Those with the "gift" for seeing unsoundness....ever feel cursed?

    I do. Now, I am not trying to toot my own horn here, because as the title says, sometimes it's hard to see my "gift" as a good thing. But, I have this knack for seeing unsoundness in horses. I think I "learned" it from owning many horses over the years who all had their own set of unsoundness issues. That and galloping racehorses for a living.

    I guess it's a good thing, because I can usually catch things pretty early, but as a trainer at a small boarding barn, it can be a bad thing as well. Since I have done the horse thing longer then the BO/manager has, it is part of my job to point out any issues any of our horses have - like adjusting feed, Not Quite Right, and yes...unsoundness.

    The last training horse I had was a georgous hunter type 4 year old black and white paint. He was a joy to break, but after 30 days started bucking and bolting. Everyone else - trainers included - said that he just needed an a$$ wooping, and that he was totally sound. I couldn't tell which leg, but I just had a hunch he had an issue with his back end somewhere in one of his hocks or stifles. Chiro came out and said it was his pelvis. Horse still didn't seem right to me so teh vet was called. Now, even the VET couldn't see an unsoundness when he trotted him, but we flexed him anyway, and took radio graphs. The vet called teh next day to say that the horse had one of the worst looking hock Xrays in a 4 year old that he had ever seen.

    So, my latest "victim" one of my adult student's horses. He's only 3, but two weeks ago he looked lame to me on his right front. NO one else - including another trainer - saw it. Right now I am about to go to teh barn to soak and wrap his right front hoof, and he is now dead lame with what I'm guessing is an abscess.

    So, anyone else cursed out there? I actually have friends who WON'T ask me my opinion of a horse because they know I will point out any unsoundness it may have.

  2. #2


    well, I have had to learn to stop looking at other peoples shoe jobs...because if a farrier can he will...and telling someone the feet are AFU is just not my place in most cases

    Tamara in TN
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007


    Working at the track, you should know that when calling the vet about something, they expect you to tell them what is wrong with the horse and they then go from that.
    A track vet would be very surprised if a trainer called and said "I don't know what is wrong", he would look at the trainer like it had two heads, I have seen it.

    When you live with and work the horses you train at the track, you can tell if they are sore here or there, or just are having a bad day in any way.
    That just comes with the territory, even more than any other stables I have been in in any other discipline.
    Vets have confirmed that to me over many years, so that may be why you feel that you seem to "see" more into a horse than other people not from the track.

    Our current horseshoer is a semi retired track farrier and he has also commented that the level of horsemanship as of the management of a horse is sure a level up from most any other he has seen.

    I wonder if that is because racing horses are working and running at such an edge between sound and overdoing it and the resulting health and soundness problems are more apt to happen than in other we do with horses, so track people just have more experience with those problems, just because you see more of them?

    No offense meant to any other stable management out there, of course.
    I just think that may come with the territory by being at the track, just that more experience with unsoundness comes along with it, for those caring for the horses and their vets.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec. 22, 2000


    Well, I once diagnosed a friend's lame horse from the way she was standing in her stall, when nobody else had noticed a problem yet.

    I'm reminded of a very, very, VERY experienced vet who has watched the flat phase of the Maclay finals next to me for the last few years. I'll bet he wishes he could turn off his soundness radar for half an hour as those older equitation horses flat around the ring at the end of a long season.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 31, 2003


    Yes. It's not fun.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug. 10, 2009


    Ugh, yes. When I was a WS for a big "A" barn, we were in Jacksonville before Ocala and one of the fanciest horses in the barn was NQR. I asked the trainer, he didn't see it. I insisted something was going on. They got the show vet, who watched me jog the horse for what seemed like an ETERNITY. He saw what I was seeing, but it was so mild, it couldn't be diagnosed without further tests. Basically the trainer ignored it figuring no one else would be able to see it anyway. The vet told him not to ever get rid of me, because my eye for lameness was so sharp.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan. 8, 2006
    B.C. Canada


    I don't feel cursed, I feel exceptionally lucky, considering I compete in endurance, I know exactly when a horse is off - trust me, great skill to have when loading up 3 horse trailers to get everyone's horses to an endurance ride.
    Quote Originally Posted by ExJumper View Post
    Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun. 2, 2009


    Is it a "gift"? I just thought it was normal, and that any experienced horse person can surely see when a horse is off. Heck even non-horse friends of mine can eventually see it if I point it out to them and they look hard enough.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct. 2, 2007
    Beyond the pale.


    A gift indeed!
    I have a similar gift, but mine works through my hands- I can unerringly find the places that hurt on man or beast. Almost unconsciously I will run my hands over an animal to pat them, and settle on some knot or unsoundness. I actually took a couple of massage courses to help change this a bit- so that I can not only find the hurt spots, but so I can also give pleasure with my hands. It was a curse until I figured that part out.

    I think the ability to see what others cannot is a bit of a double edged sword. Trust your intuition, but remember:
    "In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is not King, but rather, is considered crazy".
    "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec. 3, 2002


    Interesting topic and great to know others feel cursed sometimes. I think it takes years of watching and learning and many NQR horses to observe. Many trainers, vets, riders and owners are reluctant to admit they can't quite see the problem. When behavior problems crop up, I try to hint that just maybe it's physical.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2005


    I think of it as a curse sometimes especially when people won't listen to me when I can see unsoundness in a horse. My biggest pet peeve in the world is people who will continue to ride unsound horses. They say that the horse is just being a brat or that he will warm out of it It drives me crazy!!! I wish that I didn't have a knack for seeing lameness and I lived in happy ignorant bliss so I don't have to watch these poor horses suffer
    RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
    May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
    RIP San Lena Peppy
    May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb. 17, 2009


    Yes .. I can get on a horse and in one step feel it unsound. I can see someone riding their horse and see an unsoundness. It is a gift but it can make you nuts when know one see's what your seeing. Getting them to trust in what you are saying you are seeing is a whole nother thing!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    I wonder if that is because racing horses are working and running at such an edge between sound and overdoing it and the resulting health and soundness problems are more apt to happen than in other we do with horses, so track people just have more experience with those problems, just because you see more of them?
    Bluey, I also think it's the amount of time you spend underneath a horse, as well as watching them. Racehorses get far more hands-on time than most, I think, and you learn to look for that little bit of filling or that little bob of the head that means that you had better look closely. How many tiimes have you done up a horse in poultice and FELT something that you might have otherwise missed?
    Founder of the I LOFF my worrywart TB clique!
    Official member of the "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec. 12, 2005
    Myrtle Beach, SC


    I can spot unsound horses and people.... the husband thinks it's a fun game to take me out in public and have me do this. Walking around the mall is always amusing.
    If i'm posting on Coth, it's either raining so I can't ride or it's night time and I can't sleep.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb. 17, 2007
    My very own sliver of heaven.


    I'm not as "sensitive" to lameness as you are, OP, but I pick up the NQRs and the will-soon-be NQRs better than most of my ammy friends because of my training. My business partner places a huge focus on functional physiology and has spent hundreds of hours with me both at ring side and with our own horses teaching me to look for even the most subtle usage of certain muscle groups too how to know if a horse is truly engaged (I never in a million years realized how complicated that is until I started working with him!) and then be able to tell him exactly how the horse is engaged (is it laterally? More from the right hip than from the left? Is he relying on his stifle? Are his obliques out or up? Where's he sweating? etc.). So I've come to learn that when a horse's functional physiology is incorrect, there are certain problems that can come with that. And like most owners, I'm hypersensitive to my own horses. I know weeks before my old man wants his Legend series and everyone still thinks he looks 110%. But he stops using his right hamstring/lower glut properly and while that doesn't make him at all lame, I know he's NQR and will be stiff if I don't get his meds on board.

    So even though it can be frustrating, it truly is a gift, OP!
    Nine out of ten times, you'll get it wrong...but it's that tenth time that you get it right that makes all the difference.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 1, 2008


    It is a gift, not a curse.

    Actually, it's not a gift. It comes from years and years of experience around horses.

    I had an argument with my trainer just last week over a horse he was hacking. I told him the horse was off behind. He disagreed, but had the vet look at him while he was out on another case. I was right.

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