I'm eager to get some input from fellow horse folks. I'm not objective in this scenario and need some clear minds to give me their opinion. I'd like to know what you would do in the following scenario:
Hypothetically, you're a trainer who has a client that outgrew her pony last year. She's a novice rider who needs something quiet and forgiving, but fancy enough to do well at local shows and maybe move on to the rated shows eventually. Parents were shopping for a new horse for nearly a year before they became your clients. You've searched high and low to find something in their $10k budget. Yes, $10k. You find a lovely 9 year old warmblood cross gelding with plenty of local show miles. Fancy, quiet, jumps and moves good. Tried it twice and he's a saint. Time for the vetting. Vet isn't crazy about his conformation because he's somewhat sickle-hocked, but moves on to the flexions. He flexes a "2" (on a scale of 1-5) on 2 of the flexions and fine on the others. Vet tells them she doesn't think he'll hold up for jumping (even though he's been in regular work and showing) and recommends they stop the vetting there and not purchase him. What would you do at that point? Ask for x-rays anyway? Get another opinion? Explain to the potential buyers that a "2" isnt so bad on a 9yo warmblood with miles? I'm anxious to hear opinions.
Depends on what the clients want. Do they want something that's super sound right now, or are they ok with what this horse flexed?
If they are, then I'd get X-rays and think nothing of it. My first horse flexed pretty positively on a hock when I purchased him and, maintained with Adequan and eventually hock injections, he performed very well as a jumper and occasionally some eventing. The only time he was ever lame on that leg was from an abscess.
It's easy to maintain average joint issues, and as Give and Take said, the only way to tell if it's the "average" issue or if you're in for a lot worse in the near future is by 'raying him.
Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.
how long has the horse been in regular work and showing
how high has the horse been jumping
how often does the horse school, both the flat and over fences
how high does the client plan on jumping said horse
no horse is perfect and really for me since I don't jump sightly sickle hocked or cow hocked won't bother me to much, really I think that its a matter of letting the clients know they pay now or they pay later (but sometimes you pay twice regarding price and maint.)
you can always look for less fancy and in their eyes more sound, because lets face it for an average buyer horse shoping can be kinda worriesome esp. knowing how they are always trying to kill themselves (or so it seems)
He's been in regular work and showing since he was 3
He's a 3' horse.
For the last couple of months, he's been ridden a few days a week, but was in more strenuous work previously.
Kid won't being doing more than 2'6" for awhile, then will probably move up to 3'.
So grateful for all the responses. I'm the seller in this situation. Apalled that the vet stopped the vetting without doing x-rays and that she was "disturbed" by a "2" flexion on a 9 year old warmblood who has had no maintenance.
Wow get a new vet! VERY few horses with many show miles will pass a flexion. I'm the biggest soundness nazi there is and I say go for it! Besides she isn't going to be doing 3'6 and up on it, it's job is to be a saint and teach.
"The best pace is a suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die!"
We had a somewhat similar situation about 4 years ago when a vet said one of our horses had OCD in his back leg. We used the same vet as the people who were looking at the horse, so they randomly selected another vet in the area to do the PPE. When he didn't pass, we offered to pay for our mutual vet to give a second opinion. When that vet said he definitely didn't have OCD, we offered to have UGA do a third opinion because they definitely would not be biased. Again he passed and the people ended up buying him. Sure enough, he was fine!
Do you have any connections with the buyers or trainer?
Personally I would have a "realistic expectations" talk with the parents, but not push them to buy this particular horse. IME, the instant you do, it will get home and be horribly lame from something undetected, they will blame you and voila, disaster all around and lots of hard feelings, might lose the client and hurt your rep when they go on to tell of their awful experience...so the world turns with horses.
I am always reluctant to push people toward particular horses beyond the "I think this is an appropriate horse with a condition I would consider manageable in a personal mount" conversation. That said, I think you are completely right and a 2 flexion would mean NOTHING to me, less than nothing without lameness under saddle or issues on film.
Some vets really hate sickle hocks or have other pet peeves. Personally I've had nothing but good luck with mildly sickle-hocked horses that are not also cow-hocked (I'd avoid one with both issues).
I would want xrays....but honestly, a "2" flexing in a 9 year old is fairly significant...and raising red/concern flags for me. "2" flexing in a 16 year old...perhaps not as significant but still would require a close look.
And yes...I do know show horses. I don't personally rely on flexing...as some horses will flex positive when nothing is wrong...but it does indicate that you need to look more closely. And with existing conformation issues...he could be at the end of his career. Although you balance that with the type of work he will likely be doing...will it be a step up or step down for him.
I would have a talk with the clients. With their budget and goals...they may not be able to get everything they want, even in this market. They need to decide what is most important to them...and consider other alternatives as well such as leasing.
** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **
Excellent info, guys. Thanks! My biggest issue with the scenario was that the vet relied solely on the flexions to give her determination and trainer is just listening to vet. He was sound under saddle and on the lunge line. Personally, a "2" to me is nothing on a horse with miles and age, especially without x-rays. My big issue was stopping the vetting with such a definite opinion without doing x-rays.
So, you are the seller and you are upset that the buyers walked away? I would not be upset, some buyers just are not realistic about vetting and the trainer has no real control over that. I would try to avoid using that vet again if you could for future PPEs since he has taken an obvious dislike to the horse's conformation.
Personally I would investigate what caused the "2" and see if you can get it resolved -- maybe injections or supps are in order so this doesn't happen again.