Found lovely 7 yo warmblood shown through 3rd level and solidly schooling all of 4th level, with confidence builder temperment which I need; not fancy but should be able to score into 60s through 3rd level with an accurate test. PPE went great for flexions and lunge, and at farm all xrays looked good, but at office when Vet looked at xrays on big screen - found small smooth bone chip in back of one of front fetlock joints. Vet says the chip doesn't really concern him as horse has no issues otherwise there, and its small and smooth, but of course he says nothing is a guaranteed and location of this chip is such that removal would lkely not be an option and he just wanted me to be aware. I have call into another vet to get 2nd opinion. Just wanted to get everyone else's risk level on an issue like this on a horse priced in the mid 5 figures range. I had hoped to build my confidence and training up with this horse for a 3-4 years than if the horse topped out at 3rd level sell it as 3rd level schoolmaster and buy something else that can move up more. Thanks for input.
I passed on one with a similar situation, but I had just had to put down a horse with a horrible foot/leg issue due to injury, so needless to say, I was really really spooked with that. And my second opinion felt it was a pass situation. So definately get the second opinion.
The chip has probably been there his whole life. If it hasn't bothered him by now it is unlikely to. Small round ones there are quite common and IME rarely cause problems. I would buy the horse if the flexions are normal and you like everything else about the horse. If it was a hock or stifle of coffin joint chip - then that would bother me. But not this type of chip in this location. They rarely cause problems.
Thanks most of the feedback I am getting from friends is saying if two vets are not worried about it and everything else looks good I should go for it, so just waiting on 2nd vet to take a look later tonight. I have one friend who had a bad experience with a fetlock chip in a young horse but the horse hadn't worked like this one and our vet said that xray was very different and he would not have recommend a buy on hers, so I think mine is different situation all together
What you need to know is if the chip is stationary or moving. If stationary (which in all lielyhood it will be if he has been in work and sound) then I would be very unconcerned, the ones that move around are the ones that cause problems
Clearly it hasn't impeded him in any way, so at this point it honestly wouldn't concern me at all. Chips and all sorts of issues are so common, if you are going to look for perfect xrays you are going to be looking a very long time I think. Like, I said, it all boils down to wether or not it affects function and since the horse is now at 4th level without issue, I would say that it does not.
My first horse had a chip his entire life and it did not effect him at all....until one day when it moved so slightly and resulted him being 3 legged lame for a week, then needing 2 years off. He did eventually come back but was never the same and was only used for low level stuff.
Ive' had my 11 yo gelding (used for distance riding) for 3 years and a friend had him for 5 years before that. Never lame a day in his life. Until this January when he was suddenly dead lame on his LF. Radiographed, ultrasounded, ended up being an old bone chip on inside front of fetlock - who knows how old. The chip itself was not the problem - it was where it had broken off the fetlock joint and left rough edges. Over the years the edges had dug grooves in the cartilage till he suddenly had bone touching bone and that's what caused the lameness; very painful. Surgeon not sure of surgical outcome...pasture pet? limited trail? full use? No promises.
Had surgery to remove as much of the chip as could, plus smooth the edges of the fetlock. Then followed that a month later with IRAP therapy to stop the disintegration of the cartilage. Happened in February 2011, stall rest followed, hand-walking, pen-rest for 6 months followed by slow, short, flat rides, gradually increasing time, speed, etc. We're now doing "regular" trail rides (not long distance) and so far he's fine, shows no sign of lameness, cross fingers.
Point is, the chip may not be the big problem. Can they see what's going on with the fetlock itself... ie., rough edges and cartilage? You're talking about a lot of money (to me anyway) and the potential for a sudden, career-ending lameness. Sorry to put a negative spin on it... but I thought you'd want to consider.
It's just grass and water till it hits the ground.