"Perfect" prospect has had laminitis -- Quick update post 27
I'm helping a family purchase a first horse for teenaged daughter (advanced beginner) who wants to do dressage, 4H, equestrian team, maybe someday a BN event or two. Girl is a good rider, but easily rattled (has had a couple of bad falls, not always confident but when she relaxes she rides better). Girl is a bit tall and a bit husky, so we've been looking at sturdier-built horses in the 15.2-16.2 range (too small she looks top heavy, too big intimidates her). Budget is modest but fair for the amount of talent they need, most important thing is calm, willing temperament and good basics (not buddy sour, trailers, farriers, etc).
Been looking mostly at 8yo+ draft-cross types, with a few Morgan/ Canadiens, paints, etc, thrown in. Not finding great fits - mostly people not knowing how tall horses are, or saying they're WTC/small jumps when they are really only WT, or "completely bombproof" horse that runs away with kid. Have even vetted at least one that made the cut but failed due to an arthritic OCD stifle issue. Shopping since December.
Finally, along comes Miss Perfect. Smallish draft cross, 13 y/o, nice conformation, owned by the same person her whole life, great care and management. Solid at 2nd level and training 3rd, hundreds of trail miles prior to dressage work, willingly jumps small fences with me and teenaged girl. In front of the leg but terrific brakes. Moves like a dream and seems perfectly sound. Quiet on the ground, loads and trailers like a complete lady, unruffled by new surroundings (we brought her to our place on trial so our trainer could ride her and our vet could do the PPE). Tops out the budget but kids is totally confident and learning even in test rides. I joke that her show name should be "Mary Poppins" because she's "practically perfect in every way."
Except. Today was the PPE and... vet does front feet as a precaution and finds evidence of at least one laminitic episode, with some very minor rotation. Horse is totally sound on feet. Vet is awesome and gives the "this can probably be managed but may also break your heart" speech, about how she'll have to be managed carefully and that there are no guarantees it won't happen again.
The mom is going to get some local opinions, but can I get some of that collective COTH wisdom? What would COTH do? Have you bought and/or managed a horse like this? Would you do it again? Would you do it for the otherwise-perfect horse?
Thanks for reading and for any and all insight. <3
Last edited by baxtersmom; May. 20, 2012 at 09:53 AM.
THE only way I would take on a previously laminitic horse would be if I knew, definitively the cause of the episodes. Was it two separate incidents of grass founder? Or perhaps the horse is mildly IR and had been given steroids for some reason? Then yes, I'd buy and watch like a hawk.
(and I'd bargain down on the asking price significantly)
But if the laminitis was idiopathic, as many cases are, I'd steer clear away. I just don't think there's enough science on the disease to avoid episodes if you can't determine the initial cause.
Having said that, that means the sellers will need to agree to release their medical records to you, or put you in direct communication with their vet, with their blessings for him to discuss the horse's history at length and in detail. Good luck with that.
Last edited by Sansena; May. 10, 2012 at 06:17 PM.
Reason: comment on lower price.
You need to get baseline insulin and ACTH to know if this horse has ongoing metabolic problems. Then you'll know better what you are getting into.
After owning a mother/daughter pair of chronically laminitic horses, I would not take a horse FOR FREE without baseline insulin and ACTH.
I care for my horses at home and I am, to be honest probably somewhat antiquated in my horse care practices so I would probably have to pass - otherwise we'd be flirting with another episode and that's not fair to anybody.
If I boarded with my trainer I might be more willing to take a chance on the horse. I'd be banking on her greater experience and familiarity with chronic diseases and how to manage them. That might be a misplaced trust but that's how I am thinking.
my horse care practices so I would probably have to pass - otherwise we'd be flirting with another episode and that's not fair to anybody.
That's a good point. I keep my horses at home too, and I'd also have trouble keeping one there that was prone to laminitis. Just too much grass. We're swimming in the stuff. I'm trying to rotate my girls in and out of the paddock, and using grazing muzzles, and riding, and they're still fat. So in that situation, it would be much easier to make the decision to walk away.
In a somewhat over-populated barn, or one with a fair bit off stall time, or access to dry lots, it might be a lot more manageable.
If I had an appropriate set up, the seller was willing to share vet records, there were good records kept about when the episode happened and how stable any changes have been since, I'd be more inclined to consider it, especially if the episode was some time in the past, horse had been in steady work since, and rads hadn't changed over the last few years.
"In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
25+ years ago I had a gorgeous Hanoverian mare that I had bred and raised myself. When she was around 10 years old she foundered on Spring grass, we caught it and treated her. She had some rotation (I don't remember how much now).
She ended up perfectly sound, was worked on a daily basis in Dressage and ridden on trails, jumped some too all with no issues. She never had another episode after that.
Fast forward to last year, we were looking for a gaited trail horse for my hubby. We found a wonderful 12 yr. old mare, one owner, well trained, gentle, etc. everything we wanted. Anyway, her owner said she'd had an episode of laminitis when she was 5 years or so. According to owner this mare had been sound ever since because owner knew of the issue and managed it.
We did a PPE and vet said the mare was very nice. We purchased her (her name is Annie) and she has been a dream, everyone loves Annie!
Anyway, I would say go for it if the price is right and her management issues can be met without too much trouble by the new owner.
You couldn't GIVE me a horse that's had a laminitic episode. Already have one, am icing her feet daily JUST as a precautionary and I do that from late April til...oh, about June-July. I worry from March to November, it ends when snow is on the ground and there's no grass. I know why she's gone through it in the past, but crap happens, and sometimes despite everything you do they can go through another episode. So no, I would never own another that had been through a known episode. And 'minor rotation' isn't a mild laminitic episode in my book. 'Minor rotation' caused my mare not to be able to walk, and lay down every day. Laminitic episodes do not always lead to rotation of any kind. My mare has been through probably...oh....5-7 in the last 15 years...every one of them she could barely walk. Only one caused minor rotation and that's when she couldn't walk at all. 'Minor laminitic' episode to me means, no rotation at all. I'm sure it varies with most folks but having seen them first hand....ain't nothing 'minor' about them.
I'm leasing a horse now that had a mild bout of laminitis after he contracted a high fever. Minimal to no rotation, and he is sound and he feet have never been a problem again. (well, he's had other injuries, but not related to laminitis or its sequelae)
The cause in his case was bad luck, not a metabolic disease or poor management. I certainly am careful about putting him on lush pasture, but that's true for all my horses--they GET pasture, but I ease them into it in the spring. I don't let him get fat, but then I don't let ANY of them get fat. So his management is really not a whole lot different than the rest of the herd.
I probably wouldn't buy an overweight, cresty horse who was that way in spite of being managed properly--that's just another attack waiting to happen. But I wouldn't turn one down who had gotten laminitis through no fault of its own.
Sellers have already been very forthcoming with complete vet records etc, and even turned down better offers for mare b/c seller wants a perfect home (she travels for work and has a much fancier dressage horse, no time to ride two), so price is already very good. In addition to vet records, seller disclosed a brief "unexplained lameness" the mare had in 12/10 (age 11), which vet thinks was likely the laminitic event - seller has been very straightforward so we have no reason to think she is hiding anything. Mare has been sound and in work since then, as well as later tested for and treated as insulin resistant, although not aggressively managed (is on easy-keeper food, an IR supplement, and grazing muzzle) apparently without issue.
Our barn is set up fine to manage this - we dirt lot in winter and at night, pasture is good in spring but pretty dry mid-summer, and we have a few other horses that have management/ turn out issues. We have a wonderful and very thorough vet and a great barn owner who is very invested in our horses' care, so that part is not an issue.
My friend is definitely leaning towards buying. What else should she know/ ask about? I imagine there are some good threads here about managing an IR horse and averting laminitis?
Thanks again for sharing your advice/ experiences!
I'd want an expert vet and farrier looking at foot x-rays, and would also be asking what kind of shoeing/trimming the mare has required, in addition to the obvious going over her feet with a very critical eye.
You need to join the Yahoo Equine Cushings and Insulin Resistance Group and start reading. Managing an IR horse involves hay testing, low NSC-diet, mineral balancing, a vet that is up-to-date on all things IR, and a LOT of personal research. It's doable, but you really need to keep on top of things in order to avoid another laminitic episode. Caveat emptor.
I'd want the horse tested for Cushings and IR, and then I'd ask the owners to detail the horse's daily, monthly and yearly management.
Funny enough, when I read the title of this thread, I thought it was people looking at MY mare. They were all gung-ho about managing and taking care of her condition (on a free lease situation) and then got cold feet yesterday and backed out.
There was no new info that made them change their minds (I've been upfront since the beginning about her care, which is really very easy if you stick to the routine). Trainer still wants her but the lessees just balked. Oh well, I was just taking a lesson one day when my instructor said "what do you think about this?" and I said I'd look into it. So it's not like I'm trying to get rid of her
I will say that Bud's condition is not progressive (something previously thought) which makes it easier to care for. A horse with IR is often more progressive. Every bout makes the next episode more likely.
Having myself once been a 14 year old girl with a horse who did founder, with severe rotation, and eventually resulting in euthanizing the horse, who was the love of my life, I would not go that route for this girl. I am 25 and can still not think of him without crying.
Move along to something that hasn't had that issue, because sometimes you can do everything you can possibly think of to prevent another episode, and it can happen again.
"If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."
I lost my heart horse to laminitis due to Cushings (and the laminitic episode was the only sign of Cushings). It was sad and horrible and I had a very rough eights months to a year.
But I had 20 years with her. I would not pass on what could be a perfect horse, even now, on the off chance the horse could have another episode. Especially since it sounds like the horse will be in an ideal situation as far as management. I also had a very nice lesson horse back when I taught lessons, well, nice isn't the word because he was a conformational train wreck and ugly as sin, but safe. He had laminitis X 3 or 4 by the time I got him in his teens, some rotation, had one more while I had him (three blades of greener grass, I swear), and he was sound as bell as long as he had front shoes on. Nothing corrective. Jumping into his 20s.
As an aside, since the horse is already on IR supp (whatever that is...?), I bet the lady knows about it and probably knows about the "mystery lameness" as well. Just sayin'.
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We have a lovely Morgan mare at the TR program I work with who has been laminitic in other situations, and is 100% sound at our place. Dry lot, careful feed and weight management, consistent exercise, IR supplements. If this is truly the perfect horse in all other aspects and the family is prepared to manage her carefully, it could work. I see so many kids with the wrong horse, who get scared and turned off of riding. If this horse makes her confident and excited about coming to the barn, grab her.