I am a new member and this is my first post. I'm in a little bit of a quandry and would like to get your expert opinion.
Two months ago I purchased a three old WB gelding. He was located out of town and my vet could not refer me to a local vet for a ppe so I found a vet on the aaep.org website.
She assured me that although she knew of the seller that she did not work for them and felt comfortable doing a ppe.
I explained to the vet that I was looking for a part-time AO/AA hunter/all-arounder. She told me that she competed in high-level eventing and knew the physical requirements for a jumping horse. I explained that I was looking for my "forever" horse and although I wouldn't be campaigning full-time I wanted something that would be sound.
When I first saw the horse I noticed that he had upright pasterns and what looked like a clubfoot (LF). When I expressed my concern she said that I was looking at "baby feet" and that they would mature to look more "normal".
We took xrays and she was unconcerned about the foot and said that because he is landing flat that as long as he's trimmed correctly it shouldn't be a problem. She said he was perfect for what I wanted to do and should be able to hold up to jumping 3'3"-3'6".
When I got him home the first words out of my farrier's mouth was "he's back at the knee", along with the club, then my normal vet looked at him and his xrays and said he definitely has a clubfoot. They both agreed that he is landing flat and there is no uneven wear on his unshod hooves.
Last night vet friend of a friend of mine looked at him and was appalled that the ppe vet had said that he is suitable for jumping. She was offended that another vet had given me such bad information. She said absolutely no way would he hold up to jumping and in fact, may be suitable only to light trail-riding.
When I asked her about the back at the knee she said that yes, he is but it looks worse because of the clubfoot.
She recommended me getting a second ppe and filing a complaint to the veterinary board. She says that if they take action against the ppe vet then it would make it much easier for me to sue her.
I'm pretty upset - this was my dream-horse that I invested a lot of money and time into. Plus he has an amazing brain, is a fantastic mover, and has incredible gaits. I would be willing to change to dressage if that is what he can do.
My thought is that I will pay the $ to get the second opinion - if only for my peace of mind and then take it from there.
Sorry for the long post but I hope I haven't been confusing. I would appreciate getting your opinion. It seems the more I think about this the more confused I get.
Where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?
You have a few issues to sort out... but please do not tell all the club footed horses performing at far higher levels than you intend that they will not hold up. Unless we are talking about a far more serious club foot (surgical candidate) than it sounds from your post - forgive me, it sounds like maybe a grade 1, maybe 2 at the outside?
Secondly, two months of not good trimming and a growth spurt is a LIFETIME in the land of babies and club feet. It really is all about the trim. There's every chance that the original vet was 100% correct in her assessment. It's been two months. Get your second opinion by all means, bet get your farrier on top of it sooner rather than later.
i bought a horse that had a club foot but he had surgery when he was a foal. it corrected the condition. the only way i knew he had a club foot was it came up on the PP exam that he had a torn check ligament. i asked the owners vet since i saw him pulling down the driveway and he said it was cut as a baby. a complete success story. i am not sure that they could cut it now, though being as your horse is older.
i personally would not want a problem horse from the start. i would get to the bottom of whether the horse should be able to hold up or not. its heart breaking years later after you fall in love with the horse to realize your horse is broke and needs to be retired.
Where am I and what am I doing in this handbasket?
True, but there are so many ways that could happen. Not that you want the deck stacked against you from the start, but you own the horse and that is probably not going to change regardless of the outcome of any action against the vet.
So aside from what people are saying, what is you are seeing? Typically club footed horses are also weaker in the shoulder (of the club footed leg) - if you can stand up above him and look down at the shoulders, do you see asymmetry? Is he "marchier" on the canter lead w/ the club foot?
You need to look at the whole horse, not just the foot, and from the whole horse persepctive, that shoulder/foot relationship is key. Some people (myself included) favor adding a leather rim pad to the club foot, actually raising the club foot even higher. Sounds counterintuitive, but the thought behind club feet is (back to that shoulder) is sort of a chicken/egg thing. Maybe the foot trying to "stack" is to compensate for the weaker/lower shoulder, so if we give the shoulder the "lift" it was seeking, can that strengthen the whole horse enough relax the tendons/ligaments putting the strain on the back of the leg/hoof?
In addition to that, stretching exercises and correct riding go a long way to fixing the root cause which then can help translate into a better foot (the symptom, not the cause).
For what it's worth, the horse in my profile has a G1 club. He's 21 now, I got him when he was 3 and I think he was 16 in that picture. I would never say he is the picture of toughness and soundness, but I can say the one thing that hasn't given me a second thought is his club foot. Hell that might be his soundest bit!
The biggest reason I know all of the above my farrier and I talk and he IS rather marchy on his right lead and I worked a lot to smooth that out because I kind of suck at finding distances while riding "marchy".
To me, it sounds like your vet friend is an over-reacter. if the horse is sound, and it's a G2 club, with proper trimming, maintenance and shoes, the foot shouldn't cause you any trouble. A lawsuit against a vet who gave you her honest (to me) opinion sounds a bit extreme. I have an A/O horse with a G1/G2 club, and much like DMK, his clubby foot has been the soundest part of him, of late
Last edited by pinkpony321; Apr. 30, 2013 at 01:47 PM.
Reason: forgot a word
I have made the decision to accept him the way he is and trust the original vet's opinion. She saw the rads, my vet friend didn't.
Would be nice to have a crystal ball but oh well!
If it were me I would have "your" vet if you haven't already do a exam to make sure you have the green light to begin jumping AND give you something to work off of for the future farrier visits. Establish a plan.
I recently purchased a horse that I was not aware had a slight club foot and an extremely contracted heel and frog. I have had my vet exam him and make sure we are good to go with the training I am doing. I have farrier well aware that I want this monitored closely. So far the hoof is doing well and the "butt crack" issue he had with that club foot when I got him is resolving slowly.
I would just keep on top of everything working with your vet and farrier especially as he grows. You may have to do comparative x rays as time goes on and he grows.
And to remark on the forever horse - enjoy every second because you never know when forever is.
Last edited by doublesstable; Apr. 30, 2013 at 09:32 PM.
Live in the sunshine.
Swim in the sea.
Drink the wild air.
I had a horse vetted as a yearling states away and had the same thing happen. I was a kid and didn't know what I was doing. The horse passed the vet and when i showed him to my vet he was like yikes what have you done. The horse had a club and it was not even that severe, but his rads were not good. He did not hold up. He stayed sound until he was 6, then we kept him sound with injections until he was 9, and then went downhill from there. At 12 he was completely retired. I disagree that baby feet get better, I think that a club will get worse from a young horse to maturity. I should have went after that vet, but the horse was sound for a few years so whAt did I know. I would be weary of a young horse with a club, especially a big warmblood. The bigger they are the harder it is on them. I would buy an older horse with a club that has been competing and staying sound, but a young one you don't know if they will hold up.
Ever since then, I am soooo careful when picking vets from afar and I always have by vet review the X-rays.
The best thing you can do is employ a team from the get-go. So long as the horse is sound and happy, you only need two people on your team - a good farrier and a vet with a good eye for lameness and movement mechanics. Have them out at the same time, and discuss with them what you hope to do with the horse. Then, they can watch the horse go and talk together about the best approach and take any x-rays they need in order to make a plan.
With any luck, it's a one time deal. But- what you've done is open up a line of communication between vet and farrier when there is nothing seriously wrong. These conversations are 10 times harder when you are two years into having the vet and farrier work on the horse, and there is a problem. Vet blames farrier, farrier blames vet, and no one really wants to work openly with the other. You can also waste lots of time if farrier and vet have different objectives in mind for the proper hoof shape/angle/function.
If you get the go-ahead to put the horse to work, plan to have twice-yearly jogs along with your spring and fall shots. That way vet is watching the horse go on a regular basis, and will be in a better position to notice and help alter the plan if the horse isn't holding up to the work load.
Of course club foot and back at the knee are not perfect conformation but few horses are perfect and yet go to wonderful and successful lives! right off the top of my head I can think of one horse with a club foot, and back in one knee that is a 10+ mover and a superb and correct jumper, and another who is clubbed on one foot that is also a 10+ mover and showing some great stuff over fences! Like someone else said, unless you are showing in hand, you need to look at the whole horse and you can deal with less than perfect!
Thank you so much! All your comments have helped me. I think having a plan with my vet and farrier is a great idea. My vet knows my farrier and and is happy with his work. They have both made the same comments independently to me about his trimming routine so they are on the same page.
I am taking Qharma to the mountains for the summer to get out of the AZ heat and when he comes back in October I will make an appointment with both vet and farrier before putting him to work.
And when I say "putting him to work" I mean ground work, light hacks, and trail-rides for a couple years and then re-evalute for jumping. This is definitely a long-term project which is fun for me! I'm not in a hurry to do anything.
I am curious for those who have out of state/area PPE done by vets that are not yours....do you not send that information to your vet also? I have used vets unknown to me for PPE, but they have then sent the info to me or my vet & we have discussed it.
I agree you do need to have a vet & farrier who can work together. Keeping the lines of communication open is excellent. My vet will make comments--even just to say the horse's feet look good, he's traveling well, etc....--that I pass on to my shoer.
I'll chime in with everyone else. My 5yo had a pretty decent club foot when I got him as a yearling. I had a great farrier and the horse more or less "grew out of it" thanks to proactive trimming.
Back at the knee strikes me as something you should have seen on pictures prior to the purchase. I wouldn't expect a vet I didn't know to educate me on conformation beyond anything that would likely be a major problem. Depending on how severe it is (I'm guess "not very" from your description) I wouldn't expect that to fall into the range of something that would be a major issue.
As others have said, I've seen horses with all sorts of "defects" showing and winning at very high levels. It's more about how the horse is put together around those conformational faults than the actual faults.
__________________________________ Forever exiled in the NW.