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What to do? OTTB w/ knee chip...

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  • What to do? OTTB w/ knee chip...

    I recently adopted a 2007 OTTB. I found out later, through my own research, that she has a small chip in her right knee (I have email with the x-rays for those of you who want to see them). The person I adopted her from did NOT tell me of her injury.

    She had 2 workouts at the track in late September and pulled up with heat in her knee. She was x-rayed in early October.

    In November, a orthopedic surgeon in PA looked at the x-rays and said that the chip didn't warrant surgery and she was sound for riding.

    She came to me sound at the end of December.

    My vet and the surgeon at the same hospital said that the chip was small and she could stay sound or she could develop unsoundness from it later (no way to tell).

    I got her as either a Prelim prospect for me (my mare most likely to max out at training, we are moving up this season) or as a resale if we didn't get along or was better suited for a different discipline.

    What do I do? I told the lady I got her from that I was very disappointed that she with held this information from me. I also said that if my vet deemed her unfit for eventing, that I would expect her to pay to have her shipped back. I'm not sure if she will even do this...I'm afraid to even go there.

    Do I take my chances and keep her? Who will buy her? I will obviously tell them about the chip. Will I have to discount her sale price the amount of the surgery cost?

    She's 16 hands and VERY quiet. My husband thinks she's worth keeping but he's kind of an enabler.

    Last edited by mcorbett; Jan. 19, 2010, 01:25 PM.
    Hillside Haven Farm
    From starting gate to start box!

  • #2
    If the horse is sound for riding and has been evaluated as such, why are you thinking you need to do surgery? While lots of chips should and do come out, there are some that are better staying where they are. Heck, my prelim horse has a massive chip in a hind ankle that neither the seller nor the amateur who had him before her knew about. He went to Radnor twice (long format), ran around Advanced, and did a long format one star with me. I figure the horse can't read the xrays, so no sense in telling him about it.


    • Original Poster

      I'm not going to do surgery unless she becomes unsound.

      I guess my main questions are: Will the chip scare people away from buying her? Will I have to discount her price so much that I won't make a profit (assuming she'll be an average BN horse at the end of the 2011 show season)? OR, it it too risky to invest a bunch of time and money in a prospect for myself who may or may not stay sound on a KNOWN injury (I know ANY prospect may or may not stay sound)?
      Hillside Haven Farm
      From starting gate to start box!


      • #4
        I had a chip taken out of my horse's knee. I had it done at Ohio State University and it cost me $1300- flat rate procedure. His procedure was done 12-28-08 and he came home 12-31-08. PM me if you want more info.


        • Original Poster

          ex-racer owner,

          Thanks for the info. That actually makes me feel better...
          Hillside Haven Farm
          From starting gate to start box!


          • #6
            did you ask the seller if there were any medical issues she knew about? my vet used to ask that question because if the seller said no and the answer was yes, it was fraud. I think if you have her for resale, you will have a problem with buyers who expect perfection.
            A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton


            • #7
              I think a chip can scare people away - same as a bow, arthritis or any other issue. A consistent performance record can help with that as well. This is why your own PPE is so important if you are looking at the higher levels of any sport. Heck, even at the lower levels it's good to know what you are starting with so that you can maintain it or pass on it. The cost of the horse itself is irrelevent, it's what you are willing to live with. If she were mine, I would keep her and try her, but be realistic that I may not make a profit. Heck, that is the case with ALL horses! She sounds like a nice prospect - I'd see how she does for you. As for the seller - yes, she should have disclosed, but I also think that sometimes you don't know and that is why I always encourage folks to do a PPE when I sell - there may be something I am not aware of going on.

              Good luck, and I like the way your husband thinks lol!


              • #8
                If the key issue is making a profit off this horse, then I would move on. The sales market is not great and there are too many OTTBs that are available without knee chips. I had a consignment horse turn up with chips a few years back and while he did sell, the price was discounted AND it took months longer than expected. The cost of a horse is in the upkeep, and a horse with a defect is going to take longer to sell and that eats up your profit.
                Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                • Original Poster

                  Because she was adopted, not bought, they strongly discouraged a PPE. They pretty much told me not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I took my chances, and this is where I am! Live and learn. Next time, I will do a PPE and x-ray the knees!
                  Hillside Haven Farm
                  From starting gate to start box!


                  • #10
                    Adopted from a reputable group? Or "adopted" meaning got for free?

                    If you got the horse for free and like her, have the chip removed if it's worrisome and you want it for resale. Chips will absolutely scare buyers away, even though as GotSpots stated, they may not cause a problem. Mare+Chips? tough to resell unless you have a majorly nice resume or superstar talent.
                    Is the chip inter-articular? I'm guessing no, since she's sound. Chips can and do reabsorb as well if they are small enough to demineralize.


                    • #11
                      a small chip in the knee, not something I would be getting super worked up over. If she is sound for the job that a person is buying her for...then I doubt it will impact her sale significantly if it is a very small chip. IME, perfect xrays are usually only needed for unproven green prospects....or sales to very inexperienced buyers. And if it does becomes your issue...have the chip removed.

                      If it worries you so much and you think you are putting money into her for re-sale only...have it removed now. It doesn't cost much for most small chips...and it is pretty easy surgery. Sometimes it is done on them standing up...and it doesn't take long to recover. Honestly though...I wouldn't be removing it now if it isn't causing any issue but would be watching it closely.
                      ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                      • #12
                        If I were you, I go ahead and spring for the removal now. It shouldn't be expensive at all. If the chip does start floating around, it can do a lot of damage in a very short time. If the horse was free to begin with, just consider this the purchase price.
                        "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay."
                        Thread killer Extraordinaire


                        • #13
                          I know a horse (a TB but not OTTB) that went Prelim with a big chip in the knee.

                          She was a sale project and the owner eventually had it removed, not because she was unsound on it, but because no one would pay the asking price with it in.

                          She recovered great and sold well.
                          http://www.clarkdesigngrouparchitects.com/index.html - Lets build your dream barn


                          • #14
                            That is a bit of a pickle to be in. In this circumstance, I would be upset that they knew about the chip and didn't disclose. That is not a rescue that I would want to deal with. When we have a horse who has something that we know about it is always disclosed in the first email/contact that I have with anybody interested. Why take the chance of having to take a horse back if you can avoid it? It is standard language in our contract that we STRONGLY suggest a PPE because as we all know there could be things that are there even if a horse has never taken a lame step.

                            On the other hand, anybody who buys a horse for resale and choses not to x-ray should be prepared to lose the gamble. I have never x-rayed a horse that I have bought but they are cheap and if they end up with something than it is my job is to find them an appropriate home.

                            That being said it is hard to sell a horse without a performance record or a young horse who has something on a recent x-ray and no earlier x-rays to compare it to. I am from the camp that these things don't bother me and treat the horse like an individual. Were they staying sound to race, how about sound to ride, how frequently have they been ridden/jumped/trail ridden and is there any indication that it is bothering them. Horses are a gamble and always will be. You can buy a horse with clean x-rays for a ton of money and something happens to them or a cheap horse with a minor issue and take a chance. It just all depends on how goal for the horse and how flexible you can be.

                            Resale is extremely hard and a horse with a known issue will be a challenge to sell. I happen to have a fantastic just turned 4 yr that has all the potential to be an upper level horse and an advanced level rider thought so as well. Jumps well, brave, rideable and sound expect for a minor issue on the x-ray. He is getting the winter off but my plan of action would be to prove he can compete and stay sound and take more x-rays of the issue and see what it looks like. Horse has never taken a lame step. Hoping for the best I suppose but that is all you can do.


                            • #15
                              My OTTB had a knee chip. He flexed sound, and the chip showed up on the 'base-line' x-rays I had taken when I purchased him. I'm not sure now what type of chip it was...but it turns out that it didn't matter. I used him as my jumper, and he was never, ever, ever lame or sore - in over 7 years of jumping him.

                              I took the risk of not doing surgery (and vet at the time told me that the chip shouldn't bother him)...he was 8, and I'm not sure that digging around in there would have helped or hurt. Every situation is different - and every horse is different. Yours is a resale prospect? That is entirely different..depends on the price you hope to put on this horse/how much training. The chip changes everything.

                              And FWIW, better check your 'adoption' contract - you may be able to return this horse/you pay shipping. Or you may have to confer with the adoption agent, and get permission to do this surgery (if that's the route you choose). I know that I didn't 'own' my horse until one year had passed.
                              Last edited by TBMaggie; Jan. 19, 2010, 03:27 PM. Reason: Apparently can't add 8 plus 7, and wanted to add that my last paragraph is talking about another horse


                              • #16
                                MC- FWIW my event horse hurt himself last year and when we x-rayed we though we were looking at a new fracture with a palmar osteochondral fragment in his knee. The surgeon at New Bolton said that fracture was actually old and had been there for a long time it was the trauma to the front of the knee that actually caused the lameness and we just happened to find the old fracture. I couldn't believe it! I had him for 3 yrs in seriously hard work and he never took a lame step. Even with the injury he wasn't lame and has come back sound.

                                I have had so many horses over the years stay sound despite having issues that looked really bad on x-rays. It would be resale hell if I tried to sell them but I actually have sold a few with significant issues because people knew the horse and the competition history spoke for itself. I am always most suprised when I have owned a horse for a long time and then decide to sell the horse and find all sorts of issues going on when the horse was never unsound. You stand there looking like an idiot at a vetting but sometimes there is just no signs anything was wrong.

                                I wish all buyers were more like BFEN and Gotspots!


                                • #17
                                  I didn't read all the replies but from personal experience removing a chip, I wouldn't do it again from the get go. I got my OTTB as a 3 year old for next to nothing (200) knowing she had a chip in a front ankle. I was getting married that summer so I let her sit in my field until the fall. I started her, she was quiet, good natured and jumped well so I had rads taken again and was recommended to do the surgery. She wasn't lame when I did the surgery.

                                  She had the surgery in December, supposedly went well. I was diligent about her after care. 10 weeks later I had a lame horse. Retook rads, another chip? Repeated surgery in March. This time she wasn't lame but the time off that leg made it clubby. I know she likely had a predisposition for that foot to go clubby anyways.

                                  Started her back to work that fall (by this point I've owned her for about 15 months) and she did awesome. Started showing that next year and did about 5 events BN and Novice. She was an all star. Next year started having some lameness issues...Was able to compete in 1 novice and 1 training. This mare had great heart though she was always clear XC. So at 6 years old I had a horse that I couldn't use and that wasn't super saleable.

                                  Looking back I would have done the surgery once and only once she took a lame step. I don't regret having this horse or showing her. She taught me tonnes and gave me the confidence to show up to training. I know if she would stay sound she would have done great at prelim.

                                  Her issues I think if anything were more to do with the club foot which was exasperated by multiple surgery and more time spent on the "good" leg. I battled with her hooves ever since.


                                  • #18
                                    I agree w/Vineyridge - I'd have it removed.
                                    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                                    • #19
                                      I will be the one to disagree and further confuse the issue. If the horse is not lame I would not touch the chip, esp if it is not in the joint.

                                      Like GS, I have a long format ** horse with a poker hand full of chips. Never had an issue with any of them. Also had a nice young WB that fell in t/o and chipped his stifle, tho we did not know that at the time. He came up lame one day, determined it was stifle we did the standard treatment, two weeks later he was fine. Two years later on a PPE, chip in stifle. Knocked $2K off the purchase price in case surgery was ever needed. Horse is in his second green year (3'9"), no issues with chip.

                                      Surgery has its risks. The only reason to do it now, imho, is if there is potential to damage the cartilage of the joint, but it *sounds like* you have two vet opinions that say not.


                                      • #20
                                        We have an 8 yo OTTB at my barn with a chip in her knee. No issues and going Prelim. Looking at hopefully a long career heading to the upper levels. I'd leave it unless your vet is concerned about the location or the horse is having problems.