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PPE on 3 year old...what x-rays?

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    PPE on 3 year old...what x-rays?

    So I am thinking of doing a PPE on a 3 year old that was just started under saddle. What areas should I consider getting radiographed?

    perhaps this is naive, but wouldn't you decide what to get imaging on based on your PPE vet's workup and advice?


      My vet decided on the views but I remember doing front feet ( important to me), stifles, hocks, ankles maybe. I did a pretty extensive PPE on a 3 year old that had not been started and did not show any signs of lameness in flex tests. She wasn't hideously expensive either. I just wanted to know. Plus I have a baseline if something should go wrong. Basically the vet did the standard workup and I ok'd anything he felt we should do. This vet had been and still is my regular vet so I trusted his judgement.


        As part of a PPE that included flexions (vet asked, seller allowed it, nothing from it) I got a couple shots of front feet & hocks just to have on hand before starting any training work, and for future reference.


          When I bought a 4 year old that had recently been started, I told the PPE vet that we would only do xrays if he thought something needed further investigation. Nothing did, so none were done. The horse is 12 now and has never been lame. I guess if money was no issue, it would have been nice to have some "before" shots in case comparisons needed to be made later, but so far with this particular horse, it hasn't been an issue for me. My answer would be different if you're talking about a 3 year old OTTB just restarted.


            I always do front feet, stifles, and hocks. Anything else is based on vet's recommendation based on other elements of PPE.


              Original Poster

              Originally posted by mollymoon View Post
              perhaps this is naive, but wouldn't you decide what to get imaging on based on your PPE vet's workup and advice?
              Many years ago I vetted a 5 year old horse out that passed flexions fine and was completely sound on lunge and under saddle. He had been owned by the same family since a yearling and they reported no issues. We decided to get a few x-rays done anyway and found OCDs in most of the joints we radiographed. It really showed me that you don't always know what is going on just by flexions and lameness exam. Since I am spending (what to me) is quite a bit of money and may be selling this horse down the road, I really would rather know up front than get blindsided down the road by someone else's PPE. But it has been quite a while since I have done a formal PPE on a horse and just trying to get a feel for what the norm is these days.


                I have done PPEs in 2-3 yo unstarted WBs. Some findings on X-ray (significant arthritic changes in hocks) made me walk, other findings got a reduction in price that paid for the cost of the PPE and I decided to take the risk and buy (chip near fetlock, not affecting joint).

                I always think about cost of horse and cost of PPE. I have a standard set of X-rays recommended by my vet, navicular view, fetlocks, hocks, stifles and I try to be objective about what would make me walk from the purchase.


                  Original Poster

                  Thanks everyone! So no one is doing backs as a routine x-ray? (Owner of a KS horse (bought before KS was really talked about.))


                    Originally posted by caryledee View Post
                    Thanks everyone! So no one is doing backs as a routine x-ray? (Owner of a KS horse (bought before KS was really talked about.))
                    If i was importing a horse/getting something I wasn't going to ride, or had reason to suspect something NQR with neck or back i would definitely xray both. With a lightly started 3 year old, I"m not sure I would. However, I think we also all tend to be extra careful with things we've had bad experiences with in the past. After having a horse with navicular, I have a friend who is VERY careful about her hoof xrays. Someone recently came to try a friend's horse that is for sale. The buyer had a past experience with PSSM, so she wanted to do that test as part of a PPE.

                    So, given your experience if you wanted to get that back x-ray it would be understandable.


                      I now do front feet (including navicular), fetlocks, hocks, stifles, neck and back on everything 3 and up. In a 3-4yo with low to no mileage, I'd be looking for major red flags like OCDs, chips, narrowing of the spinal column or major deformity, KS, poor stifle conformation.

                      Some findings I have more tolerance for than others, but I'd want a 3yo to be pretty clean if you have any inclination of resale. Not because the thing would necessarily be limiting for the horse depending on what it is, but the performance record would really need to make up for the Xray defects to not have issues selling the horse.


                        Last year I was looking for a young horse. I xrayed everything like IPEsq. The first two that I had a PPE done were just turned 4yo and one had major KS with no symptoms and one had a cyst on his cervical vertebrae. The last one I did was great and is mine now. I did not want to do back and necks but my coach and vet insisted. Thankfully I did or I would have a horse right now with a serious neck issue....Eta: My current horse was a just started 3yo when I bought him
                        ~Run and Jump!~


                          Original Poster

                          Thanks all. I am glad I went ahead with x-rays because they did show KS. I am super bummed but I had to walk away.


                            Thank you for this topic and to caryledee for updating with the outcome. I was wondering the same things. I am, unfortunately, horse shopping and while I have never really worried too much about PPEs for young/low mile horses, I am suddenly more concerned (even though my horse's issues would probably not have been detected by a PPE). I was specifically wondering if I was being silly for wanting back & neck x-rays, even on an unraced TB, but now I feel better about that desire!


                              After all the crap I've been through, I think I would x-ray feet, neck and back for sure. And everything else pending on flexions.