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Bow tendons and the lower level jumper

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  • Bow tendons and the lower level jumper

    I am looking at an OTTB with an old bow from 2017 (ultrasounds available). Spring this year, seller's vet cleared him for full work. He has been in work since, including low level xc schooling. I am looking for a horse that could do the 3'3" jumpers (maybe 3'6" if the scope is there), but no higher. I don't have plans to event, if we did it would be BN local schooling shows for fun. Are old bows, assuming they are cold and set and PPE ultrasound shows healing, a strict limitation against competing in the 3-footers? (I should note, I do not compete a lot, maybe 4-6 times a year, more for fun and to set a goal for training). Any advice/experience is appreciated!

  • #2
    Personally, I would not chance it. Horses are enough of a soundness crapshoot without additional risks. Also, unless you keep your horses forever, you may someday need to resell this one. An OTTB with an old bow is a tough resell, because people ask the same question you're asking.

    But that's me. I don't own property, so I've always had to pay for board on the retired ones, the injured ones, the rehabbing ones, etc. So I'm super super cautious about what I'll purchase (which still doesn't always go to plan).


    • #3
      I would expect no issues with an old injury like this, and showing in hunters and jumper divisions. I've had quite a few success stories with bows. Some big ones too, not just small ones. In fact, when shopping for an OTTB, I prefer ones with bows over just about any other soundness issue, because they are a very good excuse for a sound horse to no longer be racing, yet stand up so well as a hunter/jumper.

      A bowed tendon is "the kiss of death" for a racehorse, because at high speed, the tendon is stretched until the ergot touches the ground EVERY stride, producing great stress on the tendon with each stride during the race. As a high level jumper, the tendon takes that amount of stress perhaps on each landing from a 5' jump, resulting in (perhaps) 12 to 15 times in a jumping round. At the 3' hunter level, it is 0 times.

      The only exception is a bowed tendon due to conformational issues, too long pasterns being one of these. As long as the bow was due to a "miss step", or deep track, or other accident not the fault of the horse's own conformation, it's good to go for me.

      The trick to healing up bows successfully is short term stall rest, then exercise, lots of exercise, WHILE healing. Read Tom Ivor's Bowed Tendon Book. It is the exercise that drives the healing. And yes, you will run your hand over that old healed bow every day before you ride, but it is unlikely that you will ever find a problem with it. And if a potential buyer sneers at your horse and his old bowed tendon when you offer him up for sale, that person does not deserve to own your nice horse.


      • #4
        I agree with NancyM I've had an OTTB for over a decade that retired due to a bow injury (actually he bowed both sides...) from a misstep mid race. He came to me fully healed and went on to do 3'3- 3'6" with absolutely no issues. I polo'd him over using boots but other than that you would have never known

        If the idea is to purchase for resale- sure, you would be better off with someone with no history... but if its for yourself and the injury is totally healed then i would give him a fair look


        • #5
          I remember that supershorty628 (who used to blog on COTH) had a jumper TB that did the GPs and had recovered from a bow years before.

          In my case, I have a hunter with a healed bow. The bow occurred in November 2016. We rehabbed via platelet rich plasma therapy as well as shock wave.

          Consistent with Nancy M's post, I obsessively massage the old bow nearly every day to feel if something is amiss. Over time, you become a bit less paranoid but it's always something I think about. I used to wrap pretty much after every jumping session with BOT standing wraps, but I have eased up and do that only after more strenuous workouts. It's been a couple years and all is well. I'd like to eventually move up to the 3' but it's time, skill and training/showing funds that will probably be the factors in my case.
          Love my "Slow-T T B"
          2010 OTTB, Dixie Union x Dash for Money


          • #6
            I agree with the above posters who say an old, properly healed bow is not a career ending injury for a horse wanting to do hunters or what you are describing in the OP.

            If this horse is otherwise just what you want, have your vet look at the horse and the vet records and go from there.


            • #7
              Count me in as a former owner of a OTTB with a bow. It never, ever caused a problem in the 12 years I had him. He ended up being a really good jumper. This is one injury that doesn't immediately scare me off.
              Finding Cures, Saving Children. Sept. 29, 2019 Saddle Up for St. Jude event. Donate here.


              • #8
                I evented a horse like this for years and it was fine. She healed well and her ultrasounds looked great on the PPE. If the horse is sound and in work now I wouldn't be super concerned.
                If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                • #9
                  Agreed, old bow would not concern me.
                  I know someone who recently sold a young gelding with a year off the track as an event prospect, schooling 2'6'', with old bows on both fronts, priced in the high 4's.
                  Custom tack racks!


                  • #10
                    Also would not concern me if it healed well. I had a TB who bowed on the track, and he wound up showing 3'6 eventually. He had some issues, but the bow was not one of them.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mmeqcenter View Post
                      Agreed, old bow would not concern me.
                      I know someone who recently sold a young gelding with a year off the track as an event prospect, schooling 2'6'', with old bows on both fronts, priced in the high 4's.
                      That's good to hear. Hopefully people are beginning to realize that bows and other "track jewelry" should not be the deciding factor with an otherwise nice horse.
                      Love my "Slow-T T B"
                      2010 OTTB, Dixie Union x Dash for Money


                      • #12
                        I'm acquiring a new horse who bowed a tendon at the track last summer. So all of these success stories are making me feel more confident. I had always been under the impression that properly healed bows aren't a big deal, but I was surprised by all the negativity I have been getting when I was excitedly tell people about my new horse


                        • #13
                          Agree with all above on not being worried. I've had one that came off the track as a 2-yo with a bow and it was never an issue. I'd take a bow over crappy feet any day!! And I've got one with really crappy feet!


                          • #14
                            It’s another “ It depends”. Mostly on conformational weakness causing it or not and location plus intended use.

                            Definately get your PPE vet to get new ultrasounds of the leg now, today, after the horse has been working regularly since spring, don’t rely on previous ones before he went into regular work.

                            Old, set bows are generally no problem. Long as you confirm it is set and healed and holding up in recent work.
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by equest View Post
                              I remember that supershorty628 (who used to blog on COTH) had a jumper TB that did the GPs and had recovered from a bow years before.
                              Yes indeed. Bowed it as a 2 year old and to my knowledge, it was never an issue again, even in her hunter years before we teamed up, and jumped in the 1.40-1.50m classes with me for 7 years.

                              An old, cold bow would not deter me as long as the horse was rehabbed well and had a history of soundness since then.