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Another PPE Thread: Your 'deal-breakers' in young horses

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  • Another PPE Thread: Your 'deal-breakers' in young horses

    I am currently shopping for my next prospect/project. I've been looking at everything from coming 3 this year to 7 years old. My goals are 1m+ jumpers and hopefully some lower level eventing. I admittedly did not PPE my now older gelding (knew a lot of his history, leased him first etc.). This is my first long search for a horse as the gelding previously mentioned was at my prior barn already.

    I've been looking for ~ 5 months, and have now vetted 2. Both that I've vetted have been turning 3 this spring, both showed something in the hocks (ocd in upper joint in one, probably could be surgically removed and not cause any more problems, but had some effusion and hadn't done any work yet, and I was not keen to start off with 2 vets suggesting surgery. Second I am humming and hawing over and currently awaiting 2nd opinion, but has very narrow joint spaces in lower hock joint). This second is one I probably wouldn't have as a deal-breaker in a horse that has been doing some work and proving sound, but again, a just started youngster makes me pause given my long-term goals. I'm unsure if I love the horse enough to take the risk.

    Both are those "could be an issue eventually, could never be". I'm not expecting perfect PPEs, and realize even a spotless horse on radiographs can find some other way to break.

    I'm learning what I'm comfortable with, what is a deal-breaker for me, and more than anything learning there is a lot of grey in between. I'm just curious what others consider a deal-breaker, specifically in young horses? To get really specific, let's talk 2-4 year olds that haven't done much work.

  • #2
    I buy young horses regularly. The latter horse would be an absolute no for me. The OCD I would only consider if the horse was really really outstanding, and the money for the surgery came directly off of the purchase price.

    2-4 year olds should have pretty clean rads. I bought one with a slightly club foot. One with some slight remodeling in a fetlock. And one with some slight edges on the wither spines. Which is a more specific answer to what you’re asking. I don’t like hock issues at that age for long-term soundness or resale. I also absolutely will not buy anything with narrowing of the spines that isn’t proven with a show record. I also steer clear of coffin bone issues, but am more lenient on small navicular channels.

    Not radiograph related, I always have them scopes and won’t do one with any sort of improper breathing mechanism. Even if they don’t make a sound.

    My adventures as a working rider

    theworkingrider.blogspot.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Any kind or wear and tear related issues in horses that are not even started in serious work are a no go for me. If they are well started and have been staying sound in regular work for sometime, more likely to work with a few minor issues.

      And, define “young” here. Talking unstarted just turned 3 yo or a late 4 year old working well and soundly on the flat, in a program and started over fences?
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        findeight Just started 3 year old (turning 3 end of March). 2nd opinion vet looked at x-rays and agrees on narrow joint space, but no signs of ocd, arthritis, or that hocks are trying to fuse (at this time). She noted it could be his normal, or that the changes may impact him for my intended purposes down the road (cartilage thickness may change down the line). Basically what I was expecting to hear as no one has a crystal ball sadly.

        I'd have zero concerns over a horse that had been working and staying sound with this finding, but the age and the fact that I'd like to be 1m+ and trying eventing all add together. It doesn't help that my older gelding has hock arthritis (among other issues) that partly led to his retirement from shows, so I am admittedly hyper-sensitive to this.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SolaceEq View Post
          findeight Just started 3 year old (turning 3 end of March). 2nd opinion vet looked at x-rays and agrees on narrow joint space, but no signs of ocd, arthritis, or that hocks are trying to fuse (at this time). She noted it could be his normal, or that the changes may impact him for my intended purposes down the road (cartilage thickness may change down the line). Basically what I was expecting to hear as no one has a crystal ball sadly.

          I'd have zero concerns over a horse that had been working and staying sound with this finding, but the age and the fact that I'd like to be 1m+ and trying eventing all add together. It doesn't help that my older gelding has hock arthritis (among other issues) that partly led to his retirement from shows, so I am admittedly hyper-sensitive to this.
          Sounds like you already are kind of feeling like you should pass on that one. Honestly, I would too. We found narrow/fusing spaces in my 4 year old's hocks on accident. While he is sound, I can already see that he moves a bit more stiffly than I would like. If I had known about them before I got him (no PPE since I had known him since he was a weanling, last time I ever buy a horse without a PPE), I wouldn't have bought him, not with the intention of hopefully eventing him. As a pleasure horse/lesson horse/low level dressage or jumping, sure.

          Comment


          • #6
            I just bought a three year old horse with a hock OCD. We sent him to Hagyard, where the surgery is super inexpensive (they do 10-20 young TBs and Standardbreds a day). His price was lower due to the findings on the xrays and all the vets were super clear that the surgery was simple, quick, and had an excellent prognosis. In my horse's case, he had raced sound on it, was sound at the time of the PPE, but we were taking it out to avoid future issues. At Hagyard, the entire surgical process was three hours - drop off, surgery, recovery, pickup was all over before noon.

            Comment


            • #7
              Buying young horses is never a guarantee, that's why the prices are what they are, because you're taking on a certain amount of risk. The young horse could have abnormalities all over the xrays and be incredibly sound for 15-20 years or you could buy one with perfect xrays and in 6 months its got OCD in 3 joints. I have seen both. For me, now days OCD, bone chips ect.. are not a deal breaker. Don't take these things as a hard fail, ask your vet if the bone chip is in a spot that may cause issues later on and what the cost of removing it would be so you are prepared and do some research. The same can be said for OCD. The only area I would consider a deal breaker is OCD or bone chips in the stifles, in my experience these don't work out as jumping horses in the long run.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Nickelodian View Post
                I buy young horses regularly. The latter horse would be an absolute no for me. The OCD I would only consider if the horse was really really outstanding, and the money for the surgery came directly off of the purchase price.

                2-4 year olds should have pretty clean rads. I bought one with a slightly club foot. One with some slight remodeling in a fetlock. And one with some slight edges on the wither spines. Which is a more specific answer to what you’re asking. I don’t like hock issues at that age for long-term soundness or resale. I also absolutely will not buy anything with narrowing of the spines that isn’t proven with a show record. I also steer clear of coffin bone issues, but am more lenient on small navicular channels.

                Not radiograph related, I always have them scopes and won’t do one with any sort of improper breathing mechanism. Even if they don’t make a sound.
                Just curious, are the sellers you work with usually pretty willing to have the scopes performed? Would you assume liability if an injury were to occur?

                Comment


                • #9
                  My horse had a small OCD when I vetted him (he'd just turned 4), I spent a lot of time going over it with the vet. Because if its location I decided I could live with it. It's never been an issue. OCDs are so common on young, large WBs. I would get the neck looked at and that would be a nor for me, or anything that pointed towards nuero.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pleasurehorsemama View Post

                    Just curious, are the sellers you work with usually pretty willing to have the scopes performed? Would you assume liability if an injury were to occur?
                    I’ve never heard of any injury from having a horse scoped. Assuming we’re talking about the same thing, which is a scope of the breathing mechanism.
                    My adventures as a working rider

                    theworkingrider.blogspot.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OP and y'all: Why do you care of the *lower* joints of the hocks are abnormally narrow? If there are not signs that arthritis got him there (which would be weird in an unstarted three-year-old), why do you care? These are the joints we inject with steroids and which we hope will fuse in that middle-age horse.

                      Of all the problems I could choose in a (working, adult) horse, narrow spaces in the lower hock joints (and no others) would be fine. But I have a vague sense that bone metabolism and/or cartilage quality differs in different horses. That's how you get war horses whose x-rays look surprisingly good, given their résumé, and younger horses who have done far less with lots of joint jewelry. So if I'd x-ray some other small, crucial joints (coffin joint, perhaps) and ask if that "narrow joint space" did seem normal for him, or weather this horse laid down bone at the drop of a hat and would eventually become very arthritic in lots of places.
                      The armchair saddler
                      Politically Pro-Cat

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mvp View Post
                        OP and y'all: Why do you care of the *lower* joints of the hocks are abnormally narrow? If there are not signs that arthritis got him there (which would be weird in an unstarted three-year-old), why do you care? These are the joints we inject with steroids and which we hope will fuse in that middle-age horse.

                        Of all the problems I could choose in a (working, adult) horse, narrow spaces in the lower hock joints (and no others) would be fine. But I have a vague sense that bone metabolism and/or cartilage quality differs in different horses. That's how you get war horses whose x-rays look surprisingly good, given their résumé, and younger horses who have done far less with lots of joint jewelry. So if I'd x-ray some other small, crucial joints (coffin joint, perhaps) and ask if that "narrow joint space" did seem normal for him, or weather this horse laid down bone at the drop of a hat and would eventually become very arthritic in lots of places.
                        This isn’t a working adult horse. At least in my sense of the term. If it was, I’d be fine with a more narrow space. It’s a 2 coming 3yo. No way no how I’d want to buy one that I’m waiting to fuse at that age.
                        My adventures as a working rider

                        theworkingrider.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This is a tough question. You sound like me a few months ago. I also passed on two due to unsatisfactory PPE. As you know, no horse is perfect. But as someone pointed out above, it seems like you're already leaning away from horse #2. So follow your gut and walk away. When you find one you LOVE, the PPE results won't concern you as much (unless it's something really bad like a heart murmur or ringbone).

                          That said, I will agree that it's prudent to be less forgiving on a young, low-mileage horse. People will give you grief for saying no, but it's your money and your future.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Nickelodian View Post

                            This isn’t a working adult horse. At least in my sense of the term. If it was, I’d be fine with a more narrow space. It’s a 2 coming 3yo. No way no how I’d want to buy one that I’m waiting to fuse at that age.
                            Fair enough. But I thought folks were happily putting steroids into these joint spaces in order to keep them sound while the fusion process is happening and to, perhaps, help speed it up by allowing the steroids to thin the cartilage in there a bit.

                            An aside: I have a performance horse vet muse that some day, evolution should fuse these joints anyway. I think he's wrong because hock pain doesn't figure significantly into modern, domesticated horses' reproductive success. But you could be helping evolution along if you chose the horse (or his intact relatives) who came with their lower hock-joints pre-fused.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mvp View Post

                              Fair enough. But I thought folks were happily putting steroids into these joint spaces in order to keep them sound while the fusion process is happening and to, perhaps, help speed it up by allowing the steroids to thin the cartilage in there a bit.

                              An aside: I have a performance horse vet muse that some day, evolution should fuse these joints anyway. I think he's wrong because hock pain doesn't figure significantly into modern, domesticated horses' reproductive success. But you could be helping evolution along if you chose the horse (or his intact relatives) who came with their lower hock-joints pre-fused.
                              Are you being sarcastic here? Its not even 3 years old yet and just started, not nearing its teens with with hundreds of jumps and thousands of miles under its girth staying serviceably sound but ready for some help. And it helps...until it eventually doesn’t. Which is fine if it’s 17, not so much if it’s 7.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I was more looking for a discussion around what other people are ok with in young horses, versus a discussion around this particular horse for my purposes, but it's always interesting and educational to hear others experiences.

                                For those that commented on OCD - I agree that it is not a hard fail (in fact, I'd argue there is no pass and fail on a PPE). I passed on the horse with the OCD chip because he had not been working, there was already effusion, and 2 vets recommended surgery pretty well right off the bat before he started working. Yes, I could have got a price drop and gone ahead and probably ended up with a lovely horse. But for me, at this time in my life, I wasn't interested in the added surgery risk and rehab early after purchase. I'm buying a horse so I can start working with them now. That was my personal choice based on numerous factors. Someone else may not bat an eye and end up with a stellar partner, and that's cool.

                                mvp As mentioned, in a working, adult horse, narrow joint space in the lower hocks would NOT have been a concern to me. In a just started (and I mean like 10 rides) 3 year old, yeah, it gave me pause. I care because I would rather not have to start injecting joints by the time this horse is 7. While I don't have plans to go to the Olympics, I do have goals for 1m+ and eventing, which load the hocks. With already narrow joint space, and the goals I have, it stood out to me as a potential concern. Again, could be the norm for this horse as you mention, but his other joints were clean and had normal spacing.

                                For those curious, I did pass on horse #2 as well. As a few pointed out, I think I was leaning away for reasons that weren't directly related to the hocks anyways and that was just the extra push.

                                gertie06 Absolutely agree no horse is perfect. And I also agree that I may have been more forgiving if I had truly loved the horse - great point.

                                Thanks for all the responses. I'm finding it very interesting to hear more about what every individual is ok with versus not, and I think so much also leans on individual circumstance too (ie. room in the pasture at home if horse doesn't work out, or stuck in a boarding situation etc.).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by findeight View Post

                                  Are you being sarcastic here? Its not even 3 years old yet and just started, not nearing its teens with with hundreds of jumps and thousands of miles under its girth staying serviceably sound but ready for some help. And it helps...until it eventually doesn’t. Which is fine if it’s 17, not so much if it’s 7.
                                  I was not being sarcastic. It was not my hypothesis. Bones have fused before in evolution-- google a turtle's shell. I'm not sure what the "it" is in the sentence about helping. You mean intrarticular injections?

                                  In any case, I'm glad the OP got an answer from all this that made her feel vonident in her decision to not buy this particular horse.
                                  Last edited by mvp; Feb. 16, 2020, 06:25 PM.
                                  The armchair saddler
                                  Politically Pro-Cat

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Back to the OP's question..

                                    I board and have limited resources. For me, I want a horse to flex out absurdly sound. I know that many people dislike flexing and there are rock solid horses who will not flex a 0/5. However, given my limited resources and the age range I am looking at I want a horse that flexes sound. Personal preference. Anything above a 1/5 is a red flag and a 2/5 is a pass without pursuing x rays. Perhaps Ive missed out on some otherwise perfect horses but I have peace with that.

                                    Navicular changes in a young horse is also a hard pass. I vetted a really cool guy in the fall who had changes in both front feet. One vet shrugged at the rads while another two winced. He's now being ambitiously campaigned and doing very well with someone else. Again, I'd rather say oh well and cheer on his new owner.

                                    Anything my vet pauses over with a stifle makes me very nervous. It's not a joint I have a ton of experience with but I've followed many COTH frustrations with stifle issues over the years. This is an area where I really lean on my vet and their expertise.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I'm probably the most sensitive to stifles, neck, fetlocks, and feet. I will pass on even fairly minor stifle findings. I xray the neck and spine on everything now too. Depending on what is found in the hocks and how the flexions go, I'm a bit more tolerant there, but an OCD in the upper joint would be a no. But some findings elsewhere could also put me off, and some findings in the most sensitive areas might not depending on the horse's history (new horse has some findings in the ankles but was not so young and had good experience/show record).

                                      For the age and lack of work you are talking about, I want pretty clean radiographs. Squeaky clean if I am thinking of possible resale. Doesn't mean there won't be changes later of course (ask me how I know...lol). I'm also not entirely opposed to a chip or OCD, but I'd prefer that the seller would have already had it out. When I was last shopping, I passed on one with an operable chip and likely decent prognosis because I had been basically in constant rehab with my other horse, and the last thing I wanted was to take on a 5yo who needed surgery. And at least that one was 5 and had been in work.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I had a 5 year old with operable OCD that we had removed. I'm happy I did, he stayed sound for 3 years before selling and had perfect xrays and vetting, though of course I disclosed he had had the surgery.

                                        I just sold another horse where again the vet check went really well even though this is an 18h horse competing regularly. I called to thank my vet bc she has had to say NO to a lot of horses for me. I'm sure that's pretty unpleasant for her, but I'm grateful.

                                        For me personally, if you're thinking resale, clean xrays are worth being choosy over. I always like the option of being able to sell if we aren't a perfect fit, so I'm willing to trade something that's greener or even a little less quality for a good check. But as we know, good xrays are not guarantees.

                                        If I found something I knew I would keep forever, maybe I would be more lenient on some of the xrays. But something like naviculars in southern california where the ground is so hard and the air is dry, those are deal breakers. And unfortunately, after one wobbler, neck and back xrays will always be part of the check.

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