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How much does a known but manageable physical issue affect your decision to purchase?

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  • How much does a known but manageable physical issue affect your decision to purchase?

    I'll try to keep this vague.

    You are horse shopping. You come across a GREAT horse. Right size, great personality, good build, talented jumper. Perfect child/adult horse. Fast and clean but not difficult to ride. A little older (in the early double digits), but not a crazy amount of miles on him. Some manageable personality quirks, but very pleasant to handle overall.

    Here's the twist. There is a known and fully disclosed issue in a major joint. The joint is not healthy but the horse has never been lame on that leg (or any other for that matter) in his life. Horse has only ever had two owners and this can be verified. Owners have years worth of xrays on joint and no changes have been seen in over 4 years. The horse in maintained with injections and legend/adequan.

    You are used to the typical maintenance that goes into show horses and have no problems doing injections/im/iv meds, but your horses have always vetted "clean" (a relative term, I know, but clean compared to our hypothetical horse) so you weren't going into any horse knowing that there was already a "problem" present.

    If this horse was clean and clear, he would be priced in the mid/mid-high 5 figures. Because he's not, he's priced in the mid-low/mid 5 figures.

    Based on this information, would you buy the horse? For argument's sake, let's pretend that leasing isn't an option and the owners aren't going to make a DRASTIC price cut (they might take 5K less than asking, but no more).
    Nine out of ten times, you'll get it wrong...but it's that tenth time that you get it right that makes all the difference.

  • #2
    I would buy it.
    Proudly blogging for The Chronicle of the Horse!


    • #3
      I would have no problem with the physical issue but the horse would have to be CHEAP.

      To me, it doesn't matter how long his show record is or how nice he is...there are lots of horses out there so if you have something with a known deterrent for buyers; you'd better price accordingly. Also, he's NOT clean so it doesn't matter what he WOULD HAVE sold for.

      Just my .02
      \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


      • #4
        I'd prefer high four figures,but that's all relative.If you have the bucks then go for it.


        • #5
          I've been in this situation before and bought it. Unfortunately, after years of the joint not bothering her/being an issue, a year after I got her she started having soundness problems. I probably wouldn't do it again.


          • #6
            Originally posted by hj0519 View Post
            I've been in this situation before and bought it. Unfortunately, after years of the joint not bothering her/being an issue, a year after I got her she started having soundness problems. I probably wouldn't do it again.
            Reading your post this is exactly what I thought. What if this is the year there are changes to that joint and all of a sudden he is not servicibly sound anymore. If you can afford to take the risk of having a field potato, go for it. Me personally, the price better be very low for me to consider it.

            One very positive aspect, though, is they are disclosing everything and giving you access to all his x rays. I would have my vet look them over and get his opinion also.


            • #7
              I would not buy the horse.
              Find one that doesn't have major issues. Starting off with a problem is just going to lead to heart ache.
              The joint will eventually bother the horse, it's just a matter of when.
              I've watched this happen many times, the time and money spent was horrendous.


              • #8
                I bought this one once, too. X-rays were terrible in a critical joint, vet cautioned us against what the films said, etc. We knew the old owners, and the horse was sound over the two month period we had him in our barn before we bought him. Was 12 when we purchased him, doing the 3' hunters/equitation. We bought him because the price was right. Other than the x-rays being HORRIBLE, the horse was perfect for me at the time.

                Unfortunately, within about 18 months, he developed severe arthritis in the region (despite a pricey, closely monitored maintenance/exercise program) and had to be retired. Looking back, I wouldn't do this again unless the horse were really, really cheap and I was in a position to retire another one. The early teens is a risky age- the onset of lots of degenerative conditions often begins at this point, and can have a devastating effect on borderline issues that didn't cause obvious problems for the horse in its younger years.

                Of course, all of that is relative. A good friend purchased a superb 3' packer for a song about 15 years ago despite having one of the ugliest ankles I've ever seen on a film. He's in his early 20s now and just recently stepped down to the 2'6". For her, the risk certainly paid off, though I'd venture to say that her situation was more exception than rule.
                Here today, gone tomorrow...


                • #9
                  I wouldn't do it. Bought a horse in a somewhat similar situation (cheaper, as he was a greenie) who had potential oozing out his ears and was fantastic for about a year and a half. Since then, it has been a struggle to keep him sound and happy in light work and his competition days were over almost before they began. This isn't to say that it is always the case, but I took a risk and unfortunately it did not work out. You need to decide how much of a gamble you're willing to take, and what you'll do if he ends up unusable. I now have an energetic, chow-hound 10-year-old retiree, so I won't take that risk again.


                  • #10
                    I agree with the general consensus: buy it if it's CHEAP, otherwise walk away.


                    • #11
                      The expectation of soundness may also depend on you managing him exactly the way he is currently managed - will you ride him at the same level, keep him on similar footing (stall & field), show him about the same etc etc


                      • #12
                        It would have to be dirt, dirt cheap with no other purchasing options available. I don't actually approve of "he's sound if you keep injecting him" anyway so I'm not likely to buy a horse I have to constantly be sticking with needles, but even so as mentioned there's a LOT of horses for sale at decent prices who aren't an accident waiting to happen. "It's never been a problem" are famous last words.
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                        • #13
                          I have known similar situations and had personal experience with same. Some worked out wonderful for years and others not so. The only advise I can give is go with your gut.
                          Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from behind, or a fool from any direction


                          • #14
                            Even if he was cheap - dirt cheap still, I would not purchase this horse. He'll end up costing you heartache. For the price the owner wants for him + the maintance he'll run you, you are better off finding something else.

                            It all sounds good right now but who's to say a year down the road that he's not going to make you a pretty expensive pasture mate. Not worth it to take on problem horses that you intend to ride/show.


                            • #15
                              I wouldn't spend 25k on it...and you say low 5 figures so I am thinking it's around there???

                              Also, you say you are buying for Ch/Ad? Is that Jumpers??? There is nowhere to move down to and stay rated so if that is your desire??? I wouldn't at that price.

                              While being relatively lightly used can be a very good thing, it may not be here because if you do go to use him more-like in taking 2 lessons a week to learn to ride him??? Then go to more shows? It might break him.

                              Now, I bought one around age 10 with known issues, OCD in hocks, as a 3' Hunter and got 5/6 years out of her there plus another 4 at 2'6" before she retired. But knew I could (probably as you never really know) keep her as well as knowing, at my age, she would be the last one.

                              No idea what your situation is. Keeping it forever or having to support a gimp for life and not ever get another horse while it lives as you can only keep one??? If I had been younger and less financially secure? I never would have bought that horse.

                              So I have to say probably not. Depends on your situation. Have to add his age and that joint make a resale problematic if he does not work out and you cannot keep him while you get something else.
                              When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                              The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                              • #16
                                Not for low 5 figures. Maybe mid-upper 4 figures.....As long as he has been competing sound and in consistent work and held up on the joint, absolutlely.


                                • #17
                                  I think it could go either way, you could be lucky and it not bother him or he could start to feel it.
                                  I really don't think there is anyway know for sure.
                                  One thing is for sure he has changes and that is not going away, so it really becomes a matter of not if but when.


                                  • #18
                                    I have bought several of these, but never for more than high 4 figures, even horses that had been 6 figure horses.

                                    They generally work for me because my horses live out, yes even the show hunters, and move around and have hills in their pastures, water streams to cross coming and going etc. and I have a solid reputation for the turn out and condition of my horses. People are shocked when they find out they live turned out in groups 24/7. Even the black ones.

                                    Several of them the vets advised me to buy strictly because my barn situation would be so beneficial for them, they said if they were going to a "show barn" they would NOT advise getting them.

                                    All of mine did well, and didn't have one that had to retire. I stepped a few of them down to the low stuff, and passed one on to a kid for a walk trot horse, but ALWAYS made sure they stayed in the same type of environment.

                                    If you are looking at this horse to be stalled at a show barn and do the shows week in and week out, I would stay away.

                                    If the horse is going to live turned out and do shows 1 or twice a month, I would probably take it for high 4 figures, but not much more.


                                    • #19
                                      Personally, I would pass. There are too many nice horses out there for sale that don't have problems (think Canter horses, etc.)

                                      However, it's not me buying the horse. I'm assuming you are not planning on re-selling the horse in the future. Can you take on a retiree if you end up having to retire said horse sooner than expected?

                                      I'm going through a problem with my pony mare. We just found out she has cushings. My vet was extremely surprised by it. She can still show, be ridden, everything. She doesn't look like a cushings horse. She has no other issues, maintenance problems, nothing. It's actually very easily managed. I was trying to sell her, but unfortunately I know now that the chances of selling her are slim to none. I've resorted to trying to lease her out and I just know she will probably have to be retired earlier than expected and will become my niece's pony.


                                      • #20
                                        Noone has a crystal ball. A horse with perfect xrays one day can be lame the next. Most horses in the barn that have a little 'something' in an xray ultimately go lame for a totally different and unrelated issue. If the horse is
                                        otherwise perfect for you, you can afford the asking price, and can afford the maintainence required I say go for it.