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Discussion on Fused hock but sustained limited range of motion...pre purchase exam

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PFuto
New Member
Username: Pfuto

Post Number: 1
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 3:21 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I have a 7 year old gelding on pre-purchase trial. It was disclosed that the lower motion joints of the right hock were surgically fused at a prominent University. I have not noticed any lameness during the week of riding I have conducted with the current owner's trainer and instructor giving lessons. I am however, a novice, with limited current riding experience. I have been unable to detect any irregularities through my seat or the horses behaviour, which has been exemplary. When in high school through grad school, I was a relatively accomplished and astute rider. That was 24 years ago however.

The prepurchase exam revealed limited mobility after flexion of the right hock. He characterized it as being a 3 on scale of 1-5, where 1 is best. The vet noted lower motion and decreased extension. The horse seems to resist picking up the right lead at canter,but he will with minimal encouragement. The gait is not unsightly in any way.
There is also a protuberance in the area of the right patella that does not interfere with the stifle joint movement and does not radiograph as hard tissue. He feels this may ossify and prognosis is not possible as to interference. Cause may have been trauma. Radiographs indicate that the surgical fusion of the right hock was successful and complete, but there is a very small bone fragment that is non articular showing up. He feels this isn't interfereing with the joint function and should be left alone, at least for now. He is not willing to say that there is DJD of the high motion joints and says that it could be that or lack of conditioning. I do get the feeling that he doesn't feel I will be able to enjoy a long term riding relationship with this horse. He says he did not observe any radiographic changes in the high motion joint, which makes me think that ther could be some soft tissue issues. He also noted that the horse had less neck flexion to the right side.

The left hock shows early radiographic changes of arthritis in the lower hock joints, but no loss of flexibility or signs of discomfort.

The horse is on no meds or supplements.

I love this horse. His price has been adjusted significantly due to the limited potential he exhibits. He was shown successfully when younger, probably too young, as a hunter. He has been marketed as sutiable for a low level dressage, pleasure and trail mount.

My intended use for him is as a pleasure mount, w/t/c in the ring in sufficient workload to regain my skill and proficiency , and for leisurely trail rides. At my age of 49 and lack or recent experience, I am too cautious/timid to even imagine myself wanting to do anything higher than an occasional low crossrail and nothing like eventing. I could easily avoid any jumping if detrimental to the horse. It isn't something I aspire too.

Is this horse an appropriate mount, sound enough with supplements and/or injections to say maybe allow 8-10 years of enjoyable riding? I know there is no sure answer. Supplements, biannual injections, maybe even another hock fusion surgery down the road and the concomitant down time are within my budget, but if the prognosis is for only 3-5 years of use, or even less, I won't be able to afford to care for two animals, should I have to acquire another to progress in my riding. Knowing how I am about horses, he is not something I would want to try to sell later and I anticipate he would grow old under my care.

The horse is otherwise exceptionally healthy, at optimum weight but in need of some conditioning, and has exceptional training and temperament. This is perhaps why he is so appealing to me as I need confidence building and a horse that is responsive to the aids. He is also forgiving.

I am torn about proceeding with the purchase after the exam, but have ridden about 7 animals and looked at countless others. I like him better than horses costing up to 3 times as much. (one threw me twice on the test ride-- talk about loss of confidence.)

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you:
Perri Futo
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Ann
Member
Username: Dres

Post Number: 1114
Registered: 10-2000
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 9:49 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Just a few questions to ask yourself Perri.. How much money do you want to spend monthly on your horse to keep him riding sound? Supplements/ injections/shoeing ... 7 is a 'young' horse, he has some pre existing stuff going on and most likely will come up as he ages..
Do you think you will stay at your level of riding for the next 10 years, or is your hope to move up your riding skills? Will he be able to keep up with you..??

He sounds like a lovely horse for you ''now'' but will you out grow his capabilities?

On the first day God created horses, on the second day he painted them with spots..
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PFuto
New Member
Username: Pfuto

Post Number: 2
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 12:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dear Dr.O,

If you are able to weigh in on this issue, I would very much appreciate it. Thank you.

Perri Futo
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PFuto
New Member
Username: Pfuto

Post Number: 3
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 12:34 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Ann:

Thank you for your input. I have considered this and you make an excellent point. I rode very happily for 15 years never navigating a jump, but worked diligently at seat, balance, hands, all form work. That is what I meant by skill..... I'm not too much into the sporthorse aspect of riding. I know he isn't suitable for that. The vet thinks he would be great for trails...I live in Georgia so we're not talking mountain climbing here :-). I also realize that these changes apparently don't manifest until several years down the road in most horses.

My main concern is will the horse be able to be used as a w/t/c pleasure mount.. with 3-5 times weekly exercise without my contributing to the worsening of his condition or causing him unnecessary pain. I have no problem supplements if that slows progression, alleviates discomfort.

Thanks again for your response and your concerns.
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Fran C
Member
Username: Canter

Post Number: 823
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 1:18 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Perri,
In your initial post, you state that the examining vet left you with this feeling: "I do get the feeling that he doesn't feel I will be able to enjoy a long term riding relationship with this horse."

If you purchased this horse, you may be setting yourself up for heart break. He is a young horse and it is impossible to tell if or how long it will take for all of his issues to render him unrideable - but your vet seems to have given you a pretty strong hint.

Examen your heart - are you OK keeping him as a pasture ornament? Or will it frustrate you not to have a horse to continue to ride should you need to retire this one? These are tough questions, and your priorities may change the more you get into it.

I learned to ride in my thirties. Bought my first horse a year after I started taking lessons, and of course, fell in love with him. He too was only 7. Three years later, I had to retire him and frankly, it broke my heart. I really had to do some soul searching and it was all very stressful and upsetting to me. I eventually found him a wonderful new home, but I have always felt I have to keep an eye on his welfare (not because he wasn't well cared for, but just because I felt responsible for him). To this day, I feel like I sold out my best friend so that I could continue with my riding goals.

I'm sorry I can't offer you any practical advice, but I hope that my experience will give you some insight and help with your decision.
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Holly Wood
Member
Username: Hwood

Post Number: 1733
Registered: 3-2001
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 2:15 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Perri,
My take on what you have written:

I know that I would buy the horse. Why? Because after all the other horses I'd tried, I would have found one I loved and that worked for me . . . and I would want to give him the best chance and home possible and get to know him better and enjoy him.
We never know what the future brings, but if the time came when he could no longer perform the simple tasks I required, and if I needed to get another horse and could only afford one . . . I'd put him down, with great sadness, but with great happiness knowing that I had done the best I could for him and that he had a good home with me.
You don't know that you might be able to care for two horses in the future should you ever need to do so.
I wouldn't pass up a good horse out of fear of what I don't know. I would go with what I do know and move forward . . .
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Christine Holmes Bukowski
Member
Username: Canyon28

Post Number: 155
Registered: 8-2003
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 5:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I also think you should go ahead and buy the horse, since you know his limitations and can live with them, and love the horse. He will give you many years of pleasure and friendship. If he needs some injections to stay supple, then that is fine. You can not believe the number of show horses in every discipline that are given hock or stifle injections when needed. I know it sounds bad, but it is very commonly done, and I would not hesitate to do it to keep your new horse feeling comfy. He may be fine with adequan injections, which are given in the muscle and so are easy for the horse owner to do if you can give your own vacinations, you can give him the adequan. Legend is given by injection directly into the bloodstream, so this one most owners dont attempt to do. Both of these are by prescription only. These drugs are wonderful when used correctly. AAEP says that feed through glucosimine doesnt work, so I would use the injections.
there are very few horses that can pass a thorough vet check with flying colors. A vet can always find something wrong with a horse, and they will. small bone chips are very normal to find in horses. After all, they are horses!
I also agree, your circumstances may change when you get closer to retirement and you will have the place or the means to have more than one horse, or you may decide to put him to pasture or have him put down. I have 27 horses right now and love every one of them. There are some of them that have injuries that preclude them from being ridden, or ridden hard as a show horse might be, but it doesnt stop them from enjoying life. Every horse can have a job, even if its just being a pasture pal. In my case, I have a very lame old gelding that with proper shoeing, gets along great, and he is my weanling babysitter, and he loves his job. He was lame when I got him and he is still lame, about the same, I see he is getting stiff in the knees now, but I have had him for 8 years and he was at least 14 when I got him. He has a broken sesimoid bone in his front foot, as well as some other problems. Something may happen where YOU may not be able to ride in the distant future, so I would enjoy the horse while you can, and if you have the means to care for him, then that is great. Chris www.canyonrimranch.net
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 17555
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2007 - 9:22 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My apologies PFuto, I posted earlier but apparently did not hit all the right buttons. Your issues concerning flexions and radiographs are pretty well discussed in Horse Care > Equine Management & Routine Procedures > Prepurchase Exam of the Horse. You should study this.

No one can answer your question will this mount be sound in any time frame you choose to put in here. Horses that pass prepurchase exams only are able to perform in 70% of the cases in the next several years. So the best you can do is a 70% chance of success.

If the horse is sound, has no history of chronic problems, has no clearly defined reasons he cannot achieve your goals, and you really like him....well I let you fill in the rest.
DrO
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PFuto
New Member
Username: pfuto

Post Number: 4
Registered: 1-2007
Posted on Sunday, Jan 21, 2007 - 12:51 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

To everyone who replied...thank you for your perspective. At this juncture, since I have nearly 3 weeks remaining in my trial period, I intend to ride the horse every day under moderate exercise and continue to condition him and see how it goes. I think I probably am 85% sure I will purchase him unless something crops up.
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Mary Rutherford
Member
Username: caymie

Post Number: 253
Registered: 10-2002
Posted on Sunday, Jan 21, 2007 - 7:46 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi PFuto,
While I do understand the potential for heartbreak in purchasing a horse with issues, I think there is the potential for heartbreak when you purchase a horse period. Your perfectly sound horse could injure himself and end up unrideable the next day. I consider horse ownership to be a form of gambling.
Having said that, we are in the process of fusing my horse's right lower hock joints. He has battled this problem for four years. The rest of his joints are in great shape. Now I realize I have had Caymann since he was four, and am obviously very attached to him. That's different from the scenario you are contemplating. However, I did not once entertain the idea of getting another horse because of this problem. If the fusion is successful, I should be able to continue on with him as a performance horse, he will probably actually feel better than he did prior to the fusion. He has never really traveled normally on that leg because of his hock pain.
And in some ways, I would rather deal with the known problem which fortunately can be fixed with fusion, than a new horse who may/will eventually have other issues.
If you really like this horse, think he is suitable for what you want to do together, and he does not have any other major soundness issues, I would consider purchasing him. Especially if he has an exceptional temperament, that is one of the reasons I have worked so hard to get Caymann turned around. He is a warmblood, and his temperament would be very difficult to replicate in another horse of his athletic ability and size.
Good luck with your decision, it's yours to make.
Mary
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