The other day I stumbled across a really interesting post on Facebook from Equisale Sport Horses.
The post goes for a while and covers an angle of the buying/selling/vetting process I have thought about a bit but never that closely.
“As soon as I hear the word x-ray now, I want to lick the cap of a tube of Gastroguard and pop a Xanax because I know that whether I’m the one buying a horse in Europe or selling one in the US, doom will be impending as soon as we are going to deal with the x-rays”
To be quite honest, in all the years of my life I have conducted exactly one (1) pre-purchase examination on a horse I bought. Mostly because the cost of conducting such a process generally outweighed the cost of the horse – therefore giving me a kind of “meh” mentality.
Probably gonna risk it (me to the other 7 horses)
That being said, the one horse I DID vet (Snitzel) was easily the most tragic of all purchasing stories but that was more due to a difference of… ahem… opinion… on what constitutes “significant abnormalities”.
“Forget about buying the best horse, you need to buy the horse with the best x-rays. This is now the #1 criteria of choice … then if the horse is half decent, bingo. But you are actually better off buying an average horse with textbook x-rays than buying the next Olympic winner with a blemish. And I found this new reality kind of sad”
If I had my choice, would I prefer to buy a horse with clean x-rays? You bet your sweet bippy! After the Snitzel debacle if I was paying significant money for a horse I would certainly want to make sure that the horse’s pedal bone isn’t about to drop through its sole. But if this was an established level performance horse, would I expect no changes at all…?
Probably not. Granted, pedal bone about to pierce sole is a deal breaker no matter what horse I’m vetting, Valegro or otherwise.
“So now we have x-rays which can be sent and reviewed by 6 or 7 vets and every single one of them will come up with a different interpretation. To the point where I believe that the Rorschach inkblot test is actually less subjective than a set of horse x-rays”
With sport comes wear and tear and I already put next to no stock in flexion tests.
If you tried to vet me, there is a snowball’s chance in hell that I would be considered “fit for purpose”. And yet, here I am, fully functional.
So why do we expect this of our horses?
This girl raced, had an eventing career to (old) 2* level before turning into the ultimate ammy schoolmaster, competing well past 18 without a lame day on record.
You bet she wouldn’t x-ray clean.
The only conclusion I can settle on, is that this sport already breaks so many hearts and takes zero prisoners, and therefore x-rays make us feel like we’re doing our due diligence by attempting to minimise the risk of fall out.
I also think for vets, they almost feel obligated to find something or “fail” a horse during PPE, because every horse will technically have something. Identifying that something and excluding them as a viable purchase protects the vets from the potential break down.
A horse with perfect x-rays having issues is far less likely to come back to haunt them. A slightly imperfect horse that was managed poorly could even though poor management isn’t their fault.
“I cringe when I see people jumping every day in bad footing, I have to bite my tongue when I see the shoeing job on a lot of horses but I, for one will not shy away from acceptable but less than perfect x-rays on my personal horses”
Having a partner who is not far off being a fully qualified vet (dear lord I can’t wait) has made me think a lot about the whole mechanism of the PPE and the pass/fail mentality.
I don’t get it.
The whole issue with my one and only vet check is that they didn’t tell me what was ON the x-ray, they excluded information they thought was unlikely to matter and gave me their opinion instead.
It did matter.
When it comes to this type of thing, I would much rather know anything/everything that is on there and be left to make my own decision.
“Instead of worrying about what might happen in 2 years, 4 years or 10 years from now, take a chance and go buy the horse that makes your heart pitter patter, not the one that your vet thinks might be sound 12 years from now”
I would rather get my information, do my own research and then talk to other professionals on their experiences with managing these conditions etc. before making the call.
Then it would be my decision.
This way, only I am to blame for poor life choices
But this is just me who has been severely burnt by the PPE x-ray process.
What do you think? Are x-rays friend or foe? Vital or unnecessary?
Would you be willing to buy a horse with blemished x-rays if it was performing at the top of the level with great success but displayed changes?