Originally Posted by IndiesaurusRex View Post
Thanks for the input, this is what I was looking for, all the different opinions from different levels of owners/riders from different disciplines.
I just found it when I was revising and was like "wowzers, that's a fairly big number!". I'm glad you found it interesting
I might even consider the 10% "completely sound" figure to be high!!
Here's a bit more what I am thinking, I couldn't really type it out on my phone...
When you vet a horse, you typically tell the vet "I want to do low level eventing" or whatever and they will go and do a flexion test, evaluate the horse moving, palpate the joints/ligaments/tendons and maybe take a few X-rays and then say "yep the horse should stay sound for jumping under a meter, galloping and low level dressage work" for one horse or "the horse has the beginnings of ringbone/arthritis (or whatever) and will require fairly invasive management to stay sound while jumping" for another.
Another person might say "I want a calm, quiet, educated horse as my first horse to teach me how to ride", the vet exam might consist of flexions, joint palpations and a visual exam of the horse moving. If the arthritic changes were visible enough on the theoretical second horse with the less rigorous exam the vet would probably say "the horse is showing the beginnings of some arthritis, but should stay sound for a number of years if you don't jump him vigorously" (a vet wont tell you how to make your decision, only the implications and then you have to make the decision - this happened to me when I was buying my first horse and I decided to buy him. I did a bit of everything with him for years and he was totally sound for my purpose, as an eventer he would have gone lame).
Had someone approached the same first horse (the one deemed sound for low levels) and said "I want to buy this horse as a CCI4* prospect" the vet would evaluate the horse using all the above mentioned methods and then do full x-rays, bone scan problem areas and do as much diagnostic testing as the prospective owner wants to pay for to figure out how sound the horse is, really. When you are going over a horse with such a fine toothed come, you are going to find issues. Then you have to decide if reduced bone density in the lower joints of the left hock (for example) is something that you want in your eventer. Fill him up with Tildren maybe?? And if that doesn't work you're into stem cells, joint injections and lots and lots of Adequan to keep the issue at bay.
The other thing that I think a lot of people don't realize, I think, is the shear amount of maintenance that goes into these high level horses at the CDIs and CCIs, etc.. I know the dressage horses in Florida right now doing their qualifications for the Olympics are on as much as an injection of Adequan every two days, constantly. That's about $400 a week (self administered!), all the way up to the Olympics!!! The horses are CONSTANTLY examined by vets (every week at the least) and the farrier work down there is just crazy, every few weeks some of the horses are getting re shod to maintain perfect angles in the hooves. If you were to take away the Adequan and other supportive care drugs like Legend, Tildren etc.., not have the vet looking at the horse constantly and leave the trim cycles at 8 weeks I'm willing to bet that very few horses on that circuit would be able to pass a flexion test after the same degree of training they are experiencing now after a few trim cycles. In 6 months I'm willing to bet there would be arthritic changes and in 1 to 2 years most of the top horses now would be retired out to pasture because of lameness.
So, how sound is sound, really?? I would say that there are very few horses in the world, even out of the ones competing at the upper levels, that would pass a vet check for an "upper level horse" or "upper level prospect". Many of the horses with the reduced bone density in their left hock are infact eventers, or dressage horses, or jumpers, etc... but it's because the condition is managed carefully that the horse appears to the outside world to be "sound". Vet 100 Grand Prix dressage horses and I bet you only a handful have clean X-rays.