About a month ago, I purchased my first horse. Straight legs, no history of lameness, and ridden with me 5-6 days a week with no lameness or soreness. I did notice that his fetlocks dip when moving, but not being a vet and knowing he has consistently shown for years with no problems, and seeing it in a few other horses... I didn't give it too much thought. I did not get a pre-purchase exam for a host of reasons that are not pertinent to this post! :)
See first picture of him-- cranky that I was taking pictures of him after an unexpected bath, hehe, but a decent shot of him standing around to give you an idea of what he looks like and how his fetlocks are when he's relaxed.
Today I had a vet out to check some stiffness he's had in his left hind leg and overall wonkiness (can't put a finger on it) in his hind movement; it isn't hindering his work--in fact he is eager--and I can't detect any lameness, but I was concerned that it might be causing him pain he wasn't showing.
In under an hour and without a single x-ray, sonogram or blood test (in fact, she trotted him away and towards us barely twice) this vet diagnosed Jax with neurological disorder likely EPM, and with DSLD--degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis. She told me he was unsafe to ride, unrideable, and (I quote) could only be a "pasture ornament." Keep in mind that only yesterday, this horse was eager and fun and obedient in the arena, so to hear this pretty much shut me down and I was to the point of tears when she left.
I spoke to my farrier, to barn friends, to Jax's last owner; the last owner talked to her vet and Jax's first owner. Everyone was pretty surprised and angry at the vet. In retrospect, her neurological assessment was (to be frank) bull and not very thorough. When I repeated all of the vet's exam techniques after she left, Jax responded appropriately each time. He is a very compliant horse and I am relatively confident that was all it was.
As for the DSLD, I just want to remind you that Jax has never been diagnosed lame and showed consistently from the end of 2007-2011 with no breaks in his record, indicating he was sound for them. He does however, drop his fetlocks when doing his bouncy floaty trot (see pictures, I tried to get shots when they were dropped as far as they go). There is an old picture of him from shows and he did it then, too.
I bought a good pair of Iconoclast SMBoots for him to wear (the ones that pull up under the fetlocks), I have him on Smartpak smartvite and smartcombo (with joint supp), and my barn manager's daughter has offered to trailer Jax to her vet for a second opinion. I also want to get a chiro out to sort out his hind end, since the vet offered NO helpful information on how to help him. Jax's last two owners have been in touch with me and let me know that if I am having second thoughts, there is a trainer in Scottsdale that was really bummed about not getting him and they could talk to her and see if she is still interested-- if I want. Which, I really don't want. But I also don't want to have a horse with medical problems in the future.
I guess I'm asking for thoughts and advice. Sorry for the long post, but any help is really appreciated right now.