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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I'm going to try and do this as short as possible so as not to bore anyone :runpony:

I live in the south of France and with my trainer when looking for new horses we travel up to Normandy for a few days (+1000km) to try out horses, if we see any we like we schedule vet checks, the vet checks are all done when we are back home as the vets aren't available straight away. Anyway, we travelled up to Normandy to see one 5 year old mare specifically, we'd both fallen in love with her on video, our contact up there had seen her compete and the breeders are well known and have produced Olympic showjumpers. Based on what she's shown, temperament and breding we are quite positive that she'll go to jump 1m40/1m45 classes.

Anyway, our usual vet that we use, who is the French showjumping team vet was not available to perform the vet check on this mare so we got in another well known vet. Our contact who finds us the horses was present at the vet check and we were sent the videos, I personnaly spoke to the vet and obviously got the report. Nothing to notify on the xrays and flexions were all negative. So all good, I buy her and she arrives down in the south of France (first week of June). In july she comes up lame (front right) with a swollen and hot leg. We call our local vet in for a first check as our usual one was once again unavailable (he's a busy guy). Turns out she kicked herself, or hit her leg somehow so she had 10 days off and was back to normal when ridden. Our usual top vet was around by then and just because I'm a bit paranoid I asked him to come over and give her a check. So we lunge her on soft ground, no problem but then when lunged on hard ground she comes up not 100% sound on her front left (1/5) and on the flexions she's 2/5 on front left and 1/5 on front right...
We do ultrasounds and xrays, nothing on there. He looks at her shoeing and thinks that it's not perfect: he calls our farrier and asks him to shorten he feet and push back the shoe and add a leather plate to absord shocks a bit more (sorry I have no idea what this is called in english). He said that she could be positive on the flexions quite simply due to poor shoeing and we'll have another check up in a few weeks but if not we'll have to do an MRI.

I have absolute faith in this vet and he is known accross the country as the God of orthopedic issues.

Anyway, I'm pretty stressed as I'm absolutely in love with this horse and so is my trainer. I was wondering if anyone had any similar experiences? A horse suddenly becoming (in a space of less than 2 months) positive on 2 legs after flexion tests? Could this be maybe something like growing pains as she is only 5? What other reasons would a horse trot up lame after flexions?

Any ideas, reassurance or feedback would be fabulous!

Thanks so much!

Emily
 

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From what I understand about flexion tests...you had two, different vets do two separate flexion tests. If the first vet didn't flex as hard, or the second vet flexed harder, the results could differ.

I've heard that more often than not, something will show on a flexion test. I'm sure someone with more experience with them will comment, but I'm not even too sure of the usefulness of a flexion test in the first place...If you were to flex either of my legs into an unnatural position and ask me to trot...well, run off, I wouldn't have a clean flexion test, but I would say I'm athletic and I stay pretty sound.
 

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Salut Emily! Je suis au Canada, mais j'ai passé du temps à Nice. :)

I would keep a close eye for lameness on this horse. A flexion test isn't a black and white answer. As @ClearDonkey says, different vets may get different results and it's on a continuum. It's normal for most horses to take a bit of an odd step after someone holds their leg in an awkward position then immediately gets them trotting. So I wouldn't put all the weight in just the results of the flexion test, I'd want a vet that has really good knowledge of lameness to do a thorough examination. Is this horse paid for? On trial? Is it a purchase pending PPE (pre-purchase examination)? If so, all the more reason to have a really in-depth examination done. Another possibility would be to go straight to X-rays to see if there's anything off there.
 

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You should have all the documentation from the other vet to share with your favorite vet for their opinion.

I hate to say this but 5 years of age although young is still a age where yes, indeed changes begin to show and issue can too..
The fact though it is different vet, different leg and the vet who called foul also saw a issue with farrier work...let it play out and see where you are.
It may be something, it may be nothing but it may be something to be aware of when training and schooling that this mare may not take hard punishing continual work but need some easier training and the day off to stay sound...she is yet truly a baby.

Like others said...
Hold my leg at a unnatural angle and I promise you when you drop it and give me a cluck and smack I'm going to limp off several steps. :cool:
To me if you didn't take a unnatural step I would be more concerned...some is to be expected in my mind.
Please share a picture of this horse so we can all ooh and aah and say we knew of this horse before it became a champion on the way to the Olympics..:smile:
I happen to love seeing others horses who make our "friends" here so happy.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for all your replies and advice!

I've heard that more often than not, something will show on a flexion test. I'm sure someone with more experience with them will comment, but I'm not even too sure of the usefulness of a flexion test in the first place...If you were to flex either of my legs into an unnatural position and ask me to trot...well, run off, I wouldn't have a clean flexion test, but I would say I'm athletic and I stay pretty sound.
I also think this too, if I sit cross legged on the sofa for too long and then get up I can hardly walk for 30 seconds...


Salut Emily! Je suis au Canada, mais j'ai passé du temps à Nice. :)

I would keep a close eye for lameness on this horse. A flexion test isn't a black and white answer. As @ClearDonkey says, different vets may get different results and it's on a continuum. It's normal for most horses to take a bit of an odd step after someone holds their leg in an awkward position then immediately gets them trotting. So I wouldn't put all the weight in just the results of the flexion test, I'd want a vet that has really good knowledge of lameness to do a thorough examination. Is this horse paid for? On trial? Is it a purchase pending PPE (pre-purchase examination)? If so, all the more reason to have a really in-depth examination done. Another possibility would be to go straight to X-rays to see if there's anything off there.
Salut Acadianartist :) The vet who did the last exam where we saw the positive flexion tests is really the best in the country in terms of lameness. During this examination we did flexion tests, lunging on soft and hard ground followed by xrays and ultrasounds. Nothing came up on the xrays or ultrasounds that would justify her being lame on the flexions.
We had a thorough PPE done before I bought her (so yep, she's paid for - we don't do trials in this country for some reason), with xrays of all 4 legs, hooves, back and neck, and the obivous flexions and lunging tests. All tests came up negative during te PPE and I was sent the results and xrays that I shared with my vet (who did the last examination) who still decided to redo some xrays at different angles + ultrasound.

You should have all the documentation from the other vet to share with your favorite vet for their opinion.

I hate to say this but 5 years of age although young is still a age where yes, indeed changes begin to show and issue can too..
The fact though it is different vet, different leg and the vet who called foul also saw a issue with farrier work...let it play out and see where you are.
It may be something, it may be nothing but it may be something to be aware of when training and schooling that this mare may not take hard punishing continual work but need some easier training and the day off to stay sound...she is yet truly a baby.

Like others said...
Hold my leg at a unnatural angle and I promise you when you drop it and give me a cluck and smack I'm going to limp off several steps.
To me if you didn't take a unnatural step I would be more concerned...some is to be expected in my mind.
Please share a picture of this horse so we can all ooh and aah and say we knew of this horse before it became a champion on the way to the Olympics..
I happen to love seeing others horses who make our "friends" here so happy.
Yes, all was shared with my favorite vet who did decide to do some extra xrays at different angles to make sure that nothing was missed. Nothing on the xrays.
I have everything crossed that the farrier issue was what was causing her discomfort, I don't want to get into complicated discussions with the breeders...

And here are some videos of my girl and a photos as a 3 year old, I haven't got any recent photos, I really do need to do some :
 

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She's cute...
My opinion follows...

I must say you do quite a bit of jumping and good height for such a young horse...
Those videos are of her at 3 years of age...
How old was she when she started jumping and her formal jump training began?
Expecting her to stay sound and have jumps left in her in advancing years would make me question myself of how much and is it to soon...

I'm very old school and admit it.
I worked 40 years ago for a world record holding reining horse trainer...
His words of advice to me then were, "A horse has only so many slides, cattle ropes, barrel races, jumps or anything else in them before the motor fails. Pick where you rev it up for...save much for the events if you want the $$ or accolades and do the maintenance needed to keep the motor running..."
I've never forgotten that...there is only so many anything before issues start to happen.

So, you now own the horse at 5 years of age seen in those videos aged 3...
But she has been jumping heavily since 3....
And you think you have a problem just developed in the last month or so... :think:
:think: I hope not, but seeing what she was required to do now near 2+ years ago as a baby...

Sorry, I am not of the same mindset as many today who jump babies who are still maturing and expect them not to fall apart sooner rather than later..
Please be very careful with your nice animal...she is still so young.
I'm not pointing fingers, but she has a lot of mileage already on her body for one so young is how I see her..:|
:runninghorse2:...
 

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I feel the same way as @horselovinguy. I'm sorry, but jumping a 3 year old like that makes me shudder. Their bones have not finished fusing until age 5 or 6. At the most, I might understand a 3 year old popping over a cavaletti or a very low cross-rail, but these videos show something else entirely. Unfortunately, horses started this early often show issues later in life and it will drastically shorten their careers and lives. To me, it's just not worth it.

Perhaps it is normal in France to jump a 3 year old. It may just be a cultural difference. In that case, I understand that people think it's ok because everyone does it, but it might be time to start questioning this practice. There is some variability here in Canada where Western disciplines tend to start their horses earlier and harder, but English disciplines that require jumping tend to hold off until the age of 5 or 6. My Appaloosa wasn't even ridden until he was 6. The exception of course is in horse racing where they start much younger, but a lot of those horses have very short careers as a result.

Then again, I am not a competitive rider, just a recreational one so my priority is to have a good relationship with a horse that will stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. My daughter does compete in dressage and jumping though, and would never do so with a 3 year old. It would be very frowned-upon in our part of the world.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Acadianartist and Horselovinguy,

Apologies, I might not have been clear in my description of photos and videos. The photo is when she was 3, the videos are when she was 5 before I bought her. And this is the norm in France, you don't find horses at 5 that haven't been jumped, or competed on, or it's very rare, and people tend to shy away from horses with no experience.

That said, yes I believe that there are quite big cultural differences between countries. Our horses start early, we have young horse competitions that start for 4 year old horses. I don't know what it's like over there but for us it's the norm and all part of the showjumpers education. This doesn't mean that it's something I agree with. This mare did 4 courses at age 4 and 2 classes age 5. Since I have had her she has done only low schooling at home but nothing big. I too am of the opinion that 5 is still a baby and still growing and do not want her jumping big courses or competing on a regular basis...
 

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Hi Acadianartist and Horselovinguy,

Apologies, I might not have been clear in my description of photos and videos. The photo is when she was 3, the videos are when she was 5 before I bought her. And this is the norm in France, you don't find horses at 5 that haven't been jumped, or competed on, or it's very rare, and people tend to shy away from horses with no experience.

That said, yes I believe that there are quite big cultural differences between countries. Our horses start early, we have young horse competitions that start for 4 year old horses. I don't know what it's like over there but for us it's the norm and all part of the showjumpers education. This doesn't mean that it's something I agree with. This mare did 4 courses at age 4 and 2 classes age 5. Since I have had her she has done only low schooling at home but nothing big. I too am of the opinion that 5 is still a baby and still growing and do not want her jumping big courses or competing on a regular basis...

Honestly - your country is probably doing it much better than mine/ours. In the US, there are futurities for 2 year olds doing reining/western pleasure/cow-work/etc. I think Europe is quite a bit further ahead in terms of giving young horses time to grow before heavily competing them.

I'm sure you are doing fine, as long as your are mindful of her age! Enjoy her, she looks awesome, and is only going to get more awesome with age.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
From what I understand about flexion tests...you had two, different vets do two separate flexion tests. If the first vet didn't flex as hard, or the second vet flexed harder, the results could differ.

I've heard that more often than not, something will show on a flexion test. I'm sure someone with more experience with them will comment, but I'm not even too sure of the usefulness of a flexion test in the first place...If you were to flex either of my legs into an unnatural position and ask me to trot...well, run off, I wouldn't have a clean flexion test, but I would say I'm athletic and I stay pretty sound.
Honestly - your country is probably doing it much better than mine/ours. In the US, there are futurities for 2 year olds doing reining/western pleasure/cow-work/etc. I think Europe is quite a bit further ahead in terms of giving young horses time to grow before heavily competing them.

I'm sure you are doing fine, as long as your are mindful of her age! Enjoy her, she looks awesome, and is only going to get more awesome with age.
Hi ClearDonkey, thanks for your input :) I had JUST finished reading a post where someone mentionned riding a 2 year old...I only thought that was done in racing! I guess each country and discipline has it flaws and it really is up to the individual to do their best and make the right decisions for their horse. I can't rewind and start her over so it's upto me to make sure that not too much pressure is put on her whilst she finishes growing...
 

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Ahhh... ok, so she is 5 in these videos. That's better. :)

Yes, there are some here who compete on their horses at a very young age. Mostly it happens in the Western disciplines for some reason, but I have also seen very young horses jumping, though as I said, it is generally frowned-upon here. Personally, I would wait to jump a horse, but that's me. I think my 8 year old is still a baby :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Ahhh... ok, so she is 5 in these videos. That's better. :)

Yes, there are some here who compete on their horses at a very young age. Mostly it happens in the Western disciplines for some reason, but I have also seen very young horses jumping, though as I said, it is generally frowned-upon here. Personally, I would wait to jump a horse, but that's me. I think my 8 year old is still a baby :)
Yes, everyone makes their own choices, but what we decide to do with them at a young age will probably creep up on us as the horse gets older....

I'm crossing my fingers for my girl, we have a check up in 2 weeks, but she is moving beautifully at the moment :runninghorse2:
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi everyone,

Just thought I'd update as my horse saw the vet on Thursday for the 3 week check-up. There is an 85% improvement thanks to a change in the shoeing, this should continue to improve when she is next shod. I'm obvisouly very relieved and happy that there we no foul play during the original PPE. We'll be keeping an eye on shoeing and she'll have a 6 month check up with the vet who'll be in touch with the farrier if needed.

Phew!
 
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