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"Serviceably" Sound?


Linking to this as I've found in the search for both myself or my child and friends I come across horses that would be suitable but are overlooked for one reason or another. Sure there are those where rolling that dice could mean a lifetime of high maintenance but there are those where in the right home they could thrive. I thought I'd open a discussion on the topic to see where it leads...
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I agree in the sense that a lot of people judge their horses or potential horses based off standards they don't actually have. If you're someone who only goes on the occasional trail ride at a walk then you don't need a sport horse that's sound for 5' jumps. People need to have a realistic perspective about what's going on with their horse and what they're doing with their horse rather than just listening to "well, I heard..." or "so and so says..."

A lot of what comes out of the industry and trickles down comes from professionals working with horses that do intense, high level work outs. And while their perspective and knowledge is legit and applicable to their field, it's not always a 1:1 for what most horse owners with leisure mounts are doing.
 

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Where I live we don’t have proper equestrian vets nor do we have fancy scanning machines nor can we buy supplements. And we don’t have anywhere to test hay to figure out what supplements to give. So horses make do with antibiotics, corticosteroids, hay and grains. And most of them seem just as healthy and unhealthy as what I see online.

We don’t do pre-purchase exams - there’s no professional that does them. You look at a horse and ride a horse and if it isn’t obviously limping - you buy it. There have been some disasters at my yard and by experienced people - they had to put two horses within six months of purchase. But looking at this and other forums - that happens even with vet checks.

This way of keeping horses is both a blessing and a curse. When something is really wrong, there isn’t anything I can do. But on the other hand - I don’t really have an opportunity to fret about every little bump and cough. And my biggest vet fee ever will be euthanasia at 50 Eur.
 

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I’ve read that article before. I really like it. I think that somehow we’ve lost the practicality of being horse owners. I don’t know why that has happened.

I found myself refusing to look at horses with minor maintenance or even something that “could” turn into something. Say, a club foot, for example. A club foot doesn’t have to ever cause a horse any sort of problem, like a crooked leg or some ugly defect from a prior injury.

I came to a realization recently enough that most horses I see that people are riding and actually enjoying at work or successful in a competition setting, have something wrong with them! Lol. We don’t see it, but if you speak to people they all have one thing or another they overlook. It’s proof none of us are perfect.

Now, I don’t often purchase horses, and when I do rarely do they have any age at all on them (now the kids are big they just aren’t ever broke horses). Yet, I think it is still an important realization for someone like me, not in the horse market.

It’s important for us to realize that every injury our horses get isn’t the end of the world. Big injuries and diagnosis's don’t have spell the end of their career. We don’t need to think in such black and white terms, and be willing to put in a decent amount of maintenance to keep our good horses going strong.
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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I got my horse at nearly-24, knowing she has some arthritis and some minor respiratory issues. Why? Because I had known her long enough to know that none of her issues were unmanageable or would compromise the kind of riding I do, at least not for a long time to come. Every horse purchase is a roll of the dice anyhow, no matter what you do. A now-sound 6 year old could end up lamer in a week than my now-25 year old has remained this whole time.

I run. I don't run very well, and sometimes I go months without doing it and end up out of shape. I have a slightly bad ankle and mild arthritis in one of my big toes. I have a knee that grinds a bit. But I still love long walks and runs, and I manage just fine. Nothing is so wrong with me that I shouldn't exercise -- and I've noticed the grinding in my knee completely goes away when I'm running-fit -- and yet we often stop working horses for much less. But my horse, like me, benefits from consistent exercise, regardless of some stiffness that comes and goes, or stepping a little short here or there or having the odd cough before she's warmed up well. Exercise is almost always better than no exercise, for fitness and longevity, as long as it's tolerated and not unfair to the horse (or human).
 

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My first horse was given to me with the understanding he needed light riding only. I put him on a joint supplement and he improved dramatically. I was able to do trail riding with him for a number of years before he let me know it was enough. Then I kept him as a pasture pet til he got cancer and had to be put down.

My paso trotted off stiffly according to the vet on his PPE. I bought him anyway and he's been just fine for 24 years.

My KMH has a foot that was injured prior to me purchasing him. It was already healed but it makes the hoof wall grow in differently and looks weird. I think that's one reason he was overlooked by other buyers--that and his age at 17. But he has been totally sound--the foot doesn't bother him at all and he certainly doesn't act old!

So yes, I agree that serviceably sound can be just fine. :)
 

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If that article was really written in 2021, then there is still hope for the horse that isn’t perfect.

The serviceably sound mare that was giving lessons to small children In the article? That was my Streeter-the-Arab. His Henneke score of three when I got my hands on him was nothing. It was the injured vertebra that would always need a chiropractor or physical therapist that turned out to be the real problem. He could never carry more than 100# .

Streeter was seven when he came to live with me and 29 when I laid him to rest. He was the best children’s and Toddler babysitter. He willing gave lessons to anyone one under 12 & under 100 pounds.

I never intended to sell Streeter, just keep his sweet self as a pasture ornament. It wasn’tme who discovered his love of children, it was the barn owner where I had him boarded. Streeter was a quick study, she loved The Streetman, all she had to do was stand in the center of the ring and give him verbal W/T and whoa commands. Streeter was a gentle & comedic soul who more than earned his keep, giving children happy horse memories🥰🥰
 

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It wasn’tme who discovered his love of children, it was the barn owner where I had him boarded. Streeter was a quick study, she loved The Streetman, all she had to do was stand in the center of the ring and give him verbal W/T and whoa commands. Streeter was a gentle & comedic soul who more than earned his keep, giving children happy horse memories🥰🥰
My Arab Gelding Magic was the same. My trainer used to call he the Psycho Arab as he was a stereo typical Arab - except when it came to Children or young horses. He LOVED them! We took him to a place to ride where there were a lot of children running around; he was always so spooky that I was afraid he'd kick the kids as they were running so close to his back end. Nope - they could hang on his legs and he'd stand there so still until they ran off. I was stunned. He was the same with horse babies - always so gentle and attentive.
 

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I'm currently in the market for a horse and I've realized I don't have the money to buy a perfect horse. The ones I can afford (or almost afford lol) are green, old, have behavior issues, or have some maintenance needed. I'm looking at a little mare at a kill pen rescue now. She's young, and papered, and I think she's adorable. She was very kind on the ground and when I rode her. She didn't mind going away from the other horses, wasn't afraid of a tarp or hose on the ground, cones and barrels set up in random places, walked and trotted through a thick layer of noisy leaves, and happily moved out when asked (almost too happily lol) but also had a GREAT stop when I just thought about it. I'm having a PPE done. I'd like to do some trail riding, some low level dressage, dabble in liberty and trick training and maybe some of the other fun stuff (mounted archery, obstacles, competitive trail?). I think she's likely going to be fine for all of that, but not knowing WHY she ended up at the kill pen makes me really nervous, so I'm having the check. If she's not perfect, I won't walk away, because from what I've seen, she's exactly what I'm looking for. But I would hate to get her home and find out that she was at the kill pen because of some major issue that makes her unsuitable for even the light riding I'm hoping for, and I wasn't experience enough in looking for issues to catch it.
 

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@boatagor if she has her papers, you at least know she wasn’t part of a herd confiscation. Unless the rules have changed since the 90’s , papers get destroyed on confiscations..

it could be anything from the owner passing away or losing their income, to an ugly divorce and whatever else any of us could think up that has nothing to do with health. Maybe she was too tall, too short, wrong color for breeding. Maybe she had a foal that the owner kept and got rid of her.

I hope things work out with her and you have a great success story to post🤠👍🤠👍
 

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So much has to do with attitude...yours and the horses.
No horse is perfect, not a one.
We can and often nitpick a animal to death...for what?
Why?

I'm as guilty of that "critique" as others but also get ripping apart someones horse hurts and serves no purpose...none.

My horse currently owned was a show horse that I bought...
He was not happy but went in a show ring....
I found by accident he loved trails and would go through anything given the chance to look at it to make sure we were safe...

I've been offered so much money for that horse we bought because he was pretty. Yes, I know better...
We lucked out with a honest, hardworking sensible and smart horse.
A PPE....nope. I was not spending more for the exam than for the horse..........

Would I buy a horse with no PPE done... I did.
In future if I find another who moves decent, is body willing and mind sensible the only thing I want a vet to do is make sure the heart sounds healthy, the lungs are good, the eyes are good and not scarred and a accurate aging of the animal..
That is called a wellness check...
The rest....been down that road...
I'll deal with what presents itself...if heart, lungs, eyes are good the age is not a big deal. I would just like to know their opinion of how old...how many years of anticipated partnership riding together we have.

What you have today may not be what you have tomorrow no matter how much you spend, how much they are picked apart and testing done....roll the dice is just as good a way to decide.
When you've checked off the boxes, the rest kind of just falls into place and you roll with it together.
Don't walk away from a horse who rode right for you, you felt safe on and happy being astride...if it meets your needs, has heart and try...that is worth a lot more than some vet saying the other horse who has pretty, movement and all the rest but you just don't feel safe or right....my money would go to the ugly duckling who in my eyes and heart is the gorgeous swan...oops, I meant horse.
Look with your mind, crack the door for your heart...and hang on for the ride of lifetime of joy and happiness.😁
🐴...
 

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@boatagor if she has her papers, you at least know she wasn’t part of a herd confiscation. Unless the rules have changed since the 90’s , papers get destroyed on confiscations..

it could be anything from the owner passing away or losing their income, to an ugly divorce and whatever else any of us could think up that has nothing to do with health. Maybe she was too tall, too short, wrong color for breeding. Maybe she had a foal that the owner kept and got rid of her.

I hope things work out with her and you have a great success story to post🤠👍🤠👍
I hope so too!
 

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The problem is that you may only be able to support and afford so many horses as pasture pets. I have one retiree and one soon to be retiree. If I get a horse that isn't sound as my next horse, I will be without a riding partner and looking at euthanasia, retirement, or rehoming someone.

Joint injections and medical intervention can become more costly than buying and feeding another horse... At least it used to be that way when horses weren't that expensive. Progressive conditions do tend to worsen with time. If you have room for an additional pasture pet, then you can be less careful with your purchases.

I do plan on retiring my horses and maintaining them until the end. The investment is not the purchase price. It's the feed and vet bills after 10 years.
 

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I agree with both @4horses' perspective and also @Knave's.

For one thing, I'm skeptical of PPEs for the most part because not only have I never seen the vet notice something I missed, I've had to point out issues to have the vet look into. The only horse I've owned who had a PPE passed it, and he has serious issues.

Dr. Ramey can be a little laissez faire for me though. He sometimes mentions his opinion that horse owners are often hysterical and over treat horses. Maybe he lives in a different horse environment, but here it is highly unlikely that horses get overtreated, and far more likely that horses are left untreated, like the two wheezy COPD horses at my barn, or the IR horse that recently died and was kept on pasture, without meds, limping around.

People on the forum who end up with horses with lots of health issues and vet bills never seem to me to be overtreating hypochondriacs.

But it's so true that no horse is perfect, and as @Knave said, we should expect maintenance on every horse at some point.
It is important, however, to think about what is causing the issue if you see one in a potential purchase, to save yourself from having a pasture pet for 20 years.

I'd never recommend buying a young horse with ringbone, or a horse with PSSM or Cushing's, knowingly. A horse with mild arthritis still loving to work, for light riding, sure.

I also think horses have the last word about their health issues. The vet might think a horse is not too sore to work, but the horse may still be unhappy, even on pain meds. Or the horse might have scars and short stride a little, and continue to love working.
 

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I define serviceable sound as not having to wear shoes. To me a horse that requires shoes and pads is lame. It may not limp with shoes, but it is not sound . It may be fine for flat walks, but I would not use that horse on a steep or hilly terrain .
 

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I fell in love with an eight year old tall black saddlebred for sale at a fancy barn. He had been sold to someone on the west coast as an unpapered Dutch Warmblood, shipped across the country from the east and arrived in ridiculous Saddlebred hooves and shoes. His forelock was shaved off like a 3 gaited fine harness horse and he had a club foot. He trotted, not really lame just uneven on that foot but I bought him anyway. I did not get a PPE because I did not want to know some kind of horrible news. His frogs were terribly contracted way up high in the sole with no frog contact. They pulled the ridiculous shoes but said he would need shoes and pads all his life. When the horse arrived he also had a stress ulcer which we cured with Ulcerguard from the feed store. But he had to have special feeds with ulcer preventative. They turned him out in the gelding pasture every day. He would make some friends but they were often sold away

They did a lot of maintenance for some horses at this barn, it was considered a way of life. We tried Adequan IM and body work which did not seem to do anything. I drew the line at joint injections. I would come to ride him and take lessons myself but he always stepped short, sometimes worse than others. I lived three hours away and the place had to be fenced for horses and a barn built. He was not very well broke to saddle so I left him there to board and train for a year. Got him home, had the shoes and pads pulled, trimmed high low and let him go barfoot. He is free in the pastures with a mini pony friend and stalled at night. When the first rainy season came his hooves softened and the quarters spread with frog contact. Trimmed high low, now he trots absolutely rock bottom sound. If I had gotten a PPE I would not have bought this wonderful beautiful horse.
Horse Working animal Sky Window Horse tack
 

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I guess Dexter would be considered servicably sound right now. shrug

I'm trying to get his front feet feeling better but nothing has worked so far. Yet he is always happy to go along to the shows and always happy to tote my daughter around, and he is worth his weight in gold doing so. I can tell they bother him, by the way he stands (in that camped out stance). But he never hesitates and never objects. I'm just stuck to keep him as comfortable as I am able.
 
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