August 20, 2009

A Meeting of the Minds

I was tired of driving around, but one final ad caught my eye: a chestnut Appendix QH named "Benson," with a little chrome. The pictures weren't great, but he looked to have decent conformation and he was a good age (10). I decided what the heck, I wasn't doing anything else, and I drove two hours from to check him out.

I pulled into one of the million Carolina sandhills hobby farms and hopped out to meet the owner in the barn. As I walked in, Benson stood in quietly in the crossties awaiting my inspection. I looked at him. He looked at me. And something settled inside me.

I patted him on the neck and proceeded to look him over. He had the worst shoeing job I had ever seen with uneven gaps between hoof and shoe. Zero muscle tone. As I rubbed his lopsided white blaze his owner commented, "Huh, he trusts you. He doesn't do that for many people." So I asked to see him go and to ride him. A young European girl had been schooling him on the trails, said he didn't know a lot but seemed agreeable. She did a couple of circles at the trot and canter in the middle of the pasture (this is my actual video from that day, below) and then I threw my leg over.

He was crooked. He leaned hard on my left leg. He picked up the wrong canter lead. But he didn't fuss. And I felt safe. Which is a big deal to me -- due to aforementioned runaway Paint horse, I don't do bolters. Ever.

I loved him.

I brought a vet out a week later to do a Pre-Purchase Exam. Turned out not only was Benson criminally out of shape, he had bone spurs on his front coffin bones and if you pressed down on the right side of his SI, his back legs would buckle. His stifles popped and his back was lopsided.

I think I can fix that, I thought. "I'll take him," I said.


  1. So, what is the prognosis for bone spurs? Is there anything that can be done about them?
    I knew a girl who had a PPE done on a 5 year old OTTB and he had a bone spur in his hock. The vet told her that he would only be sound for jumping for a few more years.

  2. I had another farrier look at them and the vet and I talked about them as well. They were very small and it was impossible to know if they had been there his whole life or grew or what. In theory, I should do another set of xrays someday to see if anything changed, I suppose. But as long as nothing is making him uncomfortable, I am not worried about it -- he may well have been born with them or they were a result of bad shoeing. But they were not in anyplace scary and were so small they didn't offer any threat as is, so I decided that was not a dealbreaker.

  3. OK, thanks for the info. Since hearing about that OTTB, I have often wondered what I would do if a horse I was looking to purchase had bone spurs. Obviously, Solo is happy and healthy, so, no, they certainly don't seem to be deal-breakers. I've heard they're not uncommon in OTTBs (and that is what I will be purchasing...hopefully, not to far in the future).

  4. I think, as in many issues, you really do have to go on a case by case basis. Because (as usual) I had the remarkably bad timing of deciding to buy a horse BEFORE the market crashed, you couldn't buy ANYTHING sound and sane under $3000, it was ridiculous (hence, it KILLS me to look at horse prices now!). I figured no horse is perfect, I had to decide what issues I could live with.

    Plus you have to take into consideration that the horse with perfect conformation, flawless xrays and untouchable soundness will probably run through a fence and kill himself the day after you buy him...