So, what are some of the problems you can live with?
And why do some people seem to think that horses should be perfect?
A Twitter friend brings up an excellent question: if people accept that houses will have faults, or that used cars will have faults, why do they think that horses, which are living breathing moving things after all, will be any different?
I suggested, at first glance, that this was an affliction of mature adults buying horses for the first time, whether for themselves or for their children: they grew up around houses that needed repairs, or cars that were going into the shop, so they understand, from the time they’re very young, that none of these things are perfect. Whereas they are new to horses, and understand only that they are expensive, possibly ridiculously so, and expect that something that costs tens of thousands of dollars just to buy, let alone thousands per month to keep (in many cases), will have to be perfect to justify the cost.To which my Twitter friend wisely replied, how does that explain the veteran trainer with the two-hour vet exam, failing a horse for a bad flexion test?
I don’t have an answer.
As for the faults you can live with, what have you struggled with, or never even noticed after the first day?
My first OTTB had an old bow (high and cold), bucked shins, a splint, a large bump on the upper part of a hind cannon bone, one knee that was larger than the other, flat feet, and was very over at the knee.
Of these faults, the only thing that ever troubled him were his flat feet (they would literally be the death of him, fifteen years later).
His knees were fascinating; as a youngster, he looked like his knees were literally set on the front part of his cannon bones. As he grew older and his skeleton matured and settled, his cannon bones seemed to lean forward, as if his knees were correct and his lower legs were perpetually in a slight crouch.
We never once worried about this fault – it’s widely accepted that back at the knee, “calf-kneed” horses are no-no’s, but the over at the knee horse is frequently sound, a pretty mover, and, as Jimmy Wofford wrote in Training the Three-Day Event Horse and Rider, they seem to be better than average jumpers. We kept an eye on his tendons for soreness, as you would with any horse, and at the height of his jumping life, a furazone sweat would take any tenderness out. I might add that this attitude towards knees is as pervasive in the racing world as it is in the sport world – it’s as close a thing to as an accepted fact as you will get with horse people.
I have had plenty of other bumpy-legged horses over the years. It’s always been a question of, “What is this horse’s problem, and how can it be managed?” rather than “Gosh I hope this horse doesn’t have any problems.” That latter statement, we know, isn’t in the realm of reality.
What faults can you live with? And what faults have you fought against to keep a horse sound?