Lauren and Sarah are both
unicorn horse hunting right now, and have made very reasonable lists of the things they’re looking for in an equine partner. I’m at a slightly different stage of this process: I’ve got an equine partner in mind, and I’m trying to figure out what could show up in the vet check that will be a deal breaker.
I very much subscribe to the view that sound is a relative thing. Having a pony for w/t rides for kids and casual trail riding doesn’t require the same level of soundness of a Training-level eventer and that doesn’t require the same level of soundness as a Grand Prix jumper or dressage horse. I’m not trying to go to Rolex here, I’m trying to do some lower level (and maybe prelim?) eventing and have fun while I’m doing it. I’m completely realistic about the fact that if I ever gain the skills to event above training, the number of horses who can do that well/successfully/safely/happily are a lot smaller than the number of horses who can make a good run at training, and there’s absolutely no guarantee the one I’m thinking of (big secret there) will be able to do so.
I’m also a poor graduate student, and I don’t anticipate not being poor for a while now. Sure, my salary might double over what I bring home as a graduate student if I get the right job, but that’s certainly not a lot of money. Definitely not a two-horse budget kind of money. So I need to be careful with the money I do have, and get as much as I can out of my equine partner choice.
So, all that being said, you can imagine that there are some deal breakers in my mind. Things that will just rule any horse out of my consideration, regardless of how much I might otherwise like them.
For example, bad osteoarthritis in the stifle, hock, or fetlock. I have neither the funds nor the spirit to manage bad osteoarthritis in a six year old.
Degenerative, bilateral uveitis. I know this can take some time, but I also can’t do a blind horse. Not at this stage of my life.
Navicular disease. I’ve read a lot of promising things about navicular changes on the Rockley Rehab Blog, but if there are symptoms and changes, I can’t go there.
That’s my list so far. It’s not an extensive one, but I’ve got more than a week to add to it like a hypochondriac. What are your deal breakers? What takes a horse off the table completely for you, health wise? What is manageable?