Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Like She Said, You Can't Ride A Mane!

Turn Heads on the Trail! - $3500

Four year old registered AQHA Palomino gelding. "Peanut" stands 15 hands, has gorgeous long mane, three white stockings and a white star, stripe and snip. He is being offered at a drastically reduced price due to being diagnosed with OCD (Osteochondrosis) in November. OCD is characterized by lesions in the joint that can form in fast growing young horses. Peanut's x-rays show no evidence of cysts or fragments in the joint, only slight flattening on the condoyles of the stifles which is likely to limit his career as a performance horse. Through his training, he has never shown any degree of lameness, but shows slight discomfort trotting off to flexion tests. For this reason, I am offering him for sale as a horse suitable for light riding. I bought Peanut as a long yearling from the breeder and have personally enjoyed every step of his development, while utilizing natural horsemanship methods. Because of the level of training already established, combined with Peanut's laid back nature, I feel confident that even at his age, he will easily step into a career as a recreational trail horse. Peanut has a fun, inquisitive personality, he enjoys people and is confident with it comes trying new things. He has never offered to buck and is great to get back on after lengthy periods of time off. He has a gorgeous long mane, combined with his rich dapple palomino color, he is a real head turner! Although it saddens me to say goodbye, I feel as though a shift in career is in Peanut’s best interest and will lend to his long term soundness and the happiness of someone looking for a special companion.
Click the following link to see a video of Peanut -



Where the hell do I start with this one? 

Lets start with the obvious. Osteochondrosis. I have heard of this, but only in passing. Google is our friend, so I search it out. 

The Merek Veterinary Manual online has a page for it. 

Osteochondrosis has a multifactorial etiology that includes rapid growth, overnutrition, mineral imbalance, and biomechanics (ie, trauma to cartilage). Genetics has been implicated in some breeds (eg, Standardbred and Swedish Warmblood). The condition mainly affects articular growth cartilage, but the metaphysis may also be involved. If the physeal metaphyseal cartilage is affected, bone contours and longitudinal growth are disturbed (see physitis, Physitis). Involvement of articular cartilage at the periphery of joint surfaces leads to regressive changes at the joint margins, dissecting lesions, and the formation of flaps (osteochondrosis). Central articular lesions, because of weight-bearing effects, involve focal retention of cartilage within the subchondral bone (see subchondral cysts, Subchondral Cystic Lesions). Axial skeletal involvement includes vertebral articular facets, and this may lead to stenosis of the vertebral canal and, ultimately, ataxia and proprioceptive deficits (ie, wobbler syndrome).

OK. Lots of big words there, huh! I do understand a great deal of it, so lets translate a bit.

Basically the disease has several different origins, which are based in overfeeding, growing way too fast, mineral imbalance (ie, lack of salt), and accidents. Genetics play a part in some breeds, but not others. It affects mostly cartilage, but other leg parts could also be involved. Sometimes the leg bones themselves are affected. 

Oh, this is the important part. IF the outside cartilage of the, say, knee, is affected, the joints get swollen, the spaces between the joint bones get smaller, and things grow where they shouldn't be growing in and on the cartilage. 

If the horse's ribs (for example) are affected, the blood vessels around the spine can shrink greatly, reducing blood flow, and causing all sorts of issues such as dead tissue and oh so fun  side effect diseases such as Wobbler's Syndrome! 

Doesn't this already just sound like a horse you want to spend $3500 on!? 

So, how is it discovered? 

A joint becomes distended (think bog spavin or the like) with little to no pain at the site of the distention. According to Merek, in horses greater than 6 months of age, "Often the first sign noted in foals is a tendency to spend more time lying down. This is accompanied frequently by joint swelling, stiffness, and difficulty keeping up with other animals in the paddock. An accompanying sign may be the development of upright conformation of the limbs, presumably as a result of rapid growth."

Horses of training age often begin to show signs of the disease once starting to be ridden. Hmm, sounds like that happened to our palomino up there!

Sounds like so much fun, doesn't it! 

So, how to treat? Is this horse really ridable?

Well, of course altering diet is mentioned, less food (HUH, Fancy that!), making sure the horse's minerals are balanced correctly, giving HA supplements (hyaluronic acid, found in most good joint supplements), surgery in the most severe cases, and joint injections to reduce swelling, fluid build up, and overall lubrication. 

These legions that form on the joints (the things that grow that shouldn't be there) can grow on any joint from in the hoof all the way up to the shoulder blades. 

Merek however does not mention anything about RIDING these horses at all. Darn. I was hoping for that one. Pain origins of the disease come mostly from shoulder lesions, but in the legs its difficult to pinpoint exactly where it hurts the worst, and lameness can be intermittent, and hard to spot. 

Hmmmm. So we have a horse that is going to be on longggggg term veterinary care. Expensive joint supplements the rest of his life, joint injections every so often, the disease has a probability of spreading, and if treated once, runs the risk of returning. He could be 'ouchie' for the rest of his life. 

And he's FOUR. 

Yea, thats a great mane all right. Still can't ride it!

1) Its absolutely insane for the owner to be asking $3500 for this horse. There is NO way he's ever going to be worth more than $1000 - and thats severely pushing it. The lifetime cost of vet bills this horse is going to rack up will surpass that tens of times. 

2) I'm no vet. I just study a lot of vet books. And I am going to wager a guess that while he might be ok for light, light use for the next few years (Heck, it might even be helpful to keep him moving some), his long term outlook is not so good. Eventually he'll have to be downgraded to pasture puff. Lets hope he gets that owner that cares more about HIM, than the ribbons she can win. 

3) Looks, breeding, and all the money in the world ain't going to cure this guy. He's stuck with this forever. 

4) Finding a 'loving' home for him at this point, while bordering on the scummy side of horse ownership by dumping him on craigslist - will be iffy. Chances are that the person she sells him to will think they can handle the disease, and quickly find out that the cost of the maintenance on this horse will be a LOT more $$$ than they expected. Anyone out there know if this disease requires special shoes or not? Would barefoot be better maybe? I don't know. I know just what Mr. Merek tells me. 

What bothers me is even though she has fully disclosed the diagnosis, she's going about it a bit in the wrong light. He's NOT going to be ok for a light riding horse for the rest of his life - depending on how bad the legions are in his joints, WHERE they are, and the number of them, may or may not mean the end of his riding days ALREADY. 

And Vet opinions differ, as we all know. One Vet might say go ahead and saddle him up for 30 minutes 2-3 times a week. Another might say hand walking only. Yet a third could say Nope, Sorry, Pasture Puff ONLY. 

Who'd want to ride a horse with Wobbler's or Degenerative Disk Disease anyways? Seems to me that would just be putting the horse under more stress and pain that is necessary. 

If this lady wants another horse to go get ribbons in, there's certainly nothing stopping her from doing that. However, asking $3500? As a friend has said on here, "Step away from the crack pipe" (or something very close to that :D ). 

Thanks Sue!

I normally don't post stuff like this but If requested I certainly will. 

A local horse woman I have not yet met, but have spoken to many times via email included me in an email she sent out earlier today. 

"Please pass this on to all horse owners in Arizona you know.  Perhaps someone has seen her.  I have also heard that she may have had pink saddlebags on the saddle as well."

Attached is the picture of Trixie, my 10 year old paint mare.  She was last seen at Payoff Springs, trail 384, at Groom Creek on Sunday, June 13th at about noon.  She had on a new Hilason full leather saddle, bridle, blue rope halter with green lead rope, and a hornbag.  I appreciate any help you can offer, and if you need anything else from me, please call.  Please forward this as you feel appropriate.
Karen Leonard

Those of you that live in the 4 corner states, please pay particular attention to her, if you show and frequently go to horsey events. From here in Phoenix it literally takes just 8 hours to get to the 4 corner area if you don't stop for any length of time. In the 3 days since this mare was stolen, she very easily could have been moved into Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Mexico (shudder), California, or Nevada. Even Texas is a 2 day drive to most parts. 

I KNOW most of you that read this blog don't post, and aren't listed as followers. Totally cool by me. But if you DO read on a semi-regular basis, if you could PLEASE maybe print out her picture, with the email in Blue from her upset, distraught, worried, freaked out MOM, and just hang it in your tack room? That's not too much to ask, is it? If it were my horse that was taken like that, I would want her picture on every single tack room wall in the entire nation. I think most of you would feel the same, yes? 


  1. I will keep an eye out for the mare (even in NC), with those markings she'd be easy to spot.

    About the OCD...severity depends on the location (usually the legs). If the horse were allowed to have time off (a year) and backed way off the protein content of the feed, could be a sound horse for most activities that don't require extreme physical fitness. I know several that have made team penning/sorting horses. Several have also gone on to WP. I don't know the severity of this horse's condition, but he looks like one used for roping, working cow etc... That would make OCD a death sentence. Is he worth $3500...NOT, but he may well (given time and care) make someone a great play-day horse for $1000 (depending on pedigree)

  2. I unfortunately have experience with accident caused OCD, and what the seller posted is probably quite accurate, and she is truthful. NO, he's not worth $3,500, but he probably CAN be a good light riding horse for many years, even 20 years. If he had no cysts and nothing fragmenting, he probably isn't in too bad of shape. More horses have bone cysts than we realize, some never develop any problems, some may have it wear to the point it opens into the joint capsule as a teenager, even... then again, some are useless from go. And generally, a horse with OCD that needs surgery will have the opposite limb checked at the same time... it seldom involves multiple joints on the same limb.

    I totally agree that overfeeding youngsters, particularly in the stock horse breeds, is a problem. Of course, you can also have conscientious owners like one who boarded his appendix filly while weaning, and other boarders were FURIOUS that the filly didn't have have hay in front of her all the time. She was out on grass 14 hours a (night), got a low protein hay feeding of reasonable but small proportions in the morning, and wasn't getting grain because she was FAT. These people who don't understand horses and growth were trying to sneak her alfalfa because they felt bad for her. Grrrrr...
    It was explained to them quite clearly.

  3. Thank you both for your information.
    You both answered some of the questions I had about the prognosis of the disease long term.

    This horse was originally intended to be a barrel horse - so OCD for this horse really is somewhat of a 'death sentence' of sorts, especially if he doesn't find that 'right' owner that will take care of him properly.

    Bif, I hope your horse gets lots of cookies and hugs when he's at his most ouchie!

  4. OCD is not necessarily a death sentence. Bone chips and/or lesions can be removed and repaired by having surgery done. Its very successful but expensive. We have had two horses with OCD one whose mother was 27 years old and needed the extra feed, she got all the hay she could eat, on pasture, and was fed senior feed three times a day so when she ate so did he on top of nursing. He is now a 6 year old stallion whose has multiple halter championships and is in training for country english pleasure. The other is a 2 year old purebred Arabian colt who is 15.2, he just grew way too fast. He is now ground driven and worked every other day and will start his western pleasure training next spring. They both had the surgery at a year old.

    After researching and writing a 15 page paper on OCD in horses I have learned quite a bit. As most of you know OCD had multiple factors some of which may go hand in hand. The easiest one to control is nutrition. Feeds high in protein were once thought to be the cause of OCD however through many studies that has been ruled out. High levels of glucose and insulin may be the key to its development. Choosing feeds lower on the glycemic index may reduce the occurrence of OCD. Here are a few links that may interest some of you...

    We have always fed alfalfa (which is lower on the glycemic index) but we supplement the easy keepers with grass hay. We don't use sweet feeds anymore instead we mix our own grain. We use half oats, half barley, wheat bran, and beet pulp (great source of fiber which reduces colic and lowers insulin levels) soaked in water (the horses love it). We also feed about a cup (varies on the horse) of rice bran for fat and does wonders to their coats. They get Equerry's vitamin supplements that are specifically made for the pacific northwest. Once a month they get a shot (1cc per 100lbs) of Vitamin E/Selenium.
    We just started this feeding program less than a year ago but we can see a difference in our training horses, weanlings, and our older broodmares who need extra.

    We are also incorporating the practice of creep feeding with our foals this year to hopefully prevent the growth slump.

    Just thought I'd share.....

  5. It looks like everyone else already hit what I was going to say, but I've known two horses with OCD, both big drafty boys. They both had surgery, rehabbed successfully, and have continued their careers as if nothing ever happened. They're certainly not barrel horses, but they do some dressage and play with jumping and make their owner very happy.