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Ask Dr. Dave

Amanda from Michigan, writes:

Dear Dr. Dave,

I'm looking at buying a nice gelding that is 5 years-old but has a old injury on left front foot. His short pastern bone is fused together. Will that cause any problems with trail/flat work?

Dear Amanda,

Thank you for your question regarding the advisability of purchasing a 5 year-old gelding with a fused pastern joint for trail and flat work.

Let me make some assumptions. The gelding is not lame at this time. The pastern fusion was caused by an injury accident, not by veterinary surgical intervention.

I would proceed cautiously with this horse. If the joint was fused naturally, it probably means it has extensive high articular ringbone, and is a consideration for future soft tissue inflammation and damage. The age of the horse would indicate he has not "passed the test of time," and so I would worry about future soundness with continued and possibly increased exercise.

Bottom line: if you feel lucky, this gelding may be the exception and die of old age with never having been lame. However, if your luck is like mine, he'll be sound when you buy him, and lame soon after. Continue looking. There are many wonderful, sound horses for sale nowadays.

Keep looking. The fun's in the hunt,

Dr. Dave