How to Address an Old Racing Injury When Selling a Horse

How does a trainer explain a retired racehorse’s previous injury to a potential buyer? Two veterinarians and a three-day eventer weigh in.

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The most important thing when selling a horse is to give the buyer all the information about the animal's past injuries. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

By Stuart Brown, DVM; Martha Rodgers, VMD; and three-day eventer Buck Davidson

Q.I’m trying to sell a retired racehorse that’s had a bone chip removed and whose soundness has not been affected. But when I talk to someone and say, “You know, she does have an old racing injury, but she’s not unsound,” I’m having a hard time. People who try the horse and are about to do a prepurchase exam hear “old racing injury,” and they run. They don’t want to have anything to do with it. But the horse has the brains, demeanor, and trainability, so how do I talk to these incoming buyers?

A.Rodgers: Most veterinarians really are pretty practical people. We have to be. Definitely mention the past bone chip to the buyer, but then say, “You might want to talk to your veterinarian if you’re interested in the horse, and find out what they think the impact is.” The soundness is always going to be No. 1. If a horse is sound, we forgive a lot more. If the horse is unsound, then right away that’s going to make us pull back.

Brown: We place a different degree of significance on bone pathology in racehorses. We know dorsal P1 (long pastern bone) chips lead to unsoundness problems in the Thoroughbred. You should improve (a horse’s prognosis) by removing that lesion. With the advent of the repository systems (at Thoroughbred sales), there are now 36 X rays on every yearling that goes through the sale. We see lots and lots of horses that have had those things addressed, whether they’ve had OCD (osteochondritis dissecans) lesions removed or fragments or small bone chips removed. We’ve drawn from experience that those horses stay sounder for longer when you address these issues

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