Q. I have been leasing a 12-year-old pony for my daughter for two years. We now have to decide if we want to purchase this pony. She has foundered the past two years on the spring grass. The farrier said her feet have "separated." The vet says she is sound. Is foundering chronic once started? Will she be able to competitively jump? Am I buying a problem?

Traci, via e-mail

A. Let’s start by answering your last question first. There is no doubt you would be buying a problem. The question might be, "Can I live with this problem?" That’s not an easy one to decide.

Ponies are very sensitive to the various changes that trigger the recurrence of laminitis. After two straight years, you obviously are aware of that. If the pony can be relocated before the grass starts its spring surge of growth, that might be an out. But in the long run, there has been some damage to the foot, whether you can see it or not. And each time the problem recurs, the chance there will be more severe bouts of laminitis increases.

As far as a return to jumping goes, that action could increase the chance for further damage to the feet.

It’s tough to replace an animal like this one, given the talent it showed in earlier times, but I personally would favor that action.