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Dr. Dan M.
Dr. Dan M., Veterinarian
Category: Horse
Satisfied Customers: 1541
Experience:  10 years of experience as a veterinary surgeon with extensive equine experience
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The horse I was going to buy failed a 2 stage vet check due

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The horse I was going to buy failed a 2 stage vet check due to the following:-

"Right Fore has a subtle bench knee with a base narrow toe in conformation"

but then the Vet told me verbally that horses with the above can still be ridden for years.
So I am a bit confused. I do like this mare, but obviously do not want to buy if a serious problem can happen. The horse would be used for hacking several times a week with all the 3 paces, plus some schooling and maybe the odd jump. No heavy competition work.

I would appreciate your comments.

It is always frustrating when you receive the news that a horse you are interested in has failed its vetting.

When a vet performs a pre purchase examination, they are always very cautious about passing the horse because if wrong, that vet can open themselves up to serious legal, professional and compensatory issues.

We always look at a worse case scenario i.e the typical 'what if' situation and sometimes this may appear to be over cautious.

So whilst the vet is offering you reassurance from personal past experience, they can't use this during official examinations and professional opinion giving. They have to stick with the facts and look at the worse case scenario to protect the potential purchaser.

You do not have to abide by the result of the pre purchase examination and you could consider a second opinion, perhaps requesting a five stage vetting.

However, if you purchase the horse having had it fail the pre purchase examination, you may struggle with insurance cover (however, most insurance companies request a five stage vetting).

Conformational abnormalities are always hard to advise on because some horses will have really significant limb or hoof deformities and be fine all through their lives, others with subtle changes can develop osteoarthritis years later. It is the latter scenario that your vet is likely to be referring to in failing the horse.

Hope this helps,


Dan Makin
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Can you please advise what it actually means " re the subtle bench knee with a base narrow toe in confirmation"



I am sorry you weren't happy with my answer and of course I can define the conformational abnormality.

Bench knee is a defect in the lower limb present from birth. The canon bone is off centre from the rest of the limb so it appears to be offset to the outside of the horse. Long term this can predispose the horse to splints.

A base narrow conformation is where the feet are positioned closer together than the rest of the limb i.e the limb tapers inwards. This puts strain on the fetlock and tendons so can in some situations cause strain and arthritis.

Hope that makes sense

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for your reply in the definition of the bench knee etc. It has really helped.


If the right fore has a "subtle bench knee etc" , in your experience, have

you come across horses with the above and that they are still being

ridden without a problem?





Definitely horses with this are often still able to be ridden. Often at a normal level and at all paces. There are some that will develop changes later on and the issue is then stiffness from arthritis. It is impossible to predict which horses will or won't have problems. We always presume the worse hence your vet failing the vetting.

As well as potential stiffness from joint strain, these conformational changes may be marked down when competing in dressage.

The main consideration is the intended use, if it's light and pleasure I am sure this horse would be approriate if the changes are mild and there is no known history of lameness.


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Just one final question, would arthritis from this type of confirmation be treatable with medication?





No problem, arthritis of any type is not curable but is manageable with lots of different drug types of varying potencies. These medications include; non steroidal antinflammatories (bute), joint supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid) and if severe joint injections with steroids.

But horses can live for many years with joint disease with little impact on their work level.

Good luck


Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for all of your help

No problem, I'm thrilled to be of help. If you are happier with my answers now then please re rate my service accordingly.

Take care

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