Coming from a showing background, I always worried about scars and blemishes on my ponies and horses, but I am seeing more and more, particularly with my new eventing hobby, successful horses with less than perfect legs. My first pony had a scar on the inside of his hind cannon bone, from when he`d gone under the gate. I used to use black hair spray to make it less noticeable. But the judges always commented on it. It frustrated me that he was marked down for not being perfect, when really, we know he was. And no bias here!
I found this article which explains leg and foot problems quite well – http://www.horses-arizona.com/pages/articles/unsoundfeetlegs.html – And whilst I don`t particularly want my horse to get low ringbone or navicular, a couple of windgalls or a splint isn`t the end of the world. Thankfully at the moment my horse doesn`t have any.
I`m starting to feel that blemishes, all over the body, whilst you don`t want it to disfigure or hinder their rideability, it`s a bit like getting a life history and getting to know. Like our scars which show we once fell out a tree when we were 3 years old…
From what my friends have experienced I dread a tendon or ligament injury… months of box rest and a life of always watching that leg. My field companion was on box rest for 18 months, then field rest for 6 months for a suspensory ligament, but is now sound enough to hack. I once saw, and will never forget, as I felt it was pure cruelty, a polo pony brought back from a match had broken down. Her fetlock had dropped significantly. She was an older mare (mid twenties) but we tried. Cold hosing, cooling clay, bandages, bute, the full works for a couple of weeks. She didn`t see the vet though. After a few weeks like this her owner decided that she would be retired from polo (no shit Sherlock, she`s only got 3 legs) but… her owner wanted to put in foal!
Now I`m sure you`re all shouting at the screen now; she`s too old for a first foal; she can barely support her own weight, let alone the weight of the foal; her quality of life was drastically reduced. Thankfully, for the mare`s sake, her tendon completely broke, leaving her with her fetlock on the floor, and then the decision was made for her owner. She was put to sleep, and thankfully an end to her suffering.