Would you buy a horse with a sidebone?

Sep 13, 2023 | Super Equestrian


Would you buy a horse with a sidebone?

Imagine yourself at a busy horse auction, surrounded by neighs, whinnies and the sight of magnificent horses trotting close by. As you explore the horses available, you come across a gorgeous mare that captures your eye - her coat is shining, and her movements are exquisite. 

However, on closer inspection, you find she has a sidebone!! You pause, wondering if this horse is still a good investment, or if you should pass her up. The decision to purchase a horse with a sidebone should not be taken lightly, as there are both hazards and advantages to consider.

Sidebone is a common condition that affects the horses’ health and soundness. 

While it can be a significant concern for performance horses, with proper management and care, horses with sidebone can still lead happy and fulfilling lives. This means that you can buy a horse with a sidebone, but you must be fully informed about the disorder and the horse's potential uses before doing so.

In this article, we will explore the basic understanding of sidebone, its causes and symptoms, how this type of disorder affects horses, and the factors to consider when making the decision of whether or not to buy a horse with sidebone. 

In the end, you will have a better understanding of the challenges of owning a horse with sidebone and will be better able to make the right purchase decision.

What is Sidebone 

Sidebone can or does occur in almost all horses, making it a common problem. This condition is most likely to affect horses that participate in jumping, dressage, and running. 

Sidebone disorders are commonly associated with horses' front feet, but to be precise, this condition occurs when the cartilage in the horse's foot becomes rigid and hard, or turns into bone. Let us now look at the main causes of this ailment in horses, as well as the symptoms and treatment options for the disorder. 

Causes and Symptoms of Sidebone Condition In Horses

Sidebone is a disease that can have a major impact on the horse’s overall well-being, and it is critical for horse owners and caregivers to be aware of the causes and symptoms of the condition. 

It is most usually related to chronic stress on the horse's feet. This can be caused by a variety of circumstances, such as inadequate hoof care, incorrect shoeing, or excessive physical activity. 

Horses that participate in high-impact sports such as jumping, racing, or dressage are more likely to develop sidebones, especially if they are not provided with appropriate rest and recovery time between events.

Sidebone symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the illness. Horses with minor sidebone problems may show no visible signs of lameness, whereas horses with severe conditions may exhibit chronic lameness, heat, and swelling in the affected foot. 

They may have trouble standing or moving in certain circumstances, as well as show symptoms of pain while being ridden or exercised.

Would you buy a horse with a sidebone ?

If you are thinking about buying a horse with a sidebone, there are a few aspects you should consider. Not only that, but some advantages and disadvantages should be kept in mind. 

Yes, this is indeed a big decision, and horses with this syndrome can live happily ever after. However, you must carefully consider all potential factors, from the purpose of the purchase to the severity of this disorder. 

Here are some of the key considerations to keep in mind before buying such a horse, so you don't regret your decision and are motivated to give these horses a better lifestyle.

  • Purpose of buying or riding goals: The first thing to consider before buying a horse is your riding goals. If you intend to compete at high levels, a horse with a history of sidebones may not be the best option. However, if your goals are more casual, a horse with a sidebone condition could still be a suitable match.
  • Severity of the sidebone: Another important factor to keep in mind is the severity of the sidebone condition. Mild cases may not impact the horse's health or performance, while severe cases could limit the horse's mobility and cause pain.
  • Level of use and expected workload: Determine the expected workload of the horse. Will it be used for light riding, or do you plan to engage in more intense physical activities? Horses with sidebone may have limitations and restrictions on their activity levels.
  • Age and condition of the horse: Consider the age of the horse. Because an older horse with a sidebone condition may be more challenging to manage, whereas younger horses may have a better chance of recovery.
  • Rider's skill level: Reflect on your riding ability and experience. If you are a beginner, a horse with sidebone may not be an ideal choice, as it may require a more experienced rider to manage the condition.

The Advantages of Buying a Horse with Sidebone

We hope you are no longer confused about what a sidebone is. So the question that may arise in your mind: Are there any benefits to purchasing this sidebone conditional horse? 

While buying a horse with a sidebone comes with its own set of challenges, there are several advantages to doing so. For those who are willing to provide the necessary care and management, a horse with a sidebone can be a wonderful addition to any stable. 

Let's explore some of the key advantages of buying a horse with sidebone:

  • Lower Purchase Price: One of the most significant advantages of buying a horse with sidebone is that they are frequently less expensive than horses without the issue. This can be a huge benefit for those who are on a limited budget or wishing to add another horse to their stable without breaking the bank.
  • Easier to manage: In addition to the lower purchase price, horses with sidebone can also be easier to manage. Because these horses are not often suited to high-impact sports such as jumping or racing, they may need less severe exercise and training, making them an excellent alternative for  those who have less experience with high-performance horses. 
  • Good for light riding and pleasure riding: While horses with a sidebone are not recommended for high-level activity, they are ideal for gentle riding(e.g trail riding) and pleasure riding. They can still provide a fulfilling and enjoyable riding experience for their owners and riders, as well as can be a great choice for those who are looking for a more relaxing and laid-back riding experience. 
  • Potential for successful recovery and performance: With adequate treatment and care, horses with sidebone have the potential for successful recovery and performance. Resting, therapy, proper shoeing, and other medications may be required, but with the appropriate approach, many horses with sidebone may heal completely and return to their prior level of performance. 

The Disadvantages of Buying a Horse with Sidebone

"Every rose has its thorn," as the saying goes, and the same can be said for buying a horse with a sidebone. While this may seem like a tempting opportunity to acquire a horse at a low cost, there are several significant drawbacks to consider. 

In this section, we will explore the cons of buying an equine with a sidebone disorder. Here are some key points-

  • Limited use for high athletic sport: As this condition directly affects the horse's legs, it greatly reduces their uses for high athletic sport like racing, jumping, because they cannot run at their running pace. This can be a major disadvantage for those who are looking for a horse to compete in these types of events.
  • Potential for further issues: Sidebone in horses can cause chronic pain and discomfort, as well as it may also become a higher risk for developing other related issues, such as lameness.
  • Decreased resale value: As horses with sidebone have limited use for professional athletic sports, their resale value may be lower than horses without the ailment. This can be a concern for those who may need to sell the horse in the future for any reason.
  • Expensive and time-consuming treatment: Addressing sidebone in horses can be a costly and lengthy process. Depending on the severity of the problem, treatment may involve veterinarian inspections, special nutrition, regular check-ups, and rehabilitation programs. These procedures not only require an enormous expense but also necessitate a significant amount of time and attention from the horse owner. 

Treatment options for sidebone

Early detection of sidebone is important for ensuring proper treatment and management of the condition. If you notice any signs of lameness or discomfort in your horse, immediately consult with a veterinarian. 

They can perform a thorough examination of the horse's feet and legs, as well as X-rays to assess the severity of the condition. Depending on the severity of the issue, treatment options for sidebone may include rest, medication, corrective shoeing, or surgery. 

Alternatives to buying a horse with sidebone 

Well, here we are !! If you have decided that buying a horse with sidebone is not the best option for you, there are several alternatives to consider. Here are some options to explore:

  • Look for horses without sidebone: The first and easiest alternative is to search for horses that do not have this condition. You may need to expand your search area and of course, be patient !! It may be worth it to find a horse that meets your needs and is free of health concerns.
  • Consider leasing or loaning a horse:  If you aren't prepared to make a long-term commitment in the first place, don't bother. Consider leasing or loaning a horse instead of buying one. This can be a good option if you only need a horse for a short period of time, or if you want to try out horse ownership before committing to a purchase.
  • Adopt a rescue horse: If you are passionate about helping animals in need, consider adopting a rescue horse. Because it can be a rewarding option for both the horse and the owner. Many rescue organizations have horses that are looking for loving homes, and undoubtedly, these animals will make wonderful companions. 
  • Consult with a veterinarian: Make sure to consult with a veterinarian before making any decisions. They will advise you on other possibilities and help you understand the risk and benefits of purchasing a horse with sidebone. 

Before you meet with a veterinarian in person, let's take a look at this informative video Ask the Vet  and learn more about what to expect with sidebone in horses.

Conclusion

In conclusion, buying a horse with a sidebone requires careful consideration of the horse's condition, intended use, and individual circumstances. It is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages, explore alternatives, and consult with a veterinarian. 

Ultimately, providing a happy and loving home for any horse, injured or not, should be a top priority for all horse lovers. 

We hope this article has helped you make an informed decision, and we look forward to hearing about your new horse, whether it's the one with sidebones or an alternative. Please feel free to leave a comment and share your experience.

FAQs:


Q: Can sidebone be passed down genetically?

A: Sidebones can be caused by genetics, but it is not usually inherited directly from parents to offspring. However, certain factors, such as conformation or hoof shape, may have a genetic component that can increase the risk of sidebone development.

Q: Should I have a pre-purchase exam done on a horse with a sidebone?

A: Yes, a pre-purchase examination is highly recommended on any horse, especially one with a known history of sidebone, to identify any potential issues. 

Q: Can sidebone lead to other foot or leg issues?
A: Yes, if left untreated or if the horse continues to participate in activities that increase the issue, sidebone can potentially lead to other complications such as arthritis, and degenerative joint disease in the affected leg.

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