A Second Chance
Eleven year old Katie Sharp is a confident, competent rider, and she needed a competitive horse for the youth barrel racing circuit in the 4 corners
area. Katie turned to the internet for her search and found a nine year old blue roan Quarter Horse mare in Eastern Colorado with a history of success
in her field. The mare had been turned out for awhile and the owner had recently brought her in to condition her for a return to action. The owner was
heading to a clinic in Southwestern Colorado, so she brought the mare along for Katie to try her out. Jamie, Katie’s mom, brought the mare up to our
clinic after Katie had ridden the mare on barrels down at the fairgrounds. My husband, Dr. Jim Latham, examined the mare after giving Jamie an estimate
for a standard prepurchase exam including general physical, in depth musculo-skeletal exam, and x-rays of the front feet and hocks.
Smokin’ Maggie May presented as a really typey Quarter Horse with a wonderful temperament. She responded easily to Katie’s direction both in hand
and under saddle with friendly but polite, respectful manners. Her general physical exam was unremarkable and normal other than a marked sensitivity to
digital pressure over the musculature of the lumbar spine. Jamie remarked that the mare had pulled back and broken a hitching post shortly after she
arrived at their ranch.
Maggie seemed to move well with straight line trotting, but she had a 2+ positive reaction of her right hind limb flexion test. When we worked
Maggie on the longe line in the arena she had a shortened, choppy gait at the lope and was unwilling to maintain the correct hind lead going to the right.
At this point we had serious concerns about the mare’s ability to perform comfortably but because she was so well trained for barrel racing and was such a
willing mare, we went ahead with x-rays.
Commonly with a prepurchase exam we will x-ray the hocks and the forefeet, sites of more frequent bony problems in performance horses. We
generally take 4 views around each hock and three views of the front feet including a “skyline” navicular view.
Maggie May’s x-rays were within normal limits and did not pinpoint the source of her discomfort at the lope
Because there was no known history of a sore back or lameness in the right hind leg and because Maggie had only recently been brought back into use, we
advised a trial period of 3 to 4 weeks with light controlled exercise, topical treatment of the back, and a recheck at the end of the period. Maggie
might just be muscle sore and we didn’t want to disqualify a horse that seemed such a good fit for Katie’s planned competition. Maggie’s owner was
willing to give Jamie and Katie the time.
Three weeks later, Jamie and Katie presented Maggie for a re-evaluation of her prepurchase exam. There was no lumbar pain on palpation and when Katie
swung on bareback and loped the mare around the arena, Maggie took the correct leads with good stride length. At this point in time it appeared that
Smokin’ Maggie May was both physically and temperamentally fit to make a good arena partner for Katie. The trial period had been worth the wait.
Katie and Maggie have gone to a successful barrel racing career, winning as much as $100 in a single run in Region 8 competition, both in Youth and Open
competition. Katie remembers her foot touching the ground as Maggie bent around one barrel on a great run.
In talking about the two part prepurchase exam, Jamie stated that “the seller’s willingness to postpone finalization of the sale provided us with peace of
mind, knowing we were dealing with an honest seller who was proven correct in presenting a fantastic horse, which is now one of my child’s best friends.”
The second chance was priceless.