Arthritis in neck

A friend reached out to me yesterday to share she’s helping sell a 8 year old, 17.1 TB who has done some low level eventing. The rider has been away at college and in the past school year the gelding was diagnosed with arthritis in his neck. Friend shared that “blocking” made him whole and he will need it as maintenance.

Is this a “no go” if your buying a horse?? I’ve never dealt with it and I’m not looking to buy the horse but also don’t want to spend time sharing his data if this a career ending thing within a few years. He isn’t cheap either, 10K with some wiggle room.

Having gone through it, it would be an absolutely no from me. It’s not uncommon that they do well with injections for a round or two and then they don’t.

Have they actually injected the neck and shown the horse has a positive, lasting response? Or are they still in the diagnostic/treatment phase, of showing an anesthetic block resolves the lameness, but they have not yet treated it and shown the horse can compete?

If the later, absolute hard pass, especially with five figure dollars attached.


Thank you!! They’ve done one injection and the horse has responded positively and become sound. Best guess is the horse was injected in the past 60 days.

What were the symptoms of the neck issue? I wouldn’t knowingly buy another neck arthritis horse, but if I were to consider it, I’d want to know what deficits the horse had pre-injections as well as what the neck rads look like. Some horses can maintain fine with regular injections (like maybe every 6 months to a year), some not so much. Risk would be higher than average in an eventing horse IMO due to demands of the sport.

My friend said the horse was lame in front. The owners investigated many things before narrowing it down to front legs. An equine specialist did nerve blocks and rads on the front legs, no better. Rad of neck showed arthritis, I do not know if it’s high or low in the neck, and the block made the horse sound.

Friend is a friend of a gal who knows the family, both of them ride western. The horse was moved to one of the gals small farm so the gelding could be turned out full time.

The 10K seemed way high to me because it seems like he needs a low key job like trail riding or hilltopping.

For me it’s a heck NO. My 7 yr old WB was dx with the neck of a much older horse and that arthritis was the final nail for me - I had him PTS. It caused neurological symptoms.


That would be a “no” for me. I do know of one horse, well into his teens’ that has gotten along ok with periodic injections. He is a pony size Arab, ridden 3x per week by an 80 yr old woman. Was never neurological, nor really lame, just NQR when diagnosed. Had one and know of others, who did have neuro issues, most of them diagnosed much later in their lives(late teens/20’s).
Quite honestly I wouldn’t take the horse if it were free. The maintenance question is large and not cheap. As mentioned above, injections can stop working or work for shorter times. They will not make the horse better; arthritis could (or maybe has?) impact the spinal cord which leads to neuro symptoms. The horse can become unsafe to ride at any point, and its possible that is figured out after a fall or some other incident which puts rider at risk.


Thanks so much for the insight! For me, arthritis that already needs maintenance in an 8 year old horse would be a no go. The price being asked is nuts, IMO.

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I wouldn’t take a horse with neck arthritis for free let alone paying $10k for one.
My last horse was diagnosed with neck arthritis. injections helped, but wore off within 6 months and have heard from multiple people that a second round rarely has any benefit at all. Within a year he’d developed neurological issues and was euthanised.


I am from the “success story” camp- I had a horse with neck arthritis that was managed and he was competitive at the mid levels (prelim/2**). He wasn’t lame, but a bit NQR prior to diagnosis. Even with our success, I wouldn’t touch another known neck issue. Too much risk and too many unknowns.


This would be a hard no for me. My mare was diagnosed with neck arthritis in January. She presented with explosive behavior issues of running sideways across the arena as fast as she could and getting “stuck”.

I’ve done one round of injections that seemed to help. But she really can’t carry a frame without an issue. I do think the neck issues were there for the last 6 years I owned her. Now that I know what her reaction is I can see incidences in the past that would indicate she had some pain throughout.

She was never lame and has not shown neurological symptoms yet. But the whole process to diagnosis and subsequent retirement has been long and frustrating for the both of us.

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Adding in another “no”. I had an OTTB eventer that we chased soundness issues for a long time on before getting the arthritis diagnosis. We did try the neck injections and they made a fantastic but temporary difference and the horse ended up making himself worse since he thought he was fine again. Six years after retirement from any real work, he is maintained as a walk/trot trail horse on ButeLess. Probably nearly all of the earlier soundness issues were related to that.