Bought a horse with a heart problem

Hi guys,

Not sure which forum my post goes under so I will try here.

So, a few months ago I purchased a weanling. Goes through vet check and get it transported interstate.
1 month later I had the vet out for another reason and tells me my horse has a murmur sound.
Book it in to a equine cardiologist who detected my horse has mitral regurgitation associated with thickening of the mitral valve

So. Cardiologist says, at this stage it is mild, but has concerns as the horse is only 8 months old.

The vet who did the vet check (and has seen the horse a number of times), claims he could not hear anything.

I have spoken to the breeder about returning the horse, as the horse has been bought as a competition prospect and I can not longer get a “loss of use” insurance on the horse when turning 2, due to the heart defect.

What would you do as a A: Rider or B: breeder?

I feel genuinely sorry for the breeders as they could not have known this, but there are enough risks associated with having a horse.

Hope to hear peoples perspective.

Sorry, this probably isn’t what you want to hear, but if you had a vet check and it didn’t turn up then - I think you are stuck. It’s not the breeder’s fault your vet missed something that they didn’t know about. That’s part of buying a horse, you take some risk. Your vet could miss something on the PPE, something else could develop after the PPE, your foal could break a leg on the trip home. As you said, there’s no way they would have known about it, that’s why you had a PPE to try to be careful.

On the positive side, I had a 6 mo old that a vet told me he heard a slight murmur on then was told when she was 4 that all sounded ok. Could it possibly be developmental / something your foal could grow out of? (ask the cardiologist) I also knew a friend who’s mare had one. She evented her through the mid levels for many years with no issues. I’m sure it depends on the reason for the murmur though, I don’t know the details on my friends as it was years ago.

Good luck on everything, hopefully it doesn’t get worse and you’ll find that your foal isn’t limited once they grow up.

Unfortunately it kind of is what it is at this point. The breeder is generally not obligated to do anything. Unlike a car, horses don’t usually come with warranties. I would definitely get a second opinion before giving up.

That really sucks.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure anything can be done. It’s not the breeder’s fault, unless he/she somehow had prior knowledge.

It’s not necessarily the PPE’s vet’s fault-- murmurs can be extremely difficult to auscultate. It may have been barely present at the time of PPE.

While you did you homework, unfortunately it looks like you’re stuck with the lemon. :frowning:

If I were the breeder, for good karma’s sake, I’d take back the horse and refund you. I think that is truly the right thing to do. But… that doesn’t mean the breeder is obligated to do so.

Congenital heart problems are pretty much the most serious, career-ending diagnosis you can receive in horses. Even if we could surgically repair the valve as we do in humans, I know I’d never feel comfortable riding a horse status post valve repair/replacement. I worked in pediatric cardiac surgery for a few years and have seen what too many hearts look like post-surgery!

You didn’t say if the breeder has mentioned taking the horse back…but if the breeder offers, I would return the horse.

Thanks guys!

It is congenital :frowning: breeder has offered to swap, however! Breeder has nothing who moves/confirmation like this one.

I am not saying it is down to the breeder, but does vets have insurances to cover for these things?
I am very!! upset with the situation as the horse is lovely & has the bloodlines I like. However, for resale & long term riding reasons, I have no other options (I feel)

Could you ask breeder if they would take horse back and let you have an option of a horse foaled next year?

I think it is VERY generous of the breeder to offer a swap. I think you have 3 options: (a) keep foal and hope heart issue resolves (b) swap out for another foal that is sound but of a lesser quality © return the foal, cut your losses, and find another horse. Only you know which option makes the most sense financially and emotionally.

[QUOTE=meow_meow;7131931]Thanks guys!

It is congenital :frowning: breeder has offered to swap, however! Breeder has nothing who moves/confirmation like this one.

I am not saying it is down to the breeder, but does vets have insurances to cover for these things?
I am very!! upset with the situation as the horse is lovely & has the bloodlines I like. However, for resale & long term riding reasons, I have no other options (I feel)[/QUOTE]

What type of reimbursement are you looking for from the vet?
Do you know for a certainty that the colt was symptomatic at the time of the PPE? Because if the breeder, who presumably had pretty close contact with the colt, didn’t notice anything amiss, then it is entirely possible that the murmur was less prominent at that time.

Ghazzu - it is congenital so the horse would have had it the whole time. To be honest, I would like to return the horse and start over. However! I know the breeder could not have known. 3 vets checking the horse (since pre-purchase) have heard something not quite right with the heart, so wondering if… I really don’t know . But I have spent $20k+ on this weanling

The defect may be congenital, but the murmur would not necessarily be as intense from one time period to the next.
You said in your original post that the cardiologist says it is mild at this point, so it may have been even more so previously.

It would be tricky to prove, unless you had a report at a date close to the PPE.

I am sympathetic to you–it must be a real kick in the head–all I’m saying is that it sounds more like a case of “crap happens” than “someone screwed up”.

OP - I have a 23 yr old gelding who showed PSG in his early teens and again at 19 and 20. He has both a murmur and atrial fib, which I discovered about a year after I bought him. No mention on the PPE but really I didn’t do much; horse was 15 and sound and in work. Cardiac work up showed mild to moderate damage, so it wasn’t new…And now it is cervical arthritis that is more likely to do him in than the heart.
THAT SAID, you mention that the weanling was bought at least in part w/ resale in mind. Much of that potential value is no longer there. And insurance is a problem. Future career now more speculative. No point in starting behind the 8-ball. I’d be inclined to take the best deal you can work out w/ the breeder and move on. Sorry to hear this - was a lousy piece of info to hear re a baby…

[QUOTE=Ghazzu;7132024]The defect may be congenital, but the murmur would not necessarily be as intense from one time period to the next.
You said in your original post that the cardiologist says it is mild at this point, so it may have been even more so previously.

It would be tricky to prove, unless you had a report at a date close to the PPE.

I am sympathetic to you–it must be a real kick in the head–all I’m saying is that it sounds more like a case of “crap happens” than “someone screwed up”.[/QUOTE]

I agree with Ghazzu. Especially with a mild murmur (mild per cardiologist and they’re ears are more sensitive than us regular practitioners) it may very well not have been present at time of PPE, especially in a young, growing animal. Presumably the vet who did the post-foaling check did not hear anything.

It’s a crappy situation - but there is no one to go after.

You can 1) swap for a different foal (which is very generous of the breeder) and sell if it isn’t what you want, 2) ask the breeder if you can swap for an in-utero for next year, or 3) hold on to the horse for a while and hope it resolves or doesn’t impact his career.

Heart problem

Sorry to hear this. I do not think the vet that did the pre purchase or their insurance would cover this. A pre purchase is what the vet see’s, hear’s and feels on that day. I wish they did, but they can not see what is not yet loud, lame or severe enough on that day. If the breeder is offering to replace I would pick the best they had that I could. You never know, could be a future grand prix horse. Good Luck, I hope things work out.

it sounds like your best option is to swap out the foal. very sorry to hear this, but like others have said, there is really no blame here (unless the breeder is breeding horses with CGH, which i doubt). it is very generous of the breeder to offer a swap - maybe you can ask her for next year’s crop?

I’ve known more than one horse with a heart murmur that never had a problem. I’ve known young horses to grow out of heart murmurs… so the horse could be fine his whole life or not…

My answer differ from the others, I think you could have a legal case against the vet and/or the breeder and be fully reimbursed. You should check with a lawyer.

There are laws that protect buyers from purchasing goods that have vices.

It is no one’s fault but still, if you were in Canada, the seller would have to take back the horse and reimburse you. I’m sure there are similar laws in the US.

That echo report would not bother me in the slightest.

Perhaps not BUT it will certainly affect resale.
As it already bothers the OP she would likely do best to accept the breeder’s generous offer