Update - i passed -PPE - would you be concerned about this?

Found an amazing 4 year old AQHA gelding, fabulous training, show experience, ranching experience, a great guy. Had a PPE done today and the vet did xrays. Her 2 findings were very slight “vascular changes” of the navicular in the front feet, and a small bone chip nowhere near the joint in one of the front legs. He is barefoot and totally sound. Her interpretation was that both were non-issues and she said he was perfectly sound. She felt that the changes would not be likely to get worse as he gets older and just said to be mindful of keeping his feet trimmed.

At first I was totally comfortable with her assessment but of course i have been googling how others respond to these kinds of findings on a PPE and it sounds like most buyers would run for the hills.

Will these findings decrease his re-sale value? If the vet isn’t concerned should i feel comfortable with her analysis? I can’t say i have any knowledge about navicular. Anyone been down this road with a PPE?

I am of the mind that you ride the horse not the x-rays, and i doubt most horses have perfect xrays…however this is a low 5 figure horse and i don’t want to be completely unable to re-sell him down the road because of this.

I don’t have any experience with navicular, and it sounds like you don’t either. So I would find a top sports medicine vet practice or university and send them the x-rays for a second opinion. Hagyard or Rood & Riddle come to mind. If you have digital x-rays, you can send them to any practice in the country for an evaluation.


The short answer is that yes, unfortunately, it will affect resale value/ability to resell.

However… The vet described them as “changes.” What was she comparing them to? Do you have access to previous xrays? Or could this be just the way he is and always has been? Navicular bones are funny things, and come in a variety of shapes and with a variety of artifacts.

This isn’t a horse I would buy for resale, but might well buy if it was super-special and ticked every box for a personal horse that I wanted to keep forever.

Lets face it, perfect x rays can step in a hole tomorrow and break a leg.

I’d get a second opinion from a specialist equine radiologist if I were you. They spend half their life looking at navicular xrays and can give you a better idea of what’d going on.


We have nothing to compare them to. She felt it was very minor and just an incidental finding because we looked essentially. I may call around tomorrow for a second opinion. At 5 figures it definitely makes me nervous. But i really like him and have some idea of his history with the guy who trained him. He is however at a sales barn and was purchased at a big sale/auction.

Nope. Not concerned at all. Especially in QH and warmbloods, it is common to have slight navicular changes. Did she give you a grade? Grade 1 would be the easiest to swallow in a 4 year old. Grade 2, still probably ok. Grade 3, no way. In any horse.

If the chip is not in the joint, it’s very unlikely to become a problem or that anyone will care about it. If it bothers you excessively, it’s probably around $2,000 to take it out later. That could be done anytime it’s convenient.

You have X-rays now. If you decide to sell in the future, you have something to compare to. You will know that these things have always been there and never caused a problem. People have bought horses with a lot worse radiographic issues based on that.


Thank you this was exactly her interpretation. It sounded like it was just a slight imperfection so 1 or less. She felt he could continue barefoot and needed no special consideration. I agree that it is great to have the baseline for down the road to see if it has changed any more. I am a low key rider…won’t be riding him hard or jumping so hopefully that to will keep continued damage to a minimum. He is SO nice and a ranch riding champion at such a young age. Thank you for weighing in.


Check out this article about PPE’s and horse soundness for pass/fail.

I might get a second vet to review the radiographs to provide another perspective. Based on your description and the vet’s reaction, I’d probably go for it. PPE are just assigning a level of risk to your purchase. A horse that doesn’t hold up well can radiograph clean, and a horse that is perfectly sound can radiograph ugly.


I would not take this horse as a four year old, no.

If he’s only 4 and already has significant show and ranch experience, he got started at least as a 2yo. If he was 9 or 10 and had been going sound for years in his current level of work and these findings came up on xray, I’d be less concerned. As you said, “ride the horse, not the xrays” and all that.

I’m also extremely gun-shy about any navicular-type changes in a young horse, so I suppose that weighs into my opinion.


If I really liked the horse and he ticked all the other boxes; I might still buy the horse. If resale is your long term goal, I might take new navicular xrays every year or two to show a prospective buyer that there is no progression.

Information I’m sure you’ve heard before but that needs emphasis: navicular xrays ALONE are a very poor predictor of current and long term soundness. They are useful if you have a series taken over time to compare, to confirm a diagnosis when the horse is showing clinical signs or as one piece of the overall picture.

In terms of the overall picture, you didn’t mention is the horse’s conformation. Some AQHAs have confo that predisposes them to navicular. So if this is a halter bred horse, built downhill, with upright pasterns and small feet, that, combined with the xrays would give my grave pause. If the horse has more balanced proportions, good angles and good feet, the xrays aren’t terribly significant.

Another part of the total picture is work history. This is a 4 year old, with

That makes me more than a little nervous, as it seems to indicate way more work than I’d be comfortable with a 4 year old doing. If the horse had only been in light work, I’d dismiss the findings on the xrays. But I’d want to know exactly how much pounding this guy has taken.

If the horse has confo that predisposed it to navicular, AND a heavy work history as a 2 and 3 year old AND these xrays, I’d walk away. Other combinations of factors, such as good confo+heavy work history+minor finding on xrays will require you to assess your own risk tolerance while making a decision.


She worded it as grade 1 and acceptable risk. She is sending the xrays to the local lameness expert for me just so i can get a second qualified opinion but after talking with her this morning she really had me at ease about it.

1 Like

He was the personal horse of a professional colt starter and he has done some cattle sorting out on his ranch, he has worked cattle on a ranch in TX and was really good at it, helped pony unbroke colts for him to help start them, and was entered into 3 shows doing just ranch versatility stuff where he placed well and was very calm. He definitely didn’t come out of a show barn where they were pounding on him, but he has had some life experience for sure. In my opinion he has had exactly the kinds of things i would want a 4 year old to be exposed to. He was definitely started as a 2 year old though. I think a lameness specialist opinion will go far for me and i am going to give him his full history and see what he thinks.


My best friend’s horse had a vet that said there were “navicular changes”. Compared to nothing, no prior xrays. The angle looked “off”. Well- 13 years later- no change since then, or minimal. he’s been sound. We still keep pads on him and shoes, but no extraordinary measures needed.

I second sending the PPE to a sports medicine vet. New Bolton reviewed mine.


Yes, this drives me batty. How can you diagnose “changes” without a baseline? There are perfectly good words to describe what you are looking at, Oh veterinarian, so please do use them!


I think it is pretty much impossible to predict what might happen in a 4 year old… maybe nothing maybe crippling navicular.

But… as the owner of a QH with navicular (who had all the treatments that money could buy), its a hard pass. Its an absolutely heartbreaking condition.


I am so sorry to hear that :(. Out of curiosity did you have his feet x-rayed when you bought him? Curious what his feet looked like.

I also spoke to my farrier at length today and he told me all the possibilities for the future, cost of shoes, likelihood of soundness should he become sore. It was nice to have a risk and cost assessment from him. Still waiting to hear back from the lameness vet but i am feeing like i will go for it after the vet and farrier weighed in on the situation.

He had “clear” feet xrays at 4 and again in a prepurchase when I sold him at 9, symptoms started about 6 months after that. When they went back later to compare, there was very small abnormality in the 9 y/o xrays… that wasn’t concerning, until it was.

1 Like

Thats what my farrier said when I asked him that sometimes the xrays look horrific and the horse is sound as a whistle and sometimes tiny changes can cripple them. I am so sorry that happened to you. I am going into this with eyes wide open and I acknowledge i am taking a risk. I pray that that doesn’t happen to this guy but i think he is nice enough that i am willing to risk it.

I can understand that too. My gelding is just the salt of the earth type and that is why I was willing to take him back to retire him to trail riding and at 20 now, pasture pet.

1 Like

And as far as navicular changes I apologize that was my wording not the vets. She described it as 2-5 widened vascular channels on the navicular bone. I am new to navicular and learning the terminology as i go along. It appears he has some slight irregularities in the bone but it is unknown if they were there from
Birth or are degenerative. Horse has never been xrayed prior to ppe.

1 Like

I bought a 5 year old with similar vascular findings. After conferring with 3 vets, lol. He’s only 8 now so I can’t speak to longevity. All 3 vets said horse was fine, but it could affect resale because so many people want perfect xrays.

1 Like