Sarcoids should never be underestimated. My professor at University once told me the only thing predictable about a sarcoid is they are unpredictable! Although most sarcoids can be treated with a fairly good success rate it would be foolish to make this assumption without considering the facts. Approximately 8% of horses in the UK suffer from sarcoids and while they rarely lead to death they can become so debilitating that euthanasia is necessary.
We perform many pre purchase examinations on horses and something that can easily break the sale of a horse is the discovery that the horse has a sarcoid. Clients look to us for guidance on helping them make the decision to buy the horse so here are some of the things we consider when offering advice:
The first thing I will consider is the location of the sarcoid. This dictates what treatment can or can't be used and whether the sarcoid interferes with tack increasing the risk of the sarcoid changing and also the amount of time off work following treatment. Sarcoids around the eye are very limited in what options are available for treatment and perhaps unsurprisingly treatment in this area is VERY expensive. My horse Charlie had a sarcoid the size of a small pea around his eye and he had radiotherapy to treat it, the bill came to £5500 but 5 years later the sarcoid has not come back and is unlikely to do so.
The second thing I think about is the type of sarcoid. There are six different classes of sarcoids and some are more aggressive than others. Certain sarcoids such as occult sarcoids are also notoriously difficult to treat.
Horses with multiple sarcoids usually present more of a problem for me when it comes to passing them suitable for purchase at a vetting. Firstly more sarcoids will cost more to treat and likely take longer and require more time off work. But secondly, there's a good chance that the horse could develop further sarcoids in different locations.
How much will it cost the client to treat these sarcoids if they decide to buy the horse? Cost must be factored in, especially in the case of sarcoids around the eye and muzzle the cost to treat may be more than the value of the horse. It's also worth considering that the sarcoid(s) will not be covered on your insurance policy so you must have ample funds to deal with the treatment and enough to cover any complications.
And finally what about re-sale? It may be your dream horse and you may be offering a home for a life time but I see it time and time again when clients circumstances unexpectedly change and they have to sell their horse or in the case of children's' ponies grow out of them. You may find it more difficult to sell a horse with a sarcoid. It may have developed more sarcoids. It could fail a vetting. These are all things that need to be taken into consideration.
So before you go ahead and buy your dream horse with a sarcoid ask yourself these questions: Can I afford to treat the sarcoid and other sarcoids if they develop? Am I prepared to have sarcoids excluded from my insurance policy? Will I want to sell the horse in the future and if so am I prepared for a drop in value?
My best advice – get an experts opinion. We will be able to tell you what type of sarcoid(s) you're dealing with, best treatment options, likely success rates and costs. You have to make the ultimate decision but our job is to make that as easy as we can!
If you're thinking of buying a horse with a sarcoid or considering a pre purchase examination call us today on 07747771182.