We now come to consider those diseases or forms, or stages of disease, which do constitute unsoundness.


All forms or degrees of blindness which impair a horse's usefulness amount to unsoundness.

Bog spavins, when so severe as to interfere with the action of the joint, amount to unsoundness.

Breaking Down

A horse is said to be broken down when through an extraordinary strain on the sinews and tendons of the leg it has become temporarily lame, and the part affected is swollen and inflamed. The swelling may sometimes be so reduced as to pass unnoticed by an ordinary buyer, but a broken-down horse is undoubtedly unsound.

Broken Knees

These, when the injury is only slight and superficial, do not, as already intimated, render a horse unsound; but when the knees have been so badly broken as to allow the synovia, or joint-oil as it is called, to escape, or when the skin over the knees has become so thickened, in consequence, as to impede their action, the horse will be unsound. The latter kind of unsoundness, however, occurs more especially when a horse has been thrown down repeatedly, or when the injury has been deep and severe.


Cataract constitutes unsoundness in every stage of the disease.


This is unsoundness, and will vitiate a warranty of soundness if the horse is suffering from a cold at the time of sale.


Corns, which generally occur in the fore-feet, are usually held to be a mark of unsoundness, and if they cause, or are likely to cause, lameness, are so. If, however, they are superficial and only of a trifling nature, they would not apparently amount to unsoundness. In an aggravated form, or in any of their more serious developments, they would unquestionably amount to unsoundness.


A cough will render a horse unsound, that is, of course, if the horse had it at the time of sale. To avoid unnecessary litigation, however, it should be observed that horses are specially liable to acquire this ailment, and if they do so at any period after sale, there can be no return for breach of warranty.


Curbs are accounted unsoundness, even though there be no lameness. A horse with a curb, sold under a general warranty, can be at once returned; if, however, the curb be pointed out at the time of sale, it will be a case of special warranty, and the buyer must be upon his guard. Curby hocks have already been noticed.


Farcy, a disease identical with glanders, renders a horse unsound.

Fever In The Feet, Founder, Or Laminitis

Fever In The Feet, Founder, Or Laminitis alters the structure of the foot, and therefore amounts to unsoundness. This disease alone, apart from other considerations, renders a horse unsound, because the laminae are so affected by the disease that a horse which can be proved to have suffered from it is most likely to fall lame if put to work. Dropping and bulging of the sole of the foot and displacement of the bones is often a result of laminitis.


Glanders is a most serious disease, sometimes confounded with strangles. A horse sold with glanders should be at once returned and the purchase-money demanded back. 1 If the seller can be proved to have known of the existence of the disease, the buyer may also recover damages. A horse with glanders must not be resold, but destroyed.


Grease, a skin disease generally affecting the heel of the foot, and which will be found dealt with elsewhere, constitutes a horse unsound.


Mange, a parasitic skin disease which is generally apparent, amounts to unsoundness.


Megrims, or fits, renders a horse unsound.

Navicular Disease

Navicular Disease, a disease of the foot, known in its advanced stage as " grogginess " renders a horse unsound.

A "nerved" horse is unsound on two grounds; by reason of the disease for which it was "nerved", and as being structurally imperfect through the nerves having been severed. A " nerved " horse may be able to work, but is at any time liable to become useless on account of the defect.


Ophthalmia is unsoundness. If it has previously existed and again manifests itself soon after purchase, it is most likely of constitutional origin. Evidence of its presence by a competent veterinary surgeon will be sufficient to enable the buyer to rescind the contract.


Ossification of any of the structures adjacent to the joints, and therefore ossification of the lateral cartilages, constitutes unsoundness.

Pumiced Foot

Pumiced Foot is unsoundness, as being evidence of laminitis.


Quidding, being an indication of disease or defect in the mouth, is unsoundness.


Quittor, a chronic abscess of the foot, is unsoundness. It is generally accompanied by more or less lameness, which, as already stated, would alone constitute unsoundness.

Ring-bones and Side-bones, both large and small, render a horse unsound.

1 Notice to the vendor must be given, recent law preventing the leading of a glandered horse through a thoroughfare except under special conditions.

Roaring And Whistling, As Evidence Of Contraction

Roaring And Whistling, As Evidence Of Contraction of the entrance to the air-passages, render a horse unsound; in other words, they are evidence of a structural defect, and a roarer or whistler is therefore unsound. This was decided in Onslow v. Eames (2 Starkie, N.P.C. 81).


Ruptures of all kinds render a horse unsound.


Sand-Cracks, or cracks in the hoof of a horse, sometimes extending from the sole to the coronet, constitute unsoundness. They have been already noticed in treating of " patent defects", and would apparently only invalidate a warranty where the buyer has no power of inspection.


Seedy-Toe, which appears as a hole or cavity in the hoof, is a form of unsoundness. False-quarter, or sand-cracks in an aggravated form, would clearly amount to unsoundness. The remark as to warranty in cases of sand-crack would apply both to "seedy-toe" and "false-quarter".

Spavin (Bone)

A spavined horse has been held to be unsound, although not lame (Watson v. Denton, 7 C. v. G. 86). Many good racers and hunters, however, have spavins, which in no way impede their action or inconvenience them.

If a spavin caused lameness, it would undoubtedly render a horse unsound. " Bog" and " blood spavins " have already been noticed.


Strangles, an infectious fever affecting the throat, which is very likely to lay the seeds of roaring and whistling, amounts to unsoundness.


Stringhalt, a peculiar jerky action of the hind-legs, will render a horse unsound. It should be observed that horses with this disease, though unsound, are not incapacitated for any kind of work.

Thickening Of The Back Sinews, Or Suspensory Ligament

Thickening Of The Back Sinews, Or Suspensory Ligament, will, when appreciable, constitute a horse unsound.

The diseases above noticed, it will be observed, apply for the most part to the feet and legs. They constitute, in fact, in the vast majority of cases, the grounds on which horses are returned for alleged breach of warranty. There are, however, other diseases not so easily discoverable which amount to unsoundness. Generally, it may be stated that all diseases of the internal organs constitute unsoundness, though they are frequently so subtle as to defy detection. Of these it will be sufficient to notice a few to which the horse is more especially liable. Colic and gripes are self-evident, as the horse that suffers from them is convulsed with agony; but chronic nephritis, or inflammation of the kidneys, is less apparent, but more insidious. We may also notice cystitis, or inflammation of the bladder, spasm of the neck of the bladder, stone in the bladder, and diabetes, all or any of which diseases will render a horse unsound for the purposes of warranty, as will any acute or chronic ailment of the other important organs of the body.