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Horse Behavior and Attitude Very Different Trials Vs at PPE?

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    Horse Behavior and Attitude Very Different Trials Vs at PPE?

    I am fairly new here, so this may have been addressed elsewhere but if so I can't find it!

    I have just had the experience of trying to buy a horse that I'd tried several times, particularly watching for any behaviors that might indicate attitude problems. I saw none, he seemed very easy going and good-natured. However, when we arrived for the PPE, he seemed like a different horse. He pinned his ears at the vet almost right away, and tried to bite the assistant holding him. He started doing odd things with his mouth and tongue, which the vet told me were "self-soothing" behaviors due to anxiety, he compared them to cribbing and said they would probably not go away, but weren't particularly harmful to him, they just indicated that he felt a lot of anxiety. It seemed odd partly because he was simply standing in his own barn aisle and we hadn't done anything with him yet when he started. He kicked out at the owner when she was lounging him, whereas I looked for that type of behavior specifically when I both lounged and free-lounged him, and saw never a kick. I realize that horses are different on different days. But this was a lot of change, taken all together, especially as I'd seen him multiple times in different situations, especially looking for behavior relating to attitude as the most important criteria.

    He was also lame, which was clear as soon as we started trotting him out, and I didn't buy him based on those findings. But I think that I was lucky that he was clearly lame and so was easy to reject based on that.

    So my question to you all is about his change in behavior and attitude and what I can do to protect against horses that might be slightly drugged when I try them then not drugged when the vet arrives to do the PPE. (Right now the vets are unusually busy, and quite a bit of time can elapse before I can get them out to do a PPE.)

    I should mention that the vet said to me afterward that doing drug testing was the best money ever spent during a PPE - we hadn't gotten to that point yet in this one. He said that if sellers know there will be full drug testing it helps weed out situations like this one. In interpreted this to say that he thought there was a drug related issue here. It seemed like he thought it was important to do the blood tests, with purchase contingent on results, and also to take the blood at the same time that the horse was being evaluated for suitability, including any riding.

    But, how exactly would that work? If he was drugged it was already done the first time I saw him, before I could talk to them at all about any PPE requirements, or to tell them I would need drug test results back before completing the sale. And also how would I specify that the PPE would include a ridden exam, and that I would consider that "failed" (ie. the deposit refundable) not only if there is a significant physical finding but also if there was a significant behavior/attitude/performance difference during the ridden portion of the exam, compared to when I tried him before then?

    Can some of you, who I bet are less socially awkward than I am, help me with some wording that is polite, friendly, and non-insulting, and doesn't insinuate any suspicion, yet is still clear and effective? Or is this even possible?! I can't see how to not make a very bad first impression on potential sellers, especially those who are honest!

    I will memorize a script if any of you can suggest wording for me! :-)

    #2
    I am not answering your specific question - just something you are basing the reason for your question on.

    I have known more than one very good horse that acted like a not very good horse when the vet was around. One was so bad that it was dangerous to catch him in his stall once he smelled the vet on the premises. That horse was a big teddy bear any other time in his life, at home or at a show, with no drugs on board.


    Comment


      #3
      I drug tested my horse on his PPE. He was a big purchase for me and I couldn't afford to lose his purchase price on a lame or crazy horse. It was roughly $300 and worth every penny. I even bought my horse from somebody I trusted and still did it.

      Comment


        #4
        There is no easy way to weed these cases out.

        You ride at least once, maybe more than once, maybe have your coach come watch, to decide if you like the horse as presented.

        Then you schedule a final short trial ride right before the PPE and let it be known you will draw blood.

        If the horse presents as a different personality or unsound, then you can cancel the PPE.

        There is no easy way to weed these horses out on the first viewing.

        One brilliant suggestion I learned in COTH was the idea that you vet the seller as much as the horse. Some disciplines and some sellers reach for the meds more quickly.

        You can try bringing up the topic casually in your first chat with the seller, asking what kind of "prep" they find useful. See what the seller says if they think you are agnostic about better living through chemistry

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by maisiePony View Post
          I am fairly new here, so this may have been addressed elsewhere but if so I can't find it!

          I have just had the experience of trying to buy a horse that I'd tried several times, particularly watching for any behaviors that might indicate attitude problems. I saw none, he seemed very easy going and good-natured. However, when we arrived for the PPE, he seemed like a different horse. He pinned his ears at the vet almost right away, and tried to bite the assistant holding him. He started doing odd things with his mouth and tongue, which the vet told me were "self-soothing" behaviors due to anxiety, he compared them to cribbing and said they would probably not go away, but weren't particularly harmful to him, they just indicated that he felt a lot of anxiety. It seemed odd partly because he was simply standing in his own barn aisle and we hadn't done anything with him yet when he started. He kicked out at the owner when she was lounging him, whereas I looked for that type of behavior specifically when I both lounged and free-lounged him, and saw never a kick. I realize that horses are different on different days. But this was a lot of change, taken all together, especially as I'd seen him multiple times in different situations, especially looking for behavior relating to attitude as the most important criteria.

          He was also lame, which was clear as soon as we started trotting him out, and I didn't buy him based on those findings. But I think that I was lucky that he was clearly lame and so was easy to reject based on that.

          So my question to you all is about his change in behavior and attitude and what I can do to protect against horses that might be slightly drugged when I try them then not drugged when the vet arrives to do the PPE. (Right now the vets are unusually busy, and quite a bit of time can elapse before I can get them out to do a PPE.)

          I should mention that the vet said to me afterward that doing drug testing was the best money ever spent during a PPE - we hadn't gotten to that point yet in this one. He said that if sellers know there will be full drug testing it helps weed out situations like this one. In interpreted this to say that he thought there was a drug related issue here. It seemed like he thought it was important to do the blood tests, with purchase contingent on results, and also to take the blood at the same time that the horse was being evaluated for suitability, including any riding.

          But, how exactly would that work? If he was drugged it was already done the first time I saw him, before I could talk to them at all about any PPE requirements, or to tell them I would need drug test results back before completing the sale. And also how would I specify that the PPE would include a ridden exam, and that I would consider that "failed" (ie. the deposit refundable) not only if there is a significant physical finding but also if there was a significant behavior/attitude/performance difference during the ridden portion of the exam, compared to when I tried him before then?

          Can some of you, who I bet are less socially awkward than I am, help me with some wording that is polite, friendly, and non-insulting, and doesn't insinuate any suspicion, yet is still clear and effective? Or is this even possible?! I can't see how to not make a very bad first impression on potential sellers, especially those who are honest!

          I will memorize a script if any of you can suggest wording for me! :-)
          I would just tell the seller that you would like to do an additional ridden trial at the time of the PPE and that the purchase is contingent on the ride and vet findings.

          I wouldn't go into what criteria constitute a failed PPE since no two people agree on what failing a PPE means. Some vets won't even use the word "fail" or give a recommendation, just report findings.

          Comment


            #6
            I can tell you what I do.

            1. I try the horse (sometimes once, preferably twice). If I can swing a second ride, I get on the horse cold - not warmed up by the trainer.
            2. In the process of negotiating, I tell the seller that the vet will want to see the horse ridden during the PPE, and the vet will pull blood for a drug screen.
            3. Then, I do both of those things. I always run the blood, and never pay for the horse until the results come back clean.

            The riding at the PPE serves lots of purposes: 1) my vet thinks it's prudent to evaluate the soundness of the horse in the process of doing his job, 2) it deters people from giving the horse a week+ off work to rest up for the PPE, and 3) it lets you see the horse work on the same day you draw blood.

            Comment


              #7
              I actually think the system worked for you. I assume that you ended the PPE as soon as the lameness was seen and didn’t pay for X-rays, etc? So you were out the farm call and basic exam fee but you didn’t buy an unsuitable horse.

              Drug testing is pretty standard IME (though there are plenty of folks who don’t think it’s worth it for various good reasons). You don’t have to apologize for wanting to do it or basing your decision on it. But I don’t think there’s an easy way to introduce yourself to a seller at the first time with “is your horse drugged?” If they’re a good seller, the horse isn’t drugged. If they’re an unscrupulous seller, they’re already lying to you.

              Side note, I could easily see a horse coming somewhat unglued if they became ill or injured (lame) between the time you ride them and the PPE. It would have been nice if the seller proactively postponed the PPE and saved everyone the trouble, but it may not be nefarious.

              Comment


                #8
                Don't worry about offending an honest seller by having the horse drug tested. An honest seller won't be offended.

                Comment

                  Original Poster

                  #9
                  I think I can do this. I will do as scribbler and ghst13 and joiedevie99 suggest.

                  About some people/disciplines reaching for meds a lot... the seller made a casual mention about drugging a horse that she rides to quieten him, giving me a distinct impression that she looked at that as quite normal. She made the comment during the PPE and I wondered later if that was part of why the vet made it a point to advise me as he did.

                  I may have over-interpreted the vet's advice, but there was something about the way he held my gaze, and his tone, as he suggested how important the drug testing procedure was.... Although he didn't diagnose, I don't think he thought it was an injury situation but a chronic condition.

                  Thank you all!

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Yes drug testing is perfectly normal to want in a PPE and an honest seller should not be offended.

                    FWIW, it is possible the horse's attitude change that day was because he was in pain (lame).

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by maisiePony View Post
                      I think I can do this. I will do as scribbler and ghst13 and joiedevie99 suggest.

                      About some people/disciplines reaching for meds a lot... the seller made a casual mention about drugging a horse that she rides to quieten him, giving me a distinct impression that she looked at that as quite normal. She made the comment during the PPE and I wondered later if that was part of why the vet made it a point to advise me as he did.

                      I may have over-interpreted the vet's advice, but there was something about the way he held my gaze, and his tone, as he suggested how important the drug testing procedure was.... Although he didn't diagnose, I don't think he thought it was an injury situation but a chronic condition.

                      Thank you all!
                      If the seller will dope her own riding horse she will certainly dope her sales horses if necessary. That's the kind of casual admission that is a huge red flag. You really dodged a bullet here and you have a good vet!

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Some horses do hate vets. Or they hate particular vets, or they hate the kind of handling that being examined by a vet entails.

                        But you also said the horse was lame, and that the vet seemed to be implying to you that he thought the lameness was not a short-term injury type of situation, but rather something more chronic.

                        What that suggests to me is that the seller may have given the horse bute or Previcoxx or some other pain killer on the days that you rode and lunged the horse, but perhaps decided it was best not to give the horse painkillers before the PPE. Maybe they thought you were going to pull blood for a drug test and just hoped that the horse would present sound without the painkillers.

                        A lot of horses will have different personalities when they're in pain versus when they're not in pain (or not feeling pain).

                        At any event, I don't know how well a blood test would pick up bute in the system; I just don't have any experience with that.

                        One thing you can ask a seller for is a week-long trial on the horse. That way, it does give enough time for something like bute to be out of the system. That short of a trial wouldn't catch a long-acting tranquilizer, but a drug test would catch such a drug.

                        You should also always ask a seller a lot of direct questions about whether the horse has had any veterinary issues, including lameness, colic, any pasture injuries, etc. Take notes and allow the seller to see that you're taking notes. Ask what the horse is eating, and whether he's currently on any supplements. If the horse is shod, ask about shoeing--how he is for the farrier, does he have special shoes, etc.

                        If the seller is really dedicated to bilking you, all of these questions may not help. But if the seller is just a regular person, and the questions start to make the seller act squirrelly, you may have some right to be suspicious.
                        "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky

                        Comment

                          Original Poster

                          #13
                          The personality change being because of pain is starting to make a lot of sense to me. I did ask the direct questions that Posting Trot recommends, and got all good answers. I wonder about the drug issue as compared to him feeling fine when I tried him because of a Covid19 related decrease in work plus increase in turnout. On the other hand, her casual mention of drugging her own horse to ride him, plus the vet's warning.... I just don't know.

                          Fortunately the lameness issue made the decision clear this time, and I've passed on him. I was more concerned about the behavior change, if I should see such a thing next time. For future I will follow my vet's advice, and that given by the responses here, on doing a riding eval and drug screening, known in advance to the seller, as part of any future PPE. Live and (hopefully) learn!

                          Thank you all for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully to my question!

                          (Just a side note: I haven't done much online before and am always very hesitant about social things as I feel I am often awkward, but I am going to try to contribute if I can to this community, I've found answers here to other people's questions very helpful too. Thank you all :-) )

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I would pull blood during a PPE for a horse I bought from my own mother. Always pull blood. Always. It protects everyone (seller included).

                            That said, I also had a horse that is the sweetest creature on earth. Carts beginners around. Allows small children to hang off him without any concern. But the second the vet, any vet, walks into the barn he's the most rank, unmanageable horse ever. Tries to cow kick. Busts out of the cross ties. Would do anything in his power to murder the vet or any of the vet techs he can reach. Oddest thing I've ever seen. He obviously had a bad experience somewhere and has never forgotten.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by staceymc View Post
                              I would pull blood during a PPE for a horse I bought from my own mother. Always pull blood. Always. It protects everyone (seller included).

                              That said, I also had a horse that is the sweetest creature on earth. Carts beginners around. Allows small children to hang off him without any concern. But the second the vet, any vet, walks into the barn he's the most rank, unmanageable horse ever. Tries to cow kick. Busts out of the cross ties. Would do anything in his power to murder the vet or any of the vet techs he can reach. Oddest thing I've ever seen. He obviously had a bad experience somewhere and has never forgotten.
                              I used to have a patient (little QH mare) who would just as soon killed me as looked at me when I first met her. Over the years, we reached an understanding of sorts, though I never was able to take her temperature safely.
                              I told the BO that whoever sold her to a kid should be horsewhipped.
                              Then I saw her with the kid.
                              Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.

                              However, in the OP's case, my spidey senses would definitely be tingling.
                              "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                              ...just settin' on the Group W bench.

                              Comment

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