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PPE bloodwork

Hi all, I have a vetting scheduled on a horse I’m super excited about. I plan to be pretty thorough with X-rays, bloodwork etc. Re: the bloodwork, it’s my understanding that a CBC and chem panel come back pretty fast (within 24 hours?) so reasonable to expect those results before the seller expects a decision and money wired if going forward. But I want to run a drug screen as well and I’m told that takes longer, up to 5-7 days for those results to come back. How do you guys typically handle that? Clause in the contract stating I’m entitled to a full refund if the horse tests positive for something? Or do you pull the blood and hold it, only testing if something goes wrong in the first month or so? In that case, do you ensure there is a clause in the contract about recourse if you do test the blood at a later date after purchase and something is positive?

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I actually asked about this a couple years ago.

Here is what other said.
I would always do a drug test, but it needs to be pulled and sent for testing at your PPE. It may depend on your trainer and the seller/seller’s agent, if there are other potential buyers, how quickly they want the horse sold etc. What does your trainer say? I’ve had experiences here the sale contract was finalized after results were received and another where the sale was contingent on no findings that would impact horse’s suitability for the specified job but the feedback I got was different. Either way, communication and a solid contract (to protect all parties) is key. Others may have thoughts on the timing and contracts, so curious what others say!

The drug screen isn’t as useful unless you plan to ride the horse in close time proximity to the PPE. I have done it two ways, once where the contract included a provision that the purchase price would be refunded and horse returned if the drug screen turned up anything, and once where the seller waited for the results to come back to finalize the purchase.

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I am aware there are many drugs that would be out of the horse’s system from the time between the trial and the vetting. But I’m also wanting to test for things like NSAIDs which would definitely be detectable at the vetting if the seller was trying to make the horse appear sounder than it actually is on the day of the PPE


I put down a deposit before the PPE that stated it was refundable upon “completion of PPE” if I decided to pass on the horse for whatever reason. If I decided to move forward, contract stated that deposit was to be part of the purchase price. Completion of PPE included all bloodwork coming back and X-rays being reviewed by a radiologist. Be very clear with the seller ahead of time (all of our communication was in writing) about the expected timeline for completion of PPE. I had no issues on my end, but only because I told the seller up front how long it would take.


I think that testing for sedatives via riding the horse in close proximity to the drug testing is less of an issue when buying a horse that is currently competing at rated shows. I agree that testing for painkillers/anti-inflammatories is potentially a bigger issue.

@Demerara_Stables is right, the best way to do it is to have the purchase contract allow for an agreed upon period of time to complete the vetting. People want to think of PPEs as single day events, but IME, they often require longer. It might be necessary to get a second opinion on some X-rays or have a specialist address more closely an issue that crops up. That can take time. For example, I once needed a veterinary ophthalmologist to weigh in on a suspected eye problem.

Typically, in terms of timing, you would pay a deposit and sign a purchase contract that has a clause that the horse must pass a PPE to your satisfaction, and that you have X amount of time to complete the PPE. And then, if the horse passes the PPE, then you have X amount of time to pay the remainder of the purchase price and X amount of time to take possession of the horse. If the horse does not pass the PPE, it is typically correct to provide documentation of why (you can’t just get cold feet and say the horse didn’t pass), and the seller must return your deposit.

I would generally not take possession of a horse that has not fully passed a PPE–even if you are just waiting on blood work.

Some people DO pull blood and then just hold it–that’s totally fine to do. The main helpful thing there is that the seller is on notice that blood will be drawn and would presumably be very careful not to medicate the horse. But seriously, if you complete the purchase, the horse has issues a month later, then you test the blood and it comes back positive, you are still in kind of a difficult situation. Some sellers would return your money and take the horse back–but depending on the seller that might be a non-ideal situation to navigate, no matter what the contract says. Some horses are owned by LLCs, out of town owners, or people who really need the money and have already spent it at that point. If your idea is to do a very thorough PPE I would consider just testing the blood up front.

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Just an FYI, NSAIDS can stay in the horse’s system in trace amounts, but enough to test, long after they would have any effect on how the horse presents.

I had a horse test positive for bute 7 days after the last dose and was quite shocked.

The horse wasn’t on bute regularly, he had competed at a recognized horse trial and the ground for both stadium and xc was rock hard; so I gave him bute the day after, assuming he’d be sore. It may have been the only time I EVER gave him bute.

I thought that the 3 days after administration was fine, shocked that it still showed up in his system after 7 days.

Isn’t there a way to test for levels, so you would be able to tell if it’s a trace amount rather than a big ol’ dose morning of the vetting?

Yes, absolutely, the test came back as “trace amounts.” But it still surprised me.

But I also could not have proven that the horse wasn’t buted to compete; that I gave the bute the day after, which fortunately wasn’t the issue.

Put down a deposit and run the bloodwork first. If results are clean, then proceed with the rest of the PPE. That way you wont have spent 1k or more on the rest of the PPE if you get a positive that will DQ the horse from further consideration. Most sellers will go along with that, talking a week or so.

What sellers are unlikely to do is let you take the horse off the property and use the horse for weeks or more then want a full price refund. That contract would be complicated, what if the horse is hurt in your care? What about the money you wasted on the rest of the PPE?

Best to leave the horse in sellers care until all tests are complete and the sale is final, might involve paying board. But far less complicated and less expensive then a wasted PPE and round trip shipping.

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Last time I did it I vetted on a Saturday and had results Thursday morning. My vet just pestered the lab.
Prior to that, I stated in the contract it was refundable if drug results were not to my liking. But honestly that route to go back on a sale would be so much harder.

I think it’s pretty normal for people to run the drug tests which take longer so I would imagine any legit seller would accommodate. Just schedule everything as quickly as possible. I scheduled the vetting for the same day as the second trial of my horse because I just knew it was very unlikely I’d change my mind.

I recently purchased one with a drug screen as part of the PPE, and the seller waited for the results to transact. I think experienced sellers know you are acting in good faith if you’re invested in the vetting, have found no other problems, and are transparent about the timeline. Everyone knows the lab results take a few days to come back. A seller that was not accommodating about this would be a red flag for me.


As others have said, it’s standard to run a full drug panel and most sellers are happy to wait for the results. I have offered a deposit to hold for the time it takes to get results back but it has not been necessary. Seller keeps the horse until results are back.