Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Let The Buyer Beware

I am feeling a bit down tonight. Normally I like my posts to be funny but I don't know how to make this one humorous. I feel a wee bit taken by the seller of Sunny. He is not the "Cuddles" that she advertised him to be. I have found that he is a horse and acts like a horse, which is fine but there is really nothing cuddly about him. He is really all about eating and couldn't care less about interacting with me or anything else, including the horse next door. She said he LOVES other animals but he really doesn't. He has kicked my goats, pigs and dogs when they have gotten in his space. Luckily he is small and no one has gotten hurt and they are quick learners, they stay out of his way. When I groom him he hates it and moves around a lot. Now all of these problems I can work around and since I do understand horses he is getting better every day. He is standing better for me. He's respecting me more and so far he has not even tried to kick me. He is calm and easy to work with.....all good things.

But here is the one I feel the worst about......

When we went to see him the owner put him in the round pen and put him through his paces. We noticed that he was a bit stiff in his rear end but seemed to move fine and didn't miss a step. We looked for any lameness but didn't find any but I think we were blinded by his beauty and big brown eyes. I knew he is straight in the stifle and contributed the stiffness to that. I did have a mare for many years that was a bit stiff and had many years of riding without a day of lameness so I wasn't all that concerned.

Now I am. Every night I walk with my neighbor so I decided tonight to take Sunny with us. I drove him for a while and he did fine and then decided to walk him but couldn't get him to go very fast. It got to the point that I had to keep prodding him along and when I stopped he favored his back legs. So my neighbor, who knows horses, took a look at him walking and said he didn't have good range of motion in his back legs. I picked up his leg and felt his knee (stifle) and felt a distinct clicking. I tried the other knee and felt the same thing. It was like luxating patellas in a dog. In fact it is luxating patellas because I came home and Googled it and sure enough, luxating patellas is a problem in minis. Darn why didn't I do my homework? This is probably why he has gone through several homes and then passed on to me.
So at this point I feel foolish for not taking my time and doing my homework. I feel like the owner must have know that he couldn't stand up to the carting and jumping she said he just LOVED to do. I feel like I've been had.
I didn't want to tell Hubby because I thought he would wonder why we even got this horse but I just had to tell someone. I told him I'd been had. I said that Sunny was just going to be a pretty pet.
He said, "Oh well, that's all we got him for in the first place."

So I guess someone had to get him and care for him......Why not me.


Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Oh no. I'm so sorry, goatgirl :(

It has only been a little over a week, so maybe he's still settling in to this different life.
You did say he wasn't bothered by any of the animals, especially the pigs and llamas. I was totally impressed with that actually.

My horse took several months to get used to our llamas and she still spooks, 8 months later, if she sees me walking the llamas off our property, as if they're somehow different strange creatures if they are not in their paddock.

And if my horse tries to steal hay out of the llama bin, my horse will snort at them and bear her teeth, and she has been known to kick out at them if the llamas sniff at her rump.

As for grooming, some horses just seem to enjoy it more than others. Baby Doll likes to be groomed while she's eating, but not much at other times. Her favorite thing is to have her rump scratched and her neck, underneath rubbed.

Maybe you can start off with trying to find his itchy places and go from there?

My horse is also totally focused on food. But the good thing is that when horses are food obsessed, you know that you can get them to do anything you want if you offer food :)

Horse cookies are a favorite 'bribe' around here. :)

So, I think those parts of Sunny's horse personality are normal. He's just protecting his personal space and he's still a little standoffish.

I am concerned with his stiffness issues. Didn't you say that you had a Vet or your Massage Therapist friend check him out before you bought him, and all checked out?
It's troubling that you were able to find this luxating patella problem and they didn't.

Have you had a vet come out to do a thorough check up, float his teeth, give vaccines, check his feet, etc?

That's where I'd start before worrying and assuming that all is lost.

Hang in there and let us know how it goes, k?

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

By the way, are you sure that Sunny has 'luxating patellas' and not just 'upward fixation of the patella'?

I just called my experienced horse trainer friend and she said that luxating patellas are actually quite rare in horses...and pretty bad, except in foals(which they grow out of as their bones grow).

What is much more common and alot more treatable is the 'upward fixation of the patella'.

Apparently the difference is that the horse can improve with conditioning/fitness training. The quads on the front of the horse’s legs need to be strengthened. Hill work as well as driving, or pulling is helpful.

Also there are other 'last resort' treatments, such as corrective shoeing, estrogen therapy, or medial patellar desmotomy surgery, where the ligament that gets hooked over the femur is cut.

If it was me, I'd have the vet over to do a full exam and explain my options :)

Take care, my friend

FoxMeadowsFarmgirl said...

I totally agree with Lisa- who knows, maybe carting will be just the cure he needs?! =) Good luck, and many hugs!

Holly said...

I know nothing about the patellas. I do know a friend of mine has minis for carting and she has a boy with a locking stifle, they have learned to work around it and he is still quite a cart gelding.

However, I do know something about behavior and several things strike me about your little guy.

1. Your home is very new to him, and if he doesn't know you yet, trust takes a bit to develop. This may be part of his lack of desire for interaction with you at the moment.

2. being a food hog is a good thing. Use it. Teach him to do things for that food. I happen to use a clicker and alfalfa pellets to teach my mare what I want her to do. Training is not only teaching skills, it is also building a bond between the teacher and the pupil...if you do it without using too much positive punishment.

3. my guess (and that is all it is, I agree with the others you need a professional opinion) that the stiffness issue may gradually resolve itself with gentle, easy work over time. Walking is probably actually pretty good for him and bute may be your friend for a few weeks (but again, check with your vet as there can be side effects).

4. his interaction with the other animals is also new. Most animals when they are taken to a new place are not as relaxed as they eventually become. I wouldn't worry about it too much unless he's being aggressive. I think sometimes fear is expressed as aggression.

When my mare came to me, she had no use for people other than at feed times. She wanted what she wanted when she wanted it as soon as she wanted it. That changed over time with consistent and kind work. She is very eager to work with me now, thanks to the clicker training. It's like puzzle solving for her and keeps her active and engaged in the training session. You can actually she her try something, pause to see if it will get her the click, and either come for her treat if the click happens or move on to try something else if the click doesn't happen.

Good luck with your little guy, I hope the stiffness issue is minor and easily controlled!

@JDHealingTimeOnEarth said...

I'm no horse expert, Wendy, but perhaps seek a animal chiropracter's help. Might bring him into more balance and help his attitude as well as his knee problems.

My philosophy is that everything happens for a reason. Don't dwell on the negatives, but move on to the possibilites... you received so much good advise here, I think you'll have this situation in sync in good time!

goatgirl said...

Lisa, Thanks for giving me some hope. I knew I could count on my blogging friends for suppoert. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night worrying about Sunny and had all these thought like-What have I done? I shouldn't have gotten a horse.
I will have the vet look at him and see what she thinks. Thanks so much for calling your friend.
I could use some conditioning and fitness training myself:) And yes we all looked Sunny over before I bought him and did notice the stiffness but there was no lameness. And since I wasn't looking at a riding horse I kind of overlooked it until last night. He is very calm and laid back so that is what I saw....and of course his beautiful palomino coat and big brown eyes. He comes from a very fancy mini farm in California/France which accounts for his good looks.

foxmeadowfarmgirl, hugs-right back at you.

Holly, I feel stupid because I should know what you said about his behaviour. Thanks for reminding me and giving me some hope that I didn't make a mistake. I have started to see him bond a bit with me. I will get out my clicker and give it a try. He is never aggressive to the other animals. He just swings his rump around and gives them a kick if they get too close. My poor dogs aren't used to that because they are pretty used to walking around the livestock.
So everyone I do tend to awfulize and worry about things that could be wrong with my animals. For one thing vet care in our area is out of this world expensive and I try to avoid the vet. Each visit (for a horse) is usually around 400-500 dollars. The horse vets around here are a bit full of themselves.

goatgirl said...

Thanks so much Clare. I needed that. You are right!!!

Danni said...

Aw, Wendy...your big old heart had you jump on Sunny when you now feel you should have done more research. I really like your point at the end though...Sunny needed somebody to care for him..why not you? It breaks my heart to think of this little guy getting passed from owner to owner just because he doesn't "perform" to expectations. Maybe he is distant and removed because he hasn't been able to build trust with anybody (yet) - people keep giving him away.
If anybody can bond with him, you can. But you may need to let your cart dreams with him go, depending on his physical limitations.
I'm sorry you feel taken advantage of.

Marigold said...

I'm just a goat, but even I think there are possibilities in the physical department. If his former home was not working with him much(other than to 'demonstrate' for people looking at him), then perhaps he is way out of shape. This kind of thing even happens to the goatmother. In that case, a gradual build up of work will actually help him, even if he has a physical issue. As for the temperament thing...I agree with your other blogging buddies. If you could only see how hatefully we three Amazon women treated Watson when he came, you would see that it is just a matter of members trying to find their place. Plus, since he is small, he may just be trying to 'warn' everyone as a protective measure. The cats at our house did this to the Mighty Quinn when he first came. They knew if they didn't get their licks in early, there would be no stopping him later. So, take heart my friend! Get that vet out there to look him over and go from there. Remember that what we can imagine is ALWAYS worse than reality. Goatie hugs to you.

Gone2theDawgs said...

Wendy, you're not the only one that has fallen for soft brown eyes...I've had more than my share of Vet bills.:) Some people are so desperate to "place" their animals they will say anything they think you want to hear.

You did say it at the end though, someone needed to take care of him and for his sake I'm glad it's you.

Danni is right, if he has been passed from one home to another he probably has had some bad experiences and now he will finally be able to build some trust with his new owner.

I also agree with everyone that he probably is just feeling out his new territory and compadres.

Jasmine, my donkey, loves hanging with my sheep but she doesn't like them coming around her backside when she's eating. She'll give a little warning noise and then act like she is going to kick and they get the heck out of the way. Knowing how hard a donkey could kick I'm glad she has them "trained". :)

I wish you were closer I would recommend my horse Vet to you...I've been through a few and he is absolutely the best....he keeps your finances in mind with his recommendations. He is a very down to earth Vet....hard to find nowadays.

Please keep us posted on how it goes with Sunny. We're all here for you! Hugs from me too! Tammy

Holly said...

I am so sorry I made you feel bad! You are not stupid, you are too close to the situation is all! It's easy for me to say because I didn't invest the money or my heart!

If the vet is too expensive, what about a farrier? I often think farriers are better experts with leg and foot issues than a general all purpose vet.

Anonymous said...

Oh I feel bad for you, feeling that way. I'm sure you've given him a great home & I'm hoping he'll come around given time to adjust. Of course I'm no horse expert or anything but well, I sure know about the "how could I be taken like that feeling" I really enjoy your blog & love all the animal stories & pictures. I sure hope this works out, like the comment above, everything happens for a reason. :) Hopefully the seller will get hers one day. ;)

Anonymous said...

I hope Sunny is going to be alright.
It is amazing how animals can seem to have "something" and it will turn out alright.
When I brought BoDog home from the animal shelter, I think he had made the rounds to several homes before he got home here. He is big and bouncy and needs a lot of room and love. There certainly was a few trying days here.
Part of the deal was, he was to be neutered. When I left him at the vet's, his face dropped to the floor thinking he was left again. I picked him and brought him home. BoDog jumped out of the car and ran around and around. Then he just sat down and looked and looked like he couldn't believe he actually got to come back.
I suppose what I am trying to say is, Sunny probably feels the same way. Like he can't believe he has a permanent home.
I do hope his legs are alright and he stops that kicking. (Jack does that too)
P.S. I got that rain last night.
Have a good day.

Tracey said...

I am sorry to hear about your troubles...but I agree with what you said at the end...Sunny neeeds someone to care for him and how lucky he is that you found him!

ChicagoGrrrl said...

animals -- all animals -- have personalities. the need security, safety, a real home. can you imagine being put in so many different situations? everyone wanting something different from you? and you just want to be happy and safe. you know your stall, your field, your friends, your schedule and then WHAM everything changes. again and again. He is scared, he is not safe [yet]. he needs everything to be ok forever. he doesnt know what the hell is happening to him, he controls nothing. give him everything.

goatgirl said...

Well said Amy Jo. That is why he will stay here and will learn that he is safe and loved. I just had a meltdown of self doubt....but leave it to my blogging friends to bring be back from the dark side. Can anyone say menopause??? This little guy is 7 and I think I am his fifth home. He needs me.
You hit the nail on the head Amy Jo!

goatgirl said...

I'm glad the rain got there ga.farmwoman. I sent it airmail.