Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Boarding Barn: A Screw Loose.

I stood in front of my stall, organizing the equipment and tack before going out to catch the beast. I removed the tendon boots from the grooming back and located the hoofpick. As I stood, a horse already on cross-ties began seriously freaking out.

I took a step toward my stall door, figuring I wouldn't be run-down in there if the mare busted the ties. The night turn-in and feed woman comes down the aisle and catches my eye, "f'ing psycho," she says quietly as she passes me. I can't help but snort back a laugh and roll my eyes.

The mare is a nut-job.

One night, while passing her stall with my horse, she lashed out so violently that she brought a leg down on her feed-tub, breaking it. Now, we were a good 4 feet from her in the aisle, so this should not be out of the ordinary for any boarded horse. After I had Brumby on the cross-ties and untacked, I went over to check out the damage to the feed tub. The mare was just beginning to snuffle around the tub, impressed with her handy work, no doubt. I heard the particular thud sound of metal falling on plastic.

"Aw, sh**t," I cursed to myself, waving the mare away from the tub.

"What's up?" I looked up to see a fellow boarder who had just come in. I explained what had happened and that there was now a bolt inside the feed tub of crazy mare, leaving me no choice but to go in and get it before she ate it. Or spit it - projectile-like - at the next passer-by. I was not looking forward to entering that stall.

I lived to tell the tale but have no love for that horse. So although I wasn't surprised by the mare's sudden blow-up, I was certainly not impressed with it or the ensuing chaos as her owner and friend tried to regain some semblance of control. I went about my business.

About 30-40 minutes later, I am at the door to the arena. I wait until crazy horse, who is being lunged, is at the farthest end, call "door" and wait. Friend of owner comes to the door. She opens it a crack and peers out, "we aren't finished lunging yet," she says.

I blinked.

We have a policy that you aren't to lunge your horse if other riders are in the arena. I suppose this has been interpreted as keeping boarders out of the arena if you are in there lunging! Sure! I'll wait outside in the dark in -15C and wait for you to finish lunging, take your time. Obviously your time is worth more than mine, even though I pay for the use of the facilities just as much as you do [sarcasm].

I kindly offer to hand-walk at the far end to give them a few more minutes to finish up. I wish I had stayed outside because what I saw my my head hurt. The plus side is I now have a better understanding for the mare.

The mixed signals the poor thing was getting constantly was enough to make me feel crazy. Every time the owner asked the horse to walk, she would only let her walk for one or two strides (sometimes not even one full stride) before asking for the trot again. In my opinion, it came across as telling the horse it did not respond properly to the walk command. It seemed pretty clear to me that this was confusing for the horse and, in fact, the horse would take more and more time before dropping to the walk (naturally!). There were many more examples, such as asking for a slow trot and then chasing the horse with the whip. I can't imagine what they hoped to accomplish.

Ah, life at the boarding barn. Often an exercise in keeping your mouth shut.


Laura said...

Ugh - sounds like quite the horse and owner combo. Gotta love the boarding environment. The horse doesn't sound like much of a prize, but after hearing about her owner, I'm not surprised. Why bother owning a horse if things are going that badly??

RuckusButt said...

It's cheap entertainment :) I guess they are used to the spookiness (and general nastiness)...maybe all their horses have been like that ;) I will say the horse definitely had nice movement. I've never seen her under saddle though, just that one time on the line.