Yes, dear friends and gentle readers, imperial Rome never had it so good for intrigue, politics, pettiness and all purpose skullduggery…as where? Your local boarding barn, of course. And the “better” the barn, it seems, the weirder it gets.
First, let me say, technically I’m not quite a beggar, although I don’t think it really matters given our four-footed friends’ propensity to bleed any wallet white. (Nor should every barn send you screaming in fear.) I’m sure every horse enthusiast/obsessed equestrian knows all too well how the passion expands to fit the budget, whatever size it may be. As a recent post-grad with hefty loans, all my nickels count, and the decision to move to a full-featured hunter/jumper facility wasn’t one I committed to lightly. Nonetheless, I was thrilled with my decision and hugely enjoying myself and so was Mr. Horse.
Until he went lame. Now, if you’re a dedicated reader of the Chronicle of the Horse forums, you can probably skip this whole thing, because when the guacamole hit the fan I turned to the COTHERs as a sounding board to check my reactions. If not, however, read on to find out:
HOW TO STEAL YOUR CLIENT’S GATORADE!
(in 5 or 6 ludicrously difficult steps)
So, post-lameness diagnosis, my horse had to go on a 10-day course of medicines, and he's notorious for refusing anything in his feed. Therefore, I got oral paste. I discussed this with their chief feeder guy, and he held forth on his opinion that my horse would probably eat the paste in his feed; I told him about his long history of NEVER eating it, but I agreed to give it one shot to make my life easier as it otherwise would necessitate a twice a day trip. (I just was not really willing to get into the whole, are they really going to get these meds down this horse for just such a short course; it's not that big of a trip out there, and my peace of mind is worth it yada yada. I just felt it was simpler to do it.)
Anyway, as I knew perfectly well he wouldn’t, my horse did not eat the paste mixed with the grain (or that feeding of grain either, so he missed his meal), so I told the barn manager that and that I'd hand dose him from then on as I planned, and she talked me into letting the chief feeder hand dose him. Ah, alas. When you know it's a mistake, just don't ever do it. So I really didn't think to check up on this the first day, but the second day - I wasn't actually looking for the medicated paste, but checking to see if he was eating, because often after being hand dosed he will sulk and refuse to eat - lo and behold, there's the paste stirred into the grain. So I called the barn manager and left a message. Next day, bucket looks kosher, but the day after that, there it is again. My message to the barn manager had been very generic - just "Everyone who feeds may not have understood, could you please check on this?" I didn't accuse the chief feeder (let's call him J.) of anything.
On the second day, thinking as a wild stretch somehow the barn manager hadn't gotten the phone message, I left a note in the feed room with his meds saying "Please give meds by hand, he won't eat them. If you can't, please call me, thanks etc." This was very late at night. I had an errand to run and on my way back, the barn was right on my way, and I just decided it would be better if I stopped the whole process of note, call, this person yaks to that person, and took my stuff and finished the meds as I had planned from the beginning. Well, jimminy if somebody hadn't been by the feed room and read that note, which I knew because it was moved to someplace else on the counter. I temporarily didn't know what to do, as the "damage" was already done, but I decided to stick to my plan and took the whole shooting match home, note included. I medicated horse the next AM on schedule and saw neither barn manager or J.
Then at work I got a call from the barn manager saying that J. had called her wondering why his meds were gone. I verified she had gotten my phone message, then told her I had found his meds in the feed bucket again, and I was just going to finish them myself. She told me that was "not a problem" but insisted that J. had been hand dosing him. I asked how the meds got in his feed bucket then and pointed out that that was a problem, since on the off chance he DID eat that, he would then be double dosed. She refused to answer that, and just kept repeating that he'd been getting his meds by mouth.
When I finally crossed paths with J. for the first time, I spoke and was friendly, indicating my intention to make no more of this. He wouldn't speak at first (oh silent treatment, VERY mature) then spoke and seemed decent after I continued to behave normally. When I left, I discovered a full bottle of Gatorade I had with my tack box in the wash stall was missing. Seriously? And yes, there was nobody there but me and J. So he's obviously DARING me to say something - but really? You shovel horse shit for a living, buddy. Is this the most power that you've ever experienced in your whole life, that I can't say anything to anybody over a bottle of GATORADE? Get a sense of proportion.
So, now, stay with me here: There’s absolutely NO way I was mistaken and finished this drink and threw it away, or didn’t have a drink there with me that day. I am TEE-TOTALLY sure it was there. There is nothing else that could’ve happened to it. So he was checking to see if I would either say something to him or to his boss. If I said something to him, he says, “Huh-uh, I haven’t seen it,” which I know is a bald faced lie. Which he knows I know, and demonstrates – TO ME – his ability to lie straight to my face and there be nothing I can do about it. And if I talk – again – to his boss, both he and I know already that’s going to be futile, because she’s already proven she’s got nothing but his back. So he’s just rubbing it in.
Only he’s not just rubbing it in. He’s really saying, in his thugged-out way, that he can and will fuck around with anything of mine he wants to, so long as he knows he can get away with it. And who in her right mind leaves her HORSE to the tender mercies of a creep like that?
Not this trust-fundless chica, I can tell you that! I called my homegirl at the SANE boarding barn and Mr. Horse was outa there in 24.