Sue and I were watching Raven roll off his bath when a woman of about 35 came up to us, her ‘just turned 8!” year old daughter in tow. The girl was wearing pink “Hello Kitty” boots.
“Are either one of you Tonia————?”
“No,” we said, introducing ourselves, “are you here to take a lesson from her?”
“Oh, is she here today?”
“Well, normally she takes Sunday and Monday off, but she IS here today.”
“Oh, good. I was told she wouldn’t be here today, but I had to come up north anyway, and I thought I’d drop by and meet Gavilan.”
“Gavilan? He’s for sale?”
“Sorry, but there is no horse here named “”Gavilan””.
“Gavilan means ‘hawk’ in Spanish. I’m learning Spanish in school.” said the girl.
The woman was perplexed. “This IS Bourbon Stables, isn’t it?”
“Is there another Bourbon Stables?”
“Not in this county.”
“Oh, I know it’s this county. That’s odd. I called a woman about a horse named Gavilan for sale. I want to look at him for my daughter to learn to ride.”
“The only horse for sale here is Bud.”
“Can I see him?”
“He’s in that second paddock, the bay Appaloosa. Go up and say hello-he adores kids.”
The girl ran to Bud’s gate. Bud, knowing a sucker when he sees one, cantered up and asked, very politely, for treats. She began pulling grass for him.
“Honey, come back here. That’s not the horse.”
“But he’s friendly, Mom.”
Still, she obeyed and returned. Even I, (who dislikes children) was charmed. Maybe it was her innocence (or the boots?), but she seemed to glow from within with a lovely, sunny light.
“Maybe Gavilan is Bud’s registered name?” Sue asked.
“Oh, no, the ad didn’t say Gavilan was Appaloosa.”
I got a sick feeling in my stomach. I looked at Sue and I could see she was thinking the same thing.
“Do you have the ad?”
“Not with me. It’s in a feed shop in Portland, where I live. But I have a number on a tear slip’. She handed us a small bit of paper with a local phone number on it.
“What’s the name of the owner?”
The rock in my stomach hit my feet.
“What’s her last name?”
“I don’t know. She didn’t tell me.”
“We do have a woman named Julie _________ boarding her horse here, but his name is Rebel.”
I couldn’t let it go any further. I tried to be diplomatic.
“If we’re talking about the same Julie, ma’am, her horse is not a beginner’s horse.”
“Who’s not a beginner’s horse?” Tonia said, walking in, her spurs jingling. The little girl took one look at them and was instantly smitten.
“Rebel’s not a beginner’s horse.”
Tonia scoffed. “Rebel’s not even an expert’s horse. Rebel’s a monster.”
The woman’s jaw dropped.
“Who are you?”
“Oh, Julie said she’s had Gavilan in training with you.”
The woman began to look annoyed.
“This ad I saw said there’s a horse named Gavilan and the owner had him in training with Tonia ———–.”
“That’s me. I’ve never had a horse named Gavilan in my life, and I’ve been training for twenty years.”
“Mom, maybe we’re at the wrong barn.”
“No, honey, I don’t think so.” She looked at Tonia, bewildered. There was a dark, troubled look in her eye.
“And you’re Tonia ——-, who trains Western Equitation horses, and gives clinics?”
“Now I’m really confused. Maybe I AM screwed up, even if GPS led me right here. I found this ad for a horse. I called this number and a woman named Julie answered. She told me she is selling her horse, named Gavilan. She said he’s boarding at Bourbon Stables. He’s trained in both English and Western, and that he’s been in training with you.”
On a hunch, I trotted off to look at Rebel’s stall placard. Every owner’s name, phone number, vet and farrier’s name is on the placard. I called off the number.
The phone number for Julie didn’t match.
I wasn’t convinced. I have three phone numbers myself.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know a horse named Gavilan. Does the ad say what this horse looks like?
“16.1, ‘golden buckskin’ gelding, unregistered purebred Andalusian.”
There’s only one buckskin in the whole stable, only one with the appearance of a PRE.
“That’s Rebel” we cried, in unison. “And he’s not purebred, he’s half Quarter Horse.” Tonia said.
“And there’s only one Julie boarding here.”
We began to get angry, as well. We all could see the picture. I can’t blame Julie for trying to get rid of Rebel, but pawning him off on a child is not just irresponsible, it’s dangerous.
“Did Julie directly tell you she’s ridden with me?”
The woman began to get defensive, but we all could sympathize. She’d driven a long way and it was beginning to dawn on her that something was very ugly.
“Look. I called Julie at this number. She said she’s selling Gavilan because she can’t ride him as much as he needs. She told me she didn’t want me to meet the horse with a whole bunch of people around because the horse is timid (we all gasped at that) after he was abused by someone in the barn. She said he’s been injured so can’t be ridden very hard. I told her I was looking for a horse for my daughter to learn to ride on. I asked her if the horse had had any professional training in Western and she said Gavilan had had ‘a few lessons’ from Tonia ———— . I told her I wanted to look at the horse, where is he? That’s when she told me where he is and that she wants me to come and meet her Monday morning, when there’s no one around, early. But my mother-in-law called and needs some help today, and I said I’d come up and I figured, what the heck it’s on the way, why not stop and see the horse without Julie at my elbow?”
“That was probably the smartest thing you’ve ever done.” Tonia said. “I’ve never given Julie a lesson, and I’ve never trained Rebel. He’s not timid, he’s aggressive and dangerous. I got him in the round pen once and he charged me and knocked me off the wall.”
“And tried to squish Jorge” I said.
“And broke loose and was running around for two days, during which he hurt two horses and their riders.” Tonia kept on.
I was going to add that he’d killed a kitten, but thought wiser of it after looking at the attentive girl.
The child began to whimper.
Sue, ever the diplomat, said,
“It may be that we’re all mistaken, but I don’t think we are. Julie hasn’t said anything to any of us about selling him. If she’s trying to sell Rebel, it’s not right for her to mislead you. Trust me, if Rebel is this Gavilan, he is NOT safe for a child.“
“Or any human” I added.
“Rebel or Gavilan, if it’s the same horse, he’s flat ass dangerous. Julie ordered me to never touch her horse, and I never will.” Tonia said. “Oh, and NO, he’s never been abused. Not at THIS barn. If anything, Rebel’s abused US.”
The woman nodded, taking it all in. I knew she believed us.
“Can I see him, just on account of because?”
We led the pair to Rebel’s paddock. He pinned his ears hard to his head, glaring, clearly annoyed by our presence. Then he trotted to the far end of his paddock, shaking his head and swishing his tail.
The sun hit his shining buckskin coat, accentuated by his coal black mane and tail. Say what you will about his evil temper, he was beautiful. But the ferocity in his eye negated his beauty.
“God, I hate to admit this, but he sure can move.” Tonia muttered.
I nodded in agreement. He CAN move.
“He looks scary.” the girl said.
“Honey”, Tonia said, crouching down and taking her hands, ‘He IS scary. He even scares ME.”
She stood up and addressed the woman.
“Really, if you’re interested in buying a horse, there’s a horse named Bud here.”
“I MET HIM!” the girl said, “He ate some grass for me. His lips tickled my hand. He’s nice.”
“He is a sweetie.” Sue said, smiling. She’s a sucker for kids.
“I’ve used Bud in lessons for beginners. He’s gentle and kind. Maybe you should lease a horse before buying one, and if your daughter really takes to it, then buy one.”
“Do you ride? Or have any experience with horses?” Sue asked.
“I’ve ridden, but it’s been years and years. I don’t really want to buy, but I didn’t know you could lease a horse.”
“You know, we might be all wrong” I said to the woman, “But I don’t think so. Even so, you might want to call Julie and get some more information.”
The doubt left her face.
“I’ll call her right now.”
She pulled her cell phone out and dialed the number on the slip of paper.
This is how the conversation went, (necessarily one sided) as we heard it.
“Julie? This is ………….”
She repeated her name, then said, “I called you about Gavilan? Didn’t you tell me he’s at Bourbon Stables?”
“Well I had to come up here anyway so I stopped to look at him. I looked around and no one seems to know where he is. I do see a big horse, a big buckskin horse that looks like he’s Andulusian. I’m right here by his pasture. But someone told me there’s no horse named Gavilan here.”
“Yeah, I know, but I was already in the area and—“
“Yeah you did but I wanted to take a look at the horse before I met you.”
“Excuse me? I need your permission to look at your horse at a boarding stable? It’s not like I’m riding him without you here.”
“Well, I’m standing here with three people who never said anything about needing permission to come onto the property.”
“Who? Oh, I talked to Tonia ———–, your trainer.”
“What? What DID you say?”
She shut her phone. She looked blown away by Julie’s sudden vitriol. No, I didn’t hear what Julie said. None of us needed to hear it. We KNOW.
“Wow. That was nasty.”
She gathered her wits.
“Thank you. I think you’ve saved me from a very big mistake.”
“More like we saved your daughter’s life.”
“What are those things on your boots?” the girl asked Tonia.
“Can I have some of those?”
Tonia looked at her with a big smile.
“Honey, you have to earn them.”
Her mother laughed. We relaxed. We all knew a crisis had passed.
But we now feel some trepidation. Julie is an
attack prosecuting attorney. She makes a very good living skewering poor people before roasting them alive. Julie has never let the truth-or justice-get in the way of winning a case (and making a lot of money in the process.)
If she decides that Sue, Tonia and I are the reason she ‘lost money’ due to our ‘lies’ about her horse, she may try to sue one or all of us.
This is probably the main reason I’m including this on my blog…in order to ‘get it into print’ before there’s any legal revenge extracted by Julie.
I will put this into print again: the names of all people and names and breed of the horses have been changed.
Today’s date is Sunday, 13 October 2013.