Well, damn it all to hell.
Let me backtrack. In a recent post, I mentioned that every time I allowed my picture to be taken with my ‘leased’ horse, I’d lose the horse soon afterwards.
This time, though, with Raven, I wasn’t leasing, Sue was sharing him with me. It was a wonderful menage de trois, in that we all three got something out of it. Raven had two women doting on him, I lived within half a mile of the barn, Sue has someone to keep an eye on him when she’s working…it was such a sweet deal.
So I allowed my husband to take a series of pictures of me and Raven, with Sue’s blessing.
Nothing could happen, right?
This time, though, it is not Sue’s doing, nor mine, nor even Raven’s.
I didn’t mention it at the time, but the resident trainer, Tonia, was ‘invited’ to leave. Again, not through malfeasance, but because the Owner (whose name will remain Owner because I’m so pissed I might just publish his real name.)
I knew, then, that something was up. Up until that moment, Tonia had been The Best Trainer On The Planet in Owner’s opinion.
And just as suddenly, she was persona non grata, get your horses out. While I didn’t care for Tonia, I thought at the time she was getting screwed. I don’t believe it was a falling out between them. I think Tonia was merely a bunch of money coming in UNTIL his real plans came to fruition..that of bringing in a big time horse trainer/shower.
I was right.
Owner is a trust fund baby. He is unbelievable wealthy and is also a ‘kept man’…his partner is also wealthy and knows nothing about horses. He (yes) allows Owner to run Bourbon as he chooses. It’s just money to them.
Owner is extremely childish, even though he’s full grown. He will tell you exactly what you want to hear, he can lie with a straight face.
They breed Hackney/Arabian cross horses. They show several of them. Bourbon was always just a boarding facility until Owner met up with an Arabian horse trainer named… (let’s see. We’ll call him Duke.
Duke has 40 horses that he trains and shows. Owner and Duke became fast friends on the show circuit…and I’m betting you can see what’s coming.
Duke had his horses at a farm in the county and Owner “enticed’ him away to put his horses up..at Bourbon.
Without letting any of the boarders know why, Owner had the old barn renovated. They began putting in stalls. And stalls. And stalls. When the boarders asked, what is going on, Owner said, oh, a friend of mine is bringing in ‘a few” show horses.
Well, I’ll fast forward. A “few” is 40 with more on the way. There is no more room in the renovated barn.
Instead of coming out (well, I think he’s done that) and saying, you boarders need to leave, he took the cowards way out. Doesn’t want to be the Bad Guy, you know. So. The first thing he did was ‘demote’ Curtis and Rae from barn managers to ‘renters’. They weren’t getting paid for the incredible amount of work they did, and they did it without complaint. While I’ve had my differences with Rae and Curtis, I can’t think of a better pair of barn managers. They made Bourbon into a world class facility.
Now a young lady, very nice, but nowhere up to handling such a large operation, has been made Barn Manager. Owner then made immediate and bad changes: he changed the hay, buying cheap stuff so full of rocks and dust that one sneezes just shaking it out. He went to a junk feed composed of rice hulls and soybean meal (Triple Crown) instead of oats. He made it so that no one can use the arena while Duke is ‘training’ in it. Duke trains 6 days a week, 8 AM to 7 PM.
He changed all the boarders horses stalls AND turnouts. And kept shifting them around, ‘looking to make it more efficient’ but in the process, upsetting the horses. Raven, for instance, has lived in the same stall since 2009 and now he’s been moved three times in a week.
Owner put a stallion (without letting anyone know) next to a couple of mares (and within weeks, every mare on the farm was in heat). The stallion is quiet, but still, he’s a stallion. The fences have been allowed to short out, and it wouldn’t take much for the stud to get into a mare’s paddock and breed her.
Onwer ‘let’ one barn worker go, but he didn’t fire her..no, he cut her hours to the bone, so that it costs her more in gas money than she made in work. So she had to quit, meaning Owner doesn’t have to pay her unemployment. Now there are just two folks…the young Barn Manager and Jorge-to clean out, feed, etc fifty horses. The show horses do NOT get turned out. They live, 24/7 in a dark, completely closed up barn. The only time they get out is for a twenty minute “lunging” in the covered arena.
Owner shut down the jumping paddock and is going to ‘hay’ it. Really? No. In reality, it’s to get rid of the eventers and jumpers, who used it. Owner hasn’t a frigging clue how to grow hay, and the stuff growing in the paddock can’t be considered hay. It’s weeds.
He made it so ugly for the boarders (who are paying twice what Duke is being charged) that many have already left.
And now Sue is pulling out. The new paddock they stuck Raven in is so small he can’t run. The water trough was so filthy it had pollywogs living in it. Of course, Barn Manager and Jorge cleaned and refilled it the minute we bitched, but still. We had to point it out to them that what water was left in the trough was filthy. When Curtis and Rae were managing, that would NEVER have been allowed to get so bad.
But it was the oats that broke the camel’s back. Several of the boarders said, hey, we don’t like that new crappy feed, and the contract clearly states, OATS would be provided.
Owner didn’t say “tough shit” outright. No, he claimed this is what his show horses eat, and by golly, there would be no oats. He decided, too, that the crappy feed would be fed on HIS idea of a schedule, NOT what the horse owner had decided. Meaning: only one feeding a day, that in the afternoon.
So Sue came to ride before work…and that’s at 6 AM. She can’t as Duke has his horses in there. And Raven had had no breakfast. Not even a flake of hay.
I can’t blame her. In fact, I’m helping her move Raven. Enough is enough. Owner is smirking, having accomplished getting rid of all those stupid women boarders without actually saying ‘get out’. He has his Bestest New Friend, Duke, with a ton of horses.
And I’ve lost Raven.
But, to repeat, this time it wasn’t through malfeasance, or abuse, or bullying. No, Sue is heartbroken. Raven is testy and unhappy because of all the changes.
I couldn’t, in any sense, insist Sue keep Raven there because of me. One, he’s not my horse. Two, it would be unfair to her. I’m not going to hold her hostage just to satisfy my need for a horse in my life. She’s too good a person, and, to be honest, so am I, to do that.
So, we will see. Sue is still a dear friend. She’s taking Raven north, to stay with her trainer, until she can find a suitable place here, with turn out and a covered arena.
I don’t know if she’ll find it.
But I’m not angry at her. It’s not her fault. She got schweened.
I take some comfort in a mantra that I’ve learned:
When one door shuts, another opens.
And honestly, this wasn’t the photo jinx that brought this all about. In my gut, I knew it was going to happen, so I had the pictures taken, knowing, somehow, that they would be the last.