Oh ye readers of little faith.
Do you seriously think I can't put up with a little bit of control freak in the form of a barn owner?
Pffft...piece of cake.
Now, there have been very few barn owners along the way on my journey that I have felt I could trust 100%, without a single sleepless night, to do what they thought was absolutely best for my horse. Dr. Lana was undoubtedly one of them.
In fact, Dr. Lana fell into one of my very favourite categories of barn owners - women operating under the...let's call it the, hmm, how do I put this...the "It's my party, and you can get the hell out if I want you to" philosophy. And I truly do respect this position.
Perhaps you have one of these barn owners in your area. Here are some clues on how to spot the signs:
Forty-something. Type A. Successful career. Lots-o-money.
These factors allow them to:
Build a beautiful barn, buy beautiful horses.
And most importantly - these factors mean that having you as a boarder is not at all essential to their financial plan. Your money is a "nice to have" but not a "must have". And the way you are treated does reflect this reality. Don't expect a lot of sunshine blown at your butt. Fair enough.
So why would someone like Dr. Lana bother with the likes of a Curmudgeon at all then, if they can live without the dough?
Well...as anyone who has had their own barn knows, riding all by yourself, night after night, is actually very lonely.
It is nice to have some other people around at the barn. If you fall off and break your spine, it is always a reassuring feeling to know that someone might hear your anguished groans. Someone with opposable thumbs capable of calling 911, and not just your horse who will only continue to run around like an idiot without you, thinking to himself "listen to her scream!! I KNEW there was something horrifying in the corner, but noooo, she said, it is only your cooler slung over a standard, she said...she forced me to go in there totally against my better judgement, causing me to freak out like a ninny...and now it is killing her slowly. Why didn't she TRUST me!!"
It is nice to have some company, even during the good times, when you are putting away jumps together or sharing stories of training or frustrations. There doesn't necessarily have to be an ambulance involved to do some bonding with like-minded equestrians. These people help to keep you motivated to ride, especially when it is still snowing and freezing, halfway through April. Like right now.
However, that said... if your boarders are NOT essential to your financial plan, but are really only required for companionship and occasional comedic relief... well, as the saying goes, she who has the arena...rules. Or something like this. The minute boarders cross the line from entertaining comrade to nagging horse freak, these forty-something type A successful career lots-o-money owners have every right to kick you to the curb. And trust me dear readers, they will.
But hey, entertaining is my middle name, people! When I went to tour the facility prior to moving in, I hit it off with Dr. Lana immediately. She was a little bit sarcastic. Slightly derisive. Fairly jaded. Imagine Ms. Krabappel of the horse industry, and you are somewhere in the ballpark. And, as I am sure you can also imagine, you are in the presence of someone whom I would like very much.
How does one get to be this way in the horse industry? Well, I think being a veterinarian can predispose you to it, just as being an elementary school teacher can. You enter into the profession fresh faced and optimistic, looking forward to helping horses, only to be faced by a bunch of nutbar owners who want miracles at a low-LOW price - actually free would be good - that slowly suck away your misguided enthusiasm.
What? You expect to be PAID for your time? But Patches was sick! You are supposed to love animals and want to help them as part of your very nature....What! You are failing Stormy on the vet check just because he is missing a LEG? Four legs is classic genetic redundancy, maybe if you had stayed awake in class while getting your DVM you would know this (I assume M stands for Moron in your case)...What? A snotty nose is NOT an emergency? Are you crazy? This could be some equine plague! You are not seriously going to charge me a call fee for trying to stop the plague? Get me my computer. This is going on EMG*...
Now, like an elementary school teacher, as a veterinarian, or a barn owner for that matter - your subjects will come and go, and you will have your favourites and your... well, not so favorites. This is only human nature, you can't help having preferences. Not everyone can be the teacher's pet now can they? Fair enough.
But as any of you with a child, or a friend with a child knows, nothing is more heartbreaking as a parent than when YOUR child is for some strange reason, NOT the teacher's pet. Or even in the mid-pack of kids that the teacher is ambivalent about. Sometimes, for some strange reason unbeknownst to you, even though a child may have been under the radar at all of their other barns, or even liked by other barn staff - in certain classrooms, with certain barn owners - they are instantly branded the pariah freak of the group when the new year begins. And this is really, very hard to overcome.
Oh, I am getting all confused here. Am I talking about teachers or barn owners? Whatever. It doesn't really matter.
Bottom line is, I knew as soon as Dr. Lana laid eyes on Ms. V and loudly proclaimed "she has a pelvis like a dairy cow!" that she would not be the teacher's pet. But I optimistically assumed that she could earn herself a spot somewhere in the middle of the pack.
*EMG - local internet bulletin board