Wednesday 21 March 2012

*Spoiler Alert*. There is no tooth fairy. And we don't put those stupid boots on for turnout, either.

Now, to be fair, the warning signs were there long before I dropped off Ms. V at her new home at Muddy View Acres.
Sort of like… well, you know, when you are watching 20/20, and Diane Sawyer (or whoever) is interviewing some poor, jilted woman, whose husband has just been revealed as a polygamist axe-murderer – there is a lot of earnest nodding, intense squinty narrowing of the eyes, brow furrowing (or as much can occur with all of the Botox), nodding on her part… but you just know, that in her mind, Diane is really thinking…
“Oh my gawd.  This woman is an inbred moron.   How did she not see the flashing pink and green neon signs?”
I think I will have a burger for lunch.  Mmm.mmm..mmm..Oh Sorry - what were you saying again?

Yah, well, I kind of think Diane would have thought this about me.  And Muddy View Acres.
Never board somewhere with the following business plan:
"Hey, honey - we have some land, and I like horses.  They are pretty.  Let's build a barn and arena, and get boarders.  How hard can it be?  And since you have just been laid off from your job as a waitress - you and Grandpa can run the place!  I love it when a plan comes together!"

Now, how did I come to find myself at Muddy View Acres in the first place, you may ask.   

Of course, I didn't know about the business plan right away, they don't post it in a little frame like the mission statement in your office.  It was revealed slowly, one tantilizing glimpse of incompetence at a time.  
I certainly didn't know much about the place, or the owners initially either, but the one thing I did know was that since the business plan involved building a big and impressive brand new barn and arena and fencing all from scratch - it was very pretty and shiny and new! And everything pretty and shiny and new is good, right?  
I actually decided to take Ms. V there because of the horse I part-boarded at the time... remember him?  No?  Well keep up, for Pete's sake.  You may recall from way-back-when in passing, I did mention that I went  to try out a very non-athletic but cute Morgan cross, who happened to call MVA his home – and ended up as his part boarder.  And so, I had been showing up there to thrust my bad dressage riding upon this guy for the last few months.

(It did also happen to be right on the Snowmobile trail, and Mr. Motard actually sledded on out to visit us one day. But that is just interesting trivia, and really neither here nor there and certainly not why I chose the place. I suppose it was an effective way to get him interested in coming out to visit the horse and there is something to be said for that since it doesn’t happen often).
Really, in hindsight, the fact that I had been coming and going from MVA for a few months makes the fact that I actually took my own horse there even sadder, and more stupid.  But I do think that your perspective as a horse owner is somewhat different than that of a part boarder, and even more different if you are a temporarily unemployed horse owner, with gobs of time to spend hanging out and noticing all of the things that go on in a day at MVA.
When you are an employed part-boarder, you rush to the barn in a frenzy after work, starving and trying to get through the next two hours without eating all of the carrots, apples, and extruded nugget things covered in hair etc. at the bottom of your grooming box, race to tack up, ride, then get the hell out, typically at night when nothing much is happening on the barn labour front, other than maybe some bucket filling and a flake of hay thrown here or there.  

However, as an unemployed horse owner, you show up during the day - showtime! - and have the luxury of  watching the totally horrific stable management skills of Ma and Grandpa at a much more leisurely pace. 

As a harried, evening dwelling part-boarder, you don’t get a chance to notice that boots don’t go on for turnout, nor do blankets or special rainsheets painstakingly described in a multistep procedure in the “life and times of FooFoo Bunny II” three ringed binder that his owner lovingly prepared for him.  In fact, you will never know that these things don't happen, unless you take the time to plan intricate sting operations to prove you are not crazy, and that Foo Foo's boots really didn't go anywhere all week.  

AAAA-HA!  I knew they weren't putting his boots on!  SEE!  I buckled the second buckle to the third, on the fourth hole, while double twisting the strap - and IT IS STILL LIKE THAT NOW - A WEEK LATER! 

(Come on - admit it - you've done it. Sort of like the strategies you used to prove the tooth fairy was a lie).

You don’t see that all of the little baggies of carefully proportioned supplements are not lovingly sprinkled on yummy warm beet pulp just for Foo Foo, but dealt out in a Las Vegas fashion to whatever bucket is closest at the time…HIT ME!  Stormy needs some Valerein!  Or whoever!  Who cares!
Halters on, halters off… really, does it matter?  And why lead one horse at a time, when God clearly gave you two hands and opposable thumbs for a reason?   All aboard, let’s go, the paddock express is leaving now.  I ain’t making another trip just because Stormy wants to kick the crap out of Ms. Sunshine.  Work it out, kids. 
While we are at it, let’s talk individual turnout – what the hell is that all about, anyways?  If FooFoo was just smart enough to stand off on his own rather than picking a fight with Sir FartsALot – he would be an “individual” now, wouldn’t he?  The ball is in his court. It is a good life lesson. 
And if pitchforks were good enough to control Frankenstein... well then they are good enough for Foo Foo - get BACK!  BACK!  INTO THE CORNER - NOW!  Or I will poke you - I SWEAR I WILL!
Alright, OK...Stay calm.  We are on our way to the paddock.  I am even wearing my boots.  

But - as is too often the case in life, and especially life relating to horses - I told myself, Curmudgeon - you are being too critical. You are just stressed because of your new horse, your new job - do you really need a new barn right now too?  

Put things in perspective.  

Is she being fed?  Yes.  Is she being turned out?  Yes.  Do the horses that the moronic owner just bought from the auction look adorable with the little circles of ringworm all over them, like some sort of freaky polka dots?  Yah, actually, they kind of do.  Can you blame him for thinking they were interesting markings?  C'mon, it was an honest mistake.  

Hang in there.  Just a little longer.  It will get better.  


  1. OMG Your killin me...or a spy...Either way I love it!

  2. And cue all the drawn out stories of "omg! I've totally had the same thing happen to ME!"

  3. So true..........add in the vague Parelli quotes learned from a friend of a friend who borrowed a videotape years ago and never really finished watching it- and you have described a dozen places.

  4. BWAHAHAHAHAH! OMG, the boot straps... yep, I admit, I did that, only with a fly mask.

    So back to your point yesterday. Does poor management on the part of the BOs turn us into crazed spies, or do we just come that way and start getting more creative when given the opportunity? Hm.

  5. I literally just snorted tea out my nose with the vegas commentary & bit about "sirfartsalot" LOL! Love your blog.

  6. Quite frankly, if I were a barn owner and I was delivered a three ring binder full of blanketing instructions for Foo Foo by a prospective boarder, I would steer clear of that boarder. Horses, like children, can use a little benign neglect. Benign, not negligent....

    1. I absolutely agree 100%.

      But what a barn owner CAN'T do is accept the binder with a big smile and a board cheque, then throw it in the trash when the owner walks out the door...

  7. Ha! Seen those, fortunately never boarded there. Maybe because I'm perpetually underemployed and hanging out at the barn?

  8. If you look at the "looking for board" ads you will see multiple posts searching for stellar facilities for "under $500" a month INCLUDING TAX....

    Sorry, but you expect someone to feed your horse, employ barn help to clean stalls/turn in & out/scrub buckets/do multiple boot + blanket changes for less than $20 a day????? It costs more to board a dog!

  9. If someone showed up with a three ring binder full of special instructions, I'd kindly point them to the nearest high maintenance hand holding barn down the road. Not that they exist in my community.

  10. Wow, how did I not know this blog existed before? It is brilliant. Oh, right, that's because I got fed up with the horseworld after 2 decades of vainly struggling to be competitive and dealing with all the craziness you so eloquently describe. Aaaanyways, I just found this today through Fugly and I've been reading lots of back posts and really enjoying it. Cheers.

  11. I've done the strap thing with blankets to see if they were coming off (in the 70 degree sunny weather) and they weren't. I also did it with the feed supplements scoops in their barrels. Those weren't being fed either. Oh the frustrations of not being able to obsessively care for my horse at my own place!

  12. I have the same problem and I would honestly place myself down in the 4-5 range in boarder craziness. I don't have supplements, I only blanket in under 10 degree farenheit and have no boots. All I want is my horse to get healthy, viable hay, grain to keep her happily carrying me around, clean water and a soft spot to sleep inside at night. That being said - I will not tolerate being told I get X for my $ and instead get F/d. Doesn't lying to someone take more energy than to just say

    "Here we like to only turn out every other wed and really it is only for the 20 minutes it takes to scoop the 8 ft of manure out of the stall. And really, horses drink out of mud puddles so we think it is more natural to never clean the water bucket. You also need to prepare them for droughts so we only fill the water every third day. It is for their own good. Etc..."

    Keep the posts coming!!!!