A friend of mine moved her horse, to another stable. This is a horse I usually look after for her once or twice a week, while she is working late. So, when she asked what my thoughts was on moving the horse, I kind of told her not to, but at the same time I said that if she wanted it, I wouldn’t object to looking after him at the new place…
It doesn’t matter much for me, where the horse lives, as long as my scooter doesn’t break down, I got it covered… Or so I thought.
So we moved the horse. Upon arriving at the new stable, I realized almost instantly why I should have said no and refused to look after the horse at this stable. Truth is, I have been away from the equestrian world for so long now, having my own place for my own horses, I am just not sure I can survive it anymore.
The first person I met at this stable showed up with a very old gelding, and she told me to please move out of the way, because he didn’t turn well, because of his arthritis. Naturally, I moved away, so the poor old boy could turn. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that it is wrong to have an old horse, and I am not saying that it should be put down because it doesn’t turn well on a narrow corridor, but once she tied the horse in the corridor, all I could look at was how he wasn’t placing any weight on his right front leg at all. Even while resting, this horse kept a front leg unsupported.
That means, if anyone is in doubt, that he is in a LOT of pain. Horses never usually favour a leg while standing perfectly still.
I asked her, very unsubtly, if she had tried feeding him Cortaflex? Because it really does work, and it could relieve some of his pain. She replied by saying that she didn’t really want to spent the money and besides, she wasn’t using him for much. Just some light academic training and riding…
Which is where my heart is bleeding, my head implodes. You ride this old horse, who can’t stand still and place weight on all four of his legs? You are fucking kidding me?
What to do in a situation like that? To be honest, what I SHOULD do, was quite possibly, call animal protective service, because having a horse in pain, and not treating it or helping it in any way, is not legal.
Now wouldn’t that be great? Imagine that, me showing up at this new stable, embarrassing my friend, by causing a fuss over some old horse with arthritis? I am not sure my friend would forgive me for that. At the same time, I do find it hard to imagine how my friend willingly moved her horse into that environment once more, how she is going to sleep at night, knowing that this horse needs help and no one is going to get it for him… I know it is going to be killing me forever, that I am stuck between my friend and the wellbeing of this animal.
Then another girl (she was 20+ so I use “girl” lightly,) showed up with her pony, and tied it in the corridor. Another rider came and wanted to walk her horse by the pony, and the girl couldn’t make the pony take a step sideways. Which is where I instantly have to look for a reason. I mean, this pony just flat out refused to take a step to the side and let the other horse pass. That seemed like a very strong response, from a horse that was very used to living at a stable like this.
In the end, the girl couldn’t move the horse and elected to untie it and turn it around, and walk it out of the way, so the other horse and rider could pass. Turning her pony, I had to muster up all of my willpower not to stop her.
I have rarely seen a pony be so lame. I mean, it was hardly able to turn. The girl didn’t seem to take notice, and placed the horse back in the chains, once the other horse had gone by.
Now, let me make this clear, this was nothing like the old gelding with arthritis. This pony was LAME! As in, laminitis, hoof abscess, bone fracture, lame. (The three worst kind.) Really, really lame.
I watched in silence while she groomed the horse, wondering if she knew. I mean, I don’t know her, or her horse, who am I to jump down her throat because her horse is sick? God knows, I have had horses with laminitis, and with hoof abscesses, even one with a broken leg, the last thing you need in a situation like that, is some idiot telling you off… But then again, I always fought like crazy for my horses, and my vets did too, and I would have never, ever turned a horse that was this lame, the way she did, in a narrow corridor, by just pulling on the halter…
Judging her? I know, I am a bad person. I can’t help it. As it turned out, I wasn’t wrong though.
Clearly, she either didn’t know or didn’t care, because once she was done grooming the horse, she put boots on it and loaded it into a trailer, to go for a jumping lesson. I was left at the stable, in complete disbelieve. For once, I am at a loss for words.
I can only hope that whoever is teaching her, told her that the horse was lame and that she should go home and call her vet…
But that hardly matters. Fact is, the owner of this pony is truly, utterly blind to how much pain this animal is in.
All I could think yesterday was, I don’t think I can do this. I can’t let this ignorant, blind, none empathic, downright stupid, or even cruel, part of the equestrian world, into my life again. I can’t do it. I am going to hate every second I am there, looking after my friends horse, and I am probably not going to be able to remain diplomatic about how people treat their horses in the long run.
I have kept quiet for years. I have looked away, I have ignored how other people treat their horses, I have been a coward, because I had no other place for my own horses to live. I do now. I don’t have to keep quiet anymore. I am finally in a position where I can speak up.
I didn’t. Why? Because of my friend. Because she wants to remain friends with these people. Because her horse lives there now and she is pretty screwed if I can’t look after him for her while she is working late.
So what I have to hope for now, is that I have it in me to play the coward and keep quiet, once again. I hate this. I have been going over this in my head ever since yesterday, wondering if there was any nice way to make these girls understand that ignoring their horses and their pain like that, is unacceptable… I just get so angry… and I know, that doesn’t help anyone. Diplomacy is just not in my skill deck…
Clearly, cowardice is.
Because yes, when you doesn’t speak up in both the situations I was in yesterday, to avoid conflict, you are a coward.
I was told at a very young age that if you keep quiet when an animal is being abused, you are just as guilty as the one doing the abuse. That sentence has haunted me through all of my life in the equestrian world. I can’t seem to let it go, and I don’t think I should, because it is true.
I repeat. Cowardice. Level; expert.