Yesterday my wife moved her horse to a new barn (I would guess that she’ll be writing about that shortly in her own blog, Dressage Mom
). In the approximately six years we’ve lived together, this has happened five times. It’s both a casual and stressful thing -- casual in that this sort of thing happens all the time, and most times (for my wife and her horse, at least) it’s due to her trainer moving to a new barn, and my wife following. But other times, it’s due to something a little more dramatic.
About four years ago my wife was stabling her horse at this big fancy-pants barn. Her trainer, L., was there. But there was an odd dynamic in that the woman who trained L. was also there (we will call her C., and you can assume that stands for “crazy.”)
Now, if you’re not familiar with people who own and ride horses, you need to understand that they are all crazy. I mean, really crazy. The Scientist is no exception, but I’ve been lucky in that her crazy isn’t as grossly manifest as some of the other barn-people I’ve met.
But C. was exceptionally crazy. Bat-shit crazy.
It was a bad time to be at this barn in that L. was starting to move away from C. and start her own training business, and C., who, frankly, was past her prime and on a downward slope, wasn’t especially happy about it. Matter of fact, she would often talk trash about L. behind her back (and deny it later, of course). Add to this that the facility itself was owned by this arrogant jackass, and you’re not heading anywhere good.
So, the owner had hired this weasely little fuck named Joey or Mikey or somesuch, I can’t remember now, to manage the barn. We’ll call him Fucky. Fucky was (and presumably is, still) an idiot. Worse yet, he didn’t know shit about horses, and his position of being in charge of a dozen or more highly-trained (and expensive) animals was a mystery to everyone.
Now, I don’t remember the details with full clarity, since most of what happened is obscured by a blood-red film of rage in my mind, but it went down mostly like this:
The Scientist and I (this was before we had kids) drove to visit her parents in Maryland for Thanksgiving. Her horse was having some minor issue before we left, but nothing that was worrisome enough to cancel the trip. The Scientist is keeping in touch with L. on the phone and all is well.
Then things turned ugly.
Again, I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but The Scientist’s horse was given a dose of medication to help him get through whatever ailment was bugging him. Then, for some reason, another vet was called out to the barn, and ended up looking at her horse. The vet then dosed him with more of the same medication. Not his fault -- he was giving the horse exactly what he needed, except the animal had already received it. Now, someone should have caught this before it ever happened… and that someone was Fucky.
See, the barn manager is in charge of the care of the horses. He is basically the advocate of the owners when the owners aren’t around. The problem was that Fucky was too clueless to know that bad things could happen if this horse was double-medicated.
And the bad thing that could happen was that the horse could founder
. Now, I don’t pretend to know a thing about horses, but The Scientist had put the fear of foundering into me before, and even I knew that it was serious business. If it was bad enough, the horse might have to be destroyed.
Needless to say, my wife lost her shit.
It was considerably worse since we were 400 miles away; I think if The Scientist could have jumped in her truck and just gone to the barn it wouldn’t have been so bad. But, as it was, all she could do was fret over the phone.
I offered to pack us up and drive home on the spot. Nothing I wanted to do, but I knew how serious the situation was. I even had to yell at her dad a little bit and tell him to can the “What’s the big deal? It’s just a horse” bullshit.
Finally, after a couple of days and many stressful phone calls between my wife and her trainer, it was determined that her horse was out of danger.
Flash-forward a week.
The Scientist is back at home, and is none too quiet about pointing out that Fucky fucked up big-time. She makes it clear that this asshole is not to touch her horse in any way. This tension percolates for several days, until L. confides to The Scientist that Fucky and the dumbass barn owner are considering kicking her out of the barn.
To which, The Scientist says fuck THAT shit!
She doesn’t want her horse to be anywhere that she/he is not wanted. This news comes down on Friday evening, and she and I are out there early-early Saturday AM packing up her horse to move him to another barn.
And then it gets good.
See, I am royally pissed at this little fuckstick for screwing with my wife. He is a pint-sized coward who can’t handle a woman telling him to his face that he’s incompetent and shouldn’t be running the barn. Instead of growing a pair of balls and saying something to her face, he goes behind her back and tries to get her kicked out.
I should mention that there’s about foot of snow on the ground and it’s cold as hell. So I’m not exactly happy to be there, and I’m not going to be satisfied to pack up her horse and quietly leave.
Now, Fucky lives on the grounds. So I go over to his house and bang on the door. It’s probably 8:30AM at this point, and it takes a fair amount of banging before he stumbles, sleepy-eyed, to the door.
ME: Are you [Fucky]?
FUCKY: Uh, yeah.
M: Do you know who I am?
F: Uh, no.
M: I’m [The Scientist]’s husband.
F: Oh. How you doing?
M: I’d be doing a lot better if I wasn’t moving my wife’s horse in the snow first thing on a Saturday morning. I understand this is your fault?
F: It was my decision, yeah.
M: All right. Why don’t you get dressed and come over to the barn and talk to us about it.
F: Um… okay.
Because I’m not letting his little cock off the hook so easy. I want a confrontation, and I want him to know that he’s screwed with the wrong guy’s wife.
Now, just as I get back to the barn, C. arrives. Now, we’ve already learned that C. knows about this whole brouhaha, and has been consulted by the barn owner about it. I’m pissed that she has done nothing to defend The Scientist, who has always been nothing but generous and polite to her crazy ass.
C. sees me packing up my wife’s tack trunk.
C.: Hi there. What’s going on?
ME: We’re moving.
C.: You’re moving? Why?
M: Look, C., don’t act surprised; you knew about this days ago.
C.: Uh, yeah. But I hoped it wouldn’t come to this.
And then things really went down hill. I laid into this two-faced bitch for 20 minutes. It was clear that all her talk about having my wife’s best interests in mind was pure bullshit. She was a fading riding star in Northeast Ohio, and all she cared about was establishing her training operation in a nice barn, carving out a piece of business and growing her client list. If she had to throw one opinionated rider under the bus to make that happen, she would. In a heart beat.
So I called her on it. Because if Fucky had put one of her
horses in danger, she would have been clammering for his head. But as it is, she told my wife, "Sometimes you just have to zip it.
Keep your mouth shut after some moron endangers your horses life? Oh no, The Scientist wasn't about
to do that.
It was clear that C. was used to giving orders to other women, and didn’t care for a man pointing out her inadequacies. She got very defensive, and the lies and excuses came fast and furious, which just caused me to build up a bigger head of steam.
Then Fucky showed up.
Since he was the real target of my anger, I let C. go and focused on him. We went into his office, where I lost no time.
ME: So tell me, [Fucky], why do you want to kick my wife out of this barn?
FUCKY: Well, I can’t have a border undermining my authority.
M: And by saying that you don’t know how to properly care for her horse, this is undermining your authority?
M: Do you even know what "founder" is?
F: Well, it's when, uh, a horse, um, well, it's just really bad.
M: So you don't know what founder is.
F: Not exactly, no.
M: Y'know what? I don't manage a barn but I know what founder is!
This went on for probably another 20 minutes. I was fully in the moment, and consumed with browbeating this little fucker into submission. The Scientist told me later that his chest was shaking and he looked like he might cry at any moment. I don’t get pissed off like I was that day very often, and it was the first time The Scientist ever witnessed me that angry. She said it was a sight to see.
Finally, a few finger-pokes to his quivering chest later after I had made my point that if a horse had actually died under his care then this would be a very different conversation
The Scientist ended the confrontation before it went any further. We drove over to the new barn and unloaded her boy.
Man, I’m getting riled just thinking about it again. But, I hasten to add that this was an extreme situation, and has never been repeated at any other barn (even though things have happened at other barns that annoyed me greatly).
So, it is with this memory that I look at my wife’s most recent move. My hope, of course, is that she will stay at this barn for a while, and will be happy there. She deserves to finally keep her boy at a place that provides good care with a minimum of craziness. I wasn’t involved with the move at all (she took the day off so she could move him at a comfortable pace) and I hope I never have to become involved like that again.
But if I do… well, let’s just say I have my chest-poking fingers all ready to go.