I'm getting a little more nervous about writing as feedback pours in. The subject matter involves a lot of you all because I'm writing from the heart. My biggest concern is offending anybody. Funny how that wasn't always the case. Think poor Josie in Cleveland. I now believe it's possible to live out loud without 1) breaking anybody's eardrums and 2) airing the private business of my loved ones in an open forum.
It's funny how disempowering it is to worry about what other people think all the time. It's sort of what's happening with this blog thing. But I'm just going to forge ahead. Hey, if I don't end up in a corner daviting and eating my hair, it's all good.
Back to Buck…So, I get to the arena the first morning and look around. It dawns on me that everybody has been here before. The English ladies are all dressed in schooling gear. Appropriately not too fancy because if you look fancy, he’ll come atcha like a spider monkey on crack. And all of the western folks got the memo--except me, of course. They were all riding with a get-up called a Mecate (mah-ca-tay). For the longest time I thought the people were saying McCarty, as in Darren, the dentally challenged Detroit Red Wing. But it’s actually a bridle with a lead rope built in and a Romel at the end of the lead rope in case, you know, you might need to crack somebody somewhere. Me, well, I just had my old ghetto, garage sale, feed-store bridle. Worked fine.
Apparently, that was not going to cut it. This was clear to me as he harrumphed passed me on his first go through the arena, eye-rolling like a sorority sister at Lilith Fair. So Buck had one of his minions come over to me and whisper, “Come with me. We need to do something about that bridle.” She got a replacement from the wall of the tack area, adjusted it and then gave me a small word of advice about tucking the extra into my chap belt.
I don’t mind saying I don’t know everything about horses. I don’t mind asking for help. But the problem with Buck was he had no tolerance for anybody who didn’t know at least as much as he knew. That included pretty much everybody in the entire universe, if you were to hear him tell it. He was quite possibly the worst natural teacher I have ever encountered. His favorite tactics are shaming, screaming, bullying, blaming, targeting and passive-aggressiveness. I mean doesn’t that sound like something you’d drive hundreds of miles and pay nearly $1000 to experience? I’ve experienced bouts of Ebola that were more enjoyable.
Thank God I had the good sense to read his book the night before the clinic. If I hadn’t, I would’ve been completely blindsided by his brand of assh***. As it was, it was an autobiographical account so it was very tame compared the real deal.
Buck was badly abused by his father who was an incredibly disturbed WWII veteran. That’s why everybody walks a wide circle around him. He’s already had the crap pounded out of him. He frontloads this abuse info into every conversation so that he can take whatever shots he wants and people feel too sorry for him to fight back. It’s the oldest war tactic on the planet. I can’t believe people fall for it and don’t just haul off and crack him a good one.
In between barking orders to do specific maneuvers in the arena, he would occasionally ask all of the 30 or so of us to circle up in the middle of the arena to ask him questions. Meanwhile, there were another 150 people observing from the hayloft above the arena. A few people had really green horses, one straight off the racetrack, who needed immediate attention. The rest of us had just the standard problems. Doesn’t back up well, aggressive toward other horses, won’t consistently load on the trailer, etc. My horse had a host of behavioral problems as well as a significant reduction in overall fitness from his surgery. He was looking rather poorly and not acting much better. He was only 6 weeks back under saddle at this point and only 4 months out from surgery. And I barely knew him. I had owned him for a total of 7 weeks before he got sick.
Let me just start by saying my horse Timothy surely would have died had it not been for my dear friend Heather and my husband Jeff. They were awakened late in the night and dragged out of bed. Heather drove hundreds of miles, lost a night of sleep and a day of work all because she didn’t want my horse to die. Jeff road along and those two got him to MSU in time for colic surgery at 3am. It was harrowing. I was 1500 miles away in Orlando for the Easter weekend. I had taken an Ambien at 10:30pm just before getting the disturbing news from the lady at the farm. So I was absolutely useless and slurring my words. So they handled it and T lived.
The month post op he was in the hospital. The first few weeks he was home, I was at the barn every 4-6 hours night and day, hand grazing him and walking him miles up and down that dirt road. I didn’t mind really except that it felt a lot like a thousand-pound newborn who didn’t smell quite as good.
So I raised my hand in the circle and ask Buck, “What can I expect from my horse post surgery? How long will it take to heal, what should I never try to do with him, etc.?”
He replied, “You see this beautiful animal I’m sitting on!? He’s priceless. If his gut tied up, I’d put him down right now. I wouldn’t put him through the surgery and the post op. I’d cry for six months, but I wouldn’t put him through it. Now I have vet friends that lick their chops every time they see one of you guys cuz, what, they get $5000 a pop, right?” He asked looking at me. I nodded, slack-jawed in disbelief. Then he started going on and on about people getting attached to animals. So not only did he insult me but he never answered my question. He turned it around on him so that he could dispense some of his cowboy wit and witticism, or what I like to call ‘horseshit.’
He went on to kinda yell sideways in my general direction but not AT me, “These horses (of his) eat different hay and drink different water every week. They travel all over the country and not once get tied up in the gut. That’s all about me. Because I’m good with them, they’re good.”
I just thought, well, THAT right there was about as helpful as hog shit on a hay wagon. Yeah, thanks.
Let me just tell you that the MSU vets all said that they have no idea why some horses colic and others don't. They have no credible scientific data to suggest that it's one thing or another. It just happens sometimes.
Anyway, I went up north looking for Jesus, I think. I went looking for my redeemer and my salvation and somebody to tell me whether or not I had any business whatsoever riding horses. I wanted to be encouraged and coddled and praised for my genius in saving this horse. I wanted to hear what a great animal he was and what a fine companion he would one day make.
Ha. The funny thing about expectations is that they pretty much always end in giant disappointment-fueled resentments.
Especially if you're looking for Jesus in a cowboy hat.
(To be continued)