Regret

When I was 22 I bought my first horse.

She wasn’t the first horse I owned – and in fact I still owned Jubilee at the time.

On the other hand, this was the first horse I had ever seen on my own, evaluated, decided to purchase and bought with my own saved money, no help from the parents.

A friend of mine had picked her up at the auction a few months before. She was a leggy chestnut, probably 15.2 or 15.3, maybe two or three years old, although she looked much younger. She didn’t have any papers, but she had long, long, thoroughbred legs and a dishy little arab face with absurdly big, sweet, warm eyes. Something about the way that she was built let you know she still had a lot of growing to do, and that when she was done she was going to be something.

Everything she did was dainty, feminine, and well thought out. She moved like a ballerina, never setting a hoof wrong. She was graceful, and beautiful.

Most importantly, she had a brain. You could actively see her thinking. There was something almost eerily human about her expressions.

From the moment my friend brought her back from auction, I suffered from a deep sense of jealousy. I wanted that filly. I NEEDED that filly. She was perfect – if you overlooked the fact that she was a little lame. It was hard to say exactly what it was – some days she was sound, and other days she was completely off in her front.

After watching my friend grow increasingly frustrated for a month or two, I made my move.

Two hundred and fifty dollars later, she was mine.

MINE.

I borrowed a friend’s trailer to go pick her up. When I saw the trailer, I was less than amused. It was a ridiculously tiny, two horse trailer. Rusted and short, it looked like it was built for ponies. Still, it was a trailer, and beggars couldn’t be choosers. I knew it was dangerously too-tiny, but I did it anyways. I figured it would take us quite a bit of training to get her to go in something that small, but she seemed like she might be willing. I set aside an entire afternoon to work with her and drove down to pick her up.

She walked right in.

I couldn’t believe it. I put on her halter, walked her to the trailer to let her sniff it, and she just ducked her head and wandered right in. Disbelieving, I snapped the chain and closed the gate behind her. I didn’t tie her head, because it was a long trip and I wanted her to be comfortable. Smiling, I went to pay the money. I chatted for about 5-10 minutes beside the trailer before shaking hands and turning to head out. On a whim (and because she was MINE, finally MINE) I went to go check on her.

I hadn’t anticipated her being so thin or so flexible. In her curiosity to know what was going on outside the trailer she had twisted her head around to look over her back, and was promptly stuck. The divider kept her from being able to straighten and the height of the trailer kept her from flipping it up and straightening it.

She was bent double like a pretzel, with her chin resting securely in the center of her back, her neck doubled completely in two. I tried to keep calm, but inwardly, I was freaking out – at any second, I knew she would explode and would snap her neck. I held my breath.

She stared at me with a pleasant, amiable expression. Hello. Can you give me a hand?

Moving quietly and quickly, I unhooked the butt rope and opened the trailer doors, fully expecting her to explode backwards.

She stared at me, eyeballing the exit. May I?

I walked into the empty stall beside her, and applied a bit of pressure to her chest, clucking twice.

She took two steps back, enough so her neck had the room to straighten out. She heaved a big sigh and gave a big shake, like a dog drying off.

She was half in, half out of the trailer, and standing there calmly. It was unreal. I gave a gentle tug to her halter, clucked twice…. And she stepped quietly back in. It was crazy. How could she be that smart? I tied her VERY well and took her home.

Personality-wise, I’ve never met a sweeter horse. You could tell someone had taken the time with her. She had a little bit of issues with boundaries that needed to be reinforced, but that was it. Even her ill behavior was endearing. I would sit in her stall reading books, and she would stand by me, sniffing, licking, whuffling my hair. Once, as I was engrossed in a particularly exciting section of a book, I completely lost track of what was going on around me. Lost in the world of words, the book sucked me in, the world fading into oblivion as the hero…

Disappeared.

There was a hoof on my book, right where I was reading.

I jerked up in surprise – and there she was, one leg lifted, hoof covering the book carefully, feather light, like a cat placing its paw on your arm for attention.

I laughed and shooed her off, then went over to groom her. Maybe I had to discipline her for her behavior, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t earned a little love.

The problem is she never got better – she was always lame in her front. First it was her front right knee, then both knees…. The vet said that she grew too much, too fast. Severe osteochondrosis lesions. There was nothing I could do. Something about excessive growth and poor nutrition as a foal… to be honest, I didn’t really pay attention. The only thing I heard was that she would never be sound. Surgery might make her more comfortable, but it wouldn’t ever heal. She’d never be rideable. She’d never be sound. At most she’d be comfortable and a really sweet pasture pet.

I gave her a couple of months, hoping for a miracle, but it never got better.

I was 22 years old and making $8 an hour. I already owned one horse. I tried to find her a home as a pasture pet, but no luck.

I should have put her down. But she was just, SO sweet.

I think every person has those moments in life where they would give anything, everything, to be able to turn back time and change a decision. You could go back to that pivotal moment and make the right choice, and change what you did, and be a better person.

You wouldn’t know the burning, secret shame of bad decisions.

I wish I had put her down.

Instead, I took her to auction.

I knew way less about auctions than I know nowadays, but I knew enough. I wasn’t fixing a problem. I was passing it onto someone else… or worse.

It was an absurdly hot day. By ten o’clock I was sticky with sweat. The auction yards didn’t have any watering troughs, so I let her drink out of my McDonald’s cup.

I couldn’t meet her eyes.

She was one of the last horses to go through. She went for $125. I didn’t check with her new owners, because I didn’t want to know.

I left without saying goodbye.

I really, really should have had the balls to put her down.

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15 thoughts on “Regret

  1. I'm finding myself in a similar situation. My yearling filly seems sound, but she stands at rest with her hind foot rolled under and the hoof pointing to the sky. She also looks like she may be getting coon footed. I haven't had the vet out yet, mainly because there isn't a good one within 100 miles, and I'm hoping it's something she'll outgrow. Her Dam had horrid legs(she was an oops due to the mares previous owners mistake), and the filly has moms terrible legs.
    I don't know if I can keep her if she'll never be usable, but I can't bring myself to put her down without knowing for sure. I'm just glad for her sake that I do know what an auction would bring, and she'll never have to know that fear.

    Don't beat yourself up over a past mistake though. Life is too short to live with regrets, and you learned from your mistake.

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  2. I completely understand. Right now Tristan & I are going through the same thing-When we were moving out West, we sold the Big Blonde Butts to ourselves basically-not financially or relationshiply sound. And now the horses's lives are up in the air-where are they going to go, who is going to care for them? and we are 4000 miles away. Life sucks sometimes.

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  3. Dear god, I have to say that your blog horrifies me. I hope that before you become the caretaker of another horse you really ask yourself what you have to give back to these kind animals. So far you seem like a user and a border-line abuser. When a horse is in pain and you have no other options it is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to kindly put your friend down. Suck it up and do it. You let your mare down just like you let Jubilee down – selling a horse and then having no idea where he went? Are you serious?

    I sincerely hope you find Jubilee. That entry was heartbreaking. If you think he's up north I highly suggest you contact Debbie Davis of Sport Equine 1-559-307-0789. Debbie is a brilliant trainer who knows everyone in that region, she may have some leads. After reading how kindly that gelding treated you it boggles my mind that you would call him an idiot. A four year old off the track and a retarded green rider? It's a miracle he didn't kill you, that horse was a saint, you were the idiot. I doubt you'll publish this but feel free to send me a hateful email.

    If you get involved with horses again please for the love of god go to a trainer and get some education and some ethics.

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  4. Sigh.

    Yes, JG, (she explains patiently.)

    That was the entire point of this point….. to tell honestly about a horrible, horrible mistake I made, and to present it in a way that hopefully someone else might read it and avoid having to live with the same heartwrenching Regret (hence the snazzy title) I did.

    I do appreciate that you are trying to help, and be an advocate on the behalf of animals. It seemed a bit overkill to couch only two or three sentences of advice amongst 13 or 14 mean ones, but hey, maybe that approach works for you. Also, it is a public blog, so I should be expecting it from time to time, I guess. I can appreciate where you're coming from, so thank you for trying to help.

    However, I do stand by my use of the word idiot with Jubilee. Sweet, charming, handsome, athletic, and just dumb as a box of rocks. There's only so many times you can watch a horse go, “OHMIGAWD, A POOP RAKE!” before you have to laugh at him.

    Laugh.

    Horrible things happen – mistakes I make, mistakes other people make…. as I learn from them to be better people, and to do better next time as I avoid repeating them……if I am to keep my sanity, I have to laugh.

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  5. Ah, c'mon Becky.

    We all know this writer has never made a mistake, never done anything she regretted, never learned something the hard way.
    She was obviously born perfect, knows how to spell and properly enunciate every single sound that comes out of her angelic little pie hole and only wants to share her unassailable viewpoint of the world with you.

    Which is why,I'm sure, she lives alone with 50 cats (all rescues), stalking well-written, hysterically funny blogs, and tries to ruin them with her humorless drivel-on-a- soap-box.

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  6. Becky, I hope you’re sincere, your self described track record of using horses and then casting them aside when you decide you have a different goal or they’re not riding sound is truly shameful. The next time you buy just get a pre-purchase exam, outside LA they’re only about $800 with full x-rays, pretty cheap and money well spent. I just went through this process, it was crucial to finding the right horse.

    Anyway, the Jubilee story in particular was jaw dropping. Given the comfort that vulnerable, sweet young horse provided to you when it sounds like you were at your neurotic angsty worst, to throw him away (but not before sending him to an abusive trainer that you, as the owner, should have vetted first) and have no idea where he is, no buy-back contract, etc. is unthinkable. I’ve been riding since I was about four years old, have met literally hundreds of horsemen/women and that is one of the worst betrayals I’ve ever heard. I am heartbroken for him. Horses are very sensitive animals, he probably thought you were truly his friend, not another user, but he was wrong eh? You expect that kind of “who gives a shit” attitude from charros and race trainers but from a young girl? I may be the one busting your balls but you’ve got a hard, ugly heart and no ethical compass. As for how stupid Jubilee was (or “is” if he’s still alive) he was a four year old OTTB. I’ve owned three (just bought another one actually) and worked with scores, they often require extra sensitization training. I’ve been doing this for a long time and I still work closely with a trainer, especially with an OTTB. Given you came at him with fly spray the instant he was on your property makes me think the failings were (as always) with you, the human, not with the horse. Odds are your idiocy failed to instill the kind of quiet confidence that a young horse needs from his handler.

    So, I guess it’s pretty easy for you to “laugh” and “learn” from the mistakes you make over and over and over and over again at the expense of kind and trusting horses. After all you’re not the one scared, injured and alone on a slaughter truck heading for Texas are you? You’ve got the luxury of “laughing” about it all and chalking it up to life experience. It’s heartbreaking for those animals and I hope you have done more “learning” than “laughing” but your blog suggests otherwise.

    As much as I can’t stand girls like you, Becky, my only real concern is for the animals. I hope you right the wrongs you’ve done to the horses who were naïve and innocent enough to believe you were a friend. Ever occurred to you that first little mare didn’t like you because she was clever enough to see through your fake love and know you only care for yourself and your own needs? She’s probably dead now too eh? But you wouldn’t know. Please change. Please.

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  7. As for Mugwhatever, actually I’ve made many mistakes including a failed business at 24, backed into the sheriff of Aspen, Colorado, fired twice in 10 years and I once left a wallet containing $1500 in cash on the top of my car at a rest stop (and no, I didn’t get it back). I fell down the stairs at my own high school graduation. Sunday I was cleaning out my truck and threw my phone in a dumpster, 15 minutes of rooting through trash in front of my neighbors ensued. Now that I think about it, I do stupid sh*t all the time. Am I serial horse abuser? Hell no. Do you get that this is actually serious? Do you care at all about animals? I don’t think you do.

    As for how I found this blog entry I don’t make a habit of reading this kind of mediocre “insecure fat chick comes of age and figures out life” humor (yawn); I was doing an image search on a horse I just bought and saw a picture of Jubilee. I’m a sucker for chestnuts and he’s gorgeous, I clicked through and was disgusted by the entry. Want to check my facts? Do a Google image search on “Fear No Evil Thoroughbred,” Jubilee comes right up. What a nice canter, he might have been a good dressage horse, it’s a pity girl wonder here wasn’t a decent enough rider to stick with a 15.2 hand horse’s “massive trot” (chortle chortle, you must be kidding?). As for who I am, I’m 33, at the top of my industry, in a one-year relationship with the most caring man in the world and since I know you self-hating dorky types only care about one thing, yeah, I’m pretty hot. Feel free to visit my FB and confirm these inscrutable facts lol. I do have one cat though, we treasure her. She’s pretty old and we may have to put her down in the next couple years. In that event I won’t flake out, I’ll be with her like I was with my GSD Hanna and our pony Li’l Bill. Oh what the hell, maybe I’ll take our kitty to the shelter to die alone and “laugh” about it later, write an inane blog and receive praise from sad Mrs. Doubtfire types with screen names like Mugwup who think my brand of quirky drivel is comedic genius. And yes Mugs, I do know how to spell and I enunciate when I speak. Get some standards. Apply them to yourself. You can do it.

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  8. Peace, JG. Breathe.

    You're arguing with yourself.

    If you would please employ your reading skills, you will see that you are merely repeating the same exact point of these posts.

    Nobody is arguing with you.

    The difference is that you are trying to instruct me (on the very point I sat down to make) by insulting me, assuming many incorrect things, extrapolating more incorrect facts from those assumptions, and then insulting me again, all to to share your passionate views.

    I explained very plainly to you that I was not arguing with your viewpoints….and you responded with more vitriolic material, which makes me think you are less interested in being an advocate for the animal, and more interested in trolling.

    If you'll notice, I initiated the entire storyline via storytelling and extremely personal sharing.

    You wandered over here, read it, and then regurgitated the very point I was making…. via incorrect assumptions and deliberately cruel insults designed to shock.

    I appreciate where you are coming from, but if you really want to be an advocate for the animal, you must learn better people skills.

    Also, I appreciate your attempt at transparency, but the blogger profile you are using leads back to a blank page with only four views?

    Anyways, regarding Jubilee, my royal idiot, I stand by what I said – so beautiful. Heartwrenchingly sweet. And definitely a few clowns short of a circus. I will admit that he appears very bright when compared to my current dog – Man. That is one animal that forgot to pay his brain bill!

    I'm not entirely convinced you're not a troll – but if you aren't, and you would like to continue to share, please be respectful. Or funny. You can be grumpy and cruel, provided you are funny.

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  9. Ok, Becks, try to follow along – what I'm saying is that your actions are disgusting, so your blathering about “regrets” or whatever rings a bit hollow. Your professed concern for your horses is pretty hollow in contrast to how many you've tossed aside when your whims changed. As for transparency, I think this logged me in with Google, I have no idea where that leads. If you want to continue this dialogue offline feel free to contact me at jessicagill888@yahoo.com. You have a standing invitation to meet me anytime, I live in Culver City, work in Santa Monica and my barn is in the Valley. I likely won't be any more pleasant in real life but if you want to use my contacts to find a suitable trainer in your area that's something I would be happy to arrange.

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