Saturday, October 13, 2007

When bad things happen at good barns

This isn't a post about a fugly horse, but it's certainly about some fugly people.

You sell or lease a horse, and you're as careful as you know how to be. You do a site check, or you have friends who know of the barn and the owners, and everything looks rosy - it's a fine facility full of happy and well cared for horses. So, without further worry, you send your horse off to his or her new home and wait eagerly for updates of how things are going. You are sure everything will be fine because this is a nice show barn you've sent the horse to - not some barbed-wire-surrounded shack back in the woods somewhere.

Unfortunately, just because a facility looks good, it doesn't mean it is good. I have an animal control officer friend who has told me numerous stories of successful folks with lovely farms, new aluminum trailers - and a starving horse or two out back that was bad enough to impound. In one case, the story was of an old horse whose cannon bones had come through the bottom of his feet. Usually these cases are born out of total ignorance that a horse is more complicated than buying the kids a Playstation - in that case, the owner thought that horse was "just lazy" because he was down most of the time. And while ignorance is no excuse, it is somewhat more easy to understand than when things go bad at a barn where plenty of knowledgeable people are around and yet no one says a thing.

Before I begin this post, I want to say that this case is pending. Here's the news story. Charges have been filed, but there has been no determination of guilt. I have an opinion, as I do about most things, and my opinion is that this is inexcusable. No excuse in the world will ever answer the important questions for me, which are: Why did you let it go this far? What the hell kind of an idiot lets a horse just deteriorate like this? Did you ever learn to give a shot properly? And the rest of the people at this barn...did none of you have the cojones to call the owner or Animal Control except for the one person (who was just there for a party) who FINALLY reported this to the owner? It boggles the mind.

The people in the pictures rescued her and are NOT the ones who let her get into this condition.

The person who took the pictures described her condition as follows: "Her hip was smashed. It brought tears to everyones eyes, including the vet. One of the hardest things, I have ever had to look at. The big lump on Tuna's neck, was a large abcess from a missed IV shot. What the pictures can't show you, is how Tuna was struggling to even breathe, she could be heard outside the barn." The pony was euthanized just as soon as her condition had been documented.

They go on to describe what kind of pony she was. "She was a the ultimate kids pony. She could be seen in the Children's pony division early in life, to the mini stirrup in her later years. You never had to worry about your child when they working around or riding Tuna. She had a heart of gold. She loved life, and loved the kids. She was a veteran show pony, and was winning ribbons just last year. She was the type of pony everyone hopes their kids learn on."

Well, this is the end she came to, after all of those years. Her owner thought she was doing a kind thing by leasing her out to a 4 year old child who could enjoy her - and this is the end she came to, thanks to that child being surrounded by adults whose behavior is absolutely inexplicable. Did they really let this pony get this bad because they were too chicken shit to tell the owner she had been injured so severely she needed to be put down? You know, I'm always horrified by people who let horses who need to be euthanized go on too long because "it's just too upsetting for them" and various other selfish reasons, but this takes this freakin' cake. Can't wait to hear what they say in court.

Some of the (alleged, remember this is the Internet) boarders at the barn posted to this other board where it was discussed and stated they were afraid to speak up for fear Ms. Parks would throw them out of the barn. While this is a believable consequence, given her ranting and misspelled e-mails to people who gave her their 2 cents about her standard of horse care, WHY THE HELL would you WANT to stay in a barn where shit like this goes on? This may come as news but it wasn't the only barn in New Jersey. TAKE PICTURES FOR PROOF, then MOVE OUT and CALL ANIMAL CONTROL. Not that complicated.

This was sent to me by many, many people and I have waited until the charges were filed to post. I sincerely hope the book, hell, the whole library, is thrown at the worthless sack of shit "Trainer" and the either ignorant or equally worthless "Lessee." The story does serve as a great illustration of my original point though - a beautiful barn is not always the sign of a true horseman/woman, nor is a place that is shabby (but safe) a sign of a poor one.

Kudos to the person who finally reported this to the owner, to the owner for quickly taking action to end the pony's suffering, and to the people on The Outside Course message board who did everything they could to ensure that this case was not swept under the rug.