Chapter 16: The New Barn
It was really sad to leave my schooling barn. I really liked having Eve where all my friends were. She liked it too. But it didn’t make sense for us to be there. She was now an older, special needs horse living in a giant eventing barn. It just couldn’t work. Still, I was excited to start a new chapter where Eve could finally retire in peace.
Eve arrived at the new barn and stayed separated from the other two horses for a few weeks living in a small paddock next to the field with the horses. It was kind of weird for her to be separated from the herd for so long considering they were all older horses. Like, Eve was the biggest horse on the farm, what are they gonna do? We figured maybe the barn manager just wanted to be extra sure they would get along. Who knows.
What I really liked about this barn was that Eve could have her own stall now and be on stall rest for much cheaper than at our schooling barn which cost $12/day for stall rest (and that added up fast for her miscellaneous injuries). Plus she’d be protected from bad weather and such! It was great!
Chapter 17: The Downward Spiral
Well, that’s not really how it went. Apparently there was a miscommunication somehow because the barn manager told us Eve would have her own stall. But it wasn’t really her stall. It was an open stall she could use if she needed it, but it wasn’t her stall. Which kind of annoyed me. If Eve had to go on stall rest, we had to pay extra. And we were like um…ok. Not only was the stall not hers, but we had to pay $10/day every time she went on stall rest which was outrageously expensive considering it did not cost $10/day to leave a horse in the stall. We offered to buy shavings and muck ourselves, but we still had to pay for “labor” because the barn insisted Eve’s stall had to be mucked twice a day not once a day, and it didn’t make sense for us to go up twice a day to muck (even though she would’ve been fine with a once a day mucking).
There wasn’t even a set schedule for horses coming in and going out. They were mostly out and when they were brought into the stalls, there was never any logic as to why. Sometimes the horses would come in because it was barely raining and other times they’d be left out in a raging thunderstorm or blizzard. Sometimes they’d be left in on nice sunny, summer days. I never understood it. I just remembered it annoyed me all the time because when you’d think the horses would be in, they’d be out. And if you’d think the horses would be out, they’d be in. I just didn’t get it. I figured I’d never understand the wacky non-existent turnout schedule this barn followed and came to live with it.
The fields were nice because Eve got a ton of exercise. She was chubby and gained a ton of muscle from galloping and bucking around in the fields. Our farrier even said Eve’s feet were healed enough that she could do light riding, so I was pumped to try out the trails. I took a different horse out on the trails to see how they were first. I was super excited for this test run. We started the trail, and I was sorely disappointed. They were like makeshift trails, not actual trails. They were very steep, very rocky, very narrow, overgrown with tree roots the horses would trip over. Erosion was taking some of the trail away, so you were riding on a ledge. It was downright dangerous. I wouldn’t run on those trails let alone ride my horse on one. So I was pretty bummed about that. I never rode on those trails again.
The large fields seemed great at first, but then it turned out to not be so great when she kept getting hurt. It started with just a scrape here and there which was normal for her. She had always been a wild child Thoroughbred in the field, so these superficial wounds were always her M.O. She had gotten punctures at our previous barn, but never at this magnitude. It seemed like every other month she’d have either a puncture wound, a giant gash, an abscess, lost shoe or eye infection that required her to be confined to stall rest for weeks at a time. If you watched my Instagram stories, you know for a fact this horse was indeed always getting hurt. It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced with her before.
I eventually figured out that the fields were to blame…and her fieldmate. It backed right up against a forest, so tick/spider bites would start an infection in her scar leg and the jagged branches from the black chestnut trees would trip her up and puncture her legs. Her one fieldmate was a stocky horse and very moody. He almost kicked me in the face once when I shooed him away while I caught Eve in the field. He had zero ground manners and was so rude. I can’t prove it, but I’m sure he’s responsible for at least one of Eve’s injuries. He was an asshole. There was nothing I could do about either of these things though. It sucked for sure. I just tried playing more defense. I’d go up more often and groom her and do body checks to catch anything early to prevent infection.
Chapter 18: The Worst Management Ever
Eve was at this point a very special needs horse. She was a delicate flower. If you looked at her wrong, she’d go lame. This was our new reality. My barn manager somehow didn’t understand this though. There were a number of times my instructions were completely disregarded, and it made me so angry. Eve almost died (the second time) in 2017. She was bitten by a tick or spider that caused a massive infection in her leg (you can read about it here). Long story short, the infection went unnoticed by the barn for 36 hours until I got there, then we had complications treating it. Eve’s hoof almost fell off (which I learned is possible) and her scar leg had massive circulation issues because of the whole ordeal once it was officially over. I told my barn manager please do not leave Eve in a stall for more than a few hours because her leg will triple in size due to swelling from poor circulation (the infection just ravaged her leg). Well, there were a number of times I went up and Eve’s leg was tripled in size, and my barn manager swore she wasn’t in the stall for more than a few hours. Like, Eve’s biology doesn’t lie. Her leg is swollen three times its size. That only happens if she’s left in a stall for over 4 hours. So obviously you’re lying?
I wasn’t sure why it was such a hard concept to grasp – leave this horse out. She needed to keep walking to keep from stocking up an ungodly amount. But it was apparently very hard to understand. Thankfully, my friend who was familiar with homeopathic remedies told me this medication to try that would absorb scar tissue and increase circulation. And it actually worked really well. It took a couple months, but her leg stopped stocking up in the stall. And not only that, but her hard white calcified scar on the outside started fading away and turned into pink skin. It looked really good. So the situation with her being left in for hours at a time was fine, since the barn manager wouldn’t listen to me.
We had the exact opposite problem a few months later when Eve had an abscess and needed to be left in the stall. I wrapped her hoof with duct tape and it was raining/muddy in the fields. I said please leave Eve in. She cannot be out in the mud with a wrapped hoof. I came up, and Eve was out in the field with her hoof wrapped. Then my barn manager told me that Eve was only out while they mucked her stall. And I’m like…well, can you not muck around her? I was so pissed. Eve slipped in the field with her duct taped hoof and strained something in her leg that took months to heal – all because she was turned out in the rain when I asked she be kept in a stall. It was like I had no control over what happened to my horse. Like why did I even bother? I’m not giving you instructions on how to build a rocket and saying do this. I’m telling you to please don’t touch my goddamn horse and leave her alone.
Chapter 19: Horses? What are thooooose?
Even when she wasn’t hurt, just simple everyday horse care instructions were hard to follow for my barn. Eve was in her mid-20s and was getting more sensitive to the weather. She had a sheet, lightweight, medium weight and heavy weight blanket. Her sheet was for cooler/windy nights or light rain/mist. Her lightweight was for steadier rainfall and cooler fall nights. Her medium weight was for your typical cold winter day which was the main one she used. And her heavyweight was reserved for snow and below freezing temperatures. I know it’s a lot, but I figured it was pretty straight forward. There’s also apps on your phone that can help you determine what blanket to use for your horse.
Apparently, it was just too much for this barn to handle. One day it was raining hard and my barn put the sheets on all the horses. There’s no fill in sheets, so these horses all got soaking wet – more wet than if they had just been in the rain with no protection because horses are naturally water resistant. My barn manager was shocked when they told me how wet the horses were because apparently it wasn’t obvious if you wear a light jacket in a pouring rainstorm, you’re going to get drenched. Who knew? Another time, it was a nice 60 degree sunny day – which is t-shirt weather if you’re not from the US. Eve had her heavy weight blanket on. She was sweating underneath. I was livid. After that, I took all of her blankets home with me. I didn’t leave any at the barn because God only knows what blankets she would be wearing when I came back! I preferred to just blanket her myself. I kept all her blankets in my truck. It was just insane to me that blanketing a horse had become this complicated puzzle that couldn’t be solved. I was so over it.
Chapter 20: The Endless Lies
Then there was the whole feeding debacle. In fall 2018, Eve had gotten leaner. She was by no means skinny, but she was not as chubby as she used to be. My barn owner complained to me constantly every time they saw me about how skinny Eve was. They were for some reason SO concerned with my horse’s weight. They told me she had no top line and was SO skinny. You could see her ribs, but she’s a Thoroughbred so that’s pretty typical of this breed. She had no top line because she’d been out of consistent work for almost 3 years, and she was pushing 30. I finally told them if you want to up her food, then go ahead! Clearly they’re more concerned than I am about it. That’s when they told me “She’s already getting 4 scoops a day!” And then I was concerned. I had stopped telling them how much to feed Eve because like everything else, they fed her whatever amount they wanted despite my instruction. Eve was so fat anyway she got fat off air, so it didn’t really bother me much. But 4 scoops was a lot for her, so if she wasn’t getting obese off that much food a day, then there was reason to be concerned.
Later, I found out she was actually getting 1 scoop of food a day because I saw feeding instructions were left for someone filling in. So I was like okay? Wtf? Then feed her more! Like you complain she’s getting skinny, telling me she’s getting 4 scoops a day when she’s not – I don’t understand? I have no idea what the thought process was. Like creating drama where there is none. She’s skinny? Then feed her. Oh, you’re not feeding her more? Then stop complaining she’s skinny! I think maybe the reason for this was because my barn manager wanted to switch Eve to the food the other horses were on which was Purina Strategy, which Eve couldn’t have. I wanted to keep her on Senior food because she had done so well on it. But the barn really wanted everyone on the same page with food, farrier, vet, etc. I didn’t get it. Why does it matter what my horse eats versus yours or who my farrier is versus yours? I guess to make it easy for the management? They’d only have to buy one type of food instead of two? But the odds of a group of horses all eating the same food is very unlikely, so you’d think they’d have already accepted this when they welcomed boarders into their barn.
They were changing farriers also and wanted to see if they could use my farrier. I told them how much my farrier charges, and they backed away really fast (and also my farrier wasn’t taking clients so he was never an option). Then they wanted me to change my farrier to their farrier. And I’m like…no? My horse has 99 problems and her hooves are 90 of them. We’re not switching to some shitty farrier we don’t know. And the farrier they switched to was apparently pretty aggressive and hit one of the boarder’s horses who had a fractured shoulder with his farrier equipment. And I’m like wow he sounds like a lovely man. He also charged $30 to take off Eve’s shoe once when she had an abscess and my farrier couldn’t get there. He didn’t even dig the abscess out, he just took the shoe off, and then criticized my farrier’s work on Eve saying that he himself could do better. Like who even are you. Take a seat.
Chapter 21: The Barn That Must Not Be Used
It was really stressful because I listened to my barn every time they had a problem with us, but they couldn’t reciprocate. I needed access to water so I could scrub Eve’s scar leg everyday to keep it clean. It was a much needed precautionary measure to prevent further vet visits. Well, the barn complained I used too much water. I had to start being mindful of how much water I was using. I had to quickly clean her leg everyday in the summer. In the winter, the hose was disconnected so I had to use buckets to wash/rinse her leg instead which took longer. They also didn’t like if the wash stall was too wet because it would mildew, so I had to dry the wash stall and be careful the water didn’t splash into the barn aisle. It was really absurd to be honest. It’s a barn. Horses are dirty. The barn was indeed pristine probably because it was never allowed to get used, so when Eve started needing to use actual amenities as they were intended to be used, they were stunned. It’s not bad enough I have to take care of my accident prone horse everyday, I also have to be the janitor for this effing barn.
In the tack room, Eve had a lot of stuff. The tack room was small, so we had to downsize from our massive tack trunk. We had a large grey bin (for her wraps, polos, etc.), a big red box that had her first aid things, our grooming box and our bucket that we used to rinse or soak her foot in. It was all stacked on top of each other. Yeah, it was a lot of stuff, but it was because we didn’t have our big tack box anymore because it wouldn’t fit. And this horse always had something going on – puncture, abscess – she needed all of this stuff. You never knew what you’d need.
Apparently, our pile of stuff was still too much when a new boarder came along, so they gave us a shelving unit and told us to downsize. I had to keep my big grey bin in the bed of my truck all the effing time because it was “too big” to fit in the room. The shelving unit was a standing shelf that went over my red box and blocked any access to it (they had organized it for me while I wasn’t there). And then my grooming box went on the bottom shelf, and my bucket went on the top shelf. Yes, it did look neater. However, it was a giant pain to use and was not at all an efficient way to store things when your horse needs all this stuff all the time. The backseat of my truck pretty much just became my new tack trunk because I drove it everyday, and my stuff was always there. It was obnoxious because I was up at the barn everyday, and this new boarder was there like twice a week to ride with the barn manager. They had a giant western saddle and tack taking up the whole corner of the tack room along with 2 giant buckets filled with random shit. Their stuff was allowed to stay even though they barely came up to the barn, and my stuff had to be taken away. Infuriating doesn’t even describe it.
Chapter 22: Rage Quitting My Life
I just really felt not wanted at this barn. The barn manager was also under the impression somehow that Eve had always been this accident prone her entire life and was never able to get ridden, etc. which wasn’t true. They thought she was this massive problem horse and asked me a few times why I didn’t just put her down. They felt sorry for me for having this horse and were grateful they didn’t have to deal with it. Which is fine. Not everyone can handle the responsibilities of owning a horse. Like it or not, all horses come with a risk of injuries that require a decent amount of your time, energy and resources. Some people get lucky with horses who stay out of trouble; other’s aren’t so lucky. Regardless, everyone is at risk, so if you don’t know how to deal with it when it happens, then you shouldn’t get a horse.
I had thought about leaving the barn multiple times because I felt like it was like banging your head against a wall trying to communicate with this barn, and Eve was not doing well there. But I kept being convinced to stay by family/friends because “they feed senior and give supplements here, it’s cheap, it’s a smaller herd for her, other barns are bigger, etc…”. So I dropped it every time and dealt with it.
2018 is the year where I made all my big girl decisions. I had been jumping from job to job for the past year and a half. I was broke af and unsure wtf I was doing with my life. I was in a horrible relationship that I realized was toxic as hell that I’d been in for 4 years. My horse couldn’t keep her shit together at this barn, so I had to support her alone because no one at this barn could help me. The management was stressing me the hell out. All of these factors (some more than others) were driving me into an insanely dark place of depression. I was so miserable. I had mental breakdowns weekly. I would just lie down and sob on the barn aisle. It was clear I was a struggling hot mess.
I finally just got tired of it. I was so tired of the drama, the tears, the stress. It took years of this shit show for me to reach my breaking point of f*** it all. I was ready to rage quit my life. When Eve started losing weight because they actually never gave her more food like they said they would and then she really did start getting skinny by my definition, that’s when I was like ok…we can’t do this anymore. That same year I took care of the biggest factors contributing to my poor mental health. I dumped my ex and moved Eve to a new barn. I enlisted the help of Instagram to help me find a barn, and they delivered. There was a barn right around the corner from where Eve was now that seemed promising. My mom and I took a tour. Eve would have a flat field with no trees with one other horse as her fieldmate. She’d have her own stall and would be on a set turnout schedule. They would give supplements, blanket, fly mask, hold for farrier/vet appts and the staff actually knew what they were doing! It seemed like a win.
I didn’t want to cause bad blood with my current barn because I was giving a few weeks notice that we would be leaving, so Eve still had to live there. I didn’t want them getting even lazier with Eve’s care since she was leaving or have it be awkward when I went to take care of her everyday. I told them honestly that Eve needed a full care barn, and I was tired of having to come up everyday to take care of her. I said she needed a safe place with a barn staff that would be able to take care of her if I wasn’t able to. This kind of made it seem like Eve was a super special needs horse that needed 24/7 caretakers to watch her – but I didn’t care. They already had a negative opinion of my horse and nothing I could say could change their mind so screw it we’re leaving. Byeee.
So November 1, 2018, Eve moved to her new home.