Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Life, the Devil and Crashing Dreams

I know that many of you have been wondering if there was any news about the Arabian horse I sold to Massachusetts. I haven't posted because I really didn't know much. Anything I would have to say was nothing more than conjecture on my part. I've been hoping that I would hear from the owners soon so maybe I could help add some information for them to decide how to deal with their dilemma.

Saturday morning as Rachel and I were just leaving the barn to go to a session at Angie and Richard's, my cell phone rang. Glancing at the number I say Brittany's name and picked it up only to hear Rich's voice. That threw me just a bit. I'm not sure I have ever talked to Rich on Brittany's phone. But I shifted gears ok and thought I prepared myself for what was to come.

It seems that Brittany and Rich had gone to Virginia to pick up Rhythm to bring the Arabian horse home. We didn't really get a chance to discuss what plans for the horse might be because Rich was distraught about what had happened in Virginia. He proceeded to explain the plan was to get some pictures of Brittany riding the horse in her great outfit while they were there at the trainer's.

There were other horses turned out in the big field next to the one they were using to take photographs and Rhythm was being a jerk. He was more interested in the horses in the next field than in doing his job. To resolve this problem the assistant trainer instructed Brittany to shank the horse to make him mind. The horse reacted by spinning around throwing Brittany to the ground.

Brittany ended up with a badly broken leg. Rich was furious. He was calling from the emergency room and really worried about his daughter. My heart leaped to my throat and my stomach turned. I've been there before and know how bad it can be. Just like Rich I was worried for Brittany. Not being able to see what happened, I relied on Rich to fill me in on how this accident had happened and how badly Brittany was hurt.

Rich jumped around a bit so I tried to ask questions so that I could understand. From what I could tell, Brittany's leg was going to require surgery and it would be a long recovery. She needed the surgery immediately but they were trying to get her home so she could have it there instead of in Virginia.

Whether they told Rich or he figured this out on his own, he was expecting the expenses to be in the neighborhood of $80,000. Brittany does not have health insurance. Rich was frantic about how he would come up with the money to get proper care for his daughter.

Rich was really angry about what had happened at the trainer's. He felt that the instructions to shank the horse that had come from the trainer had caused the fall. He knew that the horse would feel punished and react.
Rich was sure right about that.

Rhythm has never been a horse that could handle punishment. Corrections need to be something that make sense to the horse and instill trust, not punish. That was one of the major reasons the horse was sent to this particular trainer. We had all believed that his training methods were not about slamming a horse in the face to get what was wanted. It looks like we were wrong.

Rich was also really angry about the amount of training he had been paying for while the horse was left standing. He told me the horse was only worked 4 days in the whole month of April and that he had not been worked since they had come back from the show at the beginning of May.

Rich also said that both trainers were more interested in defending themselves saying the problem was the horse than they were in getting help for Brittany. After he called 911, they went off and left him to deal with Brittany by himself. No one from the farm accompanied them to the emergency room either nor called to see how she was doing. Rich was beside himself.

As we were talking a doctor came into the room so Rich ended our conversation telling me he would call me later. As I hung up the phone I tried to piece together all the things he'd said to me. I can't even imagine the nightmare the poor man is living right now. I know he has heart trouble and this cannot be good for his health either. Things have certainly turned from bad to worse. Who knew that dreams could come crashing down in such a heap?

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  1. Wow. Just... WOW.

    I sure hope Brittany heals quickly and cleanly. That BNT needs his a$$ kicked. Like from VA to the Netherlands. It really rots that he has turned out to be such an amazing jagoff....

  2. oh my god. My thoughts and prayers are with Rich and Brittany.

    Its horrible when someone you thought you could trust and instilled the care of animal too, lets you down. Lets you down so horribly you dont know if you can trust another professional again.

    I wish there was something I could do to help.

  3. That is terrible! Poor Brittney! I hope that the surgeries go well and that she makes a full revoery. And poor Rich for having to pay for it all. I went without insurance for a spell but after a woman died one farm over with over a million in medical expenses I figured I should pay the $179 a month and just get it. I bet the poor arab is having a heart attack also after Brittney's fall. Not gooa all around. Send my best to all involved.

  4. Oh boy, what a mess. I'm so sorry this had to happen. I hope they didn't take Rhythm back to the barn and "teach him a lesson". The sooner they can get the horse back home, the better. And poor Brittany with a broken leg. That just sucks.

    My thoughts are with all of you. If you decide you want names of trainers on my area, I'll send them over.

  5. OM Gosh MiKael, I have just sent you a private e-mail asking about Rhythm and Brittany and then came here only to see this post.

    Please tell Rich that I know it doesnt help much but he Brittany and Rhythm are all in my thoughts and prayers, I am pulling for them and wish so much that this had not happened to them. It is criminal that they just went and left him there and showed no concern. Shame on them. Rich must definitely look into culpablity, I know most barns cover themselves with that notice about not being responsible, but I think that the whole thing, from paying a fortune and not getting what he was paying for where the horse's training was concerned to the accident needs to be addressed, and if anything good will come out of it maybe a prescedent will be set to stop these people from taking advantage of unwitting clients and their horses!.

    I am devastated by this news.


  6. Oh no, things are just going from bad to worse! Poor Brittany! I can't believe she doesn't have health insurance!! Especially if she's a resident of Mass., we have mandatory health insurance that was put into effect last year. Anyone should always have health insurance but when you're involved in a sport as risky and dangerous as riding horses, it's even more important. This is just awful.

    But, the upside is that I'm glad to hear that Rich realizes it wasn't the horse's fault, but that the trainer advised the wrong thing. And, if they know the horse was only trained a few days in April, then it's pretty apparent why they didn't do well at the show. Not only was she abandoned at the show, but the horse wasn't in shape for it.

    I'm so sorry to hear of all this. It's just a bad situation all around. I do hope Brittany is OK and that the horse gets back to Mass soon.


  7. My prayers are with this family. They did not need another reason to be angry with their training barn and they did not need another reason to doubt Rhythm's place in their lives.

    No health insurance. Riding horses. That is a dangerous, dangerous combination. I have had too many big, bad falls off my horse to go without insurance. I can't afford anything more than disaster insurance, but that insurance has saved me from financial ruin a couple of times.

  8. OMGosh!! ((HUGS!!)) and good thoughts are with them! I hope Brittany recovers quickly!! And how totally sad for things to be happening like this...for what it's worth...I have complete faith in Brittany, Rhythm, and Rich and I totally believe they can accomplish their dreams! This situation may be one heck of a set back but I totally believe they can do it!!

  9. Ohhh, I'm sorry this happened. Some of the best horses around are those that won't take abuse (that is, what the horse interprets as abuse, or nonsensical or unfair punishment.) They may be the most difficult in some ways, but they are also the most sensitive and loyal once you have their trust. I wonder if the trainer was intimidated by a horse of such caliber.

  10. That's very sad for Rich and Brittany. Terrible news. But we've all learned to love our beautiful, independent, cocky Rhythm and it hurts to hear of his neglect and mis-handling. Out of all this tragedy both Rhythm and Brittnay will surely grow a stronger bond. Good news must be ahead.

  11. I'll send my thoughts to Brittany.

  12. This situation has certainly turned from bad to worse. I can not believe they would just walk away while she was waiting for an ambulance, not accompany her to the hospital etc etc.

    My thougts are with ALL of you. Rich, Brittany, Rhythm, you and Dave (because I remember how much he loves the horse too.)

  13. Well first let me say I feel bad for Brittany and Rich. I do hope they are not considering getting rid of the horse it wasn't his fault. It was the trainers fault,for the instructions he gave. Brittany should not have even listened to him but that is water under the bridge now. This high priced big name trainer(and we all know who he is) was just taking their money and taking them for a ride. Rich should sue him for services not rendered but paid for or at least for the hospital bills or part of them. I hope they got the horse out of there immediately and brought him home. My guess is this trainer is a lot of talk and no action, like so many others,just intent on keeping his big name profile with other peoples money to keep him showing.
    I wish them lots of luck and really hope that they keep the horse and get a trainer in their area who will work slowly and patiently with them when Brittany's leg heals and it will heal. My cousin had a similar injury from a horse and she is fine now and riding and she is in her 60's, not a young lady like Brittany. Keep us posted.

  14. beth, that's exactly how Rich feels. Brittany on the other hand still believes in the BNT. It is so sad to see how she has been mesmerized by fame when clearly actions should speak louder than words.

    I wish I could help too......

    onthebit, I'm hoping that I will get information how her treatment is going. I've left messages but my calls have not been returned. I imagine that poor Rich has his hands full and will get to me when he can.

    dressagemom, from what I understand they weren't much interested in the horse either but if they did take it out on him, it will be easy to tell. He shows his feelings openly. If his security has been affected it will show.

    thanks for the offer about trainers, I will let you know if they decide to go that route.

    lori, I don't know what will come of this but I did check Virginia law and it does allow for acts of omission.

    ann, I would be curious about what "mandatory insurance" means in your state. Might it be possible they have coverage and they don't know?

    katee,you're right this was already a big enough mess, they sure didn't need anything more.

    As for insurance, hind sight is always 20/20. I'm afraid it won't help her in this situation.

    equinespirit, I'm with you on this one. It takes a lot to believe in yourself to that extent but I do believe it is possible. I hope that Brittany can see her way through to believe in herself enough to pull this off. No BNT is going to make her dream happen. It can only come about with her dedication and belief in herself. Handing it over exclusively to a trainer only puts it all at risk. There is no dream when it's accomplished by someone else.

  15. I'm so sorry this happened. That's very sad for them and for you, Dave & Rhythm. My heart and prayers go out to Brittany & Rich for healing, a financial resolution, and wisdom in how to handle the trainer situation. I'm confident they will get through this rough time and learn from the whole experience with the trainer.

    Hugs to all!

  16. tamara, boy you are right about that. I have had the same experience. Once you earn the trust of one of those horses, it's a truly amazing relationaship.

    We're never going to know the true motives of this BNT, but just because he's said the horse doesn't have it, doesn't mean that is the case.

    molly, I sure hope you're right about this. Nothing would make me happier.

    nuzzling muzzles, thanks, I'm pretty sure she can use all the thoughts and prayers she can get right now.

    kathy c, yes, you're right about Dave. He loves that horse fiercely. He and I are really worried about what all of this might mean for Rhythm. But we are also concerned for Rich and Brittany. Things really are a mess right now for everyone concerned.

    grey horse, I don't really now what the status is on Rhythm at this point. I do know that neither Brittany or Rich blame him for Brittany's injury.

    From there, I think they each have very different feelings about the situation. Brittany still believes in the BNT and I think Rick is caught as far as the trainers "advice about the horse." Whether they still see Rhythm as part of her dream, I really don't know. That's really sad for me because I know from when I got him ready to show as a junior horse that this horse has the slowest and truest true jog and true lope than anyone could wish for. It's not something I think he can do....it is something I KNOW he can do........because he has in the past.

    I think at this point that what I say has probably been questioned because I don't have a big show record of my own. Never mind that the BNT himself told everyone at the clinic that Dandy was trained beautifully and that there was nothing he could do to improve the horse so he would work with the rider. You would think that might count for something. But then I guess today, that Dandy would be a nothing horse as well. Funny how things can conveniently change.

    dj, thanks for the prayers. I'm sure they'll be appreciated.

  17. MiKael this made me suck my breath in. Dear God am I glad she only has a broken leg and is not dead.

    I'm horrified on several counts, but not surprised (sad smile). I've heard of several cases where trainers did this to clients, know one personally and saw the damage myself.

    $80,000 is not out of line for a major break, surgery and the possible hardware that could be required. When I shattered my ankle, it required 4 hours of surgery, an attached appliance and 3 months off work. I had therapy for 2 months after the pins and appliance were removed. The appliance alone was over $25,000. My total .surgery. bill approached over $60,000.

    In general, sooner is better for treatment than later. My surgery was scheduled for the following day at the hospital I landed at.

    Where ever Brittany does go for treatment, have Rick talk to the hospital accounting department and explain to them what the circumstances are. Hospital are very very likely to work with clients to lower what they can and create payment plans for what they can't. They do not wish to see people injured or sick without help.

    As with all the others who have posted, my deepest sympathy to Rich and Brittany and a gentle cyber pat to Rhythm.

  18. I'm so sorry to hear that Brittany still believes in BNT. :-( The blindness of youth, I guess. She'll have to learn the hard way. Poor Rich stuck in the middle, loves his daughter and wants to make her happy, but he's able to be objective and see the truth of the situation. What she sees as the way to accomplish her dream is not the way she's going to get it. :-(

    Anyway, below is a link to a Wikipedia page on the Mass Health Care reform. Basically, everyone is required by law to purchase health care unless you make less than the federal poverty threshold, which is ten-thousand something per year. So, if she makes less than that, she might be eligible, but I'm not sure if she will automatically be covered or if she should have signed up for it. I'm also not sure what the coverage is, i.e., certain doctors, hospitals, etc. If she is in the poverty level of income facing those medical expenses it's certainly worth checking in to.

    Let me know if I can help at all. If you want you can e-mail me privately at belgmal AT charter DOT net (I wrote it out that way to try to keep the spammers from grabbing my e-mail addy)

    I'm keeping all of you in my thoughts.



  19. I just found this tidbit on Wiki. Not sure how old Brittany is and if Rich has a family plan, but this might be of help:

    Young Adult Coverage
    Starting January 1, 2007, insurers' family coverage plans are required to cover young adults up to age 25 for up to two years past the young adult's loss of dependent status. Beginning in July 2007, the Connector offers reduced benefit plans for young adults up to age 26 who do not have access to employer-based coverage.


  20. mrs mom, I'm not sure how your comment got lost in the suffle but it did. Personally I'm not sure the Netherlands is far enough. I have lots more to say on this subject and hope to do so one of these days soon.

    But I am trying not to step on Rich and Brittany's toes and respect their wished. I must say that has been a hard pill.

    holly, I must admit that I agree with you. As Rich was telling me what happened I was so worried that she had a major head trauma with resulting brain damage or even worse. I was relieved to know that it was something from which she could recover.

    I will try to relay any suggestions to Rich. I sure hope that some thing helps. I worry with his bad heart that things could get even more complicated.

    Ann, Thanks for the info. I will try to forward this information to Rich. Hopefully there will be something there that is helpful for him. The part of about the child being covered has me wondering if that might apply but I don't know Rich's status on health insurance either.

  21. I am so sorry MiKael. I am thinking or you all. It never rains but it pours.

  22. I feel like I stumbled into the middle of a mystery novel. I didn't did I?

  23. Oh my gosh, that is terrible! I send all my best to Brittany and to her father.

    I cannot believe that the assistant did not stay and offer help to them. Or that no one at least called to see if she was ok.

  24. When I lacerated my spleen in a horse crash a few years ago I had no insurance. Stayed at home in pain all night because I knew I couldn't afford to go to the hospital and I was hoping the pain would just magically go away. I had to go in the morning by ambulance because I'd been bleeding internally all night and passed out.

    Since I was only 24 years old my Dad strong armed his family plan into covering me. They'd stopped as soon as I graduated college, but new Minnesota laws said they had to cover me until I was 25 years old.

  25. Oh, that's horrible! I'll be praying something is figured out about the health insurance, and I hope the trainer makes some restitution as far as at the LEAST refunding the training fees, as the horse has NOT been trained there. Man, this situation stinks!

  26. omg, how awful!

    it sounds like the trainers at the facility are reacting poorly to a very critical situation.

    poor Rhythm......

  27. what a story! I am appalled at the trainer's reaction - if they were true trainers they would of known that the horse shuts down or how he reacts to harshness. We all know horse are unpredictable - but top notch instructors should know how to handle the situation - and perhaps it might have been changing locations for pictures -

    No "major medical" and riding horses not a good combination -

  28. I am always amazed at the things some trainers do. I had a really bad experience with a trainer when I was a teenager, and it made me leave horses for five years. Now that I own a horse again, I am trying my hardest to make sure that my trainer and I are always on the same page. I have never worried that she would do anything rough with my horse, but at the same time I make a huge effort to go and watch her ride him whenever possible. So far I've only missed a couple of the rides. I'm fortunate that I have a schedule which allows me to do this.

    I hope Brittany's leg heals well and she can ride again soon. Rhythm must have really been upset to react so violently as to throw her to the ground. I hope he's okay too.

  29. what a sad turn of events. Hope Brittany mends quickly and easily. I'll leave my remarks about the trainer left unsaid as they aren't particularly kind.

  30. My prayer go out to Brittnay and her family. Also her horse and how it sounds he was treated and the barn. speedy recovery!!!

  31. That's dreadful news! I wish Brittney and Rhythm a speedy recovery. The sooner Rich can get them both home, the better!

  32. Oh MiKael-I feel for Brittany and Rich. But my heart goes out to you and Rhythm. There is nothing quite so heartbreaking as raising a horse that has the potential to be outstanding and to see the talent wasted or ruined.
    Damn, damn, damn!!!

  33. I am sooo sorry to all those involved....Except the trainers, they need a swift kick in the A$$! I hope everything goes well with the surgeries and Brittany heals up quickly. I hope that Rythm's owners find a new trainer so he can reach his true potential.

    I too wish that there was something I could do to help.


  34. It's not even Rhythm's fault for being an Arabian and having an Arabian attitude. I know they do better when worked daily, than having inconsistent working and training. I try and work with mine daily. I always lounge mine first, get on and walk around, go in circles and 8's then go to trotting and cantering, and if he ever has a bad attitude I work through it. I don't believe in hurting the horse to get what you want, because you wont get what you want.. you'll get what you don't want. It will just make the horse worse. It saddens me to know that Brittany did that because a AssTr. (assistant trainer)told her do it, and she fell and broke her leg and now it's going to cost more money than I would like to think about a surgery causing her and her dad.

    I feel like, if you own an Arabian, your going to have to be more humble with the horse, and know how to handle them right. And instead of breaking them, they need to be gentled. It's all about gentling the spirited horse, and not breaking them, because in the end, your the one that's probably going to get broken.