Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Different Kind of Journey - The Discovery.........

This Story Begins Here

The last thing I had said to YW before I left the barn that day was "Call me and let me know that you've talked to him." I wanted to know that the situation with Vee's stall was fixed but that call never came. I called her and no one answered so I left a message. Then I called again. I called on her house phone and I called on her cell phone. Still no return call.

First thing the next morning, I did it all again. Still there was no answer nor was there any call. I kept calling and leaving messages. I called for days pleading to know that my mare was ok all to no avail. Finally I called and left the message I would be there to pick Vee up the following day. There was no response to that call either.

I will never forget the sight I saw when I walked into the barn that day. That little trail in the barn aisle was no longer just a barely visible wet line. It was now about a six inch wide running river of sewage . We could see the ripples of current in it as it moved from under the stall wall, down the aisle and out the far barn door. Just the sight of it struck panic in my heart. What about my mare?

I rushed up to the stall where Vee had been. There inside stood my beautiful mare covered in raw sewage. There was not a dry spot in the stall and Vee stood in what must have been a couple inches of sewage. One side was deeper than the other. She was standing in "stuff" over the tops of her coronet bands on all four feet.

Dave and I both rushed in to retrieve Vee, each wading through the crap each only thinking of getting Vee out of there. I remember looking down at that floor as I entered wondering how Vee had been feed in these conditions. There were no feeders. They must have thrown her hay right into the sewage. There were no traces of hay only the brown stinky stuff with an odor that burned both lungs and eyes.

I was the one who had grabbed the halter off the door so I walked up the Vee's face to halter her. I have to admit I gagged as I reached towards her face and this squishy brown muck fell onto my hands and sleeve. There was no way to be even close to the mare without getting that cr*p on our clothes . I can only imagine how Vee must have felt being covered in it as she was.

As I put my wretched looking mare into the horse trailer, I looked more closely at her condition. The mare had dropped some weight. She had also dropped some of her muscle tone. She clearly had not been worked because who could have worked her like this. Instead of the blooming healthy mare I'd delivered, I saw a nightmare of a rescue case only this mare wasn't starving but definitely suffering from neglect that would have gotten the Animal Control people foaming. Returning the mare to a healthy looking condition was going to take some major work.

Vee was covered from head to tail in sewage that was mostly dried. There were some wet spots but it was clear she hadn't been laying in it for the past few hours. From what I could tell there wasn't a portion of her body that was exempt from accumulation. Some places were caked more thickly than others. Her mane and tail were matted with the stuff, even her forelock and even eyelashes were vehicles for hanging clumps of the dried material from her face. It was beyond horrifying and it wasn't just going to rinse off. It was obvious Vee had been living like this for a while.

Never in my life have I seen such a thing. Never in my life had I imagined someone would/could allow a horse to be kept in such conditions. Never in my life would I have believed someone I knew and trusted would let this happen to a horse of mine in their care, let alone a pregnant mare, and not do something, or at least call me so I could do something. Yet here I was looking at Vee covered in disgusting filth.

In our nearly forty years together I have only seen Dave explode in anger twice. This day when we collected Vee from this horror was the first. It was probably a good thing that YW was nowhere around on that day.

We took the mare home with little talking on the trip. Both of us were stunned by what we'd seen. Neither of us even knew where to start to fix this thing. I knew if we talked Dave would only get angrier and I couldn't deal with that and drive too. He was way too angry to be behind the wheel so we suffered in silence with images of Vee flashing in our heads. It was a long ride home.

When we got Vee there it was too late in the day to even think about bathing her. This was October and the weather here was not just rainy, it was cold and windy too. There just wasn't enough daylight left to consider getting the mare wet. She was better off dry than soaked going into the cold night time hours. We decided we'd brush of what we could and then try to leave it alone until morning. At least the mare was out of that stall and had a clean dry one to spend the night in.

When I did being working on cleaning up my horse, there was so much stuff caked on Vee it took me literally days to finally get her clean. I let her finish her breakfast before starting. Then I began working on getting all that s**t and urine out of her coat. I'd soaked her down good with warm water from the house and then sudsed her up as much as I could.

After a while of scrubbing gently on the mare the suds turned to a muddy goop and I'd have to rinse her off and start again. I kept this up until the mare began to shiver, then I covered her in lots of coolers to warm her up so I could then try again. I could only do this a couple of times in one day. Then I'd need to quit so the mare could get dry so she could be warm at night.

Then the next day I started all over again. No place was exempt from the stuff, not even the hair inside her ears or the folds of her nostrils. The tender skin around her anus and vulva were raw and bleeding. Her udder was one solid round ball, it's original shape lost in the disgusting material that now clung to it. The tender folds of skin between her back legs were red from the acidity of the mixture and the friction as it rubbed together. Vee was quite a mess.

Where there were clumps it was particularly difficult trying to break down them so they would release the hair and drop off without hurting Vee. It was like getting matted wads of hair off a uncared for cat or dog, only this was a horse and it was poop and urine stuck to winter hair making up the mats. I wanted to cut them off but they were so close to the skin I couldn't tell where the mat ended and the skin began. The only option was to just keep softening them up and working them down.

I remember cleaning the mare up felt like those days of taking care of Lindsay as she vomited after chemotherapy. It was one of those things I did because it had to be done but my whole body and soul screamed at the situation, wanting to puke instead of minister. I pushed through because Vee needed me but to do so meant I had to flip some internal switch, leaving my body and watching from a distant vantage point. Detached but going through the motions, soothing the mare as needed all the while I screamed off inside my head somewhere at the inhumanity of it.

The first two days were the worst because that's how long it took to get the most sensitive parts of the mare completely cleaned up and the surface stuff off. By the third day it was more of the deeper stuff right next to her skin and the insides of her ears and wadded up balls in between her front legs and in her arm pits. As long as she sudsed up brown and gritty I knew there was still stuff left next to her skin.

By this time the anger set in but even those feelings I had to keep at bay. That kind of rage wanted to translate into being way to physical for such a delicate task. I didn't want to hurt Vee in this process. It was not her fault her caretaker had abandoned her to such a fate.

The whole time I couldn't help but wonder what kind of effect such a thing could have on the foal growing inside this mare. Those fumes and ingesting that material with her food, must have been a risk for a pregnancy. Who knew?

Normally I wouldn't jump ahead in the telling like this but there was something than no one knew about this pregnancy. Vee was carrying twins. Just one more notch in the miracle department for these babies, Trouble and Surprise, no thanks to YW. Looking back I still cannot believe Vee managed to carry twins under such circumstances.

AND there was one more problem. YW still had two horses I had raised in training with her. I couldn't imagine what those horses were going to deal with and there was nothing I could do about it because I didn't own either of them.

To be continued................

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21 comments:

  1. This story just goes from bad to worse. Poor Vee!

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  2. I hadn't put 2 & 2 together than she was carrying the twins. Since we know that story, I'm glad you mentioned it in this one.

    Totally infuriating. I am sure cleaning her was difficult for you but had to be somewhat therapuetic in trying to restore some order to the mess. Poor Vee.

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  3. Just imagining finding Vee like that brought tears to my eyes. I just can't understand. What's scary is that I actually have a very similar story concerning a YW in her first year on her own as a trainer. Not as bad as this but similar up to this point. Still makes my blood boil and was what caused me to quit horses back then. I might have to tell it someday.

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  4. I'm dumbstruck by this! A mare in foal in 4 inches of raw sewage?! No one should have tolerated this, from the barn owner to the other boarders...let alone your "trainer"!
    That girl needs a "coming to Jesus moment"...or a butt kicking, either way.

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  5. Leah, you're right about that and it's not over yet, unfortunately.

    Tammy, you're probably right about it being therapuetic in that manner. It also gave me something to focus on instead of stewing about what happened. That wouldn't have been good either.


    Story, I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you do post you story sometime. I experiences like this cause many people to quit horses and most never return, I bet. I'm glad you didn't let it stop you forever. That would have been very sad.

    Nikker, I always wondered about other boarders because there were lots and they knew who I was. Then there was the owner of the other gelding that was bought from me. What did she think? Or did she see it? As for the barn owner, he knew exactly what was happening. I've heard that issue had been that way before and was never fixed. I have zero respect for him either.

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  6. That's unbelievable!!! Did you happen to take pictures of any of it? I've never seen such a thing and I used to board a lot. No one would have let it happen to anyone's horse--we were always looking after each other and everyone else.

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  7. Poor Vee, I can't imagine how she felt in that place after being cared for by you at your place. She must have thought she went to hell. Unfortunately, I've seen barns like this and I've had to keep my temper in check. I have a hard time not saying something when I see bad situations. I'm surprised that you could remain so cool, don't know if I could have. Especially if it was one of my horses.

    The story goes from bad to worse but I'm glad that Vee was rescued before it had negative effects on the twins.

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  8. unless there was a flood that day, no horse should be standing in muck! With all you experience, knowledge, and years in the horse industry, you were trying to help someone get started. It frustrates me when I do this, and what I can do or the help is taken for granted. sounds like that is happening to you. hugs!

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  9. I fussed about this most of last night , the one prevailing thought in my head was that if YW had any snese whatsoever you should never have had to tell her/ask her to move Vee!!!! SO sorry the poor doll had to go through that.(just a randome bit of info that I hope you never need for something like this. but it works for other times too.A bit of shaving cream the foamy stufff worked into the dried manure on the coat will break it down and start to disolve it , then when it dries it often brushed right out ) I use it when there is a poop stain and I cannot wash the horse due to weather or other issues.
    I can't help but wonder what posessed this woman to be so reckless with your horses jealousy, stupidity ?

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  10. I am thinking too that it was lucky she wasn't there ,I know I feel like wedging her face into the muck without even knowing her

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  11. I hope you took lots of pictures to document this; it's sad to say, but this sort of thing happens far too often. Although I'm moving at a snail's pace, I've opted to forgo the *cough* professional trainer because I have yet to meet anyone I would trust enough with my "babies" (your story seems to be summing up my reasons fairly well).
    I'm glad though, that we can read it after the fact (I don't think I could take it otherwise :o\

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  12. WTF!!! What kind of POS thinks it's okay to leave an animal in those conditions!

    I probably would have ended up in jail for assaulting someone over that. I commend you and your husband for keeping your cool and focusing on the horse.

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  13. wow, what a horrible story! so glad you got her out and i can only imagine the anger you both felt. i, too, have no idea how people could do things like that. ugh.

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  14. Wow thats horrible! Its one thing to not ride the horse when you are supposed to, but to leave her like that and neglect her as well is awful! Glad you brought the trailer and got her home.

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  15. Oh my gosh, I can't imagine how you must have felt seeing poor Vee in that situation! I imagine you were both angry and heart broken.

    I can't imagine that this is an easy story for you to revisit...I truly hope that this woman, YW, is no longer in the horse business, and if she is, that she has since learned the error of her ways. I'm sorry that you and Vee had to go through that :(

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  16. Linda, I couldn't bear to post pictures of Vee in that condition. It does make you wonder how others could have been around this and not said or done something, doesn't it.

    Arlene, Vee was definitely glad to see us. It's sad to know you've seen things like this before. There wasn't a soul in sight when we picked Vee up but even if there were, I cannot imagine we'd have said anything. I'm not good at public confrontations.

    Horses, it is hard to say where she was coming from. There's more story to tell.

    FV, I imagine you're right about that and maybe that should have been my clue she shouldn't have my horses. I just didn't get it.

    Thanks for the tip about shaving cream. I'm going to remember that. Think in this instance it would have taken cases but I'll bet it would have made things more comfortable for Vee in those sensitive areas.

    Jen, there was nothing professional about this but I still know what you mean, I train my own horses for the same reason.

    smazourek, I am not an explosive type person. I tend to internalize and that really helped get me through although it made me pretty sick to my stomach.

    Hopeful, I think now wanting to believe it could happen is part of why I'm posting this. People need to be more aware of what's possible and more protective of their horses than to turn them over with blind trust.

    Crystal, I suspect she wasn't even going to the barn. Maybe paying someone to feed and clean stalls. Who knows. But someone knew what was happening to Vee.

    JJ, you're right, this isn't an easy story to tell. I have struggled with if for a long time. But it does play into the turmoil of the last year so I decided it was about time I came clean. Had I dealt with this instead of stuffing it, maybe I could have avoided some of the following ugliness. Also, as I'm working this through there is a pattern between these two incidents. Maybe seeing the "signs" will help someone else avoid being burned.

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  19. This story is terrible and keeps getting worse. Im glad you are posting it though, and will wait for more to come. I could not even imagine finding my horse in that condition. People would need to be scared of me, I carry a pocket knife and Boyfriend owns may guns and bows!!

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  20. I am somewhat used to reading rescue stories of horses that are found in this condition but in an active, working barn?!? Outrageous. I hold not only YW but the owner, manager and all of the other boarders responsible for letting it happen. Somebody should have raised a ruckus in addition to notifying you. Heck, I will go into a stall to straighten out a blanket if it looks like its uncomfortable for a horse.

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  21. I had to rescue my own horse 2 weeks ago, nothing like your story, but traumatic for both of us. I had moved him to a nearby barn so I could ride in the winter. I was told they had a stall for him. I visited everyday for 5 days, waiting for him to settle in before I worked him. He still seemed frantic when I saw him.

    Every time I went out he was in a small paddock with a pony-sized run in shed. Finally, I went there during chores and discovered the owners had gone on vacation leaving someone else to do chores. My horse hadn't been in a stall all week, and there weren't any available. It had rained for 2 days and there was only a 3'x3' semi-dry area in his paddock. He had visably lost weight. It was in the 50's that night, but I knew it would be below freezing the next day. I couldn't sleep that night, I was sick to my stomach. I went back the next day and brought him home.

    I normally give people more than one chance to make things right, but not this time. I could see he was very stressed, I didn't know what he had been fed, (they had a board with the feed amounts for all the other horses, his name was missing) I thought he was dehydrated, and his paddock was about to turn to ice. It took him about 4 days at home to be back to normal. He was exhausted. He just wanted to eat, drink, and lay down when he was in his stall.

    It sounds like you were very patient with YW, and very generous.
    I'm sorry that happened to your poor mare. I can identify with your feelings, though I don't think I could handle the rage if it happened to a pregnant mare of mine. I'm almost afraid to read the rest of the story.

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