Those first few weeks it wasn't just about my body trying to recover from two surgeries in a short time, the shower pulmonary embolism or the starvation that had racked my body. Even the gaping holes in my abdomen were not enough to keep me down. It was the excruciating pain that coursed through my abdomen and in the ostomy itself that was the most debilitating. The combination of all these things had me crippled in a way I have never experienced before and it worked on my psyche despite the great coping skills I had learned in my years of therapy.
I spent my waking hours praying for sleep and the night time hours weren't much better. There seemed to be no relief. In the daylight, I worried about the horses and my sleeping hours dreamt about them. Most nights I awoke in a fitful sweat driven by the fear my horses were suffering because of my health.
I had many conversations with friends about my concerns for my Arabian horses. Even their belief that I would always do the right thing by the horses was not enough to soothe my fears. I clung hopelessly to those unrealistic expectations I had for proper horsemanship and I just could not measure up. I was my own worst enemy, holding myself to a standard no human could maintain in similar circumstances.
Those first weeks a dear friend volunteered some time to do grooming. On her trips we would talk about options I was mulling around as I tried to decide what was best for my horses. On one hand there was the conditions driving me crazy, on the other the bad situations I had unwittingly sold horses into. One thing was clear to me, I could see grooming issues did not outweigh inhumane treatment. Poor placements could make matters worse for my horses and I sure didn't want that. I drove myself crazy looking for answers.
My friend did not try to push me one way or the other. She knew I would not allow anything bad to happen to my horses despite my illness. I imagine she was and still is probably one of those people who thinks this many horses is too many by her standards. She respects my right to make those decisions for myself instead of living my life based on the opinions of others.
She is the kind of friend who would tell me if she thought I was not living up to my responsibility even if it was hard to do. At no point was she pushing me to cut back. She was supporting me, my horsemanship skills and my right to make my own choices. That is why I trusted her input as I tried to decide what my best course of action might be. I knew it would not be colored by her needs but instead what was right for the horses and me.
I must admit I have encountered many others over the years who have thought they knew best how I should run my farm. (Here is one example) So many, I have almost become immune to their jabs, letting them roll off my back with hardly a notice, as if those people and their control issues are somehow harmless. Unfortunately I have learned there is an error in my thinking. It will show its face along this journey too.
When my friend suggested she bring a friend of hers to help her groom and look at the horses on her next visit, I consented. This woman had contacts that could be useful in finding good homes or so she said. I also understood (possibly wrongly) that this woman had sometimes helped other breeders by starting horses under saddle and then splitting profits when the horses sold. Whatever I was specifically told, it was my understanding that she wanted to help.
I definitely wasn't at the point I had decided to do a quick or radical downsize. The woman coming here was supposed to be about exploring options should I decide to make such a decision.
Allowing this woman on my farm was totally based on my friend's trust in her.
It is important to say here that I had meet thus woman before. She and I had both worked as a groom for my friend years ago. At our first meeting she had mentioned she was good friends with a woman I know to be unethical, manipulative and an out an out liar as well as being a person who exploits situations to accomplish her goals regardless of the human toll her behaviors might incur.
When this name was raised, this woman actually threatened me quite aggressively, telling me she would tolerate no bad remarks about her friend who she asserted great loyalty towards. Her body language, choice of words and forcefulness had left an impression so unnerving I thought I would never forget it. I made the decision to keep this woman at arms length and that is where she stayed.
Now as I was so sick and vulnerable I had totally forgotten the red flags that had nearly knocked me down when I first met her. Because my dear friend had suggested this woman could help me and because I was feeling desperate, I totally spaced on the jeopardy allowing this woman on my farm could represent. It was a huge mistake. One I still pay for to this day.
To be continued....
the First Red Flag.......