Friday, June 19, 2009

We need to talk.

It's 10 am. Do you know where your horses are?

Horse in a barn

Waiting for their breakfast...

My pony's tail

...And starting to get a little desperate.

Horse eating weeds

Lately I've been noticing that the horses are being fed later in the morning than they used to be — like about two hours later. Ten o'clock is a bit late to be getting their first meal of the day, I think — particularly since they get their dinner around 5 or 6 pm.

Another concerning factor is that I've noticed the property owner often has a drink in his hand — and it's getting more and more common. There are times when I suspect he is blitzed, though I can't say for sure. I've been thinking it might have something to do with his late mornings.

I don't want the morning feeding to keep getting later and later, so I decided to have a little talk with the property owner today. I arrived this morning around 9:30, and waited to see what time he fed them. He came out at probably about 10:15 or so.

The problem is, he's been letting them out on the yard first thing, before they get any hay. The instructor who gives lessons on his mare commented that she didn't think that was a very good breakfast for them. I looked it up online, and found several sources that said horses should get hay first, because on an empty belly they are likely to graze too quickly. As you can imagine, for horses that aren't accustomed to grazing as their main source of food, bolting down high-protein green grass spells C-O-L-I-C.

The property owner agreed to start feeding them their hay first, and letting them out to graze as a treat later on. Then I brought up the delicate subject of his drinking. I told him I was worried about the horses, but also about him. I know he's been working through some hard times in his personal life, and I don't think he's handling it very well, but I also am worried that if he's drinking a lot the horses' care is going to slip.

I did mention the morning feeding time, with the hopes that simply drawing his attention to it will work. If he can make sure it doesn't get any later, I'm fine with a 10 am feeding time — as long as it's hay, not grazing, and as long as it doesn't get any later. (I've mentioned to him before that if he feeds them later in the morning, he should also feed them later in the evening. I'm not sure he's taken my advice there. I'll deal with that another time.) I also told him that I was concerned that if he's drinking, he may not be able to adequately deal with an emergency situation.

He vaguely reassured me that he's not drinking too much (definition, please?), and that the horses' care won't suffer. I feel marginally better, but I'm going to keep tabs on it, and if the situation continues to worsen, I'll move Panama. How much this guy drinks on his own property really isn't any of my business, but it is my business how he runs his business — i.e., whether he's doing what I'm paying him to do, which is to provide my horse with a safe home. The whole situation sucks because I love the location, but that one feature simply isn't worth putting my horse in danger!



At June 19, 2009 at 5:17 PM, Blogger Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Yikes. Just another reason I'm glad I can keep my horse on my own property. That sort of stuff would drive me batty. :P

PS In reply to your comment:
lol! Must be you...worry wart. lol!
No trainwrecks. All was safe. The horses seemed to know where to move their bodies and feet and the riders were competent and safe, too.
Lots of action, but no trainwrecks.

Did you check out the International Polocross video? You can learn more about the sport watching that and visiting the website.

I'm glad you enjoyed all my photos and information I shared about Polocrosse, Katharine. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed photographing it and sharing it with you. :)


At June 19, 2009 at 5:39 PM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

Someday I hope to be able to, also. I'll be glad to get away from the boarding culture, though I'll have to find Panama a friend, which most likely means boarding a horse or two on our property.

As for the train wrecks -- it just doesn't seem like the best idea to have a bunch of horses running around when there is a ball and a bunch of sticks in the air. I couldn't help but notice that the players had helmets with full cages -- presumably to protect their faces from the ball -- yet they don't think the ball poses a hazard for the horses??

I don't know about me being a worry wart -- I just think there is a lot of opportunity for injuries (both horse and human) in that scenario.

At June 20, 2009 at 5:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were you, which of course I'm not, I'd start looking for a place to move to ASAP. I grew up with two alcoholic parents, and believe me, no matter what an alcoholic says, all they care about is that next drink - he really can't care about you or your horse even if he wants to. Things won't get better - in fact they're likely to get worse.

Sorry you have to deal with these troubles, and good luck!

At June 20, 2009 at 11:46 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...


While I totally know what you are saying, I have a couple of hesitations about moving my horse. There are only a few other boarding places in town in my price range, some of them with problems that are much worse (usually glaringly unsafe and unclean). So to move him would most likely mean moving him out of town to a place that I know nothing about and where I can't visit frequently, which as far as I know may mean jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

I don't really know for sure that he is an alcoholic. His wife recently had an affair and left him, so as far as I know the drinking may be a temporary reaction to what happened. Like I said, it's only lately that I've noticed it. I'm willing to keep tabs on the situation and see if mentioning it to him improves things any. The place is very close and lately I've been there almost daily, plus I have several people (friends who live in the area, a next door neighbor, and the instructor who teaches on one of the other horses) whom I've alerted to the situation and who know to call me if they see anything that I need to know about.

Like I said, I'm not letting my guard down right now, but I believe for the time being Panama is safe. If that changes, I will move him, but right now I think he's safer with the devil I know, so to speak.

At June 20, 2009 at 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're keeping a good eye on the situation, and you are the best judge of what is best for your horse (and you)! Best of luck!

At June 21, 2009 at 5:44 PM, Blogger Laughing Orca Ranch said...

The ball is soft foam. I got hit with it while I was watching and it felt no more painful than a horse's soft muzzle poking me for carrots.
The full face guard masks would be in the case of a fall, to protect from hooves. Maybe it would be a good idea if all horseriders wore helmets with full face guards?

It's not a matter of if a rider falls, it's a matter of when.

And hooves hitting your head and face are always a concern.
Like I said before ANY activity involving 1000lb animals has the potential for being dangerous.


At June 22, 2009 at 12:34 AM, Blogger Katharine Swan said...

I'm glad the ball is soft. I hadn't considered that. But I think it would probably still spook a horse to be hit with one.

But really, my biggest issue is that the chaos on the field has got to be so dangerous for the horses. You mentioned racing in one of your comments on your blog. As you probably know from reading my blog, I don't approve of racing either. I think that yes, horseback riding is inherently dangerous, but there is a point at which I draw the line and say, "That's TOO dangerous." From what I've seen, polocrosse looks like it falls on the wrong side of the line for me.

I understand that not all my blogging friends feel the same way as me, and I try to be respectful of that. I hope you will read the comment I left you on your most recent post, as I think it explains why I reacted the way I did in the comment thread on your polocrosse post.


Post a Comment

<< Home