So, where do I begin . . .
- I'm still depressed. Not as bad as a few months ago, but I'm, like, genuinely having a quarter-life crisis, and I wish I was joking.
- I moved to my very first apartment on my own to be closer to my job.
- I'm trying to find a new job.
- I'm applying to Ph.D. programs, and Los Angeles is at the top of my list.
- My sister made me install Grammarly and suddenly I feel a lot less confident about all 500+ ramblings that I have forced y'all to read over the last several years.
- I left my barn.
After my last welcome back post, I did end up having a conversation with my trainer. It only made things worse. I got caught between my trainer and Satin's owner, and at first, it seemed that they just did not understand each other and could not get on the same page. Which is fair, and makes sense due to the emotional weight of the vet findings. As things unraveled, it became clear that my trainer was not honest about her knowledge of the situation and simply wanted to push the horse through the pain despite it being deemed dangerous for her to canter for extended periods. And by dangerous, I mean the vet explicitly stated that there is a high probability of Satin tripping and falling for apparently no reason.
The worst part for me is that I bought into it for too long. I had a long heart-to-heart with Satin's owner where she felt backstabbed by the amount of trash talk my trainer was spewing around the barn. This all happened from late May to early June. I apologized for participating in the conversations and ended up tuning out my trainer's input on the situation. Satin's owner and I have had such a great rapport since. We seem to be on the same page without needing to speak in-depth about Satin's ever-evolving health. Satin is about two weeks away from moving up to South Carolina and officially retiring. She'll be very close to my girlfriend's school, so I'll be able to see her from time to time.
As for me . . . that whole situation was exhausting. I withdrew a lot and literally did not trust anyone for a decent amount of time. I stopped riding Blackjack seriously because, although our relationship was getting better, I felt guilty about the workload that was being asked of him. He was being used in multiple lessons per day; the most I heard was four in a single day. Whenever I tried to ride him seriously, I noticed that he struggled to maintain engagement in his hind legs and they would slip out more and more often. It did get to a point where I felt confident enough one day to jump him around on my own. He gave a very nice effort, and I remember thinking to myself "I might have a hunter derby horse." This was well before my trainer accepted that Blackjack had kissing spines, and the touching vertebrae plus his swayback could not be resolved with giving him back injections and then using him in a hard jumping lesson four days later.
The thing that really ended it for me was a couple weeks ago when my trainer asked if I could give Liberty a "tune-up" ride. Liberty had some time off earlier in the summer after an accident where she escaped her stall, ran into the parking lot, and slipped on the asphalt. She had major scrapes on the left side of her body, one of which has yet to heal on her shoulder. I would estimate she had 4 +/- weeks of stall rest then came back into lessons. As far as I knew, she was sound, but my trainer noted that Liberty was starting to act out and become irritated with riders, to the point where she allegedly reared at least once with a beginner student. In her explanation of why she wanted me to give the horse a tune-up, she relayed that she could tell something was wrong with Liberty pain-wise, but that she couldn't let the lesson end on a bad note, so she got on Liberty and worked the horse until she would listen. What my trainer did not know is that I had already been told the full story of her getting on Liberty and spurring her to the point of bleeding because the horse wouldn't listen, even though everyone, including my trainer, was (and still is) fully aware that the behavior was a reaction to pain and discomfort.
When Liberty was on stall rest, her knee became an area of concern because the swelling was persistent. My trainer was worried about a fracture, I mentioned doing X-rays, and my trainer responded that it wasn't worth it because, at that point, if there was a fracture, it would have already started healing. Okay . . . so then what about an x-ray now that she's showing clear signs of discomfort? No, she decided to do a fecal, urine, and blood test because "if the horse colics and dies, it doesn't matter what's wrong with the rest of her body." That was the response given to me after I noticed that Liberty was standing back at the knee and having trouble extending her injured leg fully straight.
This post is becoming a novel without even getting into everything. My experiences with Satin and Liberty are simply bookends in a months-long downward spiral. I was excited to move closer to work because it meant that I'd be closer to the barn, and I could spend more time there. But there's never been a program that I want to be farther away from.
On the bright side, I have found a new trainer that I'm happy about. I won't have the freedom that I'm used to, but I think it would be best for me to scale back the amount of time that I spend at the barn. It was too easy to overlook major issues because I was so attached to and concerned for the horses. Even now I feel guilty about leaving them and the other animals behind. But there is nothing I could have done. It is what it is. There's no shame in trimming the fat out of my life.