Saturday, May 01, 2004

I forgot to share the most heinous of all post-clinic occurrences.

About a month after FF, Truck and BD left, I received an interesting phone call from the barn manager. She said "I'm assuming you already know about this, but in case you didn't..."

The story from the barn manager was third-party, related by two other boarders who were present at the time. To preface this, allow me to explain that our barn is rather loose and casual. Everyone respects everyone else's stuff, and we rarely leave the tack room locked. We're all friends. We have the policy that if I have antibiotic ointment in my box and your horse gets injured and you need some, go ahead and borrow some as long as you put the tube back when you're done. It's cool as long as we don't abuse the privileges—and most people don't. Horse supplies are expensive. We can't all have a full tube of bute for that hopefully rare occasion we'd need it; so we share.

Except for equipment. That's off limits, unless you have prior permission granted. Mostly because saddles are chosen to fit the horse and rider specifically, and won't necessarily fit another's horse, and because they are darned pricey themselves. Everyone has different taste; some buy the most expensive saddle there is, while others buy used off-brands. But we all respect that. And we all feel comfortable leaving our halters and lead ropes or whathaveyou hanging from our stall doors or just loose near our tack boxes in the tack room. Because nobody's gonna bother them.

The barn manager said that 3P (third party) was in the barn, tacking up for a ride, when FF strolls in, acting like she owned the place. FF was now on her second barn, having moved twice in the span of a month. The new barn was across the state line, up into Michigan.

FF had an appointment scheduled to "train" someone's horse. Using Parelli methods. Which, if you bother to read the back of the pocket guides, is explicitly spelled out to be a HUGE no-no until you've become an Endorsed Instructor (which means you've passed L1, L2, and L3 and have been certified L3 for a minimum of six months; you've studied at the ISC; and have passed 1-star Apprentice and 2-star Junior Instructor status and are now 3-Star Endorsed Instructor and allowed to train/teach unsupervised—which involves about 5 years minimum of post-L1 education).

Of course, FF doesn't think that rule applies to her. She's been getting paid for a couple years now to "train" and "work with" other people's horses to "fix" problems, especially advanced problems with stallions and babies, an even HUGER no-no and strictly prohibited until you are at least Official L2 in the middle of L3—using Parelli's methods. Which would be ok, except that when she started, she wasn't even Official Level One, let alone anywhere near Endorsed. She's still in the midst of L2!!! So she's been turning a blind eye to the rules and breaking them methodically while smiling at Pat and Linda at the conferences and swearing she's following it to the letter. With fingers crossed behind her back.

But her "clients" aren't aware of this. They never even think to question the legitimacy of her "training" their horse. They just see the results she gets with her own beast (and buy the stories she sells them) and put her on a pedestal and she basks in the glory and offers to train their horse. For a fee. Which they gratefully agree to since most people have all kinds of problems with their horses. Even though that is erroneous, it's the horses who have people problems. But FF milks it for all she's worth. In fact, the reason she was so hot to make me fail my Assessment was to prevent my progress so I wouldn't take away her clients!!! Unbelievable! As if I am even interested in "training" other people's horses right now! Sh!t, I'm not even ready to take on my other unruly horse yet!

For one thing, I believe in adhering to the copyright laws and the threat of prosecution and possibly being banned from studying PNH if you go against the rules. For another thing, at Level One, I do not believe I have the capability or savvy level necessary to FIX every problem that might come down the pike. I have the foundation, I have the savvy to understand the basics of horse-human communication and why horses behave the way they do so I can see it from their POV, but I'm still green in so many ways. All of us are, until we are through with Level Three. Level One is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, and nobody under Level Three has any business even thinking they can train all horses. I would worry about doing more harm than good by making mistakes that an upper-level trainer will have to spend lots of time undoing down the road!

Just cuz you have training wheels on your bike does not mean you are ready to drive a sports car.

So FF was down in Ohio for one of her illegal "training" sessions at a nearby stable. And silly FF, she "forgot" all of her Parelli equipment up in Michigan. And she wasn't about to cancel the appointment or drive back up to Michigan to get it; why should she, when there's plenty of PNH equipment available nearby?

Are you following this?

Now, where do you think she'd have ready access to a whole pile of PNH equipment?

Yep, bright one, you figured it out.

She went after MY Parelli equipment.

The way 3P told it to the barn mgr, FF strolled on in, said a friendly hello to them, asked if I was around or if I was coming out. Nobody'd heard anything about my coming out. So she said she needed to borrow my stuff, that she was sure I wouldn't mind. She was gonna call me but my line was busy... well, "what she doesn't know won't hurt her, right?" big smile. And 3P thought nothing of it because FF made that lame excuse about having called me to ask me and besides, we were buds, weren't we?

And the bitch walked off with my PNH halter, my carrot stick, my savvy string, and my natural hackamore.

Now, as for the call, my line did NOT happen to be busy that day, because both myself and my housemate were at work. And there were no messages... oh, yeah, she told someone else she'd left a message on my machine letting me know she was borrowing my stuff. Lying cunt. Yes, I said cunt. So sue me. There were no messages on either my home or my cell phones. No emails either. Nothing.

So when I finally got home that night after working from 9 am to 10 pm at my old job, and got the barn mgr's message that FF had borrowed my equipment, she hoped FF'd called like she said she did, but she thought she should make me aware of it and that she thought most of the stuff had been returned.

I was dead tired and the last thing I wanted to do was drive to the barn at 10 at night, but that's what I did. I was so livid!!! The NERVE of that little... I roared out to the barn and I found that all my stuff was indeed returned, albeit extremely dirty, thank you very much, and I gathered up each and every bit of my PNH equipment and stuffed it into my trunk. That's where it's stayed since that day in October. I won't leave it there until I get a tack box with a lock. That makes me sad, because now I have to exclude my trusted friends because of one person's actions.

The thing that really pissed me off is that FF had absolutely NO business coming onto the property like that when she does not board there anymore. She had no right to enter that barn and mess with someone else's stuff. To remove it from the stall door was bad enough. To put it in HER car and drive it OFF the property is tantamount to stealing, and had I gone out to the barn while it was still gone, I would have called the cops and had her arrested. But since it all came back, I had no recourse. I made a point of telling everyone at the barn that my equipment AND my horses are off limits to FF, no matter what story she tries to sell.

I could have strangled her.

The obvious first thought that came to my head was that it was a thinly-veiled attempt to hinder my progress further. She knows my employment status, my financial status—both of which have been nil since May 2002 save for that brief stint with my former employer. She knows I wouldn't have the money to replace the equipment right away, and that without equipment, I can't continue. Wouldn't that be perfect? Maybe it was a test to see how I'd react, and that's why she put the stuff back. To see if I'd have the balls to call her on it or just whimper and whine and let her get away with it. I did neither. I didn't contact her, and I didn't whimper. I just removed the temptation. Or maybe what little shred of conscience she actually possesses prompted her to put it back.

That night, I laid in bed worrying. The realization that borrowing my equipment might have been an attempt to throw off my progress got me thinking about what lengths she might actually go to if she perceived that I was a "threat" to her becoming Top Dog. I honestly can't see why she'd think that! My motives for studying PNH aren't even up the same alley as hers! All I want is to feel safe and confident with horses and know what to do with them. I've toyed with the idea of being an instructor, but the fact is, I don't know if I've "got it" to be one; nor do I have the finances necessary to pursue it; plus it takes a lot of time and I really need employment soon. I can't live on air for five to ten years while I become an Instructor. I don't have a rich husband who entertains my every whim and who will pay for my ISC coursework, nor do I have the inclination to risk it all by illegally training horses for money while I study. I'm not interested in competing. She might be, but I'm not. I'm not a threat to anyone!

As I was laying there wide-eyed and worried, I wondered... I allowed myself to examine the possibility that I'd shoved firmly away at the time that maybe FF was somehow behind the break-in. Whomever came in wasn't interested in any of the pricey stuff that could be sold or used. They pretty much went straight for the cash. In MY room. They didn't get any of my housemate's cash. But they took the money set aside for the mortgage. FF had been in my home a couple of times. FF had the grand tour so I could show off my newly-decorated master bedroom. FF likely noticed that I kept my cash foolishly on top of the dresser. FF also knew my schedule and habits from having been friends, and had been married to a cop.

Stuff was "gone through" to make it look good but ONLY the cash was taken. And the housemate's old camcorder. How would that hurt me, you ask? Simple. You can submit video assessments to PNH. Video cameras are very expensive. So... take the cash so the mortgage can't be paid, and take the camcorder so the videos can't be made... gee, now I'm really screwed. Plus, mess up the front door so I have to come up with cash to fix it.

You might ask, why not take the PNH course materials then, since they are sitting right there on the bookshelf in the living room? Duh. Too obvious! Fingers would point right at her. If my money, my video access, and my PNH equipment is all gone, I can't very well move forward, can I? Quite the delay. So I'm laying there mulling this over, freaking.

My worst fear was that she'd up the ante and go after my horse next. Maybe one day, FF would "decide" that my good mare would be "better off with her", and hook up her trailer and drive off with her when nobody was looking. Yes, really, the thought crossed my mind. It still does, occasionally. I know she wants a second horse to get her through L2, and she always said my mare would be perfect for that. She's always been covetous of my horses, because both of them are quite good-looking and muscled, and hers is a Paint with too much racehorse in him. He's butt-ugly. But he's so ugly he's cute. She calls him... the Camel. Yes, that probably is too detailed for safety, but I don't care anymore. She envies my horses. She wants them. Hers likes to run off with her and run into things, break her knee, stuff like that. Not mine. Mine listen.

Or maybe she'd be crueler, do something awful to my horse to hurt or kill her, and ruin my horse's life as well as mine? No horse, no progress.

Knowing the criminal mindset of FF that's emerging, wouldn't YOU worry?

Or maybe I'm just being really paranoid.

Nevertheless, I wanted to pack up my horses and run far, far away where she would never find us.

How dare she trespass and "borrow" my equipment w/o my permission after betraying me like that and trying to ruin my progress but settling for ruining my celebration? How dare she?

No words. No more words left. Unbelieveable.

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