Thursday, March 29, 2012

Idiots And Horses

I guess you could say I’m a bit of a cynic.  I really don’t have much enthusiasm or hope for the human population, mainly because my daily interactions with society have shown me that, as a general rule, people are undeniably, profoundly stupid.  Additionally, I’ve learned that stupid people LOVE to own horses, and I seem to be one of their favorite sellers to annoy during this process.  Maybe I’m just an idiot-magnet, I don’t know. 
So today, as a public service, I’m going to cover the most frequently-occuring breeds of Idiot that I encounter when selling horses, and if only ONE would-be seller becomes educated about the types of jackasses they’ll encounter during the selling process, I’ll have done myself and horses everywhere a favor.
Let’s start off with the number one most common type of Idiot that I deal with, the Shitty Parent.  When you call me, and say “I’m calling about your horse for sale on the Internet.  Do you still have it?”  Okay, first of all, how in the HELL am I supposed to know which horse you’re calling about?  Please consider that 90% of people with horses on the Internet for sale have more than one listed.  When I ask you “Which one are you calling about?” DO NOT answer with “Oh, I don’t know.  My kid found it and wanted me to call.”  Right away, this tells me three things about you, the combination of which, in my mind, ends our business relationship before it really even began:
1)    You have no idea what you’re calling about, but you’re expecting me to provide ALL of the information on EVERY one of my horses for sale so we can try and play pin the tail on the donkey and figure out just which one MIGHT have caught Little Suzy’s eye, even though its probably an unbroken 3 year old stud colt and Little Suzy is going to her third EVER riding lesson tomorrow (but let’s be realistic here: if Little Suzy is like 99.9% of the horse-crazy child population, the goddamn horse could have three legs, one eye and a $15,000 price tag and she’s going to fall in love with it anyway and give you my phone number).  I don’t have this kind of time, patience, or desire to share my inventory with you. Please fuck off and go to parenting classes instead, you need to be a more active participant in your kid’s life.
2)    You’re stupid enough to give your kid access to the Internet and then let them hand you a list of phone numbers of complete strangers and send you on a wild goose chase, and you’ll do it.  If dealing with you didn’t annoy me so much, I’d take advantage of this situation and make a killing off of you.  Lucky for you, I have a conscience, a desire NOT to hurt someone else’s kid, and a very limited tolerance for stupid people.  I really don’t want to deal with you beyond this initial phone call. 
3)    You have no real intention of buying a safe horse for your child, you just want something to keep them amused and out of your hair.  If you actually cared about your child’s safety, you’d be the one spending the time researching breeds, going through online classifieds, discussing specific horses with your kid’s trainer (you DO have a trainer, right? Because you obviously have NO idea what you’re doing), and then having said trainer contact me on your behalf.  Calling a dealer with no prior horse-buying experience is like walking into a new-car dealership and saying “I want to buy a red car, but it has to have airbags.” No amount of praying is going to save you, someone’s going to take your money.  It might be a little, or it might be a lot, either way, you’re going to end up with something that wasn’t what you had in mind once you’ve handed over that cash and hauled the horse home. 

My next most common Idiot-type is the “Well I’d like a young horse so my child and it can grow together.”-crowd.  This group is, by FAR, the most lethal bunch of fucking idiots in the horse world.  These are the parents at 4-H shows standing on the rail during a walk-trot class hollering to their kid “IT’S OKAY HONEY!  JUST LET HIM BUCK AND GET IT OUT OF HIS SYSTEM!  HE’S LEARNING TOO!” minutes before their offspring is carried off on a stretcher while the terrified horse is bolting around the arena trying to sideswipe the other inexperienced kids and horses.  Green plus green equals black and blue, folks.  But if you’re hell bent on the “let them grow up together mindset”, get a puppy instead.  At least that puppy won’t grow to end up 1200-pounds of I-Don’t-Wanna/Screw-You-Bitch because it was never taught ANYTHING because your kid hasn’t so much as looked at it in 4 years.  You see, she developed these nasty things called hormones and then boys came along and she realized her chest will get her further with them than a horse will.  Now your cute weanling has turned into an adult horse you can’t do anything with, and your little princess out getting railed by the captain of the football team and screaming that she hates you on a daily basis.  Last year I had a dead-serious phone call from a woman who wanted a pair of two year olds for her young daughter.  Neither horse had been so much as saddled before, her daughter had spent two weeks at summer camp where she learned to ride the year prior, so they felt they were ready for horses of their own and wanted untrained horses because they’re generally cheaper.  Their plan was to board these two at a barn down the road because: “They have trained horses in their pasture, so our two will learn what to do by living with them, right?”.  Stupid me, in 20 years of horses, I’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time. No one ever told me horses learn by osmosis.

Coming in at a close third, we have the “Oh I have a LOT of experience” group. This statement is usually followed by “My grandparents had horses when I was a kid.” or “My neighbor has horses.” or “I pet a horse at the fair last year!”.  Well super for you, Asshole!  Come spend all night walking a colicing horse, or clean a sheath on an unappreciative gelding, come give I.V. fluids to a needle-phobic sick horse, or hold the forehead of one onto its skull waiting for the vet to come stitch it up (that’ll set you back a cool $400).  Or hell, even pay my $350 per week hay bill for a month (that’d be great!) if you want to play horse-person for a while to get it out of your system.  Listen buddy, you may know how to lead a very tolerant horse and sit in a saddle, but so do most circus chimpanzees.  It kind of follows that same theory of “Anyone can have sex, that doesn’t make you fit to be a parent”.  Why not look into leasing before you fork out money on one you can’t hand back when reality hits you like a runaway bulldozer?  I pull close to a hundred horses a year out of the end-of-the-line auctions because of people like you.  You go buy a horse because it seems like a great idea, then winter hits, you forget that horses eat YEAR ROUND and HOLY SHIT is hay expensive in the winter!  By January, you dump what’s left of your horse at a kill auction for the first $50 bid that rolls around and I spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars trying to save what’s left of your horse before finding it a home with someone who will properly care for it.  Thanks for keeping me in business, but please go buy yourself a four-wheeler instead. 

I’d continue this hopefully informative little piece, but my phone is ringing and my inbox is full of email inquiries on horses that need to be answered.  Time to go to work….wish me luck.  More to come later….

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Seriously....can't ANYTHING be normal here?

I swear, only here does shit like this happen.
So I come home from Pat's this morning, and instead of going into the house, I went and loaded up the hay cart to start feeding the ungrateful heathens that comprise my herd.  Mind you, I'm doing this in sweatpants and a Carhartt, and pretty much wanting nothing more than my bed and a cup of coffee, really not paying attention to anything except how annoying the Thoroughbred screaming in the round pen is.  I wheel the cart down in front of the lakeside pasture, dig into my pocket for my knife, and cut the first string on the bale.  I start cutting the second string and something shoves my elbow from behind.  Now I know this shoving isn't a horse, because the horses are currently on my OTHER side jostling for position in the all-important who-gets-to-eat-first chain of command and generally being assholes.
Three things go through my mind in this split second:
1) Whatever the fuck just shoved me isn't one of my dogs.  My dogs aren't that tall.
2) I already saw Tyler INSIDE of his pasture, so I know its not a horse.
3) Obviously, its a person and I'm now going to be abducted (well fuck, they'll bring me back after an hour of dealing with me, so I'm good there.  If not, these are SO not the clothes I would have picked to have my dead body discovered in.)

So I do this creative backwards jump/180-degree turn away from the hay wagon and find myself face-to-face with this:

It is WAY to goddamn early for this.

Some vitally important information that needs to be shared here: I don't have a pet deer.  I have a herd of wild deer that tear through my pastures on a monthly basis and destroy my hotwire fencing, but I've never really considered them "pets".  Also, I work part-time for Bass Pro Shops, where the general school of thought is "If it looks like a deer, kill it, then figure out how to cook it."

It's 7:30am, I'm tired, and this thing looks delicious.

But the more practical side of me kicks in and says "You know, you're not going to win any cool points for jumping on a friendly deer and killing it with your bare hands like a goddamn warrior.  That's not going to help your lady-like image."  So although the Rambo-style hand-to-hoof execution would probably be WAY awesome and make for a great story, I decide to go the girly "AWWWW! She's so CUUUUUTEEE!" route and spend the next hour making friends.

By the way, should any of you unsuccessful hunters out there be going "HOW DID SHE DO THAT?!?!"  Try Patriot 12% pelleted horse feed.  The shit works! 

I have a feeling its going to be one of those days.....  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Formal" Introductions

Well, I caved.  I finally gave into the social pressure and got one of these blog things.  I feel like a 15 year old girl.  Damnit.  
My name is Jacquelynn, but you're welcome to call me Jac, Jackie, or "That Bitch on Sesame Street", and I started what I call "my job" several years ago when I realized that there is a huge demand for affordable, family-oriented horses that would have otherwise been shipped to slaughter.  I've been doing the horse thing for as long as I can remember.  My parents decided buying a few miniatures back when I was five would hopefully get it out of my system.  Needless to say, they were VERY wrong.  Twenty-something years later, here I am finally doing something that I feel is worthwhile, benefitial to both horses and humans alike, and saving lives in the process.  Do I make millions?  Nope.  Do the hours stink?  Definitely. Do I enjoy what I do?  Just about every minute of it.  I've developed a very "different" sense of humor in my dealings the past few years, so in the interest of not bombarding Facebook with status updates ranting and raving about the less-than-brilliant folks I'm subjected to, I decided to start a blog.  I tend to become rather "colorful" (which is code for "I'm an asshole") when venting about my run-ins with stupid people, and unfortunately in this business, I get a LOT of them.  I share my stories with others mainly for their entertainment (let's be honest, who doesn't like to laugh at someone else's expense?!), but to hopefully to teach horse-shoppers what NOT to do when looking for a new horse because, odds are, you currently annoy the shit out of those of us that are trying to sell you one!  (By the way: I'll explain the whole "Yes I Live On Sesame Street" thing one day when I have nothing else to bitch about.)
For those not familiar with me and what I do, here's the pretty, cleaned-up, website-appropriate version (because as a general rule, I cuss like a sailor):
Most of my weekends are spent at horse auctions.  We're not talking about the nice, clean, pretty show-horse auctions.  No, I go to the shady, bottom-of-the-bucket auctions that most horse people shudder to think about.  The types of auctions that most horses go through and end up in Canada or Mexico shortly thereafter.  For the majority of those horses, it's a last-stop, a last chance, and one last opportunity for someone to see that tiny glimmer of talent or life left in them and scoop them up before they get loaded onto that big, dark stock trailer for one last ride.  
That's where myself and my team come in.  When we arrive at an auction, we don't look at the pretty, glossed-up amazing show and work horses that everyone is drooling over while they ride around like world-champions.  Those horses will end up in a home and ultimately, with a family.  We go to the back, the dark corners of the auction barns.  We look for the "damaged goods", the cut-up legs, the ugly sores, the underweight horses, sickly and malnourished babies, the ones no one else will look at except the meat men.  If they look utterly terrified and therefore "wild", they catch our attention.  Those are the ones we try to save.  I've found that 95% of those horses, with a little time and maybe some training, some rehabilitation (both physical and mental), and lots of love will give you everything they can and make FANTASTIC mounts for one discipline or another.  Most of those horses go through the sale pen with little or no history, many are just "drop offs" that their owners tied to a fence with their Coggins test, with a fresh hip number sticker on their buttcheek, and left to fend for themselves.
Every horse we win is a gamble, both financially and for the safety of myself and my team.  You hear horror stories about drugged horses, dangerous "man-eaters" that were pawned off as kid-safe at a sale, and yes, we sometimes end up with those too. Fortunately, I'm blessed to work with some very talented people who share my passion for "turning garbage into gold" and together we've recovered and re-homed some phenomenal horses that even I thought at first were too far gone to save.  We don't win them all, and I have a firm commitment to my team's safety and the horses we bring home to euthanize any horse deemed too far gone to be able to safely rehabilitate after 90 days and evaluations by several other equine professionals including a veterinarian and outside trainers.  I will not put my name on a horse or pony and call it "safe" if I don't feel 100% confident to stand behind that claim, whether it's that day, or 10 years down the road.  
Unfortunately, in this day in age, it seems like everyone has taken a financial hit with the economy.  I've always been of the belief that you don't need to spend thousands of dollars to get a nice horse that will do the job you want it to do.  Sometimes, I barely make ends meet, and sometimes I have just enough cash left over to go buy myself a new pair of boots.  I don't have health insurance, and can't remember the last time I had my hair cut and colored.  But I've worked very hard and have an amazing support team that enables me to keep my costs down, and ultimately my prices, when its time to re-home these horses and ponies.  All I ask in return is that my buyers provide them with the kind of life, love and care that they almost didn't get to have.

So welcome to the shitshow that is my life and my work, please feel free to comment and send feedback.  Please don't be negative, my dealings with the public irritate me enough as it is.