Where Enough is Enough
Welcome to EA, Enablers Anonymous.
My name is Jay, and I am an enabler. It has been four days since I last enabled an addiction.
We all know that some people have problems, and it is easy to look down our noses at them. We ask why can’t they have the strength of character that we have? But, Friends, I am here to tell you that people who have addictions usually have people around them who not only don’t work to stop the problem, but are even instrumental in supporting the addiction. I am here to witness today that, yes, I am an enabler. I am married to a woman who has an addiction. Her – uh, OUR – problem is collecting animals. She goes out and gets them, and while I usually object, I feel not only powerless to stop her, but I often help.
Here is this weekend’s story.
When someone is an alcoholic, he should not go to bars. The temptation is just too great. Similarly, an animal collector should not go to livestock auctions. The pull on the heart strings from seeing all of those animals being pushed and prodded into chutes and pens, knowing full well that most are going to slaughter, is much too much for a collector to bear. My wife, who for the purpose of this story I will call “Nancy” (because that is her name), ended up at an auction Sunday morning. How she got there is not germane to the story, but Nancy knew she shouldn’t be there. She knew that she wasn’t strong enough for the task, although she tried. Nancy was there at the request of her new friend, who I’ll call “Susan” (because… well, you know). Nancy was supposed to just help Susan cart home this old, broken down mare that Susan had connected with. Susan felt she had to buy her, but didn’t have a trailer. Against her better judgment, Nancy offered to transport this horse and keep her at our place for a couple of weeks until she would be moved to California. (That’s her story, and so far, she’s sticking to it.)
Susan bought her horse, who actually turned out to be a gelding. Unfortunately, Nancy didn’t get out of there before she bought a horse. She had actually stopped bidding, but apparently she was bidding against a shill, because even though she wouldn’t go to the next bid, the auctioneer said she bought the horse. Nancy knew that she was going to be in trouble big time from me.
I had another engagement that morning, and didn’t get to the auction until about 1:00. I went looking for Nancy and Susan, but couldn’t find them. I knew they were there because our truck and trailer were there. I thought I looked through all of the pens, but couldn’t find them. I saw a friend, who I will call “Meredith” (!?!). Meredith was really sorry she let the cat out of the bag that there was going to be another equine at our place. “Nancy only bought one horse.” “Yeah, I know, it’s Susan’s horse.” “No, she bought one of her own.” After the string of expletives flew out of my mouth, Meredith kind of slunk away while I continued my unsuccessful search.
I went home. I was steaming. I was having fights with Nancy in my head all by myself. I was alternately being sullen or yelling. Still in my head, of course. It would have been weird to be yelling when no one else was home. I spent the next two hours fuming. And worrying a little bit, because I couldn’t figure out where they were.
When Nancy and Susan pulled into the driveway, Nancy’s heart was full of fear and trepidation. She didn’t know if I knew about the extra passenger in the trailer. I stormed out of the house without a word, and just briefly flicked an evil eye in Nancy’s direction. I opened the window to the first trailer slot, and there was Susan’s old horse. Then, to Nancy’s horror, I stepped to the second door and undid the latch. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew it was going to be ugly. I opened it.
My mouth fell open, and my first thought was, “Oh, my GOD! That’s MY horse!”
What I saw completely melted me. It was a big blue eye in the middle of a huge piebald face. The massive back behind that head practically touched the dividers on either side. He looked like someone splattered and poured gray paint all over him. He’s gorgeous. I jumped around to the back of the trailer, and opened it up. Since we have a slant trailer, it’s possible for him to turn around and come out headfirst. At least most horses can do it easily. This guy is so big he had a hard time turning around. It only took about fifteen seconds and I was in love.
So, I tried to be tough. The last time Nancy brought home horses without my permission was the angriest I have been with her in the 21 years we have known each other. I didn’t speak to her for almost 24 hours. But, as a typical enabler who loves an addict, I forgave her and soon came to love the horses, too. I was prepared to play my part again this time, but this horse completely disarmed me. Much to Nancy’s relief.
We are trying to mend our evil ways. We have made a list of which horses we are going to keep, and which we need to tune up and sell. We hope to be down to eight horses within six months. That will just about be the right amount for our 7.5 acres, figuring an acre per horse. Now that we have acknowledged our problem, we can start working on it. Recovery will only happen one day at a time.
But, enough about our weaknesses. Let me tell you about this horse!
Nancy spent two hours in the pen at the auction just to get a halter on him. He is six years old, and has only been ridden for short times. Like 8 seconds max. According to the cowboys at the auction, this big Clydesdale (we guess) cross, was a rodeo bucking horse who got tired of that scene and quit bucking, which is why he went to auction. He also has a big number branded in his flank and spur scars on his shoulders. We know the name of the company that owned him, and we are going to try to find out something about his history.
Did I mention he’s big? Did I mention he’s gorgeous? When we were admiring him just after we got him, a 13 year old friend of our neighbor was trying to make up names for him. She came up with things like “Psycho,” which didn’t fit this big, gentle guy. But one name that popped out of her mouth was “Dan.” Who knows where that came from? But Nancy immediately thought of Dan Blocker, and from now on, the horse will be called “Hoss.”
Hoss probably hasn’t had many people in his life that were good to him, but he is learning to accept us. If we approach carefully, he will stand still to be petted, but is still pretty wary. Being of draft horse stock, he is mellow and does not want any confrontation. He is quickly learning to trust us, especially since we are not mean to him, and bring him frequent treats. Hoss is playful, and when he gets confident, he is going to be a real character. On the first day he was here, he was picking up one of the orange cones we have lying in the arena, and was showing it to Dakota, trying to get him to play. He splashes in the water tub with his big ol’ snout.
And he’s a real athlete. I can hardly wait to ride that smooth, high stepping trot. I get a lump in my throat watching him move. I can’t believe he was destined for slaughter. I also can’t quite believe he’s living here.
But don’t think I have completely forsaken my Annie. I’m not THAT fickle. She is on my list of “keepers.” She has fit right in the mini-herd with the other two foals, and is just as gregarious as the other two, now. Annie and Lola look a lot alike, and it used to be easy to tell them apart because Annie would stand off to the side. Now, however, Annie is right up in the mix with the others, and we have to look closely to see who is who. Now that Pony Boy is nearly recovered from last week’s castration, we decided to let the foals mingle with the rest of the herd today. I think they liked being out in the big pasture with the big horses. But when it was feeding time, we had to separate them again. Nancy and I were moving horses around, and Nancy without thinking about who she was dealing with, walked up to Annie, popped a halter on her, and led her right where she needed to go. Nancy didn’t even realize how easy Annie was until she got almost to their destination. Annie’s come a long way.
So, Annie is still a project and a love. We will have many great times together. But she IS a baby, and it will be at least a couple of years before we can ride. (See how easy it is to rationalize infidelity?) I expect to be riding Hoss in a couple of months, if not weeks. I will be wearing my helmet and I’ll make sure my insurance is paid up the first time I throw a leg over that rodeo boy. Actually, I don’t think he’ll be bad if we take it easy and slow.
But I won’t be sleeping out with him! It’s one thing to be on the ground under Annie’s Coke can diameter hooves. But Hoss’s dinner plate hooves are another matter, indeed.
And one more surprise came in this mix. Vic, Susan’s old, broken-down, one-eyed gelding is neither old, nor broken-down, nor, - surprise, surprise – a gelding. He does really have only one eye, though. Our vet came out today to draw some blood from Sadat, and while she was here, we asked her to look at Vic (which is short for Victor Mature). His front teeth are in bad shape, which is why we thought he was old, but his back teeth look like the teeth of a young teenager. The vet says that Vic moves slow, not because he is old, but because he is malnourished and too skinny. And, whaddayaknow?, there are a couple things hanging down between his legs. It’s a good thing we found this out before Vic got together with an in-heat mare.
So, this is my testimony. You can see why I didn’t write about it sooner. The shame and guilt have been too much to share.
This site was last updated 04/21/05