My failing memory

I’ve just been reminded by another person of an apparently heroic deed I did years ago, and I can’t remember it. Given the drama involved, that’s a bit surprising.

It was maybe fifteen years ago, at the barn where I was boarding my horse. A woman there had a youngish (five or six years old) Thoroughbred gelding, a well-trained, well-mannered, good-minded horse when she bought him. Within a couple of months, through mishandling, crappy riding, and late-night drunken beatings in his stall, she’d turned him into a murderous lunatic.

People tried to help her, tried to save the horse with advice, instruction, admonishments. She refused to listen. She continued to ride him, longe him, and abuse him.

What follows is what I was told happened one day; as I say, even after being reminded of the incident I can barely scrape up a few wisps of memory, and they’re mostly of her pigheaded stubbornness and cruelty.

One day she was longeing Dash in the ring, whipping him as usual, when suddenly he charged her, hellbent on murder, and knocked her down. I’m told I raced into the ring, grabbed the longe line near his halter despite his flailing forelegs, and forced him back away from her long enough for her to scramble out of the ring.

How I then got away from him and escaped injury, I don’t recall, nor how I felt afterwards, though no doubt it was the normal adrenalin crash into sick shakiness. Looking back with the cold calmness of distance, I almost regret doing it, since if ever a person deserved what was going to happen it was her. And yet, as the person who reminded me of this said, you don’t think; you just do what has to be done in the moment.

This woman eventually left the barn and took poor Dash with her to her home nearby. (I omit some other awfulness related to her as not germane to this story.) We learned sometime later that she’d ridden him out into the woods and been thrown and badly injured. All I could feel then was satisfaction at her finally paying some price for her cruelty, and pity for the poor horse who would of course be blamed for the consequences of her folly. Knowing how far beyond salvaging he was at that point I could only hope that he was given a merciful release from his suffering and put down.

So, as noted, I remember some of the details surrounding the episode, but the heroic deed itself is basically a blank in my mind still. Lord knows I can recall with annoying clarity so many dumb or embarrassing moments from my past, so why can’t I remember this?

I would guess it’s the adrenaline, combined with the passage of time. In other words, I think it’s normal.

If you ever see something like this happening again, please call animal services and report it. It’s harder with big animals like horses, but hopefully a rescue group could take the horse if authorized by the appropriate agency. There are some that work nationally and would have the horse trailered.

You probably didn’t think that much of t at the time - you just did what you saw that needed doing. Poor horse, though. He deserved better, and the barn shouldn’t have put up with that behavior from her. Evil triumphs, etc.


I’m not going to go into detail here, but the barn didn’t put up with her; animal protection was in fact called but they weren’t able to establish enough evidence to nail her; she was eventually forced to leave and there were a number of nasty issues involved in that, including the welfare of another horse she owned (that mare was rescued with much difficulty) and the subsequent suspicious illness of the farm’s goats (one died). No, nothing was ever proved, but…

The horse became a danger to every human and other horse that came near him, and I think by the time things reached the state where animal protection could perhaps have built a legally tenable case he was already so far gone that rehab rather than euthanasia would have been extremely difficult if not impossible, no matter how skilled the rehabber. I for one would have worried that, no matter how reformed he may have seemed to become, one wrong move could have triggered a violent reaction, his brain was so fried. That bitch ruined a perfectly nice horse.

I’m going to add that my own first horse, a genial Quarter Horse, spent eight years in the kindly care of his breeder and two years and three owners later came to me gaunt, depressed, and triggered by anyone touching his flanks or chest into sudden rages. He never actually attacked anyone but if you put your hand ever so lightly in those places he’d slam his ears flat, glare, bare his teeth, and throw up his head. He got nothing but kindness from me and everyone else who handled him over the next 13 years of his life; I gradually reduced his reactiveness by patient desensitization (and how pitiful it was to see him, when touched and the one hand left gently but firmly on his flank or chest while being praised and stroked, react as usual, then look surprised and deflate when he realized he wasn’t going to be hurt) – but to the end of his days, if surprised by a touch in those places he would still startle into an anger reaction. Horses have long, long memories for things that hurt them.

Working with animals can be heart-breaking. Thank you for sharing the additional details.


Huh – I may be reconstructing what should or might have happened in the great psycho horse drama, rather than actually remembering, but here goes: I think a loop or two of the longe line got around Dash’s foreleg(s) either during his attack or while I was struggling with him. I think someone else came into the ring with a lead rope, got it clipped to the halter, and we then unclipped the longe line from the halter and were able to lead Dash out of the loop(s) and back to his stall.

I think. I think that’s how I got out unscathed.

Or… wait. Did the line get tangled while she was longeing Dash, and she got attacked and knocked over while attempting to undo it? Damn, I can’t make it come into focus even now, after stewing intermittently over it for the last 24 hours or so. Maybe I’ll bolt upright at 2:00 a.m. with it all clear in my mind…

Not to take away from your possible heroics, as you do seem like a fantastic friend to horses, but is it possible that the person reminding you of this story is the one with the faulty memory, and it wasn’t you who settled the situation?

A similar, well not really the same, but, in highschool I worked in office instead of having studyhall. A new student came and was registered. The office lady asked me to show her around the school, pointing out her classes and such. I did it without enthusiasm. Of course we talked going down the halls. Never saw much of her after that, she being younger than me. Years later, a lady started talking to me in a bank teller line. It was her, she thanked me for being so friendly and helpful, and nice, sweet and cute, kind, on and on and on. It was uncomfortable. I dont remember anything about being nice to her. In fact I was aggravated for having to do it. My memory was nothing like hers.

Nope. The person reminding me was the barn manager, and it was she who brought the subject up in the first place.

Oh, yeh, forgot to mention, since the barn manager told me about this, I checked in with the barn owner, who confirmed it happened pretty much as I’ve been told. So that’s two independent sources telling me I actually did this.

My memory sucks too. The other day I said a certain movie would be cool to see and someone replied “You have seen it. We saw it in the theater when it came out, about two years ago.”

Whoops. I’m pretty sure that I liked it . . .

Maybe you have an evil twin?

Hm, but why would an evil twin save a person’s life?

Maybe you’re the evil twin? :eek:

LOL. I’m finding these days that I can pull a book off my shelves, one I know I read before, start rereading it, and utterly fail to remember it. As if I’d never read a word of it before. :eek:

Damn! My cover has been blown! :mad: