Need encouragement/courage [ref: neighbor's horses]

Sorry that this is so long winded…

TLDR: I feel compelled to ask my neighbor if she needs help with her horses, but am afraid of her. Need ways to screw up my courage.

Long Version:
I am extremely introverted. I leave my home for specific things that I am accustomed to, anything else takes a lot of “working myself up” for it. Often, even then, many times I just can’t leave and end up finding another way or just not dealing with the issue.

My neighbor is a 20yo woman w/4 under age kids in her home (one is an infant). She lost both her aunt and mother in the first half of last year. I met the woman when she was a 10yo riding in the back of a truck, cheering on her mom’s current drug addled, drunken boyfriend as he intentionally drove through my new fencing on my farm. The girl at 10yo cursed worse than a sailor and has a truly vicious streak just like the women (her mother and aunt) who were raising her. I have never seen her or spoken to her since that time 10 years ago because I was afraid of the women and their drunken/druggy boy friends.

Fast forward to 2010 she was involved in a shooting that she sort of instigated it because she wanted to continue drinking at 2am at the house of a guy who didn’t want them there. Separate incident - the people living in her house were arrested for robbing a gas station. Separate incident - three non-local thugs who specifically wanted to talk to this girl, came to the house, held the people there at gun point while they ransacked the place looking for something. This is the sort of crowd that she was running with (and is still friendly with).

Fast forward mid 2012. Both the aunt and her mother are dead. The aunt in her sleep of natural causes and the mother was thrown from a horse. No gun play.

Late 2012. There is a noticeable change at the property. They went from 14 horses down to 4, dogs that used to run as a pack are either now contained or have been sent on to other places. The girl has settled down with a guy that holds a job and is called a “nice guy” by the locals.

Fast forward last month: The four horses seem to have been moved into the barn and are never left out. But there is a new horse on the property who stands right next to the closed barn doors and doesn’t go anywhere. I believe this has been going on for about three weeks now. (Again, I only leave my farm about twice a week and usually at night, so I’m guessing that is how long). My theory is that the four horses are inside the barn, otherwise, they could let this horse inside the barn.

Today, I left the farm during daylight and when I came back in, I slowed down to get a good look at the horse. There is snow on the ground and based on that, the horse does not leave the back of that barn and the other horses (if they are inside the barn) are not let out. The barn is the only wind block in the pasture, so that could explain why the horse stays there. There are buckets nearby, so he is probably getting fed grain. There is a water tank, but water would be frozen fairly quick, but there is also snow (not a good source of water). But there is no signs of adequate hay for this horse and he is very thin. I’d put him at a Body Score of @3.

My fear: There are five horses down there starving.

Tomorrow I am supposed to call a farmer for round bales and I was planning to pick up round bales for my critters. NOW, I’m thinking that I will stop at her place on the way back through and offer a round bale for the horse standing outside and try to ask to see the horses inside the barn.

If they just need a truck to haul hay, I can offer them to haul hay. I don’t know their financial situation and mine is not the least bit good. Round bales are running $90/bale because of drought (they are usually $40). I’m hoping they can reimburse me at least part of the money for a bale tomorrow, but even if I have to give it to them free, I’m prepared to do that because it will provide hay for the horse until I can figure out my next step. One round bale could feed five horses for almost a week.

This family (from when the other women were there) has a history with the Humane Society. But the Humane Society also sucks and won’t be interested in helping these horses (they’re more interested in dogs and cats). So, IF they offer any help, I’m believe it will be slow in coming and that will be a combination of political issues and lack of staff to do anything.

But, now that I’ve seen this horse in daylight, I can’t sit by and let him starve over my fears or some principle or stupid politics.

SO… I need courage because I’m afraid of making this woman angry and bringing her thuggish friends down on me or that she’ll turn out to be as much of a **** as her mother was (her mother threatened my life on multiple occasions and the local law enforcement had 30 calls to that home over a four year period… so I took the threats seriously)

How do you screw up courage to do something that you’re absolutely afraid of doing? Just thinking about stopping down there makes me start to break out into tears over fear that she’ll tear into me. I crumble at the slightest hint of confrontation.

I expect her to be defensive. If I had the money, I’d just offer the hay for free… but I really need to at least ask if she has money to pay for even part of the cost of the hay because I need to feed my own animals. I have wormer here, so I can take that as well in case that is part of the problem.

I don’t want to call the HS if this girl is trying to get her stuff straight. Hay is at insane prices right now, few could have guessed that it would get this bad. Its possible that she was weak and took this additional horse because someone else wasn’t able to keep it, but didn’t realize that she wasn’t able to keep it either. (But it is also possible the other 4 horses are in just as bad shape inside the barn).

Neighbors are supposed to help each other. If all they need is a way to haul hay, I can help with that. They just need to get through the next 3 months and the pastures will be coming back (they have about 15 acres fenced in). It doesn’t look like she’s on the internet, so maybe I can help them post the horses to find them new homes.

So… if anyone has magical chants that give them courage… please, please, please share.

I’m turning to this community because it is way too late to be calling people on the phone and (honestly) most of the people that I would call would tell me to keep my nose out of her business. If there weren’t a living creature involved, I would totally agree.

Would it be easier to talk with the ‘nice guy’ boyfriend?
It sounds like she’s trying to get things together (or he is), and maybe she just doesn’t have it all figured out yet.
I’d say take a good long look at the outside horse right before you talk to her/him, to keep a strong picture in your mind of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Good luck and good thoughts from here.

I offer you the courage to buy and give the gift of a bale. No strings attached. Your thoughtfulness and generosity will come back to you.

From what you have described the issue to my mind is not so much the horses. Anything you do will be short term and likely ineffectual WRT their overall long term survival at this person’s hands. The main issue is opening yourself up to pack of sociopaths. If she gets to know you, it’s possible you will be seen as prey to her or (more likely) she will direct her associates toward you as a source of funds or items to rob the next time things go south for her.

Don’t let your compassion for the horses turn you into potential prey for her associates. Especially someone like yourself who leads a reclusive, socially disengaged lifestyle and it would be some time before you are missed. Engaging sociopaths rarely has good consequences. Ultimately they see you as prey. You need to understand this.

Isn’t there some sort of county vet you can call with an anonymous tip?

Do you know that the horses are in the barn? You say you only go by there 2x a week and in the dark - might they have been sold/moved elsewhere when you weren’t driving by?

Has the outside horse’s condition changed from when you first saw him? Is he looking worse?

It is possible that the horse is old and can’t eat hay, and so is getting a senior type feed or hay stretcher pellets.

Given all the info in your post, I would call the HS anyway, I would NOT get involved. What will you do if you do indeed find several starving horses, and she knows you know but can’t or won’t do anything or accept your help? If you then try and get the authorities involved, she will know it was you and there might be nasty consequences of that.

Is there any way you can come in contact with her in a way not related to horses at all, so you can suss out her current mental state? She may have gotten a grip and grown up, but I wouldn’t hold my breath there. I agree too that meeting the BF might be a better way to go too.

Good luck, it’s a tough position to be in. :confused:

I would recommend striking up a casual conversation first, to assess her mental state, as saje suggested. If she seems reasonably stable, maybe you can talk to her about it.

As far as magical chants go, I’ve always liked a version of Bene Gesserit litany:
I will face my fear.
I will allow it to pass over me and through me.
And when it is gone
Only I will remain.

Enkel - You have a good heart. Can you go over there and tell her you’ve got a guy who has some $60 round bales, and wanted to know if she’d like a couple? You’d be subsidizing some of the cost of the hay, but she’d be on the hook for most of it. I’d ask the new horse’s name to start conversation, and ask where the others went. To conquer the fear, try and plan the conversation out in your head, so you know ahead of time what her repsonses might be, and what you’ll respond. So you know if she says, “Oh, that would be so helpful! Thank you!” or “Piss of - it’s none of your business”, you can plan your response to her.

Please let us know what happens.


Thanks for everyone’s reply. I’m still working on this. I’m going to go talk to someone who knows more about the girl (a women who’s daughter was friends with the girl until the girl messed her over) and see what “a nice guy” means. It is possible that just means that he doesn’t spend half the year in the local jail.

No one would think I had money, because I don’t. But the sociopath-ish aspect and the number of her friends who settle things with guns is what bothers me.

I suspect the horses are in the barn because it is a large barn and it would make no sense to keep this horse out of the barn standing in the cold like this. Also… in the past… they have put up a horse in the barn who ended up dead by the time the humane society was told about him. That was around 2007. So it would be consistent with stuff that has happened in the past before her mother and aunt died.

Grrrr… I have to come to a conclusion this morning… but I appreciate the input and the courage chant (I will use that one!)

That is part of my fear. I’m at a distinct dis-advantage if this goes sideways. Her mother put me through years of hell when I first moved here and I don’t want to return to that.

Actually there is a project that I could ask their help with… so this is a great idea.

This is also a great idea that I can combine with the one above.

I’m much more comfortable asking them about the project.

Leave whatever amount of hay you can afford to give free (half a bale? A quarter?) and attach an anonymous note saying, “just wanted to help out, horses seem to need it, a concerned neighbour”
And keep your eyes open for a reaction, if necessary deny all knowledge of note/hay, and keep your distance!

That’s what I would do, anyway!

Keep us posted please, and good luck.

You can ask but I highly recommend you call the HS - why wouldn’t you? Those poor horses might be suffering. Well, I suppose talk to her or boyfriend first, but then do so.

Either way, good luck. You have a good heart.

Enkel - Where are you that round bales are $90? I’m paying $35 delivered for good horse hay. 1000 lb bales. I prefer to feed square bales so I can control their intake and because I don’t have hay huts or anything to keep them from trampling/peeing on/sleeping on the rounds. There’s a lot of waste to a round bale. Good luck - it’s nice that you not only care, you’re willing to help.


@StGermain - sent you PM.

It’s hard for me to imagine someone getting their feelings seriously hurt if a neighbor stops by to say, “Hey, your horse looks a little thin, could you use some hay for him?”

Enkel - You have PM.

Sarabellum - People get defensive. It’s no different than telling a parent"I noticed Johnny goes barefoot a lot. Do you need money for shoes?" If they don’t need money and Johnny just likes going barefoot, they’re angry you think they can’t provide. If they do need money and can’t buy Johnny’s shoes, they’re embarassed and cover that with anger. And some people just don’t think others have a right to stick they’re (well-meaning) nose in their business, even if they’re beating their children and starving their pets.


I agree, and anytime a neighbor has asked me for help I have happily given assistance.

You can find the entire “Litany Against Fear” here.

Hope all goes well.

Neighbours are supposed to help each other, but animal owners have a legal duty to provide proper care. If you suspect proper care is not being provided for ANY reason be it financial or otherwise , call the HS or appropriate authorites in your area without further delay. It will ease your concern for the horses, and also solves the issue of you not wanting a confrontation. Win-Win.