Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I didn't think it could get any worse...

but it could. 

I wish I could have blogged earlier, but the internet was down at our last hotel and on the boat there was no opportunity for internet.  I am in Finland now, but my horse is nowhere near to arriving here any time soon.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let me go back to where I left off last time...

Sunday I woke up to a sense of dread; this would be the day I would leave Little Love to fend for herself at the strange bunker-barn without as much as an idea of when I would see her again.  I could barely get my breakfast down, I felt so anxious.  At the barn, though, my spirits lifted.  Little Love seemed content in her stall, despite having to deal with the grumpy stall-bound mare next door.  I took her outside and all the stallions from miles away called out to her.  She of course responded by growing tall and arching her neck as if to say: “Here I am boys, just come and get me.” 

We put the front boots on and headed out for a walk.  After crossing the inside practice track we discovered a forest with grassy paths crisscrossing every which way.  We investigated several of them, but finally ended up walking on the track.  I had asked Heike, the lady at the barn, if it was alright to walk on it and she had told me to stay off the outer track, which was where the racehorses mainly trained.   Little Love was energetic, but stayed by me, never getting nervous or overly excited even though there were lots of things to look at.  Some people have really done a number on those bunkers, fixing them up as summer houses, if you can believe it. 
After an hour, we strolled back to bunker number 227, Little Love’s temporary home.  Heike showed me a paddock three bunker rows down and told me it could be Little Love’s for the time being.  It was L-shaped and the size of a big arena.  On the other end there was another paddock with two older mares in it (but you couldn’t touch noses) and when you turned the corner, you had a visual of a young stallion.  Little Love trotted off to investigate the area, disappearing out of sight for a while.  Soon she cantered back, stared both of the mares down and then rolled on both sides.  I sat down and read a book for a while, but once I was convinced she was alright, I went back to the bunker to muck her stall, which was an absolute mess.  
I also had a long talk with Heike.  She told me that there were two young men who came in the morning to muck the stalls.  She would tell them to muck Little Love’s stall, too.  She promised she would put Little Love outside every day for a few hours in her paddock.  She would also feed her in the early morning and in the afternoon.  I felt a little better about leaving Little Love after talking with Heike; she was really nice and talked about the racehorses she took care of.   She obviously cared a lot for the horses, even though her world of horses is light years away from mine.  When she asked me what I did with Little Love, I sort of gave her a vague answer, mumbling something about doing dressage before but taking a break now.  I really didn’t feel like elaborating too much about my philosophy when it came to horses.   Sometimes it really just isn’t worth it.  I’m sure she had some kind of an inkling when she saw Little Love’s bare feet J  But she never asked directly.  
After lunch, when it was finally time to leave, I brought Little Love back to her stall.  It felt absolutely horrible to leave her, knowing that she’ll probably be standing in that stall for about 20 hours a day, bored out of her mind, waiting for her ride.  I realized that it was a life she used to live not so long time ago, but somehow it still felt really bad.  I so hoped in my mind it would only be for a day or two.  Little did I know then that it would be much, much longer.
We drove a good six hours to the coast of Germany and spent a good time at the amusement park the next day.  I can't lie; I thought of Little Love a lot and kept sending her a message to stay strong.  Once we got to the boat harbor, I called the transporter guy, since I hadn't heard from him since Saturday.  No answer.  I left him a message.  
The next day, I discovered my cell phone had intermittent reception on the boat, so I tried calling the transporter again.  I don't know how many times I called, but each time he didn't answer, the pit in my stomach grew bigger.  I felt that the only reason he wasn't answering, was because he was avoiding my calls.  
I was right.  When I finally arrived in Finland this morning, the first thing I did was checked my email.  There was a message from the transporter telling me that he WAS TAKING A VACATION for a few days and that he would have a truck coming towards Finland next week Tuesday or Wednesday.  I nearly burst into tears there and then.  I mean - seriously. 
This. Cannot.  Be.  Happening. 
What is wrong with these people?  Why didn't he tell me all this on Saturday?  Or better yet, on Thursday before I even took the horse up there?  I would have had enough time to arrange alternative transport.  Anything than to leave her sitting there for a week and a half!!!!
I called everyone I knew, and even people I didn't know.  I talked to so many horse transporters that I lost count.  I had a lead with a guy in Holland, but he said he couldn't take her because it meant he would have to change to a bigger truck and he wasn't willing to do that unless there were more horses.  He could only take Lilo until Malm√∂, Sweden, where someone else would have to bring her up to Helsinki (I actually found someone who could do it).  I'm still waiting to see if he gets more horses (and leaves later), in which case Lilo would miss the Swedish ride but could go up to Hamburg and join another truck bringing 6 horses to Finland on Satuday.  But all this is AGAIN with people who are saying things like "I think I'll be going down there to get those horses. Depends a bit if we get their papers in order."  Vague.  That is the name of the game.  Vague.
So, at this point I am just waiting.  If the Dutch guy has a spot for her on Friday, he will call.  If that happens, I have to decide if it's worth going there at all.  Because, what if something goes wrong and the two transporters don't meet like is supposed to.  Then she is stuck at yet another barn.  At least the place she is at right now is something she is used to and something I have seen with my own eyes. 
Today I also called the barn in Germany where Little Love is staying.  Unfortunately I didn't get Heike on the phone but a man whom I suspect to be her husband.  He knew right away who I was, which tells me that the Finnish transporter (or Heike) had warned him about me.  He told me to relax, that my horse was doing fine, going out every day for a few hours.  In fact, he told me that Little Love "was having a holiday".  Right.  His attitude towards a "hysterical horse owner" such as myself was obvious between the lines.  For him horses are money making machines, nothing more.  So I don't think he really understand where I'm coming from calling and asking about my horse.  And when he says she is fine, he means she is alive and breathing.     
But at the moment it is all out of my hands. Completely.  I don’t think a minute has passed since we left that I haven’t thought of her.  It's like she is with me all the time and it's hard for me to focus on really anything else.  I have tried to connect with her and have felt that she is alright; bored and waiting and sad maybe, but alright.  I hope my feeling is correct.  I know my husband is struggling to understand what this is all about, but at least he hasn’t tried to imply that she is “just a horse”.  Because she isn’t.  She is my friend and I know that my heart will ache relentlessly until we are together again.  Whenever that may be. 
PS. And please, if you are at all savvy in animal communication, please talk to her and tell her to stay strong.  This nightmare will be over some day. 


  1. One of the very hardest things to do as an empathetic person is to learn how to shut it off to protect your own self. I'm starting to worry about YOU just as much as've had frustration at every turn, and then on top of that you've been worrying that she'll feel like you've abandoned her.

    You are doing everything you can to take care of the situation and help your horse. Keep telling yourself that.

    Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves (and our horses) is to let go of the idea we are responsible for everything. That's a hard thing for a horse owner, since we're used to controlling so much about their lives and being responsible for them all the time.

    Lilo has depended on your forgiveness many times. If things don't work out and she has to wait for you for a while, remind yourself that you can depend on hers. She knows you have been and always will be a wonderful friend to her.

  2. How infuriating, why is it so many people think it's a-okay to not follow through with their word? Any chance you could rent a truck and trailer and go get her?

    I remember how nerve wracking it was to have my horses brought across the country, I'm sending positive thoughts your way.

  3. I like what Fetlock said -- Lilo will forgive you just as you've forgiven her.

    Some of the positives are that at least your journey is over half will soon be re-united and will be able to start putting all of this behind you. She is in a barn you have seen and where you have met her primary caretaker (as you have said). When the racehorse owner commented that she was on a "holiday" he was probably referring to the fact that she is not being ridden/worked as he has no reason to believe that you are not "doing dressage" as you said to his wife earlier. It probably just means that she is eating, going outside, and hanging out. He doesn't realize that she is not a "working" horse in the traditional sense. ....and yes, he has horses to make money, but from what you describe it sounds like he and his wife are nice, caring people. I am sure that they understand Lilo means a lot to you.

    Take some deep breaths and try to focus on thethings that will bring her home sooner. You ARE doing the best you can and things will work out. Even if the wait is longer then expected, Lilo WILL come home and she will be thrilled to see you when she does!!

    Sending lots of huggs your way!

  4. What they said.

    When George came from PA to MS, a little fact omitted by the transporter was that he would spend a week in Iowa en route - Iowa?!?!

    Anyway, he made it fine.

    At least Little Love is in the hands of professionals, and for all they know, half your concern is that your financial investment in her should be protected - something I'm sure they well understand and which will ensure that they make sure she is healthy and safe.

    Maybe you should just let her stay where she is until next week, unless you're worried about letting her travel with that dodgy, unreliable, dishonest, and skiving transporter. Or am I being unfair?

  5. Ok, then... What everyone said is so true, right down to the fact that you've done all you can and Lilo knows this. It is truth. You just have to hold positive thoughts, knowing that Lilo will be alright, the people at the German barn will take good care of her. Jesus H. Christ! This will end, and your sweet mare will be with you, this will be a story you will tell someday to your grandchildren! In the meantime, breathe ( as Carol said) and visualize safety, calmness, and a short stay with the Germans. Those of us who out here will connect with Lilo and re-inforce that she is safe and just in a holding pattern until you can arrange safe transport, even though she already nows it. Hugs and support flowing your way, K.
    Hang in there...

  6. It's like labor pains. Y'all are birthing your new life.