10 June 2017

When the sick one is the rider, not the horse.

Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP or MbP) is a term often used when a caregiver or spouse fabricates, exaggerates, or induces mental or physical health problems in those who are in their care, with the primary motive of gaining attention or sympathy from others.[1] Its name is derived from the term Munchausen syndrome, a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves. However, unlike in Munchausen syndrome, in MSbP, the deception involves not themselves, but rather someone under the person's care. MSbP is primarily distinguished from other forms of abuse or neglect by the motives of the perpetrator. Some experts consider it to be an elusive, potentially lethal, and frequently misunderstood form of child abuse[2] or medical neglect.[


Munchausen directed towards animals

Medical literature describes a subset of MSbP caregivers, where the proxy is a pet rather than another person. These cases are labeled Munchausen syndrome by proxy: pet (MSbP:P). In these cases, pet owners correspond to caregivers in traditional MSbP presentations involving human proxies.[71] No extensive survey has yet been made of the extant literature, and there has been no speculation as to how closely MSbP:P tracks with human MSbP.

Both these excerpts are from Wikipedia

I put these citations taken from Wikipedia in order to make my post a bit more understandable.

'Munchausen syndrome' is a mental illness where someone believes themselves to be deathly ill, despite physician and medical tests to the contrary. 'By proxy' is when someone believes someone in their care: a child, most often, to be desperately ill.
Recently it has been elucidated that people also attribute illnesses to their pets.

We've seen this in our barn. M is a rather strange woman. She purchased Zeke, a bay Quarter Horse gelding, from a swaggering, blowhard of a ''cowboy". Cowboy had broke this horse, yup, broke him to be a range horse. He did it the old fashioned way: saddle him up, climb aboard and ride out the bucks. He'd "drug bulls out of the brush and chased cattle"with Zeke. But even so, Zeke is dead quiet, see how gentle he is. A kid could ride this horse, you bet.

 At first, Zeke was quiet and subdued. Was it because he was in a completely new environment? No cows, all women, no range. No, I think it was because he was rail thin. He was at least 200 pounds underweight.  Once our Barnlord put some meat on his ribs, he turned into a bit of a nuisance. He's not mean, and will back down if you get in his face, but that's just it..you have to get in his face, otherwise he'll walk all over you.

This is easily changed, with a little horse savvy and re-training. But M won't hear of it. Because M is the problem, not the horse.

Zeke pushes her around. He gets away with murder because she won't discipline him. Because he's 'sick". On the few occasions when I've turned him out, I've had to tell him, no sir, you are not running over me, pulling me, barging through the gate. He's always backed down. 


When you board, you must conduct yourself as a guest in someone else's home. You are polite. You don't gossip.
You go by the rules. 
Barnlord runs a Very Good Barn. It's neat, clean, shipshape. Her rules are simple and direct. The rules are you pick up after yourself and your horse. Your halter and lead rope  is hung in a certain way to facilitate speed in case of an emergency.  You don't dump wet horse blankets on the floor. You sweep the aisle after you've groomed your horse, and dump the stuff into the bucket to be sent to the manure pile. The wash stall is to be cleaned after every use, to include disposing of the wet gunky hair accumulated in the drain. If your horse poops in the arena, you clean it up before you leave the barn.

 You don't act as if your boarding fee means you are free to act as you like. You don't do what M does on a routine basis: "forget" to clean up after Zeke poops in the aisle of the barn. "Forgets' to pick up his hair, hoof trimmings, etc after grooming or trimming. If you enter the arena while she's in there with Zeke, will she share it? Oh, no. It's HER arena, all of it, despite the fact that there's room for several if only you constrict your circles to smaller ones. This is not stated verbally, no, it's enforced by her riding as if you weren't even there. Get out of my way, spoken in horse. There's not an "outside' or "inside' from M, no,you had better watch HER horse as well as ride your own.
 Even a "hello, M" when you enter the barn gets you only a scowl, and a grumbled 'mornin' if you're lucky.

Twice I cleaned up Zeke's poop pile after M walked past it without batting an eye. The second time I went to Barnlord and said, "Look. I usually mind my own business, and I'm always the first person to try to help.I don't mind grabbing a broom and cleaning up  someone else's mess, because everyone else in the barn does the same thing for me. Except M. I"m tired of cleaning up after M."

Barnlord rolled her eyes. "She's the problem child of the barn. I will talk to her."

I have never seen M smile. I couldn't tell you what color her eyes are, because they never, ever meet yours.  She radiates a uncalled for sullen resentment.

I don't know what her experience with horses is. I believe I heard Zeke is her first. She seems to know how to ride, but it's western, so maybe it's just her sitting on him. I don't know. But I do know that one, if you combine all the experience of the other women in the barn together, there's at least 250 years of horse handling experience, and two, M won't listen to a bit of it. Not one ounce.  No one 'knows Zeke like I do".


Sue, ever the diplomat, once mentioned that perhaps it was M's saddle that was causing a problem. Oh, my no. It's NOT THE SADDLE.  ( no one mentions that it might be her riding...barnlord offered to give her some lessons. That did not go over well at all. Either).

She's had half a dozen veterinarians out to examine Zeke. None of them can find a thing wrong with him. M insists he's lame. He has EPM. He has a 'rare disease'. He needs stall rest. He's got arthritis. He needs bar shoes as he has navicular.
 She's had blood tests, ultrasound, x-rays of his feet, his gut, his neck, his spine...the vets and the tests all show a disgustingly healthy horse. But no, M insists he's 'sick'. He's weak. He needs stall rest. He needs quiet. He's sick. Don't you see he's off?

Well, no. I don't see him being sick, lame or lazy. This morning Barnlord released him in the paddock and Zeke took off like a rocket, bucking and farting, heading at a flat out gallop for Raven.  "He's a sick horse, you know" she said to me. Huh. Really? I saw him almost crash into Raven and the two started grabassing.
"Don't you see he's ""lame""?" she asked, her eyes rolling in sarcasm.
"I'm the wrong person to be asking that, he doesn't look a bit lame to me," I responded.


No, it's not Zeke that's sick. It's M. Somehow she's siphoning something off Zeke, giving her something to fuss over, worry about, gain sympathy for her plight.

She's not getting that from us.

Which is probably why, oh joy of joys, she is 'leaving'. I will believe it when I see it, but Barnlord told me today that she's moving Zeke to a different barn.

Well, as we used to say in the Army, 'don't let the door hit your ass on the way out." Goodbye, M. It's not Zeke that's sick, it's you, and until you get some professional therapy, you are never going to find a better barn.




2 comments:

  1. What's sad is she's killing him as surely as if she were feeding him a daily dose of arsenic. He’ll either become such a problem horse that she gives up on him or she’ll get bored with him. We both know the final stop for horses like that. He might be pushy but he does sound as though he’d be a good guy for anyone with a smidgen of horse sense.

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  2. You are right about that!! All he needs is a LEADER.

    ReplyDelete

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