The pole incident

The barn where I board Moe and Gina has exactly one set of jump standards. I brought two sets of jump standards, eight ground poles, and four sets of jump cups with me when I moved there. I am very diligent when it comes to moving the jumping equipment. I always take it down when I’m finished, it’s always set out of the way, and the few times the barn manager has requested I move the whole lot to a different area, I am quick to comply.

While I was setting up jumps for a lesson I was giving last week, I noticed I only had seven ground poles. I was running behind and in a hurry, so I thought maybe I’d simply miscounted or missed a pole that had rolled away from its pile. After the lesson, I was putting away equipment and recounted the poles: seven. I searched around for the missing pole and couldn’t find it. I was puzzled.
Then I noticed the bowed section of fence that Moe and I like to jump had been replaced. With a pole that looked suspiciously like one of mine.
I thought through several reasons the barn manager would have used a pole he knows belongs to me to repair this fence. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. There’s another guy who occasionally works on repair projects around the facility; he knows I use the poles for jumping, but I don’t think he knows they actually belong to me. I thought perhaps the other guy had fixed the fence, using my pole because he assumed it belonged to the facility. 
Yesterday, I saw barn manager for the first time since The Pole Incident; I was holding Moe while the dentist was working on his teeth. Barn manager greeted me cheerfully. I said hello and politely said, “I seem to be missing a ground pole, [name redacted].”
He said, “Oh.”
I crossed my arms, leaned back against the barn, and replied, “The new pole on the fence looks a lot like one of my ground poles.” 
The barn manager turned red and mumbled, “Well you know, I had to fix that section of fence, because it was sagging so bad that you couldn’t even nail the old pole back up there, you know? Haha…”
I said nothing and stared at him in what I like to think was a cold, calculating fashion.
He looked away and mumbled something about replacing my pole that day.
Now, I am not an unreasonable person. I’m pretty laid back, and I don’t often get my knickers in a twist over things that are ultimately trivial.
But I am fucking pissed about this.
I am pissed that the barn manager used something that belonged to me without my permission and didn’t immediately ‘fess up when confronted.
Did he think I wouldn’t notice? Did he think I wouldn’t care? If it was an emergency (which it wasn’t- no horses were motivated to hop over the 2′ fence- not even Moe or Gina), I could understand using my pole. If he just wanted to use it, I could understand doing so, then notifying me with an offer of replacement. I wouldn’t have been pleased, but I wouldn’t have reached the level of fury I am currently seething in.
Some part of me thinks I’m overreacting and shouldn’t be upset about something like a $10 ground pole. But this incident, combined with a long-simmering (and unvoiced) suspicion that the barn manager isn’t feeding my horses twice a day (as agreed when I moved them there) has prompted me to begin the barn search anew with plans of moving Moe and Gina by the end of August.
What do y’all think? Have you ever been in a similar situation? 

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

17 thoughts on “The pole incident”

  1. I have never provided my own jumps so I don't have the same example but I get livid when people use my things without asking. There's pretty much no reason for someone to even think about touching my tack or my tack "locker" unless they ask me. Unless it's for an emergency but I'm pretty sure most of the things ppl "borrow" aren't for emergencies. The pole thing is pretty Special. Hope your search for a new farm goes well.

    1. Thanks! I was totally appalled about the whole thing. I've rarely had problems with people "borrowing" my stuff (none at this barn, but at a previous place one of my bridles went missing), but it makes me livid when it seems like it was done with such blatant disregard.

  2. I think "livid" is a good response!

    Here's my thoughts on barn sharing: if the use of the item doesn't diminish from its lifespan, then feel free. If you're using something that I'll have to buy more of (fly spray, ointment, etc) and it's a negligible amount, then I just expect to have the right to use your stuff if I ever need it. If you blow through it, you replace it. If it's something that can be used a million times and then used a million more, I don't care. Assuming, you know, it's returned in the same condition.

    But the manner in which he used your pole completely diminished its ability to be used as a pole (also.. doesn't this strip you of one of your "natural" jumps?!). So, yeah, asshole should have asked first or compensated or something. Paint them flamboyant colors? Write your name on everything? I've thought about that when I've thought about building jumps to take with me.

    1. Beka, I am in total agreement with you on barn sharing. If someone needs to use my hoof pick because theirs is lost, that's fine. Your bridle broke and you grab mine because our horses have similar sized heads? No problem. Use some of my baby wipes on your horse? Sure thing. But you absolutely hit the nail on the head: my pole is no longer usable for me. (Well, I could jump the fence still- it's probably 4" higher though!)

      I kept thinking "I need to paint my name on my jumps and poles" but never got around to it because…well, because I didn't think it would really be a problem?! But yours truly has a jump painting part planned for tomorrow afternoon…

  3. Never had someone blatantly take something of mine at a barn before, but I have had a barn owner not feeding my horse. I was extremely livid about that, especially as I had paid for the vet to check and see what was wrong with him and paid for extra feeding to happen. The whole barn wasn't being fed, it turns out. I hightailed it out of there ASAP!

    1. How did you catch the person who wasn't feeding the horses? I have thought about setting up a hidden camera type thing, but that seems extreme/crazy/illegal? I feel sort of like I am a crazy person, because my horses and one other are the only ones there that are thin, but they're also the only ones who are on full care board. The other horses at the barn are fed by their owners. I'm not sure if I'm just being paranoid of if there's a real problem.

    2. Everyone in the barn actually banded together to figure it out. Between all of us, no one had observed the BM feeding for days. And, a fellow barn mate actually drew with chalk in the bottom of her horse's feed bin. When the chalk was still there later, she knew her horse hadn't been fed.

    1. Lolz, what, did you think the pole incident was me getting a part time job at the strip club in the Target parking lot at 21st & Yale?

      Srsly tho, I almost laughed at him when he was muttering about replacing the pole. I also wanted to slap him?

  4. Kudos for not losing your cool…because I probably would have. He has zero right to be essentially stealing from you for his own benefit. I wouldn't have minded had a call been made, or it was an emergency, but the way he handled would've set me off.

    Anyway, good luck in your search.

  5. You handled it better than I would have! I'd have promptly removed my pole from the fence and let the manager know that a board was down. Had he said he just fixed it, I would have smirked and said oh, well it doesn't work very well when you use jump poles to fix the fence. But I'm pretty b*tchy 🙂

  6. You handled it better than I would have! I'd have promptly removed my pole from the fence and let the manager know that a board was down. Had he said he just fixed it, I would have smirked and said oh, well it doesn't work very well when you use jump poles to fix the fence. But I'm pretty b*tchy 🙂

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