Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cupcake-I'm Done

I turned on my cruise control so my itchy foot wouldn't end up getting me a speeding ticket. Cupcake was getting picked up today.

His owner, Stacey, was meeting me a 8:00 in the morning. She wanted to see him ridden and was planning on riding him herself. Since she had never bothered to come watch or ride the entire time I had him, I was a little nervous.

He had packed my daughter around once and had skittered a bit, but they had worked it out without any mishaps. Other than that, I was the only one to handle him.

As I pulled into the yard I saw Stacey standing with my boss Rainy in the upper arena. Stacey had Cupcake out and saddled with a roping saddle I hadn't seen before. She had her three-year-old boy sitting in the saddle.

I got out of the car and walked toward the group. My boss looked over at me, a little wild eyed, with a nervous smile on her face. Her renter was there too, her two kids screaming and fighting over who got to run a hot wheel up and down the road below the arena.

Cupcake stood quiet, with one hip cocked, and looked around at the chaos..

"You're here a little early I see," I said.

"I wanted to check him out for myself," Stacey answered, and giggled."I needed to know if my saddle fit him."

"I'm not really comfortable having the boy up there," I told her, "he's broke, but not that broke."

"He's fine," she told me,"Cupcake likes him. Boy, gelding him sure quieted him down."

"Training him helped some," I said.

"Oh, I know, I'm just talking about how sweet he is. Can he spin? How's his stop?" Stacey asked.

"He can turn around a few steps. He's not going to have a big stop, but he'll quit moving forward when you say Whoa," I said.

One of the renter kids came up the trail on the Big Wheel and started down the side of the arena. Cupcake arched his neck and snorted. I reached up and swung her boy to the ground before the colt swung his butt around so he could spook at the Big Wheel. The little boy scooted after the other two kids and started screaming too.

"We really can't let him ride until you sign a release for him," I told her, "and we do require anybody under 18 to wear a helmet."

She stared at me with a vacant, "I don't understand," look on her pretty face and said, "Well those rules don't apply for just sitting on a horse do they? Anyway,I already signed one."

"We need a release if you're even going to come in the pens or pastures, and the release was for you, not your whole family" I said. I pasted a big friendly smile on my face. "Did you ride him?"

"Oh no, I'd be too nervous, you ride him first."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I figured you must have tried him out, since you had your son up there," my smile got a little wider as I reached for good thoughts.

Rainy threw me a horrified look but didn't seem to feel the need to step up and help. I sighed and took Cupcake's lead from his owner. I walked him to the middle of the arena and stripped the saddle off of him.

"I'm not riding until the Big Wheel is put up," I told them and led him back into the barn to put my own rig on.I heard some angry complaints, some kid throwing a fit and car driving away. The renter had left.

I led him out by the roping saddle, mounted up and we rode off. We walked, trotted, loped, stopped and turned on the fence. We serpentined. We backed up. We turned on the forehand and walked the first few steps of a turn-around. We opened ans closed the arena gate and long trotted up and down the road.

I came back, dismounted, and put him back in the roping saddle. I walked around him and picked up each foot. I pulled on his tail and yanked on the saddle. I handed Stacey the reins.

She got on and started to walk around the arena.

"Did you put him on cattle?" she asked.

"I don't put horses on cattle at sixty days," I said. My smile came back.

"Hmmm." she answered.

She couldn't get him to lope. I walked her through it until she sorted things out, and relaxed as she tooled around on her horse. I couldn't help but feel a flash of satisfaction. She rode well, and Cupcake moved along easily. He picked up his leads and kept his shoulders up through the corners. There were a few steps of head tossing and panicky jumping when she stopped him by cranking on him without a warning, but they survived it. I told her to go ahead and stop him like a reiner and things smoothed out.

She dismounted with a grin and gave Cupcake a pat. "Well, I think he's just fine," she told me.
We visited politely for a few minutes and I loaded Cupcake in the trailer. He walked in and stayed calm while I tied him. I gave him a scratch on the withers and left.

The boss and I watched them drive out to the main road.

"I guess I'll get out the horses," I started towards the show barn.

"You sound awfully calm," the boss said.

"Wha...?," I stopped and looked back.

"I thought you were going to bite her," Rainy started to laugh.


"You kept baring your teeth at her, I could almost hear you snarl." She burst out laughing and went to grab some halters.

Two weeks later Rainy told me Cupcake had been run through the Calhan sale with the loose stock. Stacey decided she didn't have time to work a young horse. He sold for $125 to an unnamed buyer.


  1. And that's exactly why I don't train for other people anymore. They don't listen, they don't learn, and then they throw away all your hard work.

  2. Oh. My. God.

    I felt resignation at first - realizing that this was your job after all, and the colt must leave with his owner (even though she's an idiot). I was so proud of how Cupcake handled the new rider (even the little boy).

    Then laughed out loud at what your boss said...

    Then, WHAM! The last paragraph... WHAT!?!?

    I feel like I was just hit by a bus...poor Cupcake.

  3. At first, I had the same thoughts as others - what a waste of all your work, your time and your effort! But then I thought, well, you did get paid for it all (I hope), and hopefully, saved that young colts life. If he hadn't had the time you put into him, he really would have had no chance at a future at all.

    I really do hope someone saw what was in him, and he's got the future he deserved. But still... poor horse. Stupid owners, they are everywhere. I hope that she reads your blog.

  4. That last paragraph left me feeling so sad and empty.

    I was hoping for a happily-ever-after but I guess the real world seldom works that way.

  5. Stacey = evil fruitcake. Evil fruitcakes should not be allowed to own horses.
    Poor Cupcake.

  6. I really was not expecting for that ending on the cupcake story. What a real dissppointment. That is why I could never be a trainer and offer up my hard work and soul for a carelss owner. Just terrible.

  7. I'm stunned. Not surprised considering how she kept him before sending him to you, but still. What an awful person.

  8. How disapointing for you... such a shame

  9. This breaks my heart. For so many reasons.

  10. I am with Half Dozen Farm!

    I suppose none of us should be surprised. We knew from the start she didn't have anything for him to do if she couldn't breed him.

    Your stories make me like a horse - existing in each moment so fully. It was easy to forget there had to be an ending and this was real life and not a Disney or even Miramax movie.

    Thanks for taking the time with us. I learned so much and fell in love with that little guy. Sad to lose him. very sad!

  11. That ending makes me want to cry.

    How can someone just discard a horse like that? With no care about what may happen to them??

    Some people just stink.

  12. What an asshat for a client. Hope you cashed the check.
    And I really hope the poor horse did not get herded onto a cattle truck. But at that price...... How sad.

  13. Love the way you told the story but kind of hate the ending. Damn. Bless Cupcake's heart - I hope he didn't end up on the meat truck...

  14. Thank you for making 60 days of his life bearable, and what they should have been, and for making him memorable to us.

    No thanks to that lying bitch who owned him. Two Weeks? She didn't even try. She took him home, and did more stupid shit with him. She didn't even have the integrity to admit what she had done. I wish you could have spent 60 days working on her in a pen, instead of Cupcake, and not being nice about it either.

  15. This is absolutely heartbreaking! I'm thinking a whole string of obscenities about that owner - but then, I guess I shouldn't be surprised, she's how he got that way in the first place.

  16. I was really hoping it wouldn't end badly, or at least that you'd get him back after it did end badly. Loose stock for $125? That poor little guy. It was worse than I thought.

  17. Damnitall anyway. I hope like hell the Tally series has a happier or happy-ish ending.

  18. And to think the first thing she said to you was "He's all I have of my mare..." *sniff*

    Poor fella. Heartbreaking.

    How on earth can a MOTHER put her tiny kid on a horse SHE'S not willing to ride!?!?!?! DUH.

  19. I was really hoping the ending to this story was she kept him for a short time, realized it was never going to work out with them, then gave him to you or sold him to you for a pittance and you found him a good home.

    The auction thing, though...ugh. Why wouldn't she have had him ridden through, at the very least, to show he had training?

  20. F****** **n* b****!!!

    There are words, but not for civilized people. Stacey seems rather uncivilized, though...
    Poor Cupcake.
    Sorry, Mugs.

  21. I am stunned - that is just heartbreaking in every sense. With those kinds of things going on its no wonder you decided to quit training for other people. I can't even think about where he might be or how hard you worked on him to help him out. Very sad!

  22. I'd like to put on my rose coloured glasses and hope that he ended up at a good home. But run through the auction pen with the loose horses... what are the chances the un-named buyer was NOT the meat man? *sigh*

  23. You know it's a sad fact of reality that there are plenty of [extra special] folks like Mrs. Wasteofoxygen tripping around in the horse world (which is why I don't hang out there ;o) *sigh*

  24. I hate to say it but i saw this coming. Look how she kept him when he was a colt. When I read about the morning she took him home I just felt that sinking feeling.

    Really hoped I'd be wrong...

  25. How horrifying for poor Cupcake, and poor you. This story is going to haunt me for a long time... :-( But Redhorse is right - thank you for giving him 60 days of a real life...

  26. Oh, how heartbreaking. Poor Cupcake.

    I'm sure he isn't the same horse, since I bought mine in 1973; my first horse, he was running in a small herd at a dealer's place. A bright bay with a blaze that faded out to roan like a spray of water over to one side. It was love at first sight.

    The dealer said he'd just brought them all in from "out west". This was in Middleton, MA, so it could have been anywhere from California to New York to anywhere in between.

    He was spooky, scared of men, scared of anything with a handle (so cleaning his stall with him nearby was a bit challenging at first), and still had marks on him from earlier beatings when I bought him.

    He was a sweet horse though, once he realized he wasn't going to get a beating whenever we walked towards him, and obviously had had some training put on him. We'd play this game where I'd put my flat hand up to his mouth, he'd flap his lips and I'd pull my hand away, over and over again. We were easily amused.

    Still, the only name that ever really stuck, was "The Spook".

    This is just a long way of saying that maybe someone saw Cupcake in a dealer's herd, and felt the same way about him. Sometimes, they do get a second chance. We can all hope.

  27. This just breaks my heart. I imagine it's a story you've had to harden your heart to to survive. Yet another reason for you to be glad you're not training outside horses anymore. It must be a relief for you knowing you won't have to face this situation again.

    On a related note, I don't know if I have it in me to sell a horse ever again. The market is so bad right now I have nightmares about where they might end up, no matter how well trained they are or how good the home looks.

  28. oh, man! i loved cupcake... that just broke my heart a little. ugh, i feel so bad for you! one reason i couldn't train. i would want to keep all of them, especially the ones i rescued from clueless, asshole owners. ugh.

  29. What killed me was she could have asked me to sell him for her. I could have gotten $1000 for him in a week...we could have split it, she would have gotten some of her training fees back, I'd have been able to place him.

    But she was an extremely impulsive woman. Impulse does not belong in the horse world.

  30. Immature, stupid, and impulsive. My heart broke at the ending. My first thought was, "No wonder she doesn't do this anymore". Our species is the most disgusting on the planet. Including bacteria, viruses, and prions.

  31. OH F#*#.

    Sometimes it's the indifferent cruelty that seems the worst to me.

  32. Wow. Just, wow.

    How sad for both you and Cupcake.

  33. This:

    Thank you for making 60 days of his life bearable, and what they should have been, and for making him memorable to us.

    Yes. Thank you. YOU did good.
    That has to mean something.

  34. This is so very sad - I keep coming back to this post - I think some illogical part of me is hoping the ending will change. Poor cupcake.

  35. :( Some people should. not. have. horses.

    Bummed to hear it ended up that way. Poor guy.

  36. What a sad way for that story to end up. But he did a really important job as well, because this story has got a lot of people reading and thinking about him and about the work he needed and probably that will end up inspiring them and helping their horses too. So I guess that's good work on Cupcake's part, and good work on yours for doing that work and then for sharing it.

  37. As you say Mugwump you could have gotten a much more satisfactory result but then that is if you are working with woman with logic and as Red hot Ruby said it is the reality for so many people.

    Oh and by the way excuse my ignorance but what is a big wheel?!

  38. I'm going to believe he went to someone like me who saw his potential and rescued him.

    Grrr. Needed to go hug my horses after reading this.

    Now, Mugs...we need a happy story for the week-ending!


  39. That breaks my heart. I've been following the Cupcake story since it started. It's not the way I thought it would end.

    In the horse market I've come to see that these aren't seen as a pet but as a piece of property to be bought and sold. It's just sad.

  40. Well.
    With that start in his life I guess she just ends the relationship on the same note.
    Did you actually get paid?

    In my not-real-life-story I am sending Mrs. Wasteofoxygen (thanks Jen) to the auction instead. And I would not cry if it was a sad ending. Or happy, depending on view.

  41. My mouth dropped open when I read the bit about the kid sitting on the horse... and then when I got to the last paragraph all I could think was WTH... he deserved so much better.

    You would be amazed how many adults tell me they're scared of horses and would never get on one, then ask if their kid can just sit on mine for a photo. At the farm where my horse lives they also run kiddies parties, and because he is a social soul and always lives in hope that people will have carrots, he interacts a lot with all kinds of people. He doesn't bat an eyelid if a toddler grabs him by the nostril or a baby pokes a finger in his eye. But still... no your kid can't sit on him without a helmet on.

  42. I became extremely nervous when we hit the part where she hadn't wanted to see him during training.

    Really, I have nothing to add but stunned brain shock: I can't get "she rode well" to fit with "Can he spin?", and "Did you put him on cattle?" at 60 days. (?!?!?)

    Clearly she puts the same amount of thought into her kid. A horse she's wouldn't dream of getting on, she puts a child on? Not a mom I want to know.

    You can take lessons and learn to ride well. But nothing is going to make you into a horseman but a true and abiding love/interest in horses.

    The kind you obviously are.. I'm so very sorry.

  43. Not gonna lie, this made me cry.
    Tears of anger, frusteration.
    All the hard work, soul searching to "fix" him...just for him to get crapped on by an idiot that didn't deserve him.
    Sorry Mugs.

  44. reminds me of a horse my daughter could ride, at 18, took to college, trained her on barrels, came home to sell her, to a "prominent" barrel racing person in the area. This person's niece couldn't ride her, even though they sat her 2 year old on her horse when my back was turned - I almost blew a gasget! she returns the horse, because her niece couldn't ride her, returns her even though there are no returns, but she got away with it because I didn't get the check into the bank fast enough and she stopped payment on it. Sh*t happens. And I will always remember who that person was. and will NEVER allow one of my horses go to her!!!

  45. I went back and re-read...

    It's our own fault for not seeing this one coming.

    "I learned more about cruelty to horses from the softest, sweetest, weepiest woman I ever worked for."

    It was right there in the first post.

    It's been two days and thinking about the way this story ended still unsettles me. Sometimes I wish you weren't so good at writing, Mugs.

  46. I know it's probably grasping at straws... but was Cupcake registered? Could you maybe look up his name and see if maybe he found a home elsewhere?

    Yes, I am a Pollyanna... I just so want there to be a happy ending despite all odds. :(

  47. Wow. I actually had my hopes up that Cupcake's story would turn out ok. Hard to believe. I kind of fell for the little guy a bit as his story played out, it must have been heartbreaking and rage-inducing for you to hear what happened to him.

  48. Yes, I got paid. He was registered, but I don't remember his name.Sometimes t's better not to know.

  49. ugh. As well as putting a supposed treasured horse into auction (wasn't he meant to be the last of her precious blood line?), economically speaking it was a ridiculous act of impulse. As you said, you could've got $1000 for Cupcake. If I pay for 60 days on a horse, I'm going to make pretty dam sure I see something out of that investment. Poor little blighter.

  50. I was seething after that last paragraph. How dare she!? Last time I checked when you purchase or adopt a horse, thats for life. Unless for whatever reason you don't mesh, then guess what, you find a trustworthy person to sell them to! She had every opportunity to do just that. I think it was pride. She didn't want to admit that he was too much horse for her, or that she failed as an owner. People like that need to learn to ask for help before it's too late.
    And don't even get me started on her putting that kid in the saddle WITHOUT A HELMET.

  51. "What killed me was she could have asked me to sell him for her. I could have gotten $1000 for him in a week...we could have split it, she would have gotten some of her training fees back, I'd have been able to place him."

    This does not surprise me. I know of several people who actually sold horses with the proviso that if for any reason the buyer no longer wanted the horse to please contact them first. They made it clear they'd be more than happy to buy the horse back. Only to find out later the horse had been run through a sale, sold down the road, etc. The horses have just basically disappeared. I simply can't understand this, and I can't understand people like Cupcake's owner.

  52. That was a kick in the gut.. not that we did not see it coming, but the way you dropped it *BLAM* in our laps.. was powerful..

  53. Oh ow...that was very difficult. That was my thought, why didn't she let you sell him for her?

  54. Noooooo. Sometimes I hate real life.

  55. Like many have already said, we saw it coming. So goes the saying that too many people should never own animals...let alone have kids...Is there a more descriptive word for someone that is stupid than just the word stupid?

  56. Oh Cupcake... I wanted the little guy to win, and for a short while I guess he did. After reading this I will redouble my efforts with my own little basket case. When it comes to being hard to handle, he isn't even in the same league as Cupcake, or even Tally. I feel there is still hope for him after all. Cupcakes story has a less than satisfactory ending, but it gives me hope. It also reminds me why I will never train a horse for anyone but myself again. You pour your heart and soul into a "project", in some cases putting your life on the line, and the folks who created the train wreck in the first place just don't get it... :( **sigh**