Monday, January 11, 2010

"If my luck was as bad as yours..."

Recently a fairly well-known eventer, Jennie Brannigan, lost her top horse Cooper (pictured right). It was not her first sad experience with a competitive horse she owned and trained -- she'd had many challenges and disappointments in her young career. In a recent article in the Chronicle of the Horse -- a tribute to Cooper -- she recalled that an acquaintance once said to her "If my luck with horses was as bad as yours I'd quit the sport." Jennie shared her honest reaction to the remark, which was "it pissed me off."

No Kidding
Of COURSE she was pissed off. Who are these folks? Are they callous? Are they being intentionally mean? The tactlessness of the remark leaves me in awe. Who would say something like that after a *devastating loss.

Jennie's "friend" was probably making a subtle dig. Good for Jennie for calling it out in the article, if not in person. I hope commenter read the article and saw herself reflected through Jennie's eyes.

Is this a universal experience?
Alas, I think it is universal, and the horse world has more than its fair share of snarkiness. Not too long ago, a woman visited Riley's barn. She watched while I struggled to wrap my restless youngster's hoof in Elastikon. She didn't offer to help, but asked "What's wrong with him?" She seemed to feel she had a right to know, this stranger. I am tired of explaining it, and the question annoyed me. Trying to sound blasé, I gave her one sentence synopsis, "He had hoof surgery." Her loud and indignant response: "Well, is he EVER going to be right???" The urge to slap some Elastikon over her mouth was overwhelming. Without looking up I told her yes, he'll be fine.

This was an educated, professional woman who I'm sure is capable of tact when it benefits her. The thing about snarkiness is, it says so much more about the speaker than the subject. I try to remind myself of this when I'm on the receiving end.

*The comment was not made about Cooper, but about another horse Jennie rode that had a career ending injury.


  1. How insensitive, in both of those cases! I could see feeling sympathy (for you and for Riley) and that inspiring a query in the same spirit. But not something so bald and unsupportive.

  2. Civilization is wasted on so many.

  3. People just have no tact and they are ignorant. I handle that kind of crap two ways. Most of the time, I ignore the person and walk away. Then they think I'm rude. Or else I launch into a rant on the topic ending with "Think about it!" Then they think I'm kinda scary. Either way, I don't have to waste time on the person again.

  4. Bummer, as I've said before. Some people just have no empathy for their fellow human beings. They thrive on other peoples' troubles because it makes their own lacks seem smaller.

    Small people make small comments.

  5. There is no excuse for rudeness.

  6. I think people who talk that way are motivated by one of a few things:

    -- In Jennie's case, they're jealous

    -- Some people are so self-absorbed they don't see how their remarks affect others, or they see and just don't care

    -- Some people like to alpha dog people that they perceive to be less cool or who they think won't react -- this is what I see in the horse world most often. Someone with a small following decides who is in and who's out.

    One of my favorite lines from The Office "That's the least amount of power I've ever seen go to someone's head."

  7. With regards to the woman watching you wrap Riley's hoof, I think people do, in fact, feel they are entitled to know everything about everyone. I'm sure it's related to the growing popularity of the internet/blogs/Facebook/social networking in general.

    In fact, you probably should have Twittered what you were doing before you started wrapping his hoof.

    Or else told her that he was fine, just afraid of [whatever color the Elastikon was], and you were trying to desensitize him. Which isn't a tactful response, I know, but I don't have much patience when people feel they are entitled to know more about my life than I voluntarily provide.

  8. Great idea, Halt near X!

    Alternatively I could have shared with her that he wears a prosthetic hoof which is held on with elastikon?

  9. i can't seriously believe how some people are rude and hurtful...

  10. I think Halt Near X is right....many people just don't have boundaries these days and get accustomed to feeling they have the right to know everything about everyone. And tact is a lost art these days!

  11. Wow Stacey, you showed remarkable restraint!
    I'm with Halt Near X. Make up stuff, the more ridiculous the better.

    Sadly I think this is a universal experience. :(

    A friend's horse died, a terrible ordeal involving trailering to the hospital, painful decisions etc etc. She comes back with broken heart and empty trailer, and someone actually asked her *when she opened truck door*:

    "does this mean he's dead?"

  12. Hi All, just to be clear, the New Bolton Center didn't do the surgery -- in fact, they seemed surprised that surgery was the recommended treatment for his condition.

    But, the facility I took him to initially was also a "big name" with nationally known vets.

    So there you go.

  13. What a wonderful blog site!!! Excellent job, I really enjoy reading it :)

    "The thing about snarkiness is, it says so much more about the speaker than the subject."
    You're right, though I have never thought about it that way. I will have to keep it in mind. What considerable restraint on your part. I am at a loss as to handle such people anymore. I was recently (by recent, I mean last summer, lol) riding one of our OTTB's (who has been through a lot and came to me with a LOT of "damage"). He was running around hollow and head up for about the first 15 minutes of our session at that time (not the norm for him now, however at that time it usually took 15 min for him to settle down and relax). Someone came to the gate of the arena and watched us work before commenting in a he'll-never-go-anywhere-what-a-typically-stupid-Thoroughbred voice "he's off the track, isn't he?". My response was a sharp "yes" and then a cold shoulder. I did feel bad for my reaction later, but sometimes the criticism and judgment from others just gets to be too much.

    Hopefully Jennie experiences better luck...and better people.


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