I debated for a long time whether or not to write about what I’ve gone through for the past few years. I decided it would be therapeutic for me and ultimately I could help other women learn from my experiences.
When I packed up my life and moved thousands of miles away from my family and friends to live my dream, I anticipated hard work, the challenge of raising and training thoroughbreds, meeting a nice man who had had my same interests and making new friends.
Instead I found myself having to rebuild my life after a fire took my home and then two people broke into my home and took turns beating me with a baseball bat. Then I had to deal with a corrupt sheriff’s department.
People will knock you down time and time again. Whether it’s physically or mentally or both, pick yourself up, brush yourself off and live and learn from life’s experiences thrown at you and march on.
I had some great mentors growing up; loving parents and grandparents who were pillars of the community. They taught me morals and values, right from wrong and to treat people fairly and to give people the benefit of doubt. So I’ve always treated people the way I want to be treated. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined the obstacles I’ve had to go through these past few years I’ve never have had an enemy in my life, at least not until now.
It’s time for women to stop being treated like second class citizens in this country!
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Fifteen years ago I read a book by Monty Roberts named The Man Who Listens to Horses; a chronicle of his life and development of his non-violent horse training methods called Join Up. I loved how instead of forcing a horse by traditional methods of training, which can be spirit breaking. Roberts chose to gentle the horses instead of breaking them. I proceeded to buy every book I could get my hands on related to horse racing and educate myself on every aspect of the thoroughbred and horse racing industry.
I bought my first filly 2 years later and eventually started claiming horses, upgrading as I went along. I was lucky to break even which is pretty good when being an owner. When I retired my first mare I bred her. I got sick of paying board to people who were starving my horses and decided if you want something done right you got to do it yourself. I couldn’t afford California real estate so I bought a small farm in the Midwest.
I packed my life into an Uhaul and headed east. It was a nightmare from the get go. The fuel line kept breaking. We would drive the truck as far as possible every day, pull into a hotel and sleep while a mechanic fixed it. The trip took twice as long as normal and cost twice what it normally would in gas. When I called Uhaul to try and get a refund for some fuel and hotel costs their response was: “You got there didn’t you?”
I quickly learned your time revolves around the weather. I built stalls and paddocks and got the barn ready for my horses. I hired a guy to re-gravel my drive to the barn and build a smaller barn for storage. He disappeared when I gave him money for materials. I gave the police his name, address and phone number and filled out a report, but the police weren’t much help. They didn’t even bother to tell me when his house was put up for auction for creditor liens. I found out a week too late by the company that delivered my gravel.
The house was built in the 60’s and need major work done. I had the fuse box; electrical wiring, propane valves and water valves replaced and insulated the water pipes in the basement. Then sanded and sealed the basement walls and cemented a berm around the perimeter walls to direct the water that did come in to go directly to the sump pump. I graded the dirt around the entire house so the water would drain away from the house, painted the family room, stripped the living room ceilings, re-textured and painted the ceiling and walls. I was making major progress.
Then my house was hit by lightning and caught fire. An entire year of hard work and almost all my worldly possessions were gone. I was devastated. My insurance company said I had to go through the debris and bag everything I could and list everything I lost. They never even bothered to come out and verify everything I had spent bagging for inspection. Some days I cried for all the material possessions I lost. Other days I cried because I was just happy to be alive and thankful I was safe and got my pets out alive.
My insurance claims representative lied to me on several occasions. When I went to the company’s offices for the first meeting he told me my house wasn’t a total loss. I said no I had just spoken to the claims appraiser before I got here and he had told me the house was a total loss. Then the claims representative told me debris removal wasn’t part of the loss of use expense and would have to be deducted from dwelling replacement cost of the house. I knew that was a lie because I had read the policy the night before and it said debris removal was included in loss of use expense. At the end of the meeting he saw that I had been recording our conversation. He asked me why I was recording our meeting. I said so I could go home and keep a detailed notebook of what I needed to do to progress easily. Each meeting after that was held at the receptionist counter, which I thought was pretty rude and unprofessional. It took over a year to get back to any kind of normalcy
I wanted to thank the fire fighters for trying to save my home. So I made up two batches of spaghetti and garlic bread for the two stations and my neighbour took me to deliver the meals. That’s where I met my worst nightmare….
One of the fire fighters was my neighbour and lived around the corner on their family farm. We started dating; he had two kids and said he had been divorced for a year. He and his family helped me with the clean-up and his fire station used what was left of my house as a training exercise for fires. He had grown up around horses and was patient with them, so I asked him if he would be interested in getting a trainers license. He said he’d love to, so I printed him out the trainers test to study from and we built a little eighth of a mile training track in one of my fields. His friends and family would come over and watch my filly train and I was excited and happy to have found what I thought was a great guy who I had a lot in common with who seemed to have a good head on his shoulders. I told him I don’t do drama and was too tired at the end of the day to deal with any so if he wanted to date exclusively and if he was going to go out with other women I’m not interested. He said he was only dating me, so I gave him the benefit of doubt.
Then the drama began! One weekend I was over at his family’s farm and his ex-wife was there. He had asked me a few times to try and be friends with her. His sister, her husband, brother, mom and kids were all out by the barn and his ex-wife and I were sitting on the deck watching them all saddle up horses for the kids to practice for 4H. I said to her are we not going to be friends? She said, I thought we were doing fine, but then you stopped talking to me. I said, I thought the same of you and we laughed and I said I just don’t have time for drama. She said there’s no drama going on here. I said, well that’s good, I realize you’re the mother of his children and I told him when we first started going out if there was any chance he was going to get back together with you I don’t want to get involved. He said he doesn’t sleep with you. She said, yeah whatever and laughed and said, that’s what he tells everyone and said where do you think I’m sleeping? I said he told me you slept in your daughter’s room when you were here for your weekends with the kids, but I can only be gullible for so long. She said I have slept in the same room with him since the day I left. I said I don’t know what to tell you, I’m just telling you what he told me. She said I’m sure he tells everyone that. So I said, well are you guys getting back together? She said, from my standpoint were pretty much back together. I said, what does he tell you when he comes to my house? She responded he tells her its business and he is working. Other women have come over here and not care. I said, well I do and I got in my truck and went home.
An hour later he shows up at my farm to train my filly and tells me his ex-wife is gone for good and on her weekends with the kids she will be picking the kids up and taking them with her. A few weeks later I’m at the country store up the road eating lunch and chatting with a friend that works there. She asks me if I was dating my neighbour. I said yes. She said she was going to ask him out, but since I was going out with him she wouldn’t. The very next day he and I are at a barbeque at the local hardware store and his cell phone rings and it’s her asking him out. Next thing I know she shows up at my farm with her 3 year old while he’s training my filly. She makes a b-line for him and her daughter makes a b-line for my horses. I told her to leave and not to come back. Next day she shows up again, déjà vu. She ignores me when I tell her to leave so I get her brother who was working for me cleaning stalls and tell him to physically remove her from my farm or I was going to. This went on for 3 days. I finally called her Mother and told her it’s too dangerous having her daughter’s child running around here unsupervised and she needs to have a talk with her daughter.
A few weeks later he called and said he just bought a houseboat so I went down to check it out at the marina. The kids had school the next day so I took them to his place so the kids could shower and I got dinner ready and the house cleaned up. He pulls into the driveway 3 hours later and announces a friend of his is on her way over with a case of beer. I told him I was done with his drama and womanizing and got in my truck and left as she drove in and walked to the deck with her beer.
A week later his Mom called me and asked if I would come over and help with a mare that was having trouble foaling. By the time I got over there the mare had foaled out in the yard. The foal was weak, but we got it standing and got the mare and foal into a stall. I was hoping to avoid the jackass, but he was there. His Mom and Sister had told me earlier that week that his latest conquest had moved in to his house with her two kids. As I was walking to my truck to leave he walked up and thanked me for helping and asked if I wanted to hang out. I told him I wanted nothing to do with him and to go back to playing house with his latest victim.
Six months went by and I was getting on with my life. I found a trainer to train my filly and focused on getting her to the races. I had continued to stay friends with his family. His Mom and Sister would come over twice a week to workout, or we would go shopping, go to lunch or just hang out here. One day he shows up out of the blue after he’d had a terrible day, his daughter had been thrown from a horse and he had just gotten back from the hospital after his son cut his foot. He was crying saying he wants me back in his life. I fell for the crying man routine, two weeks and he was back to his womanizing. I finally realized this guy wasn’t just a womanizer, he was a predator.
Later that summer his best friend came over and told me he had been dating a girl he had met the day she got out of rehab and they were engaged. His Mom continued coming over and would complain he was spiraling downhill, refusing to work on their farm, drinking beer in the mornings and just out of control. They announced they were getting married and were having the reception at the family farm. She spent the day of the reception at my house because she wasn’t invited.
Later that summer my life changed forever…
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