Maybe you play chess, maybe you don't. If you do play chess, then you know what a Pawn is. It is the lowest form of player on the field, it is usually sacrificed at times and in some cases can be the one player to make the win.
The lowly Pawn as a Horse?? Yes!
Let's take a look at how one lovely mare was used as a Pawn.
Her name and all the names will be omitted, but the story is true!
Checking my Facebook page one morning, I came across a posting from a friend about a missing Appaloosa mare and how she hoped the mare could be found and returned to it's rightful owner.
I stared at it for a minute and then re-read the c/p from CL, this was in my backyard, very close to home. It could have been my 22 year old leopard mare. Dismay and fear were the emotions I felt immediately. What the hell was happening here? There must be some way to help. I trusted the friend who posted it, I knew the original owner had a good reputation within our breed, so what was going on?
I decided to call the number and talk to the well known, long time Appaloosa breeder and find out her side of this missing mare story. I was not disappointed!
My first contact with the owner of the missing mare was amazement. She was focused on recovering her horse to the point of minute details. Distance was an issue and the electronic age was not lost upon her. We discussed photos, laws of both state and county, peoples perception of "leopard", lack of response from buyers and people who you suspect are lying. It was a diverse conversation to say the least. I too learned a lot about people in my area from that phone call. People that I can only say go on the "don't deal with" list.
She agreed to start the work on the Stolen Horse International/Net Posse paperwork. This group is well known for it's excellent recovery rate of lost/missing/stolen horses. They have wonderful follow-up too on their website. So the owner embarked on the task of filling the missing/stolen horse report. There is a lot of detail in this report. Sheriff contact information, reported case number, dates and times, photos, descriptions, brand information and a brief rundown of the situation.
Speaking of Brands, the missing mare did have a brand and it was a registered brand. So one would think that if you contacted the Washington State Brand Inspector, you could get a person who would be interested in a possible stolen horse being taken across state lines w/o a Coggins and the proper Brand Inspection paperwork. All the numbers from WA.gov websites either went no where or no one called us back. We finally got a good number from a local Vet.
Meanwhile, with the owner doing lots of "legal" contacting and paperwork, I told her I would do my best to "get the word" out. Oh my, how that works in very strange ways. You have the "curious", the "blind", the "gossips", the "naggers", the "scoops" all trying to contact you with or for information. During the Fran Farmer debacle, all of these same characters were there to help. Sigh....
The Curious really just want to know what is going on without really making any effort to assist. They have reasons why they can't/don't print out photos and reasons why they can't/won't drive out and look/photo a horse. They really just want to know the "juicy" details and don't care if the missing horse is starving, being abused or dead.
The Blind are good people, they are really trying to help, but they don't know one horse from another, can't see a difference between a mare and a gelding and haven't really looked at the photo's you sent to see there are spots in very specific places. These people just need some of your time to explain once again that the spots will tell you if it is the horse. You really can't hide a leopard. You can hide a blanketed Appy, you can hide a fewspot, but a leopard is pretty hard to cover up! And each leopard is distinctly different from each other, no two look the same!
The Gossips, oh my! Wish I could hang up on them, but that would be RUDE!! They call to tell you all the local trashy stories on who did what to who and when and why and how. And I sit and I listen and I hope to God I get some type of lead out of this and I am never happy to know these things. There must be something in my voice that makes these people want to elucidate on all bad marriages and parents and, and, and, ......finally they exhaust themselves and I might have a slip of a lead, but mostly my ear hurts and thank goodness they don't have my cell phone number!!!
The Naggers are folks who really are helping you, really they are, in their own mind they are helping you! They contact you over and over to see if you have done this or that and then they do it again a couple of days later. And then they....never really coughing up any new information or actually doing any recon work themselves. But they do make sure you are doing it all properly. Thanks guys!
And lastly....the Scoops!! These are the people who are AWESOME!! They call when they have a lead, they pass the word around and they actually HELP you in your quest! I love SCOOPS!!
I also learned a lot about some of our local Vet offices. The term..."I don't want to get involved" comes to mind. I really don't understand that one iota!! When someone says that to me, that means they either know something or they truly don't care. As a part of an institution that pledges to "care for animals", how can anyone in those offices have this mentality? I even heard of one Vet Tech who said the flier would clutter up the vehicle. WTH???
Which brings me back to the horse as a Pawn. Did the mare actually end up at the Vet office in need of medical attention or did that Vet office mistake another horse for her? When asked if they took photos of the horses they treat, the answer was a resounding NO...hmmm. So they can't be sure it is the right or wrong horse. Dead end...maybe! They made money, they have client confidentiality and they have to do business here...so I am silently told to leave them alone and mind my own business.
The small matter of not paying board on a horse is a huge part of this story. Legally, I was told you must give the boarder notice and sufficient time to pay up on their bill. I don't board horses, but I am certain you can't just sell off a boarder's animal without contacting them. And if that boarder has receipts and states they are paid up, do you still have a right to sell the animal? If you took payment in another form and got your money, is that considered "paid up"? Which party is actually telling the truth? Does it matter? The party who says they paid their board is the party who did not make their purchase payment on the actual missing mare! So, who are you apt to believe? Both parties are in the wrong in my book. You sign a contract to buy a car and you don't make the payments, you get a notice, you get a chance to pay-up and if you ignore it, they come and repossess your car! Same - Same with the horse. I was working with the original owner who was trying to locate her horse and the so-called buyer of the horse. This takes time and sometimes animals don't have the luxury of time. They can be in imminent danger of death from abusiveness or starvation or plain old neglect. And it had taken months for the original owner to track down this none paying buyer, let alone find out where she had stashed the mare. When the location of the mare was known, she asked a relative to go check on her. Well, that right there turned into a nightmare (sorry about the pun).
Pawn exit stage left!
When I drive down a street and I am lost, I usually stop and ask for directions. So hearing that the "relative" stopped in at the boarding "facility" (term used loosely) to see the mare should really have been no big deal. But apparently this was not a normal helpful country type of person. He was run off of the property by the boarding facility owner in the usual ugly threatening way. Disputed "pawn" is standing on boarding facility owners property and relative has no recourse but to leave and seek council. Several days later, the "pawn" is gone! Must have been way too much heat applied by Craigslist postings and the relative to keep that loud leopard visible to people passing by on the road. Mind you, this "facility" has no trees, no privacy fencing, barbed wire, a travel trailer, a cab over camper without a cab to be over, a plethora of dogs, sheep, goats, horses, etc and NOT ONE HAY BALE visible! I know, I went by the place too.
Enter in another party, one who has a truck and trailer, because the boarding facility owner does not own a truck or a trailer. We will call this person the boarding facility friend (bff). Now, when I want to do something in secret, I would do it in the night or behind the comfort of a closed door. Loading up horses during the day next to a road, that is not so secret. So, now we have a "witness" who watched the "pawn" get loaded into a stock trailer. We will call this witness "w1". That is one story, the other story is the bff hauled the "pawn" to w1's place. Either way, another witness "w2", says the loud leopard mare did show up at the property next door to her owned by w1 and she ended up hauling the loud leopard mare back to bff's facility. Oh dear.....this is the convoluted part!! Since w1 does not own a truck and trailer, some of this is believable. But w1 swears the mare was never at her place. Now I called bff and had a short but telling conversation with her. This person stated clearly she did haul a horse for the boarding facility owner to the vet's office. I asked her directly if she hauled a leopard appy mare, that is when she told me "I know nothing about horses" and hung up. Hmmmmm.
Meanwhile, back to the original owner, who is getting some nasty emails, finally makes contact with the buyer/boarder and can't get the Sheriff's department to cooperate! The story on her end is unfolding but hard to understand who might be telling the truth and who might really be helping her. I have to say, if I were to have been her at that moment, I would also suspect "me". You do not know any of these people, so how can you believe anything they say. Your gut has to tell you something, but your heart and gut are not getting along with each other! Poor original owner! She is standing fast though and staying focused, still!
In the midst of all of this is another little pawn, a small puppy. This registered lap dog is said to have been used as "payment" for board by the buyer of the mare to the boarding facility owner. OK, so the boarding facility owner now has another dog to add to her pack, or should we say, another mouth to feed? Anyway, rumor has it the w2 has a neighbor who purchased said puppy for a sum of $600. OK, that is enough to pay for at least a couple of months back board owed, right? Apparently not!
One of the nasty emails the original owner got was from bff, it stated that the mare had gone to a good home and she would never ever see that mare again. Hmmmm, how would bff know that if she was not involved with boarding facility owner? Besides, she told me she knew nothing about horses, so how would she know if it was our lovely loud leopard mare? And, instead of bff sending that email directly to the original owner, she sent it to w1, who forwarded it to the original owner. More questions on who exactly is involved come up at this point.
And in the midst of all this, I think I have a good location on every leopard appaloosa mare in the PNW! The Stolen Horse International/Net Posse flier is ready and transmitted via email and Facebook to everyone and anyone who is interested in helping find our poor little pawn. I spend lots of time assisting folks on how to download and print the flier. I get lots of comments on the flier from people who don't want to help. Yep, this is FUN!!!
Have I mentioned that time is a factor? Did I mention that the mare was said to be thin? Did I also say it is Winter? As I write this, it is snowing outside. I am writing this before the saga is over, so I can keep as much of it as "straight" as possible. It is not good for a horse lover to hear a horse is thin, it makes us wonder "how thin"! How much time does she have? It is cold, wet, snowy, rainy and generally not nice weather here in the north eastern Washington area. So, without knowing exactly just what her condition is, we are worried. Worried she will get sickly, worried she is already dead, worried she might be suffering instead of dead.
The flier is out, getting put up everywhere and emailed everywhere. Calls and emails come in from far away places with encouragement and HOPE! And then I wake up and read an email from the original owner....stop the presses!!! We think we have found her and we think we can get her home in 48 hours. Jump for joy and Yippee!!
But we can't say a word about it to anyone, because whoever has her, purchased her. They did not know they were buying a "hot" horse. They saw the SHI flier after the fact. They don't want to be implicated in the legal process. They are victims in this game of Chess, just one more "pawn" to have been used. Or are they???
What do you do? How can you ever make the sorry ass low life's pay??? They made money off of her from the boarder, got themselves some new fencing and then made even more money off of our little pawn mare when they sold her!!
I freaking live amongst these cracker asses!!
But I am happy to say that the little leopard mare is back in the hands of the original owner, sort of. She is at a family member's home and is getting taken care of. She is not thin and is just as sweet as she was before all this began.
So what have I learned in this latest Appaloosa Adventure?? There are wonderful people who are honest and care. There are ugly game players who pray on situations for their own gain. The list of "not to do business with" persons is longer now. And that Chess is a board game with inanimate objects, not something to be played with living breathing animals or people!!