If someone can't tell the difference between 14 hands and not even 13 hands when buying their prospective riding horse, that does indicate either they're not as knowledgeable as they're projecting, or that they've got a situational blind spot here - people can believe all sorts of crazy things to support their objectively insupportable ideas about something - we often see it in religion and politics and also with abused people's views of their abusers, and vice versa ("He's not that bad," vs "It's all her fault, she made me do it!" etc).There was something strange though. I don't know what I was thinking yesterday. I guess the new owner told me that the horse was about 14 hands, and with her thinness it was an optical illusion, plus she was a real moving target. Today I immediately realized she was not even thirteen hands, and when I brought Amore down she looked large next to Estelle, and I'd say she is more like 12 hands. So this is not going to be a horse this gal is riding...I'm really not sure what she was thinking. Her new owner is probably thirty pounds heavier than I am, and I'm way too big to ride this pony. Possibly she might make a fancy little driving pony.
Having had my own blind spots for long periods of time, and presumably still having unidentified blind spots (as everyone has), I thought I'd bring this up. There's a difference between wishful thinking and reality.
Sometimes people can be like that because they are happy to let the expert friend take charge. Sometimes it's laziness, a sign of things to come etc. But you know, I think when we ourselves are happy to do something - like you wanting to help train a horse - we can also be susceptible to wearing rose-tinted glasses when looking at the people we're wanting to work with, help etc. Humans tend to make projections onto new lovers, new friends etc, of what they would like that person to be, instead of seeing who they really are (that takes time, and a determination to be as objective as possible when meeting new people) - and it doesn't help that all of us tend to present ourselves to new people with our best foot forward - show the "chocolate side" as they say in Germany.The plot thickens, however. Let's just say I'm happy to help the pony, but it might not work out so well with the owner. There was an element of having us do all the work, and she didn't even help unload the pony. I chalked it up to her being tired...
Classically we get a honeymoon period where new friends are excited about the projections they've put on each other, but haven't actually seen the true faces. When you start to notice that the person wasn't what you thought they were, the disappointment sets in, but it's usually both people who have contributed to the misunderstanding/misperceptions. I'd say you probably saw this new friend more as the kind of person you wish to have as a new friend than what she really is, and she probably sees you as a keen expert who's happy to work with horses and people out of the goodness of her heart (and probably thinks you're wanting to take more responsibility than you actually do). And of course, another possibility is that she is a bit lazy - but I'd say compared to hyper-achievers like you and me and a lot of our circle here, a lot of people are going to look a bit lazy - at least to us, but of course maybe more widely too.
A lot of this stuff is also subconscious, and people may not be aware of the things that drive them or aspects of what they are like. So while conflict - and this sounds like a situation of conflict to me, where two people are perhaps realising they are wanting different things when they thought they were on the same page - is really uncomfortable, it's also something that has the best chance of being successfully managed when you realise it early, and talk about it early, before each side gets emotional and the blame and defensiveness begin (because then it gets really tricky). And...conflict teaches us about ourselves and how we respond to people, and sometimes gives us insights into things we didn't see or want to see about ourselves (but sometimes, people are also happy to use other people, full stop).
Assuming that she didn't have a genuine emergency and couldn't get back to you, then yes, that's something I would be troubled by as well. Was the horse's new owner somehow under the impression you'd do all the work? At this stage, you may still be able to sit down and have that conversation, or if more comfortable, put your ground rules for what you're prepared to do and not in writing, to her. (Of course, it would be so much better to do that beforehand, but so often we assume incorrectly that people will act like we would.)... but then today I was the one who cleaned out the horse trailer, and what ticked me off was that she didn't show up at all to check on her pony. She knew I was going to be at the barn, but she didn't contact me at all to ask if I would feed or check on Estelle. Which of course I did make sure her horse was fed, but she should be super excited to have a new pony, she should be worried about how the horse was doing after the long trip, and it is just a very bad sign to me about our ability to get along.
I've had a curly situation myself, and it's still curly because I've put the ball in a friend's court. I'm going to tell you about it so you can take comfort in the fact that all of us still haven't got everything worked out, and so maybe you can offer your own opinion and suggestions on the matter (and other people's thoughtful perspectives are valuable things).
So here goes - and warning, very detailed scenario.
A while back a very good friend asked if she could bring friends to stay at our house when they were all coming to visit the South Coast. She said they didn't have much money and she would pay for a farmstay room for them, since they were her friends and she really wanted to treat them (and because she is my friend, I offered her a very generous discount). But when she had to change her initial date because of a local lockdown in her region, for her new proposed date one of the two rooms was already booked. So I said to her that if she still wanted to come, then her friends could have "her" room instead of her (i.e. no charge) as long as she would be prepared to bring her own camping mattress and bedding and sleep in our office - our only other private space - we still haven't finished our attic. This she agreed to do.
I was very clear that she'd need to bring her own bedding as we had no spare with both guest rooms full, in two separate emails. And she turned up without any bedding, just a camping mattress. Which kind of miffed me inside, but people make mistakes and I found her a sleeping bag from our camping kit, and an old pillow, and didn't make a fuss about it, other than to mention I had actually asked her to bring her own bedding because we didn't have proper spare bedding. It was a winter-rated sleeping bag, but she was complaining about being cold at night the next morning (in a house whose temperature doesn't drop under 20 degrees Celsius) and asking if I had any more spare blankets, when actually I didn't - I told her though that she could see if her friends were using the spare blanket that's part of the equipment of the room they were staying in. And she ended up with that blanket, but one of her basic problems was she actually wasn't using her sleeping bag correctly - not zipping it up, which is how it keeps you warm. And by this time I've got a house full of guests and situations to juggle and my animals to look after, and I'm kind of thinking, "Hey, aren't you a grown-up, can't you work this out for yourself?"
Also problematic was that both her friends were vegans, and we're not, and I'm not prepared to eat vegan more than once a week (vegetarian I can do five times a week, that's fine, but vegan is rather extreme and I personally need to be a proper omnivore to feel physically good). So on the first night, I made spinach and feta pockets and salad for us and our normal farmstay guests (who thankfully were old favourites back on their third visit), and then realised the vegans would object to the feta and made Peruvian fried rice (without the usual egg topping) as well to last a couple of days - and I was just flat chat with lots to juggle. The friends were a bit irritating because they kept barging into my kitchen asking me questions when I really really had to concentrate when I was multi-tasking making different meals and running behind schedule, so I ended up saying to them, "I really can't talk to you at the moment because I'm busy, please go back to the dining table!" - since they couldn't seem to read the situation.
The next morning at breakfast, I was a bit surprised that my friend's friends seemed to expect me to cater for them the same as my farmstay guests - even though they were staying for free - and that they had made no effort to bring some of their own breakfast materials. Complicating factor was I'd told my friend not to bring lots of stuff that needed refrigerating because our fridge is usually really full with leftovers etc - but that wouldn't have precluded them bringing some cereals etc and whatever it is that vegans eat for breakfast and snacks. They did bring their milk replacer but I think that was just my friend. Her friends seemed to have brought nothing, and just sat there expecting to be served; and that's after they got up late, well after my normal guests are scheduled to have breakfast and had already eaten and I had gardening to do, and this really really miffed me - I'm always miffed when I get the impression that someone thinks it's my job to cater for them - because 95% of our farmstay guest don't actually assume like that even though they pay to stay and breakfast is officially included - but everyone is clear dinner is something I do as an extra and it's not something they've paid for, and many guests will bring a bottle of wine or some nice cheese etc, or offer to cook a meal for everyone another night (once, we had a Spanish guest who won third prize in a national Paella competition make us and another set of guests a proper competition-standard Paella, and OMG did I feel spoilt, it was fantastic - she even made the stock from scratch - and she smiled and said it had been the same experience for her with us cooking).
...which is why I was really irritated that my friend's friends contributed nothing to the table, even symbolically.
I suppose a vegan isn't going to present you with a nice Brie. 😁 But I was just having all sorts of alarm bells going off in me and starting to feel used. They weren't paying and were more trouble than paying guests, and contributing absolutely nothing materially to the common table, and it was just the way they were apparently always expecting to be served.
Next morning I made waffles, with the substitute milk for the vegans and a separate batch that didn't fall apart because it actually had evil free-range egg in it for my regular guests and ourselves. Making the two separate batches made us about 15 minutes late for an agreed hiking time, and I was cursing myself for doing that at this point.
That evening my friend and her friends ate out (and nobody asked if we might like to join them, which we could have). Next morning - the morning they were all going back home - they turned up late again at the breakfast table after we'd already eaten, sat very obviously waiting to be served, and I went really cold inside, thought, "Fvck them!" (rare expletive) and just completely ignored them - because it actually wasn't my job to cater to them, and because, and Brett and I had been discussing this already for the last 24 hours, we ourselves would never have behaved like that staying with the friends of friends. I said goodbye to my friend but not to her friends - I was livid with them inside, at this point.
I'm never hosting friends of friends as a favour again. They can come as ordinary farmstay guests on their own accounts or not at all - then we all know where we stand. My friend let me know she was home safe in a quick email and a couple of days later I emailed back to say I hoped she wasn't working too hard, and that's the sum total of the correspondence since that really uncomfortable stay which is now a month ago. Eventually we'll have to talk about it, and that's OK, but it's her turn to email, at the very least. Meanwhile it's contemplation time. Feel free to offer your thoughts, everyone, if you've made it this far!
We actually have a radio programme here on Radio National called the Too-Hard Basket, where people bring up difficult situations and get different perspectives from various different people like philosophers, psychologists, etc. Here's an example of the curly things they discuss:
For years your sister-in-law hasn't given your three daughters birthday or Christmas presents. Every year you thoughtfully select gifts for her children without even a thank-you. Do you buy them something for Christmas or not?
Because dealing with other people is always going to bring up difficult issues sooner or later...