“The authoritarian stands ready to punish and everyone under his thumb tiptoes around—getting weaker and sicker in the process. What does a person do when she knows that the authoritarian in her life is always ready to speak and act like an authoritarian? She flinches. She keeps her distance. She makes wide circles. She keeps her mouth shut. Sometimes, to make sure that she isn’t wrong in her assessment and unfairly judging the authoritarian, she tests him by saying something provocative or by breaking a cardinal rule—which of course provokes the authoritarian’s wrath. So, she goes back to hiding, not testing those waters again very soon.”
It’s important to think carefully about the long-term implications of owning an animal so large it needs to be stored on someone else’s property and what it means if your relationship with this property owner ever sours. I took this into consideration…not at all, because my brain was ablaze with the joyous chemical storm of a lifelong dream within reach. A horse of my own.
At the time, I didn’t really have a reason to consider it. I was going to be boarding Navani at the same barn with my friend, who had repeatedly assured me that this was “one of the good ones” and everyone there seemed to agree. “We’re like a family,” I heard over and over again. And for a while, it felt like that was true, especially in the year before I had a horse there. People seemed to like and respect one another. Laughter rang down the barn aisle.
The atmosphere always changed subtly when the barn owner came around. It quietened. Doubtlessly science has an instrument sensitive enough to detect an otherwise invisible collective puckering of sphincters. Or I’m projecting? I was definitely intimidated by her at first, and she knew it because she commented on it, frequently. It amused her. Whether that change in energy was real or imagined, something inside me went on high alert whenever she was in proximity.