Would you report it or approach the person?

Our neighbour is fifty shades of crazy. There’s been a few run ins with her and mostly, I keep my distance from her and don’t engage at all. She has an older mare who when she first moved in was in excellent condition. The neighbour said the mare was about 30 and has been with her throughout most of her life.

A few months ago the neighbour got her back paddock cut and baled. It’s only pasture hay with very little nutritional value that had been left for too long to be useful as hay. Her mare wouldn’t eat the hay. I often hear her yelling at the mare for not eating it and she was dumping the leftovers into my Friesian mare’s yard. Even the Friesian turns her nose up at it and she’ll eat just about anything. I had words to her about throwing it over the fence, which caused an argument because she thinks we’re horrible for having horses in yards with no grass according to her. Because feeding roundbales to horses is unnatural, in her words, and she was just trying to give my horses something better because at least her’s is fresh and doesnt look like it’s been sitting in a shed for years.

The mare steadily lost weight over winter (Australia here, it’s spring now) to the point where you can notice how thin she is even with a rug on. Her car blew up a few months ago and I know shes been getting lifts into town every weekend by someone else and the local feed store is delviering to her. My family is good friends with the owner of the feed store and he jokes about them drawing straws when she has a delivery because no one wants to deal with her.

All the acerage out here are long and skinny blocks so you can see onto the neighbours property easily. Our arena is on the border of her property and while dragging the cavalletti out the other day, I saw her take the mare’s rug off. The mare is very, very thin. To the point where I’m worried if the mare goes down she won’t get back up again.

I thought about approaching her nicely and asking if she needs help with the mare. She lives by herself and I imagine life on acerage without a car must be hard. My husband said not to bother and just ring the RSPCA on her because of all the problems we’ve had with her in the past. Despite her being a huge pain in the ass, I don’t want the horse to suffer either. She’s a sweet mare who comes to the fence for a pat if you’re close by and spends most of the day hanging beside the paddock where the youngsters are.

Thoughts?

That’s a tough call but somehow help the horse. If your RSPCA will intervene then give them a ring.

A neighbor called me today about a neglected horse they took in. In addition to being starved it has hoof issues- maybe founder and rotation- going on. The helpers aren’t in a position to call out a vet but we came up with a plan to give the old gelding some comfort while they develop plan B. I’ll pay for my vet to come out and radiograph the what appears to be the worst hoof because that would let them know if it’s too catastrophic to continue.

6 Likes

Poor girl. Based on the history of serious issues between you and neighbor, I’d just call the RSPCA.

14 Likes

Agree, this doesn’t sound like the kind of person who is going to be receptive to personal offers of help. And if you do offer, she declines and then RSPCA shows up, she may know to blame you.

6 Likes

This. I was going to say you can only do one or the other. If you express concern you can’t then call the SPCA because this kind of neighbor will get vindictive.

I would call the SPCA and then offer help if she asks for it.

Realize that very old horses like very old people can drop weight fast, especially if they are terminally ill or have bad teeth. A 30 year old horse just isn’t going to be around that much longer.

8 Likes

I would reach out to her and offer help. Is there any way you could take the horse on to your property? I did that with a neighbor down the road whom I liked but they were letting their geriatric horse starve. In their mind, she’s “just old & skinny, nothing we can do” (when meanwhile they weren’t trying anything) So I told them I’ve dealt with a lot of geriatric horses and have a good formula to get weight of them, and could I give it a try with their horse too? Got them to bring the horse over to my farm and within 3 months she was in great weight.

3 Likes

Call me crazy for intentionally running into what will feel like a brick wall, but I too would offer to help. You have the perfect in, “I know things are rough with no vehicle, I was wondering if you wanted help with Marsie until you can get thru this rough patch? I will gladly do X, Y, and Z to lighten your burden.”

I think if the SPCA is called, even with out the offer of help, she is going to blame the neighbor first.

9 Likes

I would report to an agency charged with the responsibility of handling such things. I’ve worked in this area for many years and have seen all sorts of outcomes. The safest, in the long run, for all involved is to pursue the ‘official’ and ‘anonymous’ route.

8 Likes

Not sure about AUS but if the horse has hay and water, in the US they wouldn’t do anything.

The horse is very, very old and probably needs soaked mush to eat. With these seniors, you either pull out all the stops or you really should let them go. But as a neighbor, there isn’t much you can do. Call your RSPCA and then you will have to leave it at that, unless you want to offer to provide the appropriate feed. Doubt this woman can afford it.

2 Likes

I would just call the RSPCA. 3rd party intervention is always a good option. if you were to say something to her and nothing happened, and then decided to call RSPCA neighbor would know it was you and could make neighbor relations worse.

Of note, some horses can be ill, lose weight, and still eat. So having hay and water doesn’t mean there isn’t something going on with the mare. RSPCA could ask that the owner have a vet come and check on the mare.

1 Like

I’m on the side of approaching the neighbor first. Yes, she sounds a little nutty, but she also sounds like she cares for the horse, just is clueless or misguided about proper care.

Since she will undoubtably know that you are the one that called the RSPCA, you have nothing to lose by approaching her first. The situation is going to challenge your neighbor relationship, such as it is, either way. I really like @Hungarian Hippo’s approach; saying “I see your having a tough time keeping weight on your geriatric mare, I have lots of experience with that, is there something I can do to help?” is not likely to be terribly offensive. If she gets defensive, you can then say “I know you’re having trouble getting into town, if there’s anything I can do to help you out…” In other words, give her a plausible defense for the mare’s condition to defuse her.

You may want to offer your help in concocting a feed for the mare (my geriatrics ate a sloppy mixture of soaked beet pulp, soaked hay cubes and soaked senior feed) I also would not be above buying a bag of one or two of these items, either opening a bag or throwing duct tape over a tear (after I tore it) and offering it to your neighbor because you had it in the barn and no longer had a horse that needed it.

But that’s just one approach. I have had bad neighbors, and I am currently blessed with wonderful neighbors, so I’m all about preserving the neighbor relationship while helping the horse.

3 Likes

I guess it would depend on if your RSPCA will do anything. Over here you still have some that believe old horses are expected to look bad. If they are more informed, they will likely educate her on proper care of a senior horse. She might need mush. She might just need a good quality hay. What the owner needs is someone to tell her she can’t simply do nothing.

If you don’t think RSPCA will do anything, then approach her with your concern. While we realize her hay is likely the issue, maybe suggest that old horses have trouble eating hay and she likely needs senior feed and soaked hay cubes. Hopefully she will listen.

Thanks for trying to look out for the old girl.

It turned out I didn’t need to report it after all.

The RSPCA was there yesterday. I could hear her yelling quite clearly even with headphones on.

The officer turned out to be someone who regularly comes into my work. I’ve been off for two months with a broken arm so it was nice little surprise to see him. He dropped by to give us a heads up that the neighbour was very upset and blaming both of the neighbours for conspiring against her. He told me to just call the police if she starts with any abusive behaviour or harassment.

Part of me is glad I didn’t approach her. I hope the mare gets the help she needs now.

12 Likes

Yeesh! Fingers crossed

An update on this.

Crazy neighbour has upped the level of crazy to the point where the police got involved.

She thought it would be okay to help herself to our hay shed and just leave what she thought was suitable money behind to pay for it. Her excuse was she couldn’t get anyone to deliver her hay without being exhorted (lucerne hay is still around the $20+ a bale mark here with delivery) and since our hay guy drops off, she didn’t think it would hurt. We didn’t press charges but the police had some very strong words with her.

She abused our farrier as he was driving out because she didn’t understand that he couldn’t just drop everything and go trim her mare. She has to make an appointment.

The mare is still dropping off. The local feed store said the other day they’re to the point where they’re about to ban her because she’s constantly opening a bag of feed, saying it’s not what she wants and bringing it back with a few scoops taken out. She then expects a refund.

I nearly called the police on her again this morning. Although she lives by herself you can her hear screaming abuse at someone. I don’t know if it’s on the phone or her imaginary friend. She started this at 5am this morning and didn’t stop for a good half an hour.

On top of having our tack room roof blown off in a vicious thunderstorm on the weekend, I’m very stressed right now. The only consolation is that my husband has found a job in another state. He leaves in a few days and I’ll be following in a few months with the horses. I only have to put up with her crazy for a bit longer. We found a 200 acre block that only has one neighbour and you can’t even see their house from the boundary fence. It’s going to be bliss.

20 Likes

How old is this woman? Is it possible that she has dementia? Yikes, it sounds like she has some pretty serious mental issues and needs some professional help. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. Its not your problem to solve, and I know it cant be easy to watch that poor old mare slowly deteriorate while knowing the situation is out of your hands.

2 Likes

OP I am glad you don’t have to deal with her long term. She sounds completely off her rocker. Be very careful until you get out of there.

1 Like

this is starting to be a human welfare situation. Does she have family? Personally i would contact the police when she starts going off. They likely already know her issues and documentation helps strengthen the case.

3 Likes

Are you all moved and settled @BrokenArrow?

What became of your neighbor and the horse?

2 Likes

@candyappy still an ongoing pain in the behind. Her latest thing is she came into the paddock and took off one of my horses wind sucking collar. Because “it looks mean”. This time the police weren’t so nice to her since she decided to keep the collar.

Hubby and I are waiting for finance for our new place, so fingers crossed we can get away from her soon.

But on the bright side, her mare does look much better. At least that’s something.

8 Likes