The Diary of Bridgette M., Part 2

by Trey Nosrac

Series introduction is here.

Part 1 is here.


Here is more about the first and second days on the farm, or technically at the horse training center. We work on Saturday, but not Sunday. So far, it’s interesting. The groom that mentors me, Rhonda, is about 45, rocks a backward ball cap, and is as wiry as a greyhound. So far, she is okay, and I have not felt the need to be a smart-assed skank yet, but give me time.

Half of the people call her Rhonda, and the other half call her Ronnie. I have not called her anything and have barely opened my mouth, which is probably good news for all concerned. She does not talk all that much, which I like. She explains things calmly and slowly, like I’m a kindergartener. Which, in horse terms, I am. The only horses I ever met were wooden ponies on a ride in the Kmart parking lot on Fairmont Road with my stepfather when I was about 8. These horses are enormous, have big bug eyes, and scare the crap out of me, and I have seen some bad shit, including a bad car crash, a knife at my throat, and two people OD and die.

I do not know anything about the racing part. So far, my education consists of picking up manure and dirty sawdust from the floor of an empty stall while a chained-up horse watches me. Next, I wheel the waste to a trailer and dump the manure. Then I roll the wheelbarrow over to another pile of clean sawdust, refill it, and then roll that back into the stall, tossing it on the floor and smoothing it out on the floor. My other specialty is filling yellow buckets with clean water and hanging the bucket inside the stall.

So far, I have yet to touch a horse, which is probably lucky for all concerned.

My mother always says, “My Bridgette doesn’t like much.” Well, Mom, you will be glad to hear that this work, the smells, the exercise, and the time to think are not bad. How long this will last, how much I will enjoy working with the horses, or how long I will survive without, you know, is to be determined.


Alice ran away.

She was one of the four in our horse rehab group, a heavyset girl, about 20, with straw-colored hair, a nose piercing, and a permanent pout. I don’t think she said 10 words to me on the van drives back and forth to the horse farm.

This morning, she was not outside waiting for the van. Somehow, in the night, she slipped out. They might have her on one of the cameras, but I doubt they will look for her. Alice may have scored already. It’s weird, but my mind keeps wondering about two things.

Does Alice’s family get a rebate when the patient runs away?

Will Alice’s bolting cancel the horse mentorship program?

So far, today, the van took me and the other two girls to the farm. We worked with our mentor grooms as usual. I am crossing my fingers that they don’t pull the plug on the program.

My jangles are not as bad today. I have hours when the demons go to sleep.


Today, Rhonda showed me how to clean the equipment they put on these horses. They call this leather and plastic, tack, like the word thumbtack. I wonder why? As we cleaned, I asked her how much she made last year. I thought she was joking when she said $60,000, $70,000. I figured these grooms made fast food money. Wrong.

She told me that good grooms are in high demand. She could work in plenty of places but works here because she likes her trainer, and he pays a bonus if one of the horses she is responsible for makes money on the racetrack. Is this BS? Rhonda doesn’t seem like someone who blows smoke, so this is probably legit. Interesting.


After I learned about Rhonda making serious money as a groom, I wondered about MY payment as her apprentice. Rhonda said she didn’t know anything about that. So, when we returned to the rehab place, after my pee test, I walked into the office around four in the afternoon and asked to see the Director. I met Richard Fleck, a tall, middle-aged guy with glasses wearing a sweater vest.

He said that the admitting staff discussed off-campus programs with my mother and me, but at the time, I was unreceptive. I did not ask him to clear up if he meant I was stoned or manic. Then he said that our outpatient programs don’t require the patient to pay anything additional and that every off-site transitional work program is different. The horse farm program is new but is a good deal for the patient. Each day you work, the farm donates $10, and Second Chance donates $10. There is a liability waiver. Your money goes into an account. Twenty dollars is not much, but it is YOUR money, no strings. He said I could use some of the money to repay my mom.

That sounds like a good idea, but most of my ideas end up in my arm.


The rules of in-patient rehab are standard. Classification means a lot. The lower the number, the fewer restrictions we have. If the druggie is level 5, you are probably in a hospital with locked doors and monitored 24/7. If you get classified as 1, you may as well be at the Beverly Hills Wilshire Hotel. I squeaked in at level 3. The five rules everybody understands are:

No leaving the rehab center without permission

No visitors

No cell phones or computers

No violence or weapons

No drugs or alcohol

I could run the table before lunch, but I have toed the line for two weeks. The worst rule for many of us is no phones or computers. I swear, our device addiction is as strong as our drug addiction. When I lose my phone, I feel like I lose my right arm.

The isolation from electronic devices is intentional, so patients do not see triggers; people or events that start cravings. Even television gets monitored. The Netflix series Seaside Hotel was on a list of preapproved viewing. The series is set in the 1920s and is as triggering as Mr. Rogers taking a nap. Then I needed a staff member to boot it up; I had no control, no channel changing, and all I could do was watch. Then, a signup sheet for time. It is a hassle, so hardly anyone bothers.

So basically, in the facility, I climb the walls, bored out of my skull, which gives me time to write this stupid diary. While I have the time, I’m checking out some chapters of the Care and Training of Trotters and Pacers book. The fat book is not what you would classify as a bodice ripper, but some stuff makes a little more sense every day I am around the horses.