When Millie and Will arrived, it quickly became obvious that I needed my farrier out ASAP. The two horses had successfully managed to split their hoof styles; Millie had enough toe for two horses, while Will had chosen to break off all toe and leave a massive amount of heel. Between the two, I would have had a normal hoof, but instead I was trying to bed both horses as deeply as possible, so they could easily lay down to take pressure off their feet and legs. I couldn’t justify shutting them up in stalls for two weeks– my trimmer was booked solid with customers until then. So I kept turning them out, and begging them not to run too hard or do anything too active. Millie in particular scared me– she had enough toe to make a misstep into a bowed tendon.
When trying to convince a farrier that he wants to come out and trim two new, unknown horses, it’s always wise to check and see if the horses will pick up their feet. I can honestly say I wasn’t convinced these two had ever been trimmed– their feet were that bad. So I dutifully picked up all their feet. Other than a few jiggles from Millie, they both did fine. I called my farrier in relief, and promised him they had been done before… you know. Sometime in the distant past. Maybe a past life?
I have always made a point to not set my farrier up for failure. Rob is a fantastic guy, and he has done my horses for years, even when money was so tight we were squeezing an extra week or two out of each trim. In return, I have always tried to keep horses that knew the importance of standing for a farrier. I figure it’s the least I can do, and let’s face it– making a living by using sharp objects on a horse’s feet is dangerous enough with adding a rotten horse into the mix.
Let’s just say… I broke my own rule, again.
Will was first, and he didn’t do too badly, although he kept whipping his foot off the hoof stand, and when I finally slapped him on the neck for his bad attitude, he stood the rest of the time, with his nose all wrinkled up in a very male pout. Millie, however, was a different story. She slept through the first three feet, and then on the fourth foot, her right hind leg, she woke up and decided she was not going to be trimmed anymore. Sweet Millie became Millie The Possessed. Many years ago I remember reading a humorous article titled “They Never Did That Before.” I bit back those words as Rob and I played rodeo with an extremely indignant, extremely militant Millie. She didn’t just say no. She said Hell No, and I Mean It. Rob tried to talk her into it. I tried to talk her into it. I even tried threats. She was just simply done with pleasing us for the day.
I guess I should lie and say that we used the ParelliAndersonCoxHunt technique and she was perfect in minutes. What we did was look at the hoof and say, “You know.. I think that’s good enough for now.” It’s not Rob’s job to train my horse to hold her hoof up. It’s also not his job to come out and get hurt arguing with a large, determined brat. It’s not even his job to wait while I argue with the horse. He’s there to fix feet, ideally by simply picking them up and going to work, after watching the horse walk and stand. So we got Millie ‘good enough’, and left the finishing of that back foot for another day.
As for Millie, she and I have an appointment. We are going to have a talk about manners, respect, and trust. I like to think of these little trysts as Come To Jesus moments. Others see them as Teachable moments. Or Bonding moments.
I don’t care if they are called Horse Muttering Whoopass moments. The next time Rob comes to trim, he’s going to be able to do that foot while sitting in a lawn chair, sipping lemonade and eating chocolate chip cookies. Which reminds me. I watched Millie running, bucking and playing in the paddock, moving freely and happily last night. It’s the first time her feet have allowed her to do that since she came. I better send Rob a thank you card and some cookies.