Sunday, June 22, 2008

In the Beginning


When I purchased Red, he had shoes. I never questioned why he wore iron on each hoof. Hey, he was a horse, those were horse shoes. I made a commitment to provide him with the best care and that meant finding a farrier ASAP and being sure to schedule regular shoeing appointments. It also meant ensuring that Red was well behaved and safe to work on. I religiously picked out his hoofs every day. What more could I do?

Actually, I never worried about his feet during the first few months. Yeah, he did have toe cracks with some weird V carved into the hoof, to stop the cracks from getting bigge, or something. I figured farriers knew what they were up to. I loved my new farrier. A truly nice guy, he was good with Red and patient with my horse's initial bad behavior (oh, just rearing, kicking, and spinning), trusting that I was working on this.

And I did work on it, diligently. Red was terrible with his feet. He would pull them away, lean back until he his belling threatened to bump the barn floor, and scoot sideways - anything to avoid giving his hoofs over.

With the help of Red's uncontrollable lust for carrots, and a big, soft cotton rope, it wasn't long before he would lift his hoofs when I requested and hold them until I released him. The rope was useful for looping around a pastern and lifting his hoof while I'd say "up hoof." That way I was far out of the kick zone. The carrots became his reward for putting his hoof down when I said "hoof down." Red's hoofs started going down only when I asked and as soon as they would touch the mat under our tie post his head would turn to me for his carrot. For those of you who practice the "never feed treats" philos - Red has this little sign that says "Will Work for Carrots." It is what worked for us.

My very nice farrier was happy with Red's new manners in the farrier shed and I was happy with our farrier. One of my annoying traits is I"m curious and like to ask questions. So while we were chatting away over the metallic clang of hammer on nails, I asked my nice farrier how come the cracks in Red's hoofs weren't going away - what the heck were they anyway. Well, I learned they were "sand cracks" and my farrier guy said that horses sometimes got them when they were in damp earth conditions for too long. Ah, OK. Well what would help? I then learned that they would probably go away on their own, if not my farrier would rig up a some sort of thingie that would stabilize the crack while it grew out. Hmmm, OK.

Before long, more and more questions started to blossom on the curiosity tree in my mind.