Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Drama-free farrier appointment

One of the things that I heard horror stories about regarding Toad were having her feet done by the farrier.  I didn't really get that much history on her except something about how she kept throwing her back shoes and the farrier decided to just not put them on anymore.  And he was scared to do her back feet for some reason?  I'm not really sure what happened.  Apparently, Trainer K. had been hired to handle Toad when the vet and farrier came but she wasn't at the barn today because her son had a doctor's appointment, so I had no one with first hand experience to ask what to expect.

Luckily, my farrier, Ray, is about as calm as they come and doesn't appear to be scared of anything.  He did Girlfriend's feet first and that is always a non-event because she is so sweet and polite with her ground manners. In fact when I was telling Ray about how well Toadie's training under saddle is going and how quiet she is - and how she is actually way far ahead of Girlfriend in that she (Toadie) actually stands still at the mounting block and doesn't try to bolt when trotting, Ray said with surprise, "Girlfriend does that???" and I said, "Oh yeah, Girlfriend's super hot under saddle."  It's so funny to me that people are so surprised by that.  But if he'd stayed a couple hours later and seen T.'s ride with her he would've seen what I was talking about.  T. was having an awful time getting her to trot today she was feeling so energetic, and when T. tried to canter her on my suggestion that it would help her (Girlfriend) "get the wiggles out", she just took off and tried to gallop.

But as for getting shoes Girlfriend just stands quietly and sighs and waits for it to be over.  T. showed up half way through her shoeing and I left her to "hold Girlfriend" for Ray and went off to get my sandwich and came back and T. had dropped the lead rope on the floor and was braiding Girlfriend's mane while Ray finished up her back feet.

Then it was time to bring the Toad out. She started turning in circles as soon as she saw the farrier equipment and I was just letting her, thinking it would keep her from spooking and Ray said no, he could show me what to do (which I appreciated).  So he led her forward a little, then backed her up to the farrier equipment. At first she threw her head and balked, but he just corrected her and told her she had to do it, and she backed right up, sighed, lowered her head and submitted.  We moved her against the wall so she couldn't jump sideways and Ray said to just keep her from moving forward.  And I stood to the side so that she couldn't hit me if she reared.  He told me she needed shoes on her back feet because of the way her feet were so I braced myself.

And he picked up her back foot, and trimmed it down and nothing. He went and got the shoe to fit it, took it a couple feet away to his truck and started hammering it to shape it and she twitched a little with each strike of the hammer on metal but just stood there.  Then he came back, lifted up her foot and started hammering the shoe on.  And she just stood there.  In fact, she just stood there for both of her back feet except for on the second foot at one point right as he was hitting her foot to hammer in a nail, his dog, who was sitting in the back of his truck scraped her nails across the metal of the truck bed and made an awful scritching sound at the same time that one of the kids let the porta-potty's door (only about 8 feet away) slam really hard.   That spooked her and she kicked back which caused the metal stand with Ray's tools to get kicked over, and Ray leap frogged away from her leg and she bolted forward.  She stopped after just a couple steps and managed to compose herself quickly, and I backed her back up and apologized for letting her go forward and Ray said it was all the dog's fault and I couldn't have stopped her.  Which was true, I don't know how I could've stopped 1,000 pounds of panicked horse from jumping forward.  My instinct was to let loose on the lead rope - enough so I still had a hold of it but loosened enough so she wouldn't panic and rear).

She didn't want to back up all the way to Ray's farrier equipment again, but he gently forced her to and then she was fine.  She was getting a little impatient when he was doing her front feet and kept bending her head down and pushing at his back as soon as I took my eyes off her.  I caught her a few times and corrected her before she could, but wasn't watching every second like I should've probably been.  On his tool belt, he has a spikey hook to hold it together right in the middle of the back of his waist and sure enough, she leaned over to push on his back and got the spike poking her right under her chin which caused her to throw her head back and fly backwards, taking him with her while he was holding her leg.  I apologized again for not being able to hold her still and he laughed and said, "That spikey hook sure comes in handy.  She won't be doing that again!"

T. took Toadie out for some grass after Ray was finished and while he was cleaning up and I was writing him a check he praised Toadie on what a great temperament she has and said, "Congratulations. You've got a really awesome new mare!" 

T. rode Girlfriend in the arena for a bit and said she wished we could go for a trail ride.  I said I'd ridden Trainer V.'s pony Rimfire the other day and how she's just a wild little thing but it was fun - like Girlfriend gone through the hot wash cycle.  So, T. wanted to take her out but Trainer V. needed her for pony camp.  So, I asked Trainer V. if T. could ride Rolls and she said yes!  T. was really good with Rolls - much better for him than I am.  I get so anxious with him, but T. is a lot more confident and every time he spooked she stayed super calm and helped him through it.  The irony though is that we walked down the long driveway to the street and just rode up the street a ways to see what was up there and see if we could figure out how to get to the powerlines trail, but Girlfriend was an anxious wreck.  Rolls was really calm as long as he could follow her, but she was prancing in a super anxious way - not in a happy energetic way.  So after a couple blocks I said I wanted to go back.

We rode them back to the barn, then rode them in the arena for a bit.  I tried to canter Girlfriend but it turned into a gallop.  T. asked if she ran off with me too but I said it isn't really running off if I'm letting her.  She just felt like she needed to get it out.  T. wanted to go back on the dirt road in back of the barn and I said I'd walk Girl back there with her but last time I tried to take Girl back there she wouldn't go.  On our way out, the owner told us how to get to the back pasture and that no one was it so we could ride back there.  Of course, by then I hadn't brought my helmet because I thought I was just going to be leading Girl, so I planned to just walk back and not ride.  Rolls freaked out a little on this very narrow path down a hill we had to go on to get to the back pasture.  Girl and I went ahead and Rolls panicked at the idea of being alone and bolted toward Girl - which pissed her off.  And scared me because the only place I had to go if he decided to run us over was a choice between and electric fence and thick blackberry brambles.  Luckily, T. was able to just barely stop him before he ran over Girl.

The back pasture was awesome! I took Girl over to a log and hopped up on her just for a little bit (I didn't want to press my luck too much since I didn't have my helmet).  This time she was really prancy, but it was a happy, excited prancy.  The pasture was big enough that part of it was grassy, but then a whole half of it was on a big slope with paths through the brambles and it felt like it just went on and on. It was just beautiful.  And T. did great helping Rolls get over his terror of various different bushes.

I was telling Trainer V. how great T. did with her horse and she said she wished she wasn't moving.  I said so too and T. admitted she didn't think she'd get into school this quarter like she wanted.  Trainer V. said she's moving at the end of the month to a bigger place and needs a temporary roommate.  I pointed out that even if K. leases Girlfriend, T. could still lease Toad.  T. said we suck and what is worse is she was actually considering it.  But I think she's got her mind made up to go home.  I don't blame her.  I wouldn't mind moving to Missoula. 

An obligatory picture of my "awesome new mare!"


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