Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hoof Place

It's been a restful week for Halo. I came down with a very nasty cold last week, so I was only able to work with her a couple of times. Yesterday I was finally feeling better, so Halo got longed and long-lined. She's learning quickly with the long lines and I even got her trotting on them yesterday! I ordered a surcingle yesterday as well, and when that arrives we'll be able to do much more serious work with the long lines. It's difficult to deal with them now because I'm essentially using two longe lines, and they are constantly down near her legs when she stretches her head down (which I want to encourage, rather than hinder).

Something important also came to light a couple of weeks ago, and I've been wrestling with the decision it necessitates. The barn owner let me know that Halo was "bad" for the farrier and that I need to work on having her feet held. I found that very strange, because Halo never gives me trouble with her feet. She also never gives Casi any trouble, and Casi usually takes a lot longer to clean a foot than I do. After further conversation the barn owner let me know that their farrier "doesn't have much patience" and doesn't like his trims to take too long since he's paid by the trim rather than by the hour. It was made clear that the horse's behavior isn't his responsibility - he is just there to get the job done. It was a huge red flag for me.

I do not expect a farrier to take the time to train my horse to be good - that's my job as owner to work with her feet. But given that Halo NEVER gives me a hard time, something else definitely seems to be going on. Unfortunately I can't see what because I am not able to be at the barn during the day when the farrier comes. I sent my previous farrier an email after the conversation with my current barn owner and asked her what I should do. Her opinion was that I should never let someone trim my horse who was going to lose patience with her and manhandle her. It is her opinion that there is no reason I can't learn to trim my horse's feet myself.

So for the past couple of weeks I've been contemplating it. I have a very good eye, and I am willing to learn. But I know that farrier work takes strength, practice, and commitment, and it is a lot to take on just to do one horse. I would also expect to have a professional out to check my work regularly. Yesterday was the final straw that pushed me to a decision. I noticed while cleaning Halo's feet that they were chipping around the edges. After having done some basic research into barefoot trimming, I knew immediately that it was because her feet had been trimmed flat like they would be for a shoe, without having the edges rasped (mustang roll). Her feet never chipped under the care of my previous farrier. Maybe he didn't rasp them because he didn't have the "patience" and maybe he didn't do it because that's not how he trims. Either way, It's an unsatisfactory result.

So that's that. My shoddy work will be better than his shoddy work, even if it takes me a while to get the hang of things. I rasped her a little bit last night, but I want to have my previous farrier come out to watch me before I attempt a real trim. So the next time she is due at the end of this month, it's my problem! I am looking forward to the challenge now, and not as afraid as I was. I know I can do well by Halo, and that I will be responsible about making sure to have a second opinion as often as necessary.


taramariephotography said...

I've been learning to trim also! It's not hard once your muscles get used to it, and it should be much easier for you to do on your own horse.

Leah Fry said...

Oh not me. First, I'm lucky to have a great farrier. But the big thing is I won't put my middle-aged body thru that. About the only thing I might consider is rasping for touch-ups.

I'll be anxious to hear how that gpes for you.