Friday, October 19, 2012

Bar and his farrier--a love story

Mike has been shoeing Calabar for nearly five years and recently began telling me how good my horse has been behaving. I thought, "Well, sure. Compared to how he behaved the very first time Mike came out, I'm sure anything would be better." But I watched yesterday first hand as my formerly rambunctious Off-Track Thoroughbred stood completely quietly the ENTIRE TIME Mike worked on him. He didn't swing back and forth in the cross ties. He didn't fight for his feet. He just stood there and practically napped most of his appointment. 

Mike and Bar--pals at last
It just goes to show you (shoe you?) that patience and consistency will eventually win out--even if it takes awhile to get there. 

And it took awhile, that's for sure.

About two days after Bar became mine in December of 2007, he got out and tore up his back feet. I had not had the chance to put back shoes on him, yet, and even after two years barefoot, his feet had not turned into anything other than typical Thoroughbred feet. Having both hind feet in tatters, Bar was not comfortable and it was necessary to call my fabulous farrier, Mike Brookfield. Mike had been working on Lena for several months after our erstwhile farrier disappeared into the ether and her feet were in great shape. Of course, Lena's feet are a farrier's dream while Calabar's are, well, a farrier's retirement account. 

Unfortunately, Calabar was not the world's best citizen for our inaugural shoeing together. He was convinced Mike was going to do something terrible and he was a much more defensive horse back then. I don't really know why this was the case with the farrier, though. He had a great farrier at the track and shoes were a very common part of his life, so really there was no excuse for his behavior. He swung back and forth. He leaned on Mike. He basically did almost everything in his power to distract from the shoeing process except bite or kick or strike--which gave him a few points but not many. Mike ended up building a barrier around Calabar with various objects so when he swung, he encountered something whichever way he went. Mike also might have done the fastest shoeing job ever that day, but shoes were applied which was all we needed.

Bar and his barriers--these are the external ones
He did get better for Mike after that, little by little, but was never a perfect angel in the many times I watched. There were a couple of times Mike eased some pain--once from an abscess and once when he thought he might have run a hot nail and re-set it. Knowing my horse, I could swear that has something to do with his new attitude.

Whatever the reason, watching Bar stand quietly and politely was cause for a small moment of celebration. I can't take credit for it all, no. Mike has always been clear and consistent with his expectations in terms of behavior while underneath my big, brown horse. He has also been kind and gentle. These are things all horses notice, and Calabar is no exception.

I'm just glad one of us has learned to stand still at least some of the time.

1 comment:

lmel said...

Sounds like someone I know--ahem, Harley? Butch is a saint for putting up with Harley's shenanigans. I try to make a point of working Harley before Butch arrives--just to take the starch out of him. He doesn't kick or bite, just does what Bar does--leans on him, get's antsy, moves back and forth. Maybe he was one of those OTTB's that was just sedated for shoeing. I don't know about his track farrier, but I suspect he's been handled by some impatient people in his past. Bless you, Butch!
I like your description--a farrier's retirement fund! Hah!