Thursday 28 April 2011

Don't even THINK of touching that hoof with anything sharper than a stick of celery

This is a post for any of you who tended to agree with yesterday's post about shoes and scaffolding :-)
For me, its been a week of highs and lows.  Rehabbing horses has to be one of the best jobs in the world, but as well as giving you tremendous exhilaration and happiness, it can also bring sleepless nights and intense worry.

It was wonderful to get the fantastic news about Frankie and Lady over the weekend, both looking a million dollars and back doing what they clearly love.

When I get bad news about ex-rehabs though, its a real kick in the teeth because once they have left here, its almost like waving goodbye to one of my own horses, and I really, REALLY, REALLY want them to carry on doing well and I get really, REALLY, REALLY upset if they don't.

Fortunately, those sorts of set-backs don't happen very often, and its usually something which can be sorted out - a problem with too much grass, or an issue with saddle fit, or an injury which has given the horse a minor setback but which just needs careful handling to get the horse back on track.

What makes me VERY angry, though, is if a rehab horse goes home and is harmed by a trimmer or farrier.    The problem is that most owners - quite rightly - feel that they want their horse's feet checked over by a professional every few weeks, but  most trimmers and farriers - with the best of intentions - cannot leave well alone.

Very few will turn up, walk and trot the horse, admire its feet, have a cup of tea and then leave.  They have a compulsion to fiddle and unfortunately for the horses, they tend to fiddle with knives and rasps in their hands.

Now, none of us are perfect and we all make mistakes - in my case plenty of them - but where I start to see red is if it happens not once but twice, and if the person whose made the mistake refuses to listen to what the horse is telling them - or worst of all, doesn't even bother to find out whether their bright ideas are benefitting or harming the horse.

I always send rehab horses home with a detailed report which covers feeding and exercise, and I used to include a paragraph about trimming as well - usually something terribly diplomatic about the horse likely to need only minimal (if any) trimming, and about the importance of allowing the horse to assert its own medio-lateral balance.

I think though that I will be a bit more radical in future, and send horses home with a final sentence that simply reads:



jenj said...

I was thinking a wet noodle. A stick of celery in the hands of the wrong person could do impressive damage.

And I know EXACTLY how you feel...

Val said...

Oh, I don't know. I despise celery!

I just read yesterday's post, too. Some owners comment that their horse cannot go bare, because their toes wear away too quickly. I know that this is really because their farrier is applying a pasture trim and taking the toe and callous right off. Meanwhile, my horse grows so much hoof that I must trim every two to three weeks if I want keep flares and cracks away. I never understood how a slab of metal could be shock absorbing either. My sneakers do not have metal soles.

Dare Gothic Clothing said...

woohoo I love you Nic and am merrily imagining you beating an overzealous farrier to death with the soggy end of a stick of celery! ;)

cptrayes said...

I couldn't do your job Nic, partly for the reason you're posting about today. I hope the horse concerned has an owner who wises up pronto and changes their trimmer/farrier.

Keep up the good work, you can't help the fact that there are some idiots determined to ruin it later :-(


Nic Barker said...

Fayley - LOL! Not quite that bad yet ;-) C - totally not the owner's fault (has done everything right) and I think its sort-able - these things usually are - fingers crossed(!)

Jacqui said...

Great Post! I've been looking at Alberts feet this week and the fact he is wearing his back toes.. rather than worrying about it - they are both very symetrically worn - I have decided to just see how much he wears them in the assumptumption that when they back up to a comfortable length he wont wear them any longer..... He was also his most foot sore after his last trim (though by no means lame still worse than he had been) so having read this article I feel confident that while we are out and about doing lots of multi surface riding and the paddock ground is hard (as long as the rain stays off) things will go great and other than tidying up the chips he really does need nothing more than Celery near his feet :)