Is your farrier your conscience?
Do you know what I mean… those people who clean up before the housekeeper arrives? Or, if you are like me, you wash your hair before you go to the hairdresser who immediately washes your hair…
Well, I clean up my horses (as well as the barn, tack room, stalls…) for my farrier.
My farrier is the greatest farrier. OK, you’re right, maybe not the absolute most perfectly skilled farrier in the entire universe, but he is all-around, the greatest farrier.
First off, he is 6 foot 8 inches of pure college-educated, 5th generation Cowboy, handlebar moustache and all. Often Marshal (that’s his name, one “L” – he’s Swedish) compliments his look with special hats and suspenders, but mostly he arrives in nice, pressed jeans and a clean shirt.
Sometimes he brings along his sons who all say, “Yes Ma’am” as they sit quietly in their ranchwear and tiny homemade wild rags.
He can maneuver his rig into the barn on the first try (very impressive). He knows all my horses by name. He could do all of them without me being there. If he comes by to check on one of my horses, he will leave a note tacked to my gate secured by a shoe nail.
But, the very very best part is that he introduces himself to every horse he meets, every time he meets them and never, ever raises his voice or loses his temper. If I have a youngster to do, Marshal wraps his long arms around baby’s neck and gently says, “Whoa, enough now…” and they get it.
He is a good guy, a good farrier, my vets think he is golden and I don’t want to lose him.
IT ALL STARTED LAST WINTER
Previously, I had much more time than I do now. My barn was always clean, my tack room was in order and my horses were fairly well groomed.
But now, my barn is in mild disarray at all times, my feedroom is actually kinda dirty and most of my horses are lucky if they get a swipe with a flyspray laced brush.
It is embarrassing.
THAT FATEFUL DAY
That fateful day was during the end of winter. Not only were my barn, feedroom, and horses a mess, but I had standing water all over the property and a foot of mud inside the pasture gates.
It wasn’t pretty.
On our scheduled appointment time, Marshal arrived. He did his usual Indy Car move to park in the barn and then his giant self emerged out of his giant truck.
“Hi, (as he looks around) been busy?”
As we started to work, I noticed all the horrible mud on the first victim’s feet. Yikes.
Previously when I managed my time better (translation: didn’t write a blog every day), I would have had the first horses inside to dry and then I would groom them from head to toe. I’d keep up that rotation so all were fairly decent by the time he had to lay hands on them.
Marshal, thinking he was being helpful, said, “No worries, I knew I was coming here so I have lots of rags with me…”
(He knew he was coming ‘here’ so he brought mud rags?! How embarrassing.)
I ran ahead and started to clean the mud off of the next horse while Marshal was working and chatting with me, unaware that I was furiously scrubbing the next contestant.
Then, as Marshal stood to check his work, he unconsciously started using his file to remove the raggy winter hair that was piled oddly and loosely on Slick.
Scrape, Scrapescrape, swipey, swipe (throw off loose hair from file) scrapy scrape slide scrape (shake the file to remove hair)…
Now I was mortified.
INSULT TO INJURY
At this point, Marshal had no idea that I was totally embarrassed. Not only was I cleaning all the muddy feet but I just added fuzz removal. I was running around with buckets of hot water, towels, hoofpicks and my scraping tool as I slip and slid around the property.
Marshal yells at me, “Ya want me to fix your gate for you here? I just need a flathead…”
WHAT? OY! Another infraction of perfection. Now my gate is misaligned.
“Hey, I could chop up some of this dead wood laying around. It would make good firewood…”
AHHHHHH, I have dead wood laying around?!
“Hey D, got any flyspray?”
(I gasp as I run back to the tack room) ‘Yes! Here you go…’ (I pitch it to him while passing at 80 miles per hour.)
It was at this point that Marshal picked up a shovel and started digging out the thistle in front of my barn.
I told him that I was growing that as a crop for its pretty purple flowers…
He didn’t listen and had all the 3 foot tall weeds gone in about a minute and a half – which made me feel even more slovenly.
Marshal went back to trimming Tess and in the middle of our long distance conversation – I’m now in the pasture behind the barn, furiously cleaning Finn – he says, “This one is kinda thrushy, got any stuff?”
THRUSHY? MY HORSES?!! NEVER!
I drop everything at Finn’s muddy feet and I fly back into the tack room to retrieve the purple mush.
It was then that he put me over the edge.
My very sweet and ‘meaning well’ farrier said (while snipping a twig out of Tess’ mangled mane with his nipper), “She’s got her eye goop thing back, I’ll hold her if you want to put the stuff in.”
AHHHHHHHH, I’M SUCH A BAD MOTHER!
I had previously been juggling my hair scraper, rag, sponge, hoof pick, and water bucket… but now I stood before Marshal, frozen.
“What? Hey hand me that hammer and I’ll push this board back in place for you…”
(I’m cracking apart inside) I melted in place. I was a steaming pile of regret and self hatred slumped on the barn floor.
“Whatsamatter? We got 10 more horses to do. Get up!”
(Looking up at him, defeated) “Marshal, my horses’ feet are muddy, they aren’t groomed, they have thrush, their manes are tangled, my gates are whacked, my boards are loose, Tess has eye goop… I’m worthless.”
“What? What is the matter with you?”
(sobbing quietly…) “I can’t keep up. I should get rid of all of my horses and this ranch if I can’t take good care of them…”
“Are you going all girly on me? Well, sit there and listen to ME, little sister…”
(with my head resting on a pile of manure I hadn’t seen…) ‘OK. But you cannot make me feel better. I’m hopeless.’
“I come here and help you because you are one of my favorite clients. And do you know why? Because you do every single thing you can for all of these horses and everyone you know. So what if I help you? You are too small and too sissy to take care of everything and BULLHEADED if you think you can. Stop blabbering, get up, pull up your skinny jeans and stop being silly. Nobody can do everything and that is when your good friends step in to help take the load off. Now, allow me help you before I decide otherwise. Gawd sakes womin, get up and hold this horse!”
I took a deep breath, stood and grabbed Tess’ leadrope. Right then, Marshal, without skipping a beat, decreed from under her belly:
“But I am gonna have to charge you double if you aren’t going to clean their feet before I arrive. Maybe you could do a little trim as well…” He smiled at me, kissed Tess on the nose, removed her halter and set her free.
I really do have the best farrier in the world.
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
MAY BUCKET FUND
Champ and Alaqua Animal Refuge.?Please help them make sure Champ doesn’t go back to his original owner.
And for Alaqua’s Trailer Accident horses and for Gypsy&JR who were poisoned.
To learn more, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Thanks for appreciating your farrier. My husband and I are farriers, granted….I only finish the feet, make the appointments, and order supplies! My husband adores loyal customers and treats them well. He has halter-broke babies and taken the chesnuts off of older horses. If you try to do your part (even if you fail), he cares more. The most important thing is GOOD PEOPLE, not just good horses. Thanks for sharing!
you bet they are hard to find. i have 3 horses & have been thru many farriers, some left with no explination. the one i have now takes extreamly good care of them, plus he gives me some training tips to make them better horses. he notices when there is something going on with the horses-in season & sore-ill or just p.o. they aren’t lame or sore when hes’ finished. he is great.
I’m with Linda! We LOOOOVE your blog, but if you need to post less and clean muddy feet more, that would be just fine (thus speaketh the one who’s good to post ONE entry a week :-). We don’t want you to crack under pressure.
Marshal sounds like a very cool guy. I would definitely take him up on the “while I’m here I’ll do this for ya” offers. :-)
I have only had my own horses for on eyear now but I was blessed to work at a dressage barn in the area for 2 years and get the hands on experience I would need before getting my own horses. But those 2 years let me see my farrier work first hand with a variety of horses before I even hired him for my own horses. He is an onlder gentleman who is very much like your Marshal and worth every penny I have paid him. The only exception is that he didn’t/doesn’t have much experience with deep quarter cracks – which my horse got from a coronary band injury. I had to switch to another farrier for treatment on that horse. But I still stick with Jim for everything else.
Great story…. made me smile this morning :)
OMG I just came in from having the farrier here all morning. I’ll trade you farriers!! Hang on to him!
We are only human, can’t do everything there is to be done. I need to weed-eat the yard, sigh.
Wow!! A good farrier is very hard to find. Hold on to that one.
Man, I know how you feel, Dawn! When I see the dreadlocks on my horses’ manes, the fence rails coming down; the half-assed ‘repairs’ I’ve made to stalls and fencing, I want to cry. I know the horses are ok with all this stuff, and that’s been my excuse to let it go, and go, and go…. But it’s not optimal. So I cry, and then fix something else, something every day, and hope to find that guy who can give me a couple hours a couple times a week for $10/hour to make a little more progress…..
Amazing … you have both a great farrier and a caring friend! Most I’ve known arrive, grumble about everything, present an unreasonable bill, and leave immediately. I think your “treasure’s” favorite cookies are in order.
One egotistical “certified farrier” trimmed the Rescue’s horses so close they were lame for days. Some stood in their own manure to relieve the pain. He said he was “doing the Rescue a favor” by trimming them in one pass to save money. More money was spent rehabbing his “favors” than the trims ever cost.
He never admitted ANYTHING was remotely his fault, or made any adjustments to the bills. After a while he was shown the gate. I would have put him out after the first bad session, but it wasn’t my decision.
As for your daily blogs, I’d be perfectly happy with 4 days a week, so you can spend more time with your (and our!) beloved animals and have some left over for yourself. But please keep up the Saturday Funnies! I think we all need a laugh by the end of the week.