The first time I heard the word farrier, I thought it had something to do with taxidermy. No, I was told, it is the person who cares for the horses hooves. The horses need regular trimming and sometimes shoeing, and the farrier travels around to different barns to provide this service.
My highly opinionated project horse, Contessa, did not like the farrier. Contessa did not like many things, including doing as she was told. For the farrier to do his job, she “had” to pick up her feet and stand quietly, but this never happened. It looked more like a rodeo with the farrier trying to get out of the way of her kicking, biting, jumping around, slamming her feet down, and being generally miserable. The first time I watched her get trimmed, I had to remind myself to breathe as my gut clenched each time a blow was narrowly escaped.
This seemed like a great goal for me to work on with Contessa: keep the farrier alive on trim day!
Considering I had no experience manoeuvring around the legs of these thousand pound creatures, and I had trouble simply leading this spicy filly, my goal was much more challenging than I imagined. Contessa, knowing my limitations, would get my heart racing each time I tried to lift a foot. We would engage in a dance of determination, with a powerful kick threatening each move. She took great pride in leading this dance, and it felt as though she was laughing each time I retreated. I was angry. I was afraid. I was defeated.
Eventually, I gave up. I decided I was teaching her more bad habits than good, so I changed my focus. I tried to make each interaction we had positive for both of us, and the only way I could succeed was by choosing small activities where I felt confident. Little by little, I found my own footing with a wider range of work on the ground. She began to enjoy my company as a respected companion instead of a play thing.
Every six weeks I held Contessa for her trim, and each time she showed improvement. Despite the fact I wasn’t the one picking up her feet, I felt my heart expand as I watched her begin to behave and let go of the fight.
Working with Contessa this way always gave me a great excuse to get out of weeding the garden or mucking stalls since I had to hold her for the farrier, Rodd. He and I got to know each other through these interactions, and I would often pester him with questions about hooves.
Seeing how much Contessa had changed and recognising my interest in his work, one day Rodd offered to mentor me. I laughed him off, thinking I was not destined for farriery! I didn’t even know this job existed less than two years ago, never mind become one…
I was still chuckling to myself as he drove away, then stopped dead in my tracks as I realised a farrier is exactly what I needed to become.
Have you had a surprising moment of inspiration? Would love to know, leave me a comment.
This is part of an ongoing story – click HERE to start from the beginning.
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