My Ferrier comes today to work on my horses’ feet. This was one of the things that used to make me extremely nervous when I was a greenhorn. My mare was 5 years old when I first got her and had offered her previous owners no problems when it was time for a Ferrier visit. She stood still, gave up her feet without a fuss to him and let him hold it between his knees while he did what he needed to do for as long as he needed to do it. However, when it came to my Ferrier, she forgot all of her good manners. She jerked her feet away from him at every opportunity. She rared. She kicked at him. She spun around and pretty much behaved like a brat for him, which scared the heck out of me. A 950 pound animal with really hard feet throwing a temper tantrum is a frightening thing. Foolishly, I blamed her. Then, one day after he left, I found some welts on her back and sides. He had hit her with his hammer. Needless to say, he was not invited back.
Fortunately for me, I got in touch with a good Ferrier and got on his schedule, right before he stopped accepting new clients. He is worth his weight in gold. The first time my mare tried to jerk her foot away from him, he simply held it tighter and continued his work. She tried to rare up and he held even tighter, pausing only long enough to make sure he kept his balance, and continued his work. I apologized for her behavior and expressed that I thought she should know better and he shrugged it off saying, “She’s only a horse.” She soon learned that resistance was futile. By the second time he visited, she and I had both calmed down considerably. He’s been with me ever since.
Two things I learned from him about horse handling that served me very well over the years: (1) no matter what the horse’s reaction is, just keep doing what you’re doing. They’ll stop fussing eventually. And (2) He’s only a horse. You can’t expect him to know anything about obedience (or lack thereof) he hasn’t learned from you.
Another thing I like about his visits is he is a really good storyteller. He spent some time in his youth as a cowboy working on a dude ranch in Wyoming and I hope to capture some of his stories on paper. He told me once about being out fixing fence in a pretty remote area one time and he and his partner came across a herd of buffalo. They noticed one cow separate herself from the herd and lay down. It became obvious to them that she was in labor. Then they saw another cow follow her and start trotting in circles (about 120 feet) around her. The second cow kept her trotting vigil until the calf had been born, licked off and was steady on his feet. Then all three of them went back to the main herd. He commented, “I don’t know why I was granted the privilege of seeing something like that. Most people aren’t that lucky.”
I wonder what his story will be today?