May is the new April....isn't it? Lets talk about horse feet!
Since all I seem to be doing is looking at horse feet, I thought that my history with horse hooves and maintenance might be a good April (but really its May) blog topic!
We’re having an unseasonably pleasant spring here, so everyone is out and wanting on there horses. When others want on their horses that means I get busy under them with trimming and shoeing. I’ve been working my tail off bent over under horses earning money for my Gaucho Derby Fund! This post isn’t going to be directly related to Gaucho Derby training per-se, but it is how I’m contributing to my own fund and farrier work definitely keeps me in shape. PLUS I have some of the MOST SPECTAULAR clients who have been tacking on a little extra tip here and there to help me on the road to Patagonia!
My history with horse feet:
When I moved to Wallowa County in 2012 I quickly acquired a couple of care lease horses and found Dennis Brennan, the premier local barefoot trimmer, right away. I will always be grateful to him and “blame” him for getting me into this profession. I think the first visit we spent 3 hours together nerding out about horse feet and he said “you know you could do this if you really wanted to.” I didn’t think I was capable at the time. He didn’t give up on me and the next time he came out, he showed me how/why and we talked anatomy and he had me hooked. He told me he’d teach me how to do my own and it led to my odd obsession with horse feet. I started trimming only my own under Dennis’s watchful eyes. Then slowly as I studied on my own and gained confidence I would trim for friends (for free). I decided that if I wanted to do this professionally, I needed to know more than trimming and I needed some accreditation. In 2015 I enrolled at Mission Farrier School with the help of my friend Solveig from Olivia Farm (see my sponsors page). Then in August, I had my incident and house fire, so farrier school was postponed until spring of 2016.
I will NEVER forget the insane terror and excitement on the first day of farrier school. The first nail I ever drove through a horse hoof made me sweat. I will always feel love towards that little appaloosa gelding and his patience with me. Yes, we were under horses on the very first day! Mark Plumlee (the original living legend) and Shasta Lakey were the most phenomenal teachers. They set the perfect course for us with a balance of barefoot trimming, forging skills, anatomy, lameness prevention, therapeutic podiatry and McGyver-esque ingenuity. They were remarkable in how they helped each of us observe movement, navigate mapping feet, and finding the right balance for each foot on each horse. I graduated in April of 2016 and I’ve been under horses consistently ever since!
Why I love my job:
For me, there is absolutely NOTHING better than the feeling of helping another soul. Therapeutic podiatry is one of my favorite things because of the instant HUGE reward. I have the pleasure of taking an animal in pain and either reducing or eliminating the pain. It is extra rewarding to take those animals beyond their initial incident or injury and get them back to a place of comfort or back to work! I treat every horse, mule or donkey I get under as I would like to be treated. I’ve learned that I can get away with a lot more if I work with them. Although that sometimes puts me into some remarkably interesting yoga poses LOL
I love taking horses with deformities back to a more natural foot with proper balance. It brings me great joy when horses/mules that can now go barefoot that never could before. I also have clients who can now ride and use horses that they had since retired because of injury. There’s also reward in maintenance and keeping a horse balanced and sound for years and years.
All-in-all the animals and the wonderful people who care for them take the work out of my job and make it a pleasure to get up each morning. So if you see me out in the old F250 with the pink stripe and the little white cargo trailer, give me a wave because chances are I’m exited to see my 4 hooved and 2 legged clients or I’m smiling because I’m on my way home covered in dirt and smelling like horses.