The opinions expressed in previous entries may or may not express the current opinion of the author.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Another Appaloosa, and a Throughbred

Today I trimmed another Appaloosa. He could have been the triplet of two others I trimmed a few weeks ago. He was a handsome, strapping fellow with a good heart, but, as with the other two, my efforts to be considerate and polite could only take me so far. When asked, he gave me his feet right away but then took them back just as quickly.

One reason his owner switched from her old farrier was that the horse had knocked the old (in both senses of the word) farrier over by suddenly snatching away his foreleg, and the owner was afraid that the man would end up being injured. Using the hoofjack made things easier to begin with, as the horse's leg didn't have to be snatched out from between my knees. Also, the horse didn't lean on me, which the owner warned me he would - I guess it's easier and more tempting to lean when the trimmer has his body jammed up against yours.

You can usually tell when the horse's reluctance to let you keep his leg stems from discomfort and when the cause is impatience. With this horse (as with the other two Appies), I felt he just plain didn't want to leave his leg up.

Sweet talking was not helpful, so I went up to his head and said something to the effect of, "Your ancestors used to hunt buffalo. They were real tough. They were so tough, you know what they used to do? They ... er ... used to ... um ... stand completely still for hours on end. I bet you're that tough too, huh?"

Whether he understood my words, or whether my manner of communicating them made an impression on him, after that he left his foot on the stand in an exemplary fashion.

His buddy was a sweet ex-racehorse, with knobby fetlock joints, one flat forefoot and one contracted-heel concave forefoot, and a sore left hindleg. When I first went to pick up his forefoot, it was glued to the ground. But by dint of me asking nicely, the foot was given. The owner warned me that he sometimes cowkicked with the hind legs. I figured this was probably due to discomfort, so when I came to the sore left hind, I stood beside that leg, telling the horse that I wanted him to pick it up and rubbing the joints to let him know I knew something hurt, and then touched the leg just above the fetlock joint. After a try or two, he figured out in his own time how to lift it up comfortably.  I rested the hoof on the toe of my boot, as fortunately there wasn't much to take off, and I could complete the job quickly. I'm planning to get a mini horse Hoofjack when I have the money, and I believe you can fit the full-size horse cradle in the mini stand, which would be very useful for horses, like this one, who can't easily lift their hind legs very high.

The horses' owner was a very nice lady - I was happy to meet someone else who lets their horses out in their yard! She described how they like to look through the windows into the house and to try and help when she's hanging out the laundry.

Once again, I'm impressed at how willing horses are to cooperate and how well they understand what you tell them. The difference between the TB and the Appaloosa was also interesting - I find it easier to work with horses who, like the TB, are softer, sweeter, and more sensitive. The Appaloosa types challenge me to find a more assertive demeanor, while still being courteous and kind. This Appy had something else in common with the other two - namely he had been roughly (or even abusively) treated in a previous home, and had nicks in his ears to show for it. The owner and I agreed that the temperament of these horses does not take rude treatment lying down, but their challenging temperament often causes handlers (men especially) to be overly dominant toward them. Yet these horses have a reputation of being excellent with children and so clearly are to some extent magnanimous toward weakness and do not need to be "bossed around" as such.  This horse, and another Appy I trimmed, are both young, and not much time has elapsed since they were badly treated. Yet they have maintained their confidence and have quickly formed new trusting relationships with their current owners. Kind of an awesome breed.

1 comment:

  1. June - I just love how you read - and interact with these horses. Most trimmers just come out - grab a foot and start cutting away.... I've even met a few that wouldn't even greet the horse with a simple "hello" ....I find it sad really. I used to trim Grif myself, but twisting my back out pretty much put an end to that. The trimmer I have now is a very nice guy , Griffin likes him, and he doesn't make Grif sore....Still - if I had the chance to have you come and trim my boy I would jump at the chance!! ...maybe some day more trimmers will get the idea that the horse is their client too - not just the owner :)