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Monday, November 1, 2010

Misty submits to a pedicure

One weekend a couple of our dinner guests pointed out that Misty appeared to be favouring her front left foot. Well, no wonder. The girl hasn’t had a pedicure since before she went off to “summer camp” to be bred, and she has been gallivanting over glacial moraine for the rest of the season. She probably stubbed her hoof on a rock and cracked it. I called the farrier.

For the next few days we couldn’t get our schedules coordinated, so Misty had to wait til the weekend. Finally, on Sunday night, just as we were welcoming the first of our 18 expected dinner guests, Thad the farrier called. Our knight in oiled chaps. Our saviour of the hooves. He was in the area. We turned the veggies down to a low boil and headed out to entice Misty into the stable.

It was a beautiful fall day, and we found her standing with her friend Donkey under the low hanging branches near the fenceline. The twigs were scratching her back in the breeze. She was quite comfortable and didn’t seem interested in my requests for her to follow me to the barn.

“Go get a bucket of corn,” the Farmer suggested. Well, that worked. For Donkey, anyway. He followed me into the stable. Then Misty followed him.

We hooked their halters up to the stall ties and gave them each some water and hay with their corn ration.

Just then Thad arrived. He walked right into the stall behind Donkey. “Uh...are you used to donkeys?” I asked, worriedly, “Cause that one bites. And kicks.”

He looked at Donkey. Donkey looked at him and stopped chewing for a moment. They seemed to form an understanding.

Thad moved around to the other side of Misty. She was stubborn to lift her foot for him, but she was not at all nervous or jumpy as she had been in previous pedicure sessions. Her eyes were calm and when he tapped her ankle with his little hammer, she lifted her hairy hoof for inspection. Thad turned his back on her, brought the hoof up between his knees and gripped it firmly while he picked the debris out. She slammed the hoof back down to the ground and Thad jumped out of the way. This routine repeated itself several times until finally he could see that the soft inner portion of the hoof (known as the “frog”) had abcessed. He cleaned it, put antiseptic on it, and pronounced her cured.

But there were three more hooves to go. Thad patiently led Misty through the various signals. He leaned on her to get her to shift her weight. Pulled on her ankle tuft to get her to lift her hoof. Tapped her with the hammer. Straddled the hoof. Picked it clean. Jumped out of the way when she pulled it back and slammed it to the ground like a gunshot. Then he repeated the routine with the file. He tied a rope around her hoof and let her swing it back and forth until she got tired and gave in. Soon Misty had four beautiful hooves, nicely trimmed. The rodeo was over. Thad was drenched in sweat.

I looked at Donkey. His hooves are tiny little things but he did have some problems with them earlier in the summer when one of them started to curl upwards. Apparently his trotting around provided enough self-trimming. His hooves are nicely worn down now. Which is a good thing because we have been told that if you want to do a donkey’s hooves you have to put him in a stockade and leg ties. And we don’t have any of those handy.

I paid Thad, gave him a tip and thanked him for his patient efforts. I appreciate that he never hits my horse or yells at her in anger. I promised to call him back in eight weeks.

“Misty seems calmer than before. Maybe it her time at the breeder’s that calmed her down.” I asked Thad if he could tell whether Misty was pregnant or not. He looked at me like I was slightly crazy. I guess that means no, you cannot look a horse in the eye and tell if she has a secret.

I can tell by the way she walks now, though, that she feels extra pretty with a fresh pedicure.

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