Thursday, April 23, 2015

Things Just Keep Popping Up

The view from my front yard this morning...

I thought I had a farrier appointment this morning.  Normally, I clearly know if I have a farrier appointment, but my current farrier and I have had problems communicating with each other.  At our last appointment I had asked to schedule on a Thursday, and he told me he put me down for April 26th.  However, when I looked at my calendar, the 26th was a Sunday.  I figured he meant he scheduled me for Thursday the 23rd.  He had said he'd come at 9:00 AM, but may have to change it to earlier if it gets hot.  I figured he would call me if he changed the appointment time.

I'm quickly learning that it's not safe to assume anything about this farrier.  He is so different from me in so many ways.  I had just gotten out of the shower and began eating breakfast, an hour and fifteen minutes before our appointment, when the dogs had an inexplicable barking fit.  I thought perhaps they heard the power company employees yelling in front of the house.  A short time later I walked past the window to see my farrier sitting in his car down by my barn.

I quickly took the towel off my head, combed out my hair, put on a shirt and a hat, and ran outside leaving my breakfast half eaten.  I said I'd clean up a stall really quick so he could have a space to work.  He nodded, but then called out to me.  He said, "Are you going to be home tomorrow?"

Odd question unless he was running behind schedule and couldn't trim all four horses' feet today.  But how could he be running behind schedule if he's an hour and fifteen minutes early to my appointment?  I vaguely remembered my husband saying that something was going on with us the next day, but I couldn't remember what exactly, and what time we would need to do it.  The farrier explained that he threw out his back and it wasn't getting any better, so he wanted to reschedule.  I thought that was odd.  Why drive all the way out to my house only to cancel?  I guess his back was spasming while he was waiting in his car, but I suspect the fact that I didn't have the horses ready for him with clean stalls had something to do with his decision to leave.

Since I thought we wouldn't be available the next day, he decided to just give it a try.  I told him that if he couldn't get all the horses done today, I would understand and we could reschedule for next week.  He started on Bombay.  All the horses were still eating, and he let Bombay continue to eat while he trimmed his hooves.  Bombay was totally relaxed and cooperative.  He was so good that I was able to clean up the rest of manure in the stalls and paddock while the farrier worked on him.

Gabbrielle was a different story.  She was doing a lot of pulling and some kicking.  The farrier got angry and chastised her for her bad behavior.  Usually, if I correct the horse, this farrier stands up for the horse and says there is no need to correct her, because she's just doing this or that.  So, for him to correct her, I knew she had to be bad.  He's very strong, so he'll hang onto the horse's hoof even when the horse is doing everything to evade him.  I think that's probably part of why he has back problems.  He'd be better off setting the hoof down when the horse begins to struggle and let both his back and the horse relax.  I know that some people want to put the horse's hoof down on their own terms, but sometimes horses panic when they feel trapped.  A lot of times they just need to be able to shift their weight and need to put their foot down for a second in order to do so.  The farrier started getting more and more irritated with Gabbrielle, so I knew he was in pain.

Part of Gabbrielle's problem was that he wasn't letting her eat out of her feed barrel at first, and she kept stretching to try to reach it.  He finally, let her move over to it, but she was still being a stinker.  We had been debating whether to let him stay in one stall and me bring the horses to him, or whether to have him move from stall to stall.  I didn't want him to have to keep moving if his back was hurting him, but he said he was fine.  I knew the horses would be calmer if I didn't keep shifting them around and taking them away from their feed, so we agreed to have the farrier go to each horse.

However, by the time we got to Lostine, he wasn't willing to go in her stall because there wasn't enough shade in it, so I brought her out and made the decision to just have him trim her in the barn aisle rather than kicking another horse out of a shady stall while it is eating.

Lostine is normally easy.  She loves her pedicures and often dozes off during them.  But, it turned out that her arthritis was bothering her, so she was reacting to the pain of him pulling her legs up and out and back, and bending her joints every which way.  He was trying to position her to make his back more comfortable, but he was making her uncomfortable in the process.

He kind of rushed through doing Rock's hooves, so I suspect I will have to trim them myself in a few weeks.  They are still way too long, but I didn't want to nit-pick because all the farrier wanted was to get to his chiropractor's office at that point.

When he set up the next appointment, he just didn't give me a time.  I said, "I suppose you'll want to be here closer to 7:00 AM in June to beat the heat?"

He said, "Yeah, I'll be coming early then," but he still wouldn't commit to a time.  At our last appointment he was about 45 minutes late, and he completely forgot about the previous appointment.  He also keeps scheduling vacations around my appointments, and I think he's still in vacation mode when he comes to work on my ranch.  I watched how he trims the hooves more closely this time so that I can do it myself, if need be.  I just don't have high hopes regarding his reliability between his back problems and his inability to commit to a time.  I asked him if he used any pain killers, and he said no.  I thought that if he did, that would explain why he's so flaky.

I myself have been going through a phase where I hate to take photography assignments because my health has been so unpredictable.  I've pretty much got a 50/50 chance of having a good day or a bad day.  If I'm having a bad day, I have to cancel, so I just make sure that the client knows ahead of time that I might not be able to show up if I am dealing with health issues on that day, and if I do show up, I'm most likely under the influence of pain killers, so if I do something ditsy, just get my attention and spell it out for me.  That gives clients a chance to find another photographer and just use me as a last resort.  So, I can certainly see where the farrier is coming from.  He needs to keep making money, but some days he's just not in the right physical condition to do so.

Of course, because I hadn't been expecting the farrier to arrive more than an hour early, I hadn't taken the dogs out to relieve themselves, so I had some messes to scrub out of the carpet when I returned to the house.  Hopefully, the rest of the day will go smoother.


Ian H said...

I do farrier work. $30/horse plus travel time. (Air fare preferred) :-}

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Ian H - Ummmm, Alberta is a long ways from here. Ha ha!

Katharine Swan said...

Not setting a time for an appointment is ridiculous, and forgetting appointments is completely unprofessional. I think you need to find a different farrier.

Breathe said...

I had an interesting comment from my farrier. Lily was being a pill and I was going to just take her and have her circle for a second to refocus her and he said "I'd rather you not correct her while I'm here. Otherwise she will associate me with getting in trouble."

He's a smart guy. He's as punctual as a german train station.

achieve1dream said...

Isn't finding a good farrier a total pain in the butt?? That's one reason I've stuck with the one I'm using now for so long because she is punctual and reliable. She doesn't trim him exactly how I like, but she does well enough that I can just touch up a few things myself when he needs it. I hope you can find someone more reliable. Back problems are so common with farriers... it's hard to find good ones that aren't hurt all the time. :(