Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend update 2... new shoes for Rufus & trail riding with pheasant hunters

Sunday was murky and cool in the morning - blowing fog and threatening rain, but Rufus was scheduled to get his shoes reset, which he really needed. A task ultimately accomplished with better living through chemistry, as he was determined to be completely uncooperative and really didn't like the forge.

I suspect he's had a bad experience with a farrier at some point in the past, as he's perfectly willing to give his feet to anyone for picking out, hosing, tapping on, etc. But let the man (or woman) with the tools and the apron approach, his eyes start to roll, he gets tense, and eventually turns into a horse-shaped basketcase. Shoe-removal and trimming we managed with patience and persistence, but the combination of shoes, cold, raw weather, the forge fired up and roaring put it over the top, and rather than letting him really panic and getting someone hurt, we opted for letting him stand a bit and calm down, and then taking the edge off before things went bad.

Baby steps - shoe removal and trimming went marginally better than last time, but we're obviously not there yet.

Drugging him to put shoes on is NOT something I want to do long-term. I want to stress here that no one was rushing, the farrier was completely patient and willing to work with Rufus without resorting to smacking and swearing - which I wouldn't have tolerated anyway - and Rufus had no problem with the farrier until he bent over to actually work on his feet, so it wasn't the man himself Rufus was reacting to.

We're working on his issue (batwing chaps and a ball peen hammer anyone?) and I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any - it would almost be easier if Rufus had problems with everything to do with his feet. But the other 99% of the time he's fine....

That, thankfully, was the major drama of the day.

We were planning to ride in the afternoon once if finally warmed up slightly, but T wasn't feeling well, and J had an emergency vet call. Still, it was too nice a day not to go, and there were still two of us fancy free, so around 2 PM I hooked up the trailer and headed over to collect Sunny.

C and I rode about 8 miles, mostly walking and talking, but with the occasional faster foray where the road was soft enough. We saw and were passed by scads of pheasant hunters, easily identifiable by their blaze orange vests & caps, scowling at us as they drove slowly along - the nice ones slowed down even farther to avoid pelting us with rocks and bathing us in dust; the real jerks sped up.

At one point just after a truck passed us we scared up about twelve hen pheasants out of the corn stubble. But we heard nary a shot the entire ride.

The horses were content to walk along loose-reined and relaxed, enjoying the (finally) mosquito and fly-free air. When we got back we switched horses for a bit, and it was funny to watch Sunny arch his neck and tail - he was really thinking hard about the different rider! But he minded his manners and C complimented the smoothness of his trot, which is something coming for a staunch QH-rider.

All in all it was a lovely afternoon. No pictures because my camera battery died, but maybe next time.

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