Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Why do some people work with horses when it doesn't even seem as though they even LIKE them??

Sunday, 17 February 2013
First of all, it is good to be home. This conference was not as long as others, but three days of prostate cancer talks makes your brain hurt after awhile! As usual Deb and Toby took excellent care of Suki and Nikki, leaving me with not much to worry about (though I did anyway, of course!)

It was about 70 degrees and sunny when I left Orlando yesterday, returning to cold and windy weather. The girls are bundled up since today is blustery with snow squalls from time to time. I went over earlier than usual just to do abbreviated grooming and to offer many treats and hugs.

The horses were out when I arrived and another boarder who I do not know well was holding her horse for the farrier (not the one that I use). Suki's blankets were a bit wonky, as usual, so I brought her in the barn to do a quick moisturizing and to fix her blankets. As I put her on cross ties the farrier was yelling at the horse and speaking in a very nasty tone. Suki started to get upset so I decided to put her in her stall to work with her. Even that was not enough. She was pacing and nervous and this guy's tone was really nasty. Suki pooped twice in her stall while I fixed her blankets. I understand that horses need to behave and stand still while having their feet done and it can be dangerous for the farrier if the horse becomes too unruly. But honestly, the horse did not appear to be doing much at all except some slight fidgeting. And yes, it is cold today, and horses don't always listen....but if you don't really like animals, then why work with them? It is not an easy job to be a farrier and I'm sure that back issues are a a hazard of the trade. All the more why you should truly enjoy being with the horses. Yes, many complain about our jobs and question career choices. Sometimes when I am at an exhausting conference followed by the return and immediate report writing, yes, I complain. But I have chosen to do this. And my complaining doesn't really affect anyone directly (okay, sometimes my husband gets an ear full!). But when you work directly with animals or people (such as medicine, education, etc) your attitude DOES affect them and can even be harmful. Suki had a bad experience several years ago with a farrier, and when I saw him in action, he was promptly fired. It has taken YEARS for her to regain confidence and she finally doesn't seem QUITE as nervous anymore. But I really felt like today gave her flashbacks, as she was obviously adversely affected by this man's behavior. In fact, I didn't even groom her....just picked her feet, because I didn't want her to be in the barn longer than necessary. Nikki was a total love bug, smothering me with her head. Both girls stucj their heads over the fence so I was able to rub their faces at the same time. I picked Nikki's feet while she was out in her pasture, then gave everyone treats and hugs before I left.

Watching the horses interact today makes me continue my thoughtof putting the girls together in a pasture. As I mentioned in my last post the dynamic seems to have changed between Suki and Banker, and Nikki simply has never liked Killian. They seemed to be okay today and there was no ear pinning when they stood side by side waiting for treats.

Now I am home sitting by the fire watching the snow swirl outside. It won't amount to much but I feel a strong sense of comfort surrounded by my loved ones (2-legged and 4-legged) on a blustery afternoon. The cats are happily watching the birds and squirrels dart in and out of the feeders, and Ripley is curled up on the couch. And in a rare moment for our household we are all together in the family room, Isaiah drawing quietly and Michael reading. It won't last, as it will soon be time to start dinner and the members of the house will set in motion.

I think about the girls out in the snow....Suki likes to put her head down and trot into snowy wind, while Nikki sticks her faces up toward the sky as if to feel the snowflakes land on her nose. I half expect her to open her mouth to try to catch the frosty flakes on her tongue!

Monday, February 18, 2013
I was thrilled to be able to spend a bit more time with Suki and Nikki this evening. The horses were contentedly munching on hay when I opened the door, and seven heads poppped up to greet me when I switched on the aisle lights. All except my girls went back to their hay, but Suki and Nikki continued to look at me and nicker....softly at first then with more urgency. I went to each of their stalls offering carrots, receiving nuzzles in reward. The day at work melted away in seconds. Equine therapy: there's nothing quite like it, is there?

It was nice to do a thorough grooming (Nikki is shedding like mad!) after being away.  I was seriously tempted to get Nikki out on the lunge, but the footing was really not suitable.  Suki's face was really itchy today so I just held the exfoliation mitt and let her do her thing!  Sometimes she rubs her face against the mitt so hard that she almost knocs me over!  When she was finished I used her favorite face brush followed by moisturizer.  I had to pull a layer off each of them because tomorrow will be in the 40's.  The blanket dance continues......


  1. I hope that it is an unwise career choice for that farrier & not that he thinks that is the correct way to treat a client!

    1. I know! It would be tragice if he thinks that is acceptable behavior!


    2. I worked at barn and came in one day to a note saying all 4 of her hunters had their feet done and they were actually burnt. They were all laying down I was young and had no idea this could happen. They all fully recovered but I spent extra time with them all sitting and petting. I agree have been around a few smackers and yellers . Amazes me when you can just calm them by talking and or touching. Why do they choose something that does not bring them joy. Best time of my life was being around horses been fortunate to work with a few and never had problems out of any. Cause I treated them with kindness and remained calm. I wouldn't have someone like that working on my animals. Nope could not take that.

      Shannon K

    3. That's terrible! And it is something that you will never forget. I witnessed a farrier beating a sweet TB mare when I was a kid, and it still haunts me. A farrier got rough with Suki and I fired him instantly. Kindness goes a long way. They are so much more relaxed, and bring so much joy. Sounds like you have a patient and kind heart, Shannon....