Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mission Accomplished

The farrier finally was able to put the borium shoes on my horses’ front feet yesterday. He takes regular shoes and adds little cleats to help give them more traction in the snow and ice. On Silk’s front feet, he also covers her frogs with special pads to protect them. Since Siete’s shoes are still on backwards, we decided not to use the pads so ice and snow wouldn’t get caught in the front, and he did a borium wash to rough up the shoe instead of making the cleats.

We’re about a month late with this essential winter project. The weather just wouldn’t cooperate. Every time he was scheduled to come, it snowed. Yesterday was sunny but very cold and windy. We still have ice on the trees from the storm earlier this week. We were able to pull his truck into the pasture, close to the barn so we didn’t have to walk the horses down the icy paths to the slippery driveway. Siete was first, and until John nailed the shoes on, she was fine. Each time he tried to add a nail, she yanked her leg out of his hands. It was really difficult. I kept thinking that maybe she was still sore on her front feet. We stayed calm, and although it took about a half hour just to put the nails in one foot, I really appreciated how John never lost his temper. He just kept reminding me that no matter how long it took, we had to finish the job.

It was most important to me that Silk get her shoes, since I didn’t want her to fall on the ice. As we started to fit the shoes and pads, the wind really kicked up and ice chunks rained down on us. Silkie got very nervous, but she never spooked. We weren’t under the trees, but the wind was blowing the ice off the branches all over the place. As it hit the top of the farrier’s truck, it would make these sharp popping noises. While he nailed the shoes on, Silk really tensed up and I noticed her neck started to shake. We realized that the cold nails must be hurting as they went into her hoof. So, Siete must have also been reacting to that painful feeling. I felt really bad, but I knew that for their safety, we had to get these shoes on right now. As soon as Silk had the first pad and shoe on her foot and set it on the snowy ground, she visibly sighed and relaxed as if to say, “Aahh, that feels much better.”

After two hours of standing in the bitter cold, we were finally done. My fingers and toes didn’t thaw out until many more hours later. I’m going to go through my calendar now and plan out the schedule for next year so we get this done the week after Thanksgiving. Next farrier visit is the first week of March, and we’re all hoping that it will have warmed up by then.

Meanwhile, this morning, we’re preparing for the next snowstorm. They’re predicting eight to ten inches, and I still don’t have my hay stored for the winter. I’ve been picking up ten bales each Sunday morning from my favorite farm about a half hour away from here. My hay man lost a big part of his second cut this fall when he mowed and it rained. He’s been working his way down the list of customers that he’s had for 30 years, and he tells me that I’m the next delivery. The problem is that he wants to sell me good hay and everything he’s been getting recently is pretty funky. The last thing I want is to waste money on hay that the horses don’t want to eat. It’s always something. I’m going to see if I can pick up my weekly hayload a day early so I can rest assured that we’ve got enough to make it through this snowy week ahead.

This is our fourth winter in New England, and it’s teaching us some new lessons. We’re definitely getting more snow, ice and cold than we’ve had before. This morning, I was thinking about how some Saturdays, I really wish there were magic fairies who would feed breakfast to the girls. I just didn’t want to put on all the layers of clothes and walk out to the barn in the dark at 6:30 am. When I saw that the temperature was 9F degrees, I changed my attitude. I thought about how Silk and Siete were eagerly waiting to get some hay in their bellies so they could warm up. It was so crisp and clear, and the horses were very glad to see me. It reinvigorated me to get a move on and do what needs to be done before the next storm comes in this afternoon.


the7msn said...

Shoeing angst...I'm so glad it's over for you, at least for eight weeks. I can't even imagine trying to be a horsekeeper in the winter you're having back east. Bravo to you for keeping it all in perspective. Next time the farrier comes, it will almost be spring.

Bones said...

It's always the little things we tend to forget with our animal friends! During our cold snap (nothing like yours), I noticed my cats weren't eating as much as usual...the linoleum in the kitchen was uncomfortably cold on their feet, so I put an old rug down with their food bowls. Could you put the nails in an inside pocket to warm them up before the farrier uses them, even though he might think you're a nut?

Lori Skoog said...

Victoria...I feel very lucky after reading your post today. None of my horses wear shoes, and the farrier can go into my grooming room to trim the horses. It is in another barn and it used to be a car repair area for the last people who lived here. It's insulated and stays warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. I have a couple of stalls in there plus an area with cross ties (and all the tack and do dads for this herd).
I get a years worth of hay delivered before the end of September. This was a weird year for hay. Hopefully I am set. You are right is always something. It was 5 here this morning.
Best to all of you New Englanders.
(notice I did not write Virginia????)

Cactus Jack Splash said...

I am not sure what is going on with your horses hooves, but was wondering if you have considered letting them go barefoot.
I used to keep my horses shod, pulling the shoes for the winter to give them a break. Now they are always barefoot...I use boots if we are in the mountains. I have a lot less problems and the horses who have had bad feet are doing better too.

billie said...

You must be so relieved now that the shoes are done!

For the first time, we've been getting hay each week too, but a big round bale. We don't have the weather issues you do, so for the most part it is low stress. Still - the idea of something coming up at the "end of the round bale" part of the week is a nagging thing.

I've ordered the small mesh hay nets for each stall in an attempt to make sure the herd has hay through the night. My husband opens the gates to whichever field they're on each morning, and wheels some hay out for them, before he leaves for work, so they get their hay before the breakfast tubs. Which is a huge help to me.

This morning I managed to get my son to do it so his dad could sleep in! Hearing the nickers and the braying makes it a fun chore, but there is never a "vacation" from it!

Farm Girl said...

Makes you wonder about 'global warming' doesn't it? I sure feel for you in all that snow and ice.

Nice to know that the horses finally feel safer out on the snow and ice.

CadencedHoofbeats said...

Oooh, we are getting ready for a snowstorm here, too! Whenever there is snow in the forecast, I run around like crazy getting hay and bedding and doing barn chores. Some of the people I work with (office job) think I'm nuts! Glad to know that horse people understand! :) Stay warm!

detroit dog said...

Hi Victoria,

Glad the girls' winter boots are on. We are getting that storm right now - between 5-10 inches. It's so pretty!

I hope the girls get a belly full of fresh hay, and that you have some hot chocolate and warm up by the fire. It's a cozy day.

Victoria Cummings said...

Linda - Yes, it might almost be Spring. Or not......

Bones - Funny, I thought about putting the nails in my pocket just as he was tapping the last one in Silk's shoe. If my brain hadn't been so frozen, I would have done it sooner.

Lori - Your farm sounds like a dream. How lucky you are!

Cactus Jack - Both horses have been barefoot for almost five years now. It's only in the winter that they get shoes because they slipped and fell on the ice the first year. Siete has the backwards shoes due to her almost foundering a couple of months ago. I hope that everyone will be barefoot again by summer.

deejbrown said...

I was in the northern section of NY State last weekend and know how cold and windy it was. Blessings on you and your good farrier for getting the job done and keeping the girls safe.

Grey Horse Matters said...

So glad to hear the girls finally were able to get their new shoes. Silk is a dream horse, what a good girl. Now at least you can relax a little about the snow and ice when you turn them out.
Your hay man may have hay early it's worth a trip to avoid the snow.
It's so cold in the mornings I can imagine how much you would like to roll over and snuggle under the covers instead of going out, but they appreciate it so much it sort of gives you a warm fuzzy feeling to hear the nickers and the munching, doesn't it?

Victoria Cummings said...

Billie - I am so relieved. My shoulders and neck finally I'm relaxed last night and I realized how tense I'd been. And I was able to get hay today, so now that it's really snowing hard, I can be safe at home.

Farm Girl - It is global warming, I'm afraid. Although I think some winters are just harder than others. I've been lucky so far.

CadencedHoofbeats - I'm blad to know that I'm not alone. I run around like a maniac to prepare for snow or any big storm.

DDog - I'm sitting in front of the fire writing this, and not looking forward to going out to shovel a path to the barn later to tuck the girls in for the night.

Deej - We're actually not anywhere near as cold and snowy as upstate New York. I'd say this was mild compared to what they get.

Arlene - You know, if I had a real barn, I probably would sleep later knowing that the horses were in a warmer environment. Our shed barn is so "ventilated" that I worry about letting the horses go for more than 12 hours without hay and feed when it's so cold. These were California princesses, so they have never been through a winter this chilly. I'm so glad I was able to get the hay today.

Pony Girl said...

Goodness! That is COLD! I admire your farrier's patience. It's a virtue. I don't think mine could tolerate that. I'm glad your ponies are ready and safe for the next storm!
Isn't it odd, seems like everyone is getting more snow this year than normal. I know we have!