Friday, October 8, 2010
Time for a Change
We had our first date with our new farrier, and it was great. For five years, the same man has been taking care of Silk and Siete's feet, but he’s followed his dream out West and bought a small ranch. I was fortunate to find a young man who has recently gone into business after working for many years with one of the most respected farriers around here. All signs point to it being a good match. I consider my farrier to be one of my most important relationships, so you have no idea how relieved I am that we’ve all hit it off to a good start.
First of all, this guy loves horses and shows it. He was really gentle and able to help Siete keep her balance better than our old farrier. She is going through another one of those stages where she’s getting these little abscesses, probably due to the abrupt change in the weather. It’s been so dry all summer, and suddenly, we were deluged by rain last week. The corral is still mushy, and this seems to be the “perfect storm” for abscesses. If anyone has any suggestions about ways to pump up Siete’s immune system, I’d love to hear them. We’ve gone through two years without any of these problems, but this is the time of year where she seems to be most prone to this problem. I’m slathering Venice turpentine on her feet to harden them and she gets Triple Crown 12% Supplement instead of grain. She’s also on a diet, after a summer of freedom in the pasture and all this beautiful second cut hay we’ve been getting. I call her a little “Hoover” since she vacuums up every bit of both her own and her mother’s hay if I don’t stop her.
I also just joined a group on LinkedIn called “Horses and Leadership” which has some interesting discussions going. It led me to think about leadership styles in business and in horse training. Sad to say, we are taught by most trainers to be rigid with our horses. “If you let her get away with that, you’ll spoil her.” My first trainer used to yell at me. What I realize now is that if my horse is just learning the rules, she isn’t really paying attention to me. Often, she was just doing it by rote so she wouldn’t get punished. Over the last few months, I have discovered, thanks to Carolyn Resnick, that the key is to keep the horse’s attention on you and create a trust that makes the horse want to listen to you. That’s how the lead horse in a herd does it. I think the same thing applies to people who are working for you. No one likes to just take orders. It’s so much better to make a request and have a willing response.
Siete was very relaxed with the new farrier today. She’s been anxious and irritable over the last six months when she got her feet trimmed, and I have found myself dreading the old farrier’s visits. This morning, I think that it was a combination of Siete’s developing trust in me and the good vibe of our new friend that made my little horse take it easy, despite the draining of abscesses and hammering of nails. I’ve resigned myself to front shoes for both horses since our pasture seems to grow rocks as fast as it grows grass or weeds. Happily, everyone around here is doing better today, now that hooves are feeling good and the sun is shining.