“I shod a whole horse for the first time last week,” I told a friend over the phone.
“What did you do, a foot a day?” he asked.
“Of course not!” I replied. “I did half on Monday and half on Wednesday.”
The front feet took me roughly 3 hours, give or take 45 minutes. I used to think it was really gross when I saw a man with sweat droplets running off his nose and down his hairline while he shod a horse. On Monday, I was too busy sopping up my forehead with my shirtsleeve to pass judgment on anybody else’s loss of bodily fluids while performing manual labor.
The hind feet took me approximately 2 hours, so progress was made. Halfway through, Katherine paused in shoeing her horse to flop down in a chair we keep in the barn.
“I’m just going to sit here and hurt for a minute,” she said.
I suppressed a deeply felt urge to lay down on the barn floor, picked up a rasp, and resumed my attempt at leveling a foot. My personal technique, not currently taught at any professional horseshoeing school, is to rasp the foot until I can no longer stand, then tack a shoe on. I’m not afraid to set the foot down and rest in between nails.
While shaping a shoe, I held it up to my horse’s hind foot and realized it was slightly off.
“Oh, shoot,” I said. “I brought the heel in a bit, and now the rest of that side is too far in. Well, I guess he does have a little flare I can take off.”
“That’s the spirit!” called Katherine.
I thought I would feel immense and complete satisfaction after tacking iron on a horse in my string. After I clinched my last nail and straightened my back, I didn’t think, “Wow, check out what I did!” Instead, I felt the onset of total-body soreness, surveyed all the faults in my shoeing job, and thought, “Oh, crud, I hope nobody looks at his feet.”
When guys finishing shoeing, they look at their friend’s horse and say “That looks like $#!*@. Are you sure you want to take him to town?” When a girl finishes shoeing and laments how lousy her work looks, another girl looks at the horse and says, “Don’t worry, he looks fine! You’ll get better every time. Just keep practicing.”
So far, it’s been one full week and my horse still has all his shoes and is sound. At this point, those are pretty much my main two requirements in a Jolyn Laubacher shoeing job. As time goes on, I may add more, such as Does Not Look Like a Beaver Chewed on The Front of His Hoof, but for right now, we’re going for sound and still there. It’s something to build on 🙂