The Farrier From Hell

*Originally published in 2005

The Thoroughbred we recently bought has been having some issues with his new shoes. He is fresh off the track and is used to wearing only lightweight aluminum racing shoes. Of course he didn’t walk very well in them, so we had him fitted with regular shoes. The problem is he is tripping over them. He is comical to watch, but scary to ride.

Farriers are like barbers; there are bad ones and good ones. And if you use someone else, they get offended. That’s why it was with great reluctance and gnashing of teeth that we decided to let a different Farrier put shoes on Jay. He swore with confidence that he could correct Jay’s problem with (very expensive) special shoes so we said okay. Hey, any opportunity for us to spend top dollar, you know we’re going to take it. 

Shoeing normally takes 30 – 45 minutes. This guy took over 5 hours! Thoroughbreds don’t like to stand still for more than 5 minutes. This poor horse had to stand there for 5 hours!! Mr. Farrier had to measure, and then smoke a cigarette. Measure, and then take a break. Remove a shoe, then stop and offer some advice. Remove another shoe, and then take a break. Fit one shoe, offer some more advice. Man, Charlene was walking around looking for a bullet to shove into her own temple. Actually, it wasn’t Charlene. Mr. Farrier called her Shelley, Charlotte, Shirley, Charmin, Chiffon; everything BUT Charlene. And he wasn’t restricting his advice to the two of us. Anyone walking by got the benefit of his wisdom. Melanie said she was going home to nurse a migraine. ‘Oh, you know what you need for that? Seriously. (He said ‘seriously’ in every sentence) What you need is some Corn Huskers Lotion, some maple syrup and some toothpaste. Wrap that under each armpit with a roll of 4″ gauze and then stand in a bucket of warm Coca Cola for about three days and that sucker will be gone!’

I swear at one point after getting advice on quilt making, Sir Jay looked right at me and had a look on his face that CLEARLY said, “Dude, I’m a horse and even I know that makes no sense.”

In the middle of all this, Mr. Farrier sent me to Home Depot for a roll of duct tape and a tube of silicone caulk. I kid you not. Charlene and I couldn’t help but stare at each other and thought transfer the words “We’re screwed.”

After another pack of cigarettes and a dissertation on the art of making mulberry pancakes, he finally finished. He and Charlene took Jay up to the arena to see the results while I cleaned up and put the trailer back. When I got to the arena, I asked Charlene how he felt on the new shoes. She said he felt a “little off.” I could no longer contain myself and I barked out, “Of course he’s a little off; he’s wearing duct tape on his feet for Christ sake!!” The other horses were already making fun of Jay because he had to wear a jacket at night, what do you suppose this was going to do for his self-esteem?!

We took him back to the stable, guiltily gave him a bucket full of treats and turned him out in the late night darkness of the pasture. Sir Jay, you are a Saint and we promise to make it up to you. Right after we eat humble pie from our old Farrier.

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