Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Days Slip Down Into Autumn

I have to admit, autumn is one of my favorite times of year; working on horses is no exception.  The weather cools a bit, the flies are slowly vanishing (never fast enough) and some of the best riding of the year is to be had.

These past few weeks I've had some interesting trimming to do, thought I'd make something of a more photo heavy post than usual and share a few of them with ya'll.

Here's the first project.  This is Firefly, one of my favorite old ladies.  For any of you who are familiar with the shape and size of horse knees, you may notice that hers aren't quite right.

Firefly has some arthritis issues, and tends to get very sedentary as her toes grow, as they have done here.

Performed a trim to try to minimize the movement in her knees and let fer feet roll where they want. . . hence the very short toe.

Poor ol' firefly isn't really headed for any competitions, but we do try to improve her quality of life as much as possible!

Then there are some donkeys that are trying to smuggle elf shoes.  Here's the average example of a foot that just grew too long:

 Working to bring the shape back into something like normal. . . . I've done a first pass on the bottom and started rasping the front back into alignment with the leg.

Front looking REALLY short because the heels are still too high,

 And the finished product. . . Hopefully I'll see the donkey again before the same time passes!

Cheers gang!  I'll try to post some more interesting pics as the fall goes along.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh, how the times they do fly

Wow. . . ok, sue me.  (no, please don't actually. . . come on, do I look like a good person to sue?  I shoe horses for a living for christ's sake)

No, but really.  Nearly a year?  A YEAR?!  my lord.  Lost "blogger of the year" again.

. . . oorrr maybe. . .  maybe with all the folks who fill their blogs with crap CONSTANTLY, I'm . . winning!  Yes!  Setting new trends in laziness!


(are they buying it?  No?  CRAPWEASELS)

WELL then. . .  let's see about a recap, shall we: Umm, ok, Buttercup is marrying Humperdink in less than half an hour. . .

Oh. . .wait. . . no I'm stealing someone else's recap.

FARRIERY!  Yes, what the people want.  They want FIRE and STEEL and . . . horse. . .poo.  Well, hey. . .  give the people what the want right?

This January, I started shoeing school at Cornell University's Vet college.  let me go on record as saying: "Most Awesome School Ever."

Any day that starts with explosive gasses, 2000 degree heat, hot steel, hammers and 1400 pound animals who may, in fact, go ape shit at any moment?  That's a gooood day.  A good day.  Bonus, awesome people.

My three classmates were from NY and VA, and were all awesome people.  We spent 4 of the most intense months I've ever spent sucking up all the info we could from our instructor.

When I finished I figured "Hey, this is perfect. . . I've got 2days and one alternating each week in the office, and the other ones on the road.  I'll spend maybe one or a half day each week with my own clients, and another with one of the local farriers buffing up on things, and the third, well I'll play it by ear. . .  maybe garden some. . .  do some smithing."

. . . plans.  HA!

I continue to make plans. . . you see, without plans: you will never know when life deviated from the plan!!!

I ended up spending the summer working ALL of my non office time with clients.  Turns out Steve at Cornell teaches ya pretty well, and that year plus I spent getting knocked around with him before hand?  yeah. . . it actually came out with good results.  I did polo horses and miniature horses, I did donkeys and drafts, I made shoes, I trimmed feet, I got kicked and stomped and occasionally bitten.  I even got peed on.

You know what?

I still love it.

Cheers to everyone, I promise I'll be back more often. . . follow your bliss every one of ya, and I'll see you; on the hoof.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Remember Remember that Pleasant November

Ok, no Britons throw things at me for co opting the song, but it's been a darn FINE November here in the Fingerlakes.

Saturday, the middle of November, saw us shoeing in tshirts, not sweating, not chilly, and best of all. . . NO FLIES.  About as fine as you can want.  Sun and clear and a lovely day all around.

Been a good month, this is the one year anniversary month of my starting this journey, and while sadly the Cornell conference was cancelled due to lack of interest. . .  other things look good.  I have a few clients, things on that front go well, and I got my confirmation that I've been accepted to the Cornell program as of January.  Can't say as I'll miss being an apprentice in the field in January and February, it's a cold time of year to be assisting!

Sounds like a fun group of students, three of us with shoeing background, one who is new to it, and all of us are doing the second career changeover.  Not totally clear on when the course is starting since it's a new program with Steve running it, but I should have my letter soon enough.

The first full class Steve's ever taught at Cornell.  I was joking we would have to be "team Alpha" or better "Team Labrat" or "Guineapig"

I think we need t-shirts with a guinneapig wearing a shoeing apron.  ;)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Breaking from Tradition

For anyone interested who follows and doesn't yet know, the Cornell Farrier Conference is cancelled this year, the first time in nearly three decades.

Hopefully under the new resident farrier the program will bounce back to its former standing. . . it's been a rough fall and the impetus for many things faded.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A long time in the making. . .

Today, the first day of the month which is pretty well exactly one year from the day i turned to my wife and said "sooo, what would you think about my becoming a farrier?"

. . . Today I had my very first honest to god clients. Solo. Ok, it was pulling shoes and trimming three horses. . .but DAMN it felt good.

Showed up, chatted up the clients, worked with the horses, was asked if I could fit a third into my day, did them all, and managed to do the trims in about 20min each which is pretty decent since it included shoe removal and clean up and the last one was pretty overgrown.

I have no idea when I will have another mind you, other than a tentative appointment in eight weeks with these same folks, but dang it felt good. Baby steps. And best of all? They were clients my mentor felt comfortable passing along to me. They seemed happy, the horses looked good, and yeah.

WOO! :). Good day. I will be walking on clouds for a bit.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Toto, we're not in Kansas any more

I've been sitting on this post for a week or so because i wasn't at liberty to really drop some of these bombshells. . . But now that things have gone official . . .

Sooooo, Mike Wildenstein, resident farrier at Cornell, fellow with honors of the worshipful company of farriers UK, certified Journeyman Farrier of the AFA and faculty at Cornell University? Yeah. . . He up and retired with like zero notice as of the 8th of October. Never came back from vacation.

To say this caused a bit of a stir is . . . Ok there aren't words for the level of understatement.

And guess who they asked to replace him? (no, not me, but thank anyone who was delusionally complimentary enough to think that). None other than my mentor.

He has been running around like the chicken sans head for the past week trying to put his life together. Plus? I'm gonna lose a field mentor dammit. Sheesh. Stupid cornell students thinkin they deserve a teacher. ;). I mean really.

It's a bad scene. . . mike did so much for the program and the Cornell farrier shop, he deserves some serious heavy duty credit and celebration, but he made his exit hard and fast enough that it will take a while for feelings to settle enough to do it. It's a shame.

I will continue to apply for the January program, even though I've been learning from the instructor for the better part of the past year. . . The opportunity to treat it more like an advanced study course is too good to pass up.

On the other hand, I may get some of my first clients out of the deal as Steve tries to keep everything going.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some days you really nail it. . .

Others you just finish nailing it on. ;)

Starting to drive some steel and do some anvil work. It's impossible to explain just why this is as hard as it is to people. I can understand why some farriers get a bit surly and do the "you wanna get under here and do it yourself?!" thing. The details you don't even realize you don't understand when you first start to undertake this. . . It's humbling.

Plus, with Steve, I am learning not just how to do it, but to do it RIGHT. That is the hardest bit I think. Shoot for perfection, and even though you will never get there, never stop trying. Shooting for good enough is a sure way to get mediocre.

Having the cornell center to work at is a godsend tho. I can try horse after horse after horse, it actually helps Steve out some, and he can review my work.

I did make my first animal bleed the other day. :-/. Felt like an ass, but Steve was good about it. Took a bit too much toe off on a big footed thoroughbred and . . Well . . .crap. I beat myself up for a good couple of days.

On the other hand, now I've vied, the horse has bled. . . At least those first experiences are out of the way. She didn't stay surefooted and Steve just cauterized it with a bit of hot shoe but. Sigh. Keep trying new kid, keep trying.