The last laugh
The owner told Warren that Della had a reputation of being hard to shoe. She was an 18-year-old mare whose foals were sought after for the cutting genes she passed down. He had been offered $50,000 for her but declined. He wanted her shod. Since Warren did the shoeing, he was chosen to confront her.
Horses have individual eccentricities. Some are cinchy, some don’t like their ears touched, their bean cleaned, mane combed or feet messed with. Della did not abide any touching of her legs above the hocks. An odd quirk, probably the result of some past experience, but it was no odder than people who refuse to wear orange, politicians who can’t give a straight answer, or cowboys who insist on going outside to tinkle.
To do the job meant Warren had to put himself in harm’s way to hammer new iron on her feet. To aid in restraint, the owner administered a healthy dose of Acepromazine tranquilizer and they confined her in a 12 x 12 stall. Even then, with the owner on the head and Warren pushing the hip against the wall, she fought it all the way. But our boys are stubborn! They hung on as Della made three circles backwards around the stall dragging them like two lion cubs trying to take down an injured gnu!
They finally got her cranked into a corner so that Warren could delicately reach down and handle the hoof. The tranquilizer finally took the wind out of her sails and one side was done. The procedure was repeated in the other direction including the backwards whirlpooling and the job was finished. Hallelujah.
But eventually the next time came around. When the owner said it was time to shoe her again neither he nor Warren wanted to re-enact the previous harrowing attempt.
“I’ll just tie up a hind leg and let her soak,” said the Boss. “Surely we’re smarter than a horse!”
He used a soft 3/4 cotton foot rope to tie a no-slip loose noose around the horse’s neck. Then he ran a sideline down and around one hind foot, brought it back through the loop that hung around her neck and pulled the hind foot 16 inches off the ground and tied it up.
They turned her loose in the arena and she proceeded to run four laps around before stopping in the center.
“She’ll be sacked out pretty quick,” said the owner with some authority.
The mare looked over at her two nemesis that were bent on subduing her. She gave a fluttering blow like a cornered white-tail buck. Then, as they watched in amazement, Della bent her head clear down to the rope hooked below her fetlock, bent so far that the loop around her neck slid over her head and fell to the ground.
She looked back at her two slack-jawed torturers, stepped out of the pile of rope, and blew again. Warren dropped his nippers. Score one for the horse.
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A pasture or lot with plenty of grass or bedding and windbreak is important when calving in the cold.