What Next?

I would imagine all farriers have some war stories to tell. The following is one of mine. No names are mentioned to protect the innocent.

Some years back I had just finished supper and the phone rang. It was a lady who wanted me to shoe her horse. She said a friend had recommended me. She told me that she had bought her first horse and was new to horses. Now I am not knocking first time horse owners but through my experience with them it was like the doctor telling me I only had a week to live.

She said that a friend had told her that “hot shoeing” a horse was the only way to do it and asked if I “hot shod”? I said yes ma’am and I set an appointment for her.

The day finally arrived and I showed up on time only to find that the horse was in the pasture. She apologized and grabbed the halter to go catch it. What followed looked like a scene from the Keystone Cops! I watched with amusement as this horse played her like a fine fiddle until I could “takes no more” and took the halter and caught the wild beast.

I began trimming the horse and got the shoe I needed. I placed it on the hoof to see what adjustments were needed for a correct fit. I placed the shoe in the forge and started to trim the other front foot as the shoe heated up.

I took the hot shoe and shaped it on the anvil and once shoe was shaped correctly I placed it back in the forge. This is where it gets good. I took the shoe to the foot and began to burn it on. Well if you have never seen a hot shoe on a hoof let me tell you, the smoke rolls and the aroma of burnt hoof is not the most pleasant smell that will ever reach your nostrils.

The lady begins screaming at me using words that would make a sailor blush. The horse becomes spooked and I am trying to get out from underneath it without ending up on the ground. This whole time I am holding a hot shoe that would leave a permanent horseshoe brand on any flesh, man or horse, that it touched. I was successful at staying on my feet and not branding anything. Then the owner proceeds to tell me to gather my things and get off her property. I gladly obliged.

That night I received a phone call. Yep you guessed it. The new horse owner. She immediately began apologizing and admitted she didn’t really know what “hot shoeing” was and got scared when she saw the smoke and smelt the burning hoof, even though I had already explained it to her. Drum roll; she then asked if we could reschedule. Let’s see now, I told her to have the horse caught up, which she hadn’t done and I explained to her how “hot shoeing” works but obviously wasn’t listening or didn’t believe me. Now I believe in giving second chances unless there is a great chance that I could get hurt. Maybe I am crude and rude but without saying a word I hung up on her. Maybe not good business practice but this client I don’t think I was going to be able to “charge her til I liked her”.

My beloved Kate. RIP

Chronic Pain

Pain is the body’s way of telling the brain we are still alive. That’s my story and I am sticking to it.

I have wrestled with the idea of addressing this subject for sometime. I think I can speak for the majority of us who suffer from chronic pain syndrome when I say we aren’t looking for sympathy or pity. We just want you to understand what we are dealing with. Too many think we are overreacting and are just cry babies. I am here to tell you the pain is real and can be relentless at times.

Mine began when I crushed my heel, broke my ankle and instep in 1979. My toes were about the only thing that were spared. The doctor who treated me said he didn’t think I would walk again and if I managed to do so it would be with the assistance of a cane. He was wrong on both counts.

The bones healed but the pain never really stopped. It just got worse. It has wreaked havoc on my quality of life. I have reached a point where all I want to do is sit on my arse and keep my foot elevated to combat the pain.

On those days I force myself to get up, put on my big boy panties and deal with it. Some days are harder than others. The pain is not only physical but emotional as well. I have to fight off depression daily but I can say I have remained victorious in that battle. I get tired of hurting. I try to remember what life was like without pain. It keeps me awake at night and causes fatigue. It becomes a chore just to go to town 3 miles away. Negative thoughts try to creep in but I have learned to keep them at bay with positive thoughts. It can be quite the emotional battle that some days drain me mentally and physically.

Recently I have had to start the day using a cane but once I am up and moving for about an hour and the foot loosens up I can lose the cane. There are mornings that I have to work diligently to get my foot in a boot. The majority of my pain is caused by inflammation and arthritis.

I have enrolled in pain management with little success. I was on hydrocodone for ten years until one morning I got up and took myself off it. It basically just dulled my pain and I was afraid of what it was doing to my body. I wasn’t getting any real benefit from it. I have tried ointments and even used horse liniment that gives short lived temporary relief never completely eradicating the pain.

I contribute my ability to cope with CPS to my love of nature, fishing and kayaking. They keep me motivated to deal with it and to keep on trucking.

I am by no means the only one who suffers from CPS and we all have different ways of combating it. Just please be aware that for the majority of us the pain is real. Our quality of life sucks and we become cranky and hard to be around. We don’t mean to be but the fatigue and pain sometimes become so unbearable we lash out even though it against our better judgement.

No doubt you all know someone who suffers from CPS. Please don’t offer us pity or sympathy. Instead try to understand us and be a positive force in our life. Help us through the rough spots. There are days that an “atta boy” or hug can ease the pain, give us hope and brighten our days. Please don’t judge us just try to understand us.

Life Can Be Bittersweet

As we grow older it is inevitable that we will face the fact that those tasks in life that we were able to do are no longer within our capabilities. Believe me it is a hard pill to swallow. Unfortunately we tend to refuse to recognize this. We are in denial and keep telling ourselves we can do it. By choosing this path we don’t always do what is best and prolong the inevitable. Just recently I found myself guilty of doing this very thing.

In 2003 I became a full time farrier. I built my business up to a point where I was doing around 1400 head of horses a year or roughly 30 head a week. During the summer you would find me under horses six days a week. During this time I saw so many horses that were never trained and wasting away in a pasture. Something I said I would never do, or so I thought.

I had purchased a cutting horse bred filly. She was quite the handful but managed to break her and had her going well under saddle. I lost her in a divorce and figured I would never see her again.

I began having breathing problems and my energy levels suffered immensely. This was a part of my life for three years, off and on. Finally I couldn’t go anymore. My “get along” had got up and left. It turned out I was bleeding to death internally. My body only had a third of the blood it needed circulating through my veins. The whole time I was struggling to stay under horses to make my living. The doctor told me he had no good explanation as to why I was still alive and that there was probably some damage done to my organs. To make a long story short I recovered but my pulmonologist informed me she thought I had some lung damage. It was evident in my shortness of breath and lack of energy.

Then one day I was given the opportunity to buy my filly, now a mare, back. She had a filly on her side. I brought them home thinking I would break the filly. My health issues changed everything. I kept telling myself I would get better and have the horse I had always dreamed about.

Unfortunately I was in full blown denial. I was becoming one of those people I had always despised just letting her talents go to waste.

Then in January I lost my beloved ride dog Kate. Reality slapped me square in the face. I wasn’t being fair to my filly. At the same time I was wrestling with the realization that I was no longer able to do what I could once do.

I finally admitted my training days were over and I made some phone calls. Some very good friends who I knew would give them both a good home, agreed to take them. They are going to use the mare for breeding and break the filly. I guess it is only fitting that the mare would be the last horse I would break.

Dare to Dance the Tide

St Francois River bear Farmington,

“So don’t you sit upon the shoreline and say you’re satisfied, choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide.” The River, Garth Brooks

This is one of my all time favorites of Brooks. Not just because of my love of the river but because of the way he compares our dreams with the river.

Every flood that happens on the river changes the appearance of the river sometimes even changing its course. How many times has this happened to you? Some major life event happens and forces a change in your dreams.

How many times have you settled for second best instead of best because you keep letting it slip through your fingers and in your mind you won’t achieve “”best” so you give up on your dream and settle for second best?

St Francois River bear Farmington, MO.

As the water of the river enters a shallow area and the gradient of the river becomes steeper rapids are formed. These rapids are representative of the hard times in your life. What you do here is very important as to whether your dream becomes a reality or not.

People who float the rivers have different skills. There are six classes of rapids with I) being the safest and VI being the hardest and most dangerous. When a kayaker or canoeist comes to this spot they have to decide how good they are and they will either pull around the rapids or go for it. No one can make the decision for them. You have to make this decision yourself.

So here you are looking at that very spot on your “river of life”, you are at a point where it is very important to stay focused on your dreams. Don’t lose site of them. Could you fail? Failure is always a possibility. There are no guarantees in life except for the fact that in order to succeed one must try.

So here you are. You have to decide what you are going to do. Are you going to sit upon that shoreline and be completely satisfied or are you going to choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tide?

St Francois River bear Farmington, MO.

Spread the love and be kind to each other.

All photos were taken by Double D Acres LLC

Unfathomable Determination

The rain has pretty much settled in for the night. I sit here with my eyes closed listening to the raindrops dancing on the tin roof creating a soothing symphony.

My mind focuses on those brave men and women, the pioneers, who settled the west. They had no idea of the challenges they would face. The only idea they had of where they were going was the tales they had in there minds put there by the adventurers who went before them.

There were stories of feast and famine. Massacres. Whole wagon trains who died and didn’t fulfill their dreams. Disease and prairie fires. Yet these people had a dream that so obsessed them they were willing to sacrifice anything and everything to follow their dream. That profound dedication my friends died with them and no longer exists in this country anymore.

I don’t know if you have ever been camping in the rain but I can tell you from experience it can be very miserable.

I sit here in the coziness of my cabin listening to the rain and I have a vision of men, women, and children huddled together under the rain fly of a wagon trying to get their nourishment so they will have the stamina to do another 10 to 20 miles beginning at dawn. One can only imagine the sore muscles they must have been nursing. Wondering how much further they have to travel. How many more river crossings and broken wagon wheels they will have to endure. Will it be their wagon that breaks this time? How many more of their possessions will they have to leave behind so they can lighten the load on the wagons so they can get them over the mountain?

With these things dancing through their minds it had to be difficult to sleep. Knowing all to well they needed to sleep so they could get the much needed rest to complete another leg of their journey.

The fingers of dawn ascend on their camp. The rain has stopped and the day promises sunshine to dry things out. They begin packing the wagons, hitching the teams and checking the wagons so they can start out once again. They have to battle the annoying suction created by the mud delivering another hardship for them to deal with.

Guts and grit kept them pushing toward their destination and failure was not an option. True representation of determination and faith. They not only needed faith in God. They had to have faith in those leading them and most of all faith in themselves. There were those who celebrated and those who endured heartbreak. So many died along those trails who never lost sight of their dream and died trying to bring their dream to reality.

People could learn a lot from these pioneers and use it in their lives to achieve their dreams. Don’t ever stop believing. They didn’t.

Spread the love and be kind to one another. It doesn’t cost you anything.

Fear Not

“Don’t be afraid of your fears.  They’re not there to scare you.  The’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”  – C. Joy Bell C.

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Somewhere on the Bourbeuse River

As a child I was afraid of the dark.  I didn’t have a night lite in my room.  Nope.  No night light.  No siree.  You kidding?  I had a freaking flood light.  I WAS going to see that monster under my bed before it got me and carried me off to where ever monsters take little kids.  Thank the good Lord I finally out grew it.

I came across this quote some years ago and I could relate to it so easily.  If they aren’t there to scare me you couldn’t prove it by me because it scared the hell out of me.  I realize now that my fear of the dark was just trying to tell me that there was really something worth it and that I needed to kick this bad boy’s arse and start enjoying the dark.  Finally that day arrived and I put on my big boy panties and never looked back.

When I go to the river I like to get there about 3 pm or 4 pm.  Then I stay all night til about noon the next day.  The rewards of being on the river at night are abundant.  Normally you don’t have too many people to deal with.  You don’t have to worry about getting sun burned.  You are serenaded by frogs and crickets.  Some nights you get to experience light shows like you have never seen.  It is so alluring to experience the magical properties of the river at night.  I highly recommend that everyone experience one night on the river by themselves.  You won’t be sorry.

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Fire on the banks of the Big River

In closing someone has asked me what I mean by “share the love”?  Simply share your “passion” or “love” of something that you do with the rest of us.  Cooking, hiking. photography, kayaking etc,  Whatever it may be.

Thanks for reading.  Be kind to one another, share the love and God Bless each and every one of you.

“Don’t squat with your spurs on.”