Work for trade. When I was about 15, I worked on a horse farm, trading labor for lessons ... English style.
By the end of my first summer, I had soap defying dirt stains under my fingernails, calloused hands, was agile with a wheelbarrow, and comfortable leading and working around horses. There was a small crew of us and though we worked throughout the barn, we were assigned one horse to tend to. My horse was a beautiful white horse. I cleaned his stall, brushed him, fussed over his long mane, and when it was time for the riding lessons earned in trade, he was my horse.
We trotted and cantered, jumped, and I learned to ride bareback. A activity that induced listing to the left, listing to the right, and a paddock bouncing with laughter.
Aside from brushing and filling water buckets, hoof care was essential. I learned how to scrape the accumulated mud and muck from the underside of the hoof and brush it clean. Standing by the horse's side, facing his rear end, and starting just above the knee, I'd run my hand down the leg to the ankle, gently cueing him to lift his hoof so I could scrape it clean.
I can't imagine doing that today. The last time I got close to a horse was at the end of the Memorial Day parade route where horse and rider stood to greet the crowd.
I was astounded at its massive presence.
Thursday is National Farrier's Week.
I remember watching the farriers when they came to the barn on their scheduled visits. They did the back-bending work of clipping, trimming, and filing each hoof, hammering and fitting the shoe.
And with each hoof and each session, there was a flick of the tail and toss of the head.
Got some new shoes on.
Exploring the art and writing of short story memoir