Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Forget Finding a Needle in a Haystack

Try finding a lost horse shoe in a pasture!

This has to be one of the least fun 'games' your horse can come up with.  Because not only is that shoe supposed to be on his foot for a very good reason (in the case of the Quarter Horse, because of his navicular, he is no longer comfortable barefoot), once it comes off, it needs to go back on fairly quickly.  And getting it back on is made faster and easier if the lost shoe can be found.

Yesterday I got to 'play' the very stressful Find My Shoe In My Pasture game with the Quarter Horse.  He surprised me by popping that game on me when I went to retrieve him from said pasture yesterday morning so that I could ride him.  The game began by me noticing his front feet did not look identical.  On the right, I could see clinches on both sides of the foot.  On the left, no clinches.  At least, I didn't think I could see clinches, but with all the mud on that foot it was hard to tell.

So I took him into the barn, where his lack of a shoe was confirmed as soon as he stepped onto the cement of the aisle way.  Right foot: "click".  Left foot: "clump".  My heart rate increased a bit as I walked him up the aisle listening to the dissonant sound of his footfalls.  How badly did he tear his foot up while taking off that shoe, I wondered.

Amazingly, not at all.  When I wiped his muddy left front foot clean and picked it up for inspection, it was a beautiful looking foot, just sans shoe.  It looked as if the shoe had miraculously released it's nails and slid gently off.  No tears, no chips, no missing chunk of hoof. Phew!  One less issue to worry about.

Now all that remained was to find the missing shoe, and contact my farrier to have it put back on the Quarter Horse's foot ASAP.  Since I'm not a newbie at finding lost shoes, I didn't panic too much.  I was mindful of the time--as I was supposed to babysit my grandkids right after lunch--and got right to the search.

I do have to admit, standing at the gate and looking at the expanse of field I potentially had to cross before finding that missing shoe was a little daunting.

Not loving the idea of searching every inch of this.

The pasture isn't particularly wide, but it is several acres in size.  That is a lot of ground to cover.  My method of shoe finding (or anything else 'lost' in a pasture such as a halter, fly mask, dropped cell phone, etc) is to walk back and forth across the short width of the pasture, trying to walk in as straight a line as possible, and scan right to left while walking.  I don't look up, but rather at the ground as I walk.  When I get to the opposite fence line I move down about eight feet (fence posts set at 8 foot distances help greatly in keeping aligned so you don't go crooked and potentially miss an area) and walk to the other fence line.  Back and forth, back and forth, slowly making my way down the length of the pasture.  Keeping an eye out for anything that doesn't look like dirt or grass, and hoping the shoe just might be clean enough and the sun bright enough to create a shine that will draw my eye.

After an hour of searching, with only thirty mintues left before I needed to leave if I were going to eat some lunch and change out of my barn clothes before it was time to meet the grandkids, I was getting rather worried about not finding the shoe.  I had only gone through about half of the pasture, and so far, there was no sign of a horse shoe.  Lots of wet mucky spots, but not one with a shoe sticking out of it.

My anxiety level rose as I kept walking that field, fence post to opposite fence post.  The minutes ticked by.  The horses watched me curiously as I got closer and closer to where they were grazing. I was almost two thirds through the pasture and still no sign of that missing shoe.  My heart was sinking.

And then. . .

I saw it!  I don't know how, because it certainly wasn't shiny, and it was barely sticking up.  In fact, it was nearly half buried in mud near the end of a several foot long skid mark in the grass.

Can you see the shoe?

Relieved, I reached down and pulled it out of the dirt.  Then I immediately texted my farrier to let him know I had a lost shoe that was now found, and a horse with a bare but non damaged hoof.  The hoof and shoe needed to be reunited just as soon as he could squeeze us into his schedule.

Just a wee bit bent, but totally fixable.

Game over.  I won, and all is again right with the world.  ;0)

1 comment:

  1. There may be a metal detector in your future.