Saturday, February 26, 2005

Horseshoes and Rat-Dogs

I went to Chattanooga this morning to poke around at the American Farriers Association convention, mainly 'cause the bride wanted to go, but I also like to poke and prod and look at tools. Whether they are tools I know how to use or not.

I noticed quite a few folks there of Asian extraction, which I found a little odd until I was told that the Japan Farriers Association (why it isn't the Farriers Association of Japan or the Japanese Farrier Association, I have no clue) was there in force and they were putting on demonstrations, so naturally I had to cruise over and check them out.

There was a Kiwi chap that was their spokesman and he had some interesting tales to tell about how he'd ended up in Japan and became a member of their association. I did not have the presence of mind to take my camera with me. I wish I had, because they had a horse (an extremely well mannered horse at that) that they were shoeing using (from what I can gather) a mix of traditional Japanese techniques side by side with English/American techniques. I did not view enough of the demonstration to see very much of the traditional Japanese techniques, other than to note they do a LOT of work with the foot on the ground (which I think could be very helpful for an injured horse) and the fact that they have an odd way of clinching nails. It looked like they were going around the foot (with it on the ground) and clinching (bending) the nails with a hammer. American farriers have a special tool for doing this, which has evidently just begun to catch on with the younger farriers in Japan.

Why this interest in Farrier tools and techniques? At one time, before I grew fat and lazy, I did all of my own trimming and footwork. I rarely keep my horses shod, but when I did, I would do most of the prep work while my Farrier supervised. Trimming feet to run barefoot and trimming feet to wear shoes are two very different things, which is why I worked under supervision for that. I have actually put shoes on a horse twice (again under supervision). The very first time I did it things went so smoothly I was seriously considering learning how to do it. The second time it didn't go so well, so I lost interest rather quickly. Besides, that's awful damned hard work for a lazy man. At any rate, the fact that I am a cheap bastard is beginning to overide the fat and lazy part of me. I'm thinking of getting some better tools (mine are some ones cast-offs and were probably worn out forty years ago) and trying to do some of our trimming again. My bride doesn't know this and may not be happy about it because she really likes the Farrier she's using now, but I'm becoming a bottom-line kind of guy. She's spending enough on trimming jobs every six weeks to justify me spending a couple of hundred on some better tools. We'll see, I haven't made up my mind just yet.

In other news, the Rat-Dog is living with the vet this weekend. She's somehow managed to hurt her neck or back and needs to be kept pretty much immobile for a couple of days. Since this is a practical impossibility at home, she's staying with the vet until Monday. I just hope this doesn't end up being another deal like our seven hundred dollar cat and seven thousand dollar horse. These dadgum critters are going to bankrupt me. I dread having children. I figure they'll be much, much worse...