Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Show Season! Let the Excuses Begin...


Anvil Archives: anvilmag.com
Rob Edwards, Publisher.
Webster's defines scapegoat as a "person made to bear the blame for others."  What this has to do with goats is subject to debate.  I guess when your goat escapes, the best thing to do is blame it on someone else, especially if the goat takes a fancy to a neighbor's $50 Egyptian Foo-Foo bush.

In horseshoeing it seems the goat is always escaping.  A lot of farriers dislike goats.  It is not that they have this ingrained bigotry towards animals that will eat anything from your shirt to a small foreign car, but that most farriers end up on the wrong end of the goat.  The end that escapes.  Which means that they get the credit for everything from Flossie's splint to nuclear winter.

The trouble is that most horse owners need to point a finger elsewhere when the warranty on their horse expires midway through Test 2, at Training Level Dressage.  Kind of causes the same emotional reaction as the Check Engine light on the brand new BMW.  And of course, the path of least resistance seems to travel directly through a horseshoer's forehead.  History refers to that process as collateral damage --  instead of shooting the horse, you just shoot the guy that's already got his back to you.  Hell, if there are three horse owners on the jury -- acquittal is a sure thing.

Take our friend Bob for example.  (You remember Bob.  He gave up a lucrative and satisfying career stealing recyclables to become a true professional at something.  Didn't matter what.  He just wanted Ikea furniture for his trailer.  Farrier school was much cheaper than truck driving school.)   In the beginning, Bob liked horse people...well, he did like the horses, but after ten years of waiting for the checks that were somewhere in the mail, Bob didn't even like his dinner.  Actually, Bob was beginning to dislike Bob too.  He tried self-improvement classes, figuring it was probably his fault because most of the horses he met seemed somewhat mentally balanced.  He tried a Dale Carnegie Course, tried Buddhist meditation, African primal screaming...even hypnosis.  He even joined Fight Club, but couldn't talk about it.  Nothing helped much. So now he spends most evenings reading magazines about Central American mercenaries and putting flies in the microwave oven.  Bob has been become a bomb in search of a fuse.

Bob's day starts the night before, with the answering machine.  It's Debbie Delay on the tape: a twenty-four year old blond who had her brain removed because it clashed with her earrings.  "Bill," she starts out, (Bill was her last horseshoer.)  "I waited all day for you to shoe Velvet.  You know I have a show tomorrow and Velvet's moving funny because her toes are so long I think.  I mean really, if you can't get here I'll just have to call Bob!"  Bob shuts off the machine.  He decides that he has a split personality and he's sure which one to have dinner with.  Besides, her appointment was last week and he had to shoe Velvet tied-up to the neighbor's barbecue because Debbie was missing.  But of course, Debbie is always missing.  That's why her picture keeps showing up on milk cartons.

The next morning over breakfast, (Bourbon and Alka-Seltzer -- no ice), Bob checks his appointment book.  Three calls and one meeting with a veterinarian:  Dr. Grisly, a man who is absolutely positive that the word farrier was derived from the Latin for "fairly stupid."  Bob cringed.  Everybody liked Dr. Grisly because he was cheap...and the doctor part didn't hurt either.  Popes and Panamanian Army generals have the same sort of advantage.  Bob wasn't a doctor and wasn't cheap.  He based most of his prices on the current costs of decent mental health care in his town.

But that was later.  Bob headed out the driveway, not noticing that his neighbor Lupe was still working on the truck's brakes.  Bob was busy trying to tune the radio.  All he seemed to get was a Spanish-language, acid-rock kind of grunge song.  It was three blocks before he realized it was Lupe screaming at the top of his lungs.  It took him an hour to get him out from under the truck and dropped off at a hospital.  Already late, Bob roared up to his first appointment, positively convinced that he was probably fired.  Standing in the driveway was 13-year old Buffy Gallagher, daughter of Justin Gallagher, CEO of something Bob couldn't pronounce anyway.  Buffy was so spoiled that if she stood near a loaf of bread too long it would grow mold.

"Where have you been?!"  she demands through Bob's rolled-up window.

 "Oh stuff it in...," Bob mumbles into his appointment book.  "Sorry," he continues.  "My wife's appendix burst; what a mess, all over the kitchen floor..."

Buffy has already moved on to subject number two:  a small crack under one of the nails.  "Brie has been lame since you shoed her last!"  (Which was three months ago.)

"Oh."  Bob deadpanned.  "Did the vet look at her?"

"Oh yeah.  While back I think.  He said you should pull out that nail where the crack is.  It's probably putting pressure on something."

Bob's face starts to resemble a ripe tomato.  "When did the vet look at her exactly?"

"Oh...maybe it was yesterday.  I was at tennis lessons I think."

"Yester..." his voice trailed away.

"Yeah, Dr. Grisly said to just pull the nail, but don't shoe her yet.  He wants to talk to you first."

Bob pulls the nail, picturing his pull-offs securely attached to Dr. Grisly's lower lip, nose...scrotum.

HE DID IT!!!!!
[image: tomspencer.com.au]

Fifteen-minutes later, Bob pulls into stop number two:  The Lucky Lazy-U Ranch, a Quarter horse operation that specializes in halter horses.  Puck Johnson, the resident trainer brings out Double Lucky Moon Shot, one of his new rising stars.  Puck never holds a horse for a shoer...NEVER!

Bob starts pulling a front shoe.  Puck is quieter than a dead cat.  Finally he clears his throat.  "You know," he starts, like maybe he's talking to nobody in particular.  "We didn't win at Tucson last week."  Which is like saying that Ford doesn't make trucks.  "Uh, the judge kept starin' Moonie's front legs, like somethin' was wrong," Puck continued, easing his way into the point of all this sudden conversation.

Meanwhile Bob stops working, but continues to stare at his shoes. 

"I think we oughta lower those outsides a little more, what da ya' think?"  Puck blurts out as he snaps Moonie into the cross-ties and takes a couple of steps backward.  "Yeah, I think we should do that," Puck continues, as he backs further and further down the aisle-way, acting very much like a guy on the bomb squad that knows he just cut the wrong wire.

Bob starts rasping the outside of the foot.  And rasping and rasping and rasping until the floor is about four-inches deep in shredded, almost gray-looking coconut.  About the time that the coconut started looking a little pink, he nails the old shoes back on and packs up, leaving Moonie still standing in the cross-ties.  Well, sort of standing.  More like grimacing a little.

Bob skips the third appointment figuring that he can save himself anymore grief by simply not showing up.  Besides, it was getting close to three o'clock and his appointment with Dr. Grisly.

As he drove, Bob kept rehearsing his speech.  Hunched over the steering wheel, he kept reciting all the lines.  He was going to have it out once and for all with that pompous ass.  No quarter spared, no backing down this time...this was Waterloo and Grisly would feel the cold steel!

Bob pulled into the driveway of a plush estate, leaped out of his truck and strode over to where Dr. Grisly stood talking with a rather well-dressed couple.  Bob was so tight that you could have played Beethoven on the back of his neck.  "Doc," Bob started, all ready to make THE speech of his life.

"Oh, Bob," Dr. Grisly said.  "Good to see you.  I'd like you to meet the Connors.  I've been telling them all about you.  They wanted the best man available at any price to do their show hunters.  I told them that you were the man for the job. They have seven head and you can name your own price."

Bob's mouth dropped.  His neck muscles collapsed so fast that you could hear the vertebrae snapping.  "But, but..." Bob stammered, not knowing which direction to go.  Finally, he just shook his head.  "Well, sure...we can certainly fit them into my schedule."

"Good!" Dr. Grisly beamed.  "That's great.  But listen, could you make sure you leave the bay horse a little high on the inside.  You know how I like it, about a quarter of an inch."

Bob sighed, "Yeah sure Doc, a quarter of an inch."

"Yeah, big deal, huh?"


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