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How to Catch a Wascaly Wabbit…Er, Pony

©Heather Struthers/Performance Horse & Rider
©Heather Struthers/Performance Horse & Rider

Running a farrier company, we get a lot of calls for help with unusual hoof-related issues. Whether that’s trimming pigs, goats, cows, etc. or just odd horse issues (um, the lady that asks her horse permission before entering his stall), things get weird at times.

One time I answered a call from a man who had just purchased a property in the middle of nowhere to be his family’s weekend getaway. It came with a half dozen miniature horses. Not being horse people, at first the family thought it was pretty cool they had some small, feral ponies running around the place.

The ponies had been handled in the past, and with some patience and treats, they were learning to come close to people and be petted. The family noticed the stallion (because OF COURSE there was a stallion) was limping quite a bit. Naturally, he was the shyest of the bunch. Realizing horse ownership was not all sunshine and carrots, they started hunting for a farrier.

The husband had called several other farriers in the general area before he got to us. Lucky for him, he got me on the phone because I’m pretty sure my husband, Andres (aka, the farrier), would have been happy to not take this job on. But I heard there was a pony in distress and I set us up to head out there on a Sunday morning. Because, why not?

We rounded up two high school boys who were experienced horse kids, filled them up with breakfast tacos, and headed out into the wilderness to catch some ponies.

As soon as we arrived, I realized the error of my ways.

There was a 10-acre open field in front of the house where we could see the ponies grazing, with nowhere to really corral them. Behind the house was more promising, with a stream and some outbuildings, but still no good, safe spot free of stuff where we’d be able to contain them. The whole property was fenced in barbed wire, so even getting them into a corner that way (which would be no small task on foot) could lead to more injuries. The stallion was clearly limping, but he was still really fast and really spooky.

Our first attempts at getting near him were comedic. We tried using the stream as a fence, and almost had him until one of the boys pressured him a little too much and both the pony and the kid ended up in the water. From the other side, the pony looked back over his shoulder, clearly laughing at the guy with the wet pants.

The way we did finally end up getting ahold of him was straight out of a Looney Tunes cartoon, and honestly, involved a lot of luck. The ponies’ owner suggested it, and since we’d already been out there quite a while with little progress, we went for it.

We took a stiff lariat, made the loop really big, and laid it on the ground. We poured some sweet feed in the middle, and then made a trail of sweet feed leading up to the loop. We had a couple of his gluttonous friends already caught, and we held them on the other side of the rope.

He literally walked straight into our trap! As he put his head down to eat the pile of sweet feed, Andres flipped the rope up and it was around his neck and one foreleg. He reared up and backed away, of course, but as soon as the boys got their hands on him and started petting him, he calmed down.

It turned out that he had an abscess that was ready to pop, so Andres was able to get it all cleaned out and disinfected. There was no way this family was going to soak the horse’s foot, so we knew he had one shot to get the problem solved.

That was the only time we trimmed those ponies. The family realized they didn’t want the responsibility of horse ownership and found them another home. They told the new owners about the debacle we went through, so a portable round pen was procured and the ponies were fed in there for several days until the gate was shut.

The moral of the story for the farrier office girl? Ask more questions about what I’m getting us into!


About the Author

Nancy Rich-Gutierrez is an IT professional and manages her husband’s farrier company. When she’s not busy with her full-time job or running the office for her farrier, she’s chasing their two-year-old and riding her Arabian horses. Check out the HG Horseshoeing blog at hghorseshoeing.com.

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