Easy can be difficult.

That's one thing on Shane Walde's mind as he drives southwest out of Omaha toward Hickman, Neb., on an April morning still clinging to winter. Outside his truck, the air is lifeless and frigid. Inside, it smells like a barn and blasts heat as Walde shares what he knows about the morning ahead. 

He'll shoe a couple horses, trim the hooves of another. Three or four horses in all, a few hours from start to finish. Nothing out of the ordinary, unless you count a rather striking black and white mare with a reputation for jerking and pushing and making the life of a professional farrier just a little more interesting than it needs to be.

“Easy's on the list today,” Walde says of the horse in question. “Sometimes she's a little turd.”

Soon he's pointing to his middle finger. He does this to illustrate the different bones and tendons that make up a horse's leg. He enjoys this part of the job, knowing and discussing the anatomy. At this point, several years into his career caring for horses, the physical labor is close to second nature. But that's meaningless without an appreciation for the intricate structure beneath. 

“I don't want a mechanic working on my truck just because he can make it start,” Walde said. “I want him to know how the motor works.”

Walde will bring his expertise to a new stage this weekend, when The International horse-jumping competition returns to the CenturyLink Center. Professional and amateur riders will compete Friday and Saturday, leading their prized horses around an obstacle course designed to challenge for speed and agility.

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