Whenever I would hire someone to work for me in my farrier business, the very first thing they would get was the safety lecture. This subject is important, and overlooked. I tried to emphasize that my goal for every day was to get us back home in the same good shape we left it in.

The second point was to return any horse we worked on to its owner in better shape than when we started out. I never tried to push that we had to make a certain amount of money on that day or do a certain number of horses. Concentration was to be devoted to not putting yourself or the horse at risk. Often this involves having to slow down a bit in the rhythm you established for the day and live with the fact that your day is going to be just a little longer.

I recently had a pony driving wreck that hammers home this point quite well. I have a little Welsh mare that I have been training to drive for a nice neighbor lady. The mare has a history of being difficult, and at 8 years old, it’s a bit late in the game for a tough one. For 2 months I have been working her in a single cart and things were progressing well considering her case. She has a huge spook in her, even here on the farm, and has a very big motor for a small mare.

I had to interrupt her training for 2 weeks to do some traveling and made two basic mistakes when I hitched her for the first time back home. It was a cool misty kind of afternoon and I still had plenty to do that day, so I was in a hurry. Everything went well initially until she spooked at something outside the fence and turned and bolted like her tail was on fire. I was too slow regaining control and trying to correct her when she spun around and tipped the cart over doing about Mach 2. I hit the ground like a lead log and things went black for a bit until I could call my wife for help. The trip to the hospital revealed 11 fractured ribs, a broken collar bone, punctured lung, bruised sternum and chip off my hip. Actually I was pretty lucky that a good helmet saved my head and my pelvis and long bones weren’t broken. I spent the next week in the hospital contemplating my lack of good judgment.

So, here I sit today eating pain pills like candy because I failed to take my own good advice. A horse can be as dangerous and as fast as a grizzly bear. When you come up against one of those known bad actors, take the time to slow down, be very careful and give it the respect necessary.

Even though my wreck was not shoeing related, it had all the aspect of one. Heed my advice that when you are dealing with horses, often the slowest way is the fastest way in the long run. Class dismissed.