My husband was looking for a horse for our Pony Club daughter back in June 2014. Matt, being the well-connected farrier that he is, recommended checking out a couple of ‘small horses’ he heard about close by. That seemed about right for our little girl. Matt is not only a farrier but one of the best cowboy farriers in our area. He has helped so many farmers, stockmen, rodeo folk, vets, and international show jumpers, that his stories alone are worth bending an ear to. Everyone knows Matt once they meet him, he tips his cowboy hat and says, “Good day Miss Susan,” like he was in a wild west movie and it was Sunday morning. He has been one of the best neighbours anyone could ask for in the country. He was our first ‘go-to’ guy when we inquired about horses. Low and behold, he just heard the day before (a guy who knew a guy story) about a possible horse and off we went after a quick cell phone call. We knew it was a long shot as it was no one knew anyone personally – but it was also worth an adventure.
When we arrived we found two small miniature horses in a small paddock overrun with straw and soft ground. No grass. No hay. These minute horses were much too small for any Pony Club action. Otherwise, the one we were interested in was as pretty as a princess, with long eyelashes and a beautiful light brown coat with a bit of chrome, as they say. She barely moved, enough to stand and keep her balance and only swayed a tiny bit. The other miniature horse beside her which was plain in comparison was a lot spunkier.
“Yeah, I bought the horses for my children to play with,” the middle-aged man said as we were sizing up the situation. He continued with his arms folded over his protruding belly, “These horses are great with children, my kids played with them all the time, and even rode them sometimes. They are too old for these horses now,” he paused again, stroking his chin. “I’ll make you a great deal.” My alarm bells were blaring, but my mouth stayed shut. I was way into his land and far from home.
With a quick nodd, Matt (in his much lighter days) was one the back of the plain little guy and the two of them shot around the round pen like a chocolate milkshake in a blender. We chuckled watching Matt and wondered if he was trying to reenact some rodeo fantasy. And yes, Matt was shortly bucked off. He stood up, brushed off his jeans, smiled, and announced, “Not his one!”
He then approached the other pretty little chocolate horse and gave it an affectionate rub on her neck. She obviously preferred not to move but leaned into the love. He looked down and noticed her feet and gave us a nod to indicate we should also look in that direction. That poor little thing had hooves like Alladin’s shoes. We had only seen such incidents such as what this horse had on Ripley’s Believe It or Not. No wonder the horse did not move much.
“Do you want any of the horses?” Matt asked us. We both shook our heads no. We saw a disaster in the making. The look in Matt’s eyes was different. He saw an opportunity.
We realized the owner knew nothing about horse keeping. Matt, being the farrier that he is, forked over a few hundred dollars for the prettiest horse that needed the greatest care, and then realized he had no trailer with him to haul the poor creature back.
My husband being the out-side-the-box thinker, decided if the two of them could lift this minute horse into the back of the truck, this little guy could ride like a large dog in the back safe and securely – as long as no law enforcement caught us. I laughed and said that if stopped I would say I thought I bought a Great Dane and act like a ‘cit-idiot.’
Lifting this creature was another matter, as soon as anyone touched a leg, this wee thing could kick like a kangaroo. The two guys wrestled their way for a bit, the little horse getting smarter and weaving out of their way. The horse could not run because her hooves were distorted. She was obviously in pain and couldn’t avoid the men for that long. The owner kept telling us that the only thing this horse needed was a trim and all was good from there on. He was happy to see her go and made some encouraging remarks to the two fellows as they bobbed and weaved to catch this filly.
Finally, with all four legs clenched in their arms and hands – balancing the thrashing animal, the lift began and the kicking increased. Glasses went flying, horse knees went into jaws, and the two men wiggled the horse into the back of the truck and flipped down the back of the topper door. Princess layed down on a truck blanket and gazed out the window as if it were another day in the neighbourhood.
On our way back, we three realized at the same time there was no possible way to get the horse out of the back of the truck without significant damage to human life and limb. We drove in silence for a few minutes. Matt got that look in his eye then waved his finger in the air and shared his epiphany; we could back the truck up to a dirt pile in the field and have the horse come out herself onto soft earth. Ingenious!
My husband and I bravely asked what he planned to do with this deformed horse, once unloaded. The look on Matt’s face was priceless. It was as if he just bought Secretariat for $300. He explained how being a farrier is being more than a fellow who trims or shoes horses. Matt was so proud of what his skill set was and that he could do more for this horse than anyone else – which was true. He always wanted a minute horse to be able to haul some hay and other items around, so he planned to fix the feet and train up the horse for working needs around the land.
Not knowing anything about miniature horses, my husband and I just nodded and thought this man must think himself a miracle worker and when his wife finds out – he will land on earth with a belly flop. Low and behold, we were the ones who were duly educated, every day we passed his farm on the way to work. Every day we saw Princess move more, walk more, run a little, play a little, and when we visited that wee thing even came over and nudged our ankles. Teresa, his wife, came out and proudly told us the horse’s name was Princess and had more of a personality than even she expected.
Love, care, faith. My gosh, Matt was a saviour for Princess with the Aladdin feet.