40 Chapters
Medium 9781574414615

Other Kinds of Creatures

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

Other Kinds of Creatures

Domestic horses and cows aren’t the only four-legged mammals that need work done on their feet. Sheep, goats, llamas, and baby mini horses also have hooves that sometimes need trimming. I’ll discuss this group of animals because I have some limited experience in this area. There are other animals that should perhaps be included, like oxen who occasionally wear shoes, but I’ve no experience with them. Look it up in some other book.

Sheep and goats are easy. These animals have cloven hooves that are leather-like and softer than a horse’s foot. Cloven feet double the shoer’s work because there are two separate little identical parts to each foot, although “work” isn’t exactly the right word. Most of the time it’s a real pleasure to trim the feet of an animal that’s smaller than you are. The feet will need trimming if the animal spends most of its time on soft ground. If the feet grow too long the animal could end up walking on its heels or the sides of its feet with useless, flappy parts curling out. If the feet of a sheep or goat grow too long, they will become twisted and distorted, throw the body off balance, and put a strain on the legs. A person would experience the same thing if they were to suddenly have a two-inch extension added to the toe of their shoe, or have the outside of the shoe one inch higher than the inside. The whole body would be affected as it tried to compensate for this change. If the terrain is cement, rock, or hard ground, cloven hoofed animals will wear down the excess growth just by walking around.

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Exercise

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

Exercise

After the operation on my arm, and a short period of physical therapy, I was briefly forced into a fitness center for what the doctor said was a “more thorough recovery.”

I had never been able to see the value of a fitness center, maybe because I’ve always been in pretty good shape, thanks to my dad who had me doing 100 pushups a day and other exercises from the third grade on. My boyhood room was a huge unfinished attic and at one end he had made a gym for me. The floor was bare boards that didn’t even reach the walls. There was a gap of about three inches where the floor tried to meet the wall, and if you ever dropped a toy down there, it was gone forever, into the bowels of the earth, I thought. Behind the darkened chimney in the corner was where the monsters lived. One did not even look in that direction come bedtime. The gym had weights, a wrestling mat, a huge body bag for punching, and a thick rope that rose to the unfinished rafters above the mat, crossed the entire room, and dropped down on the upper bunk where I slept in a tiny civilized section of the room. The bedroom part had a tiny rug, a tiny desk and chair, and my bunk bed. I was supposed to climb up the rope at the far end of the room, climb hand over hand to my upper bunk, and lower myself to bed at night. In the morning, I was to reverse the process, climb up from my bed, cross hand over hand to the other end, lower myself to the mat, go downstairs, eat breakfast, and go off to school, a splendid physical specimen of a third grader.

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The Bird Man

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

The Bird Man

One of the nicest customers I ever worked for was a young Scottish man who had been in the United States for only a few years. He came from a moneyed family, I think, because he owned a large estate with 50 acres for his two horses and pony to run on, and his only occupation seemed to be the rescue operation he maintained on his property for wild birds. He had eagles, owls, swans, hawks, ducks, and a lot of birds I didn’t recognize. They were brought to him by agencies and individuals from all over the state of California, and he spent most of his time putting splints on wings and performing other kinds of doctoring. He loved his work and was devoted to every bird in his charge. We always planned to spend more time at his ranch than at most places, because we enjoyed listening to his stories about each bird and how it had come into his care. He smiled a lot, was a careful and courteous listener, and was that rare person who when he asked how you were doing, really wanted to know.

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The Tools of the Trade

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

The Tools of the Trade

Horseshoeing tools haven’t changed much since horses first started wearing shoes. If a Roman or Celtic horseshoer of old were to find himself in this century, he would have no problem shoeing a horse with the tools of today. I’ll describe them.

The “shoeing box” holds most of the tools. It’s usually made of wood, and has various sections for nails and tools of different sizes. The problem with a wooden box is that it breaks apart when it inevitably gets stepped on by the horse. Usually you can repair the box, but after my box had been stepped on and repaired four times, my seventh-grade son got disgusted and made me a new one in shop class. He added a clever invention: a three-foot cord attached to the box that would allow me to pull the box toward me if I got separated from it by the movement of the horse. I was really pleased with that addition, but it does have its drawbacks. For one, to a nervous horse, the cord looks just like a snake. A second problem can appear when you pull the box to you. Watching a box apparently moving by itself is unsettling to a lot of horses, especially if the box is moving toward them. I’ve learned to be cautious whenever I pull the box by the cord, but I’m quite pleased with my son’s invention.

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Reflections Before Charging Ahead

Ron Tatum University of North Texas Press ePub

Reflections Before
Charging Ahead

That sentence about my daddy’s influence has got me to thinking. Maybe before I go any further, I should try to figure out exactly why I’ve taken the paths I have. What were the influences that drove me toward horses and hard physical work, while at the same time driving me toward a bunch of graduate degrees? I’m pretty sure my dad had a lot to say about all this, but his influence also had some subtle aspects to it.

He started me off doing pushups probably about the time I first opened my eyes. I could pound the stuffings out of all my little friends by the time I was six months old. No one messed with me!

When I got older, Daddy didn’t push me into sports even though he had been a professional football player, a boxer, an Olympic-caliber track man, etc. He was the complete athlete and had no insecurities on that score. I felt an unspoken push toward sports, but he who always talked with a loud and dominating voice never got on my case if I didn’t excel in a sport, or even if I dropped out of one in mid-season. He was always pleased with any athletic trophies or prizes I won, but never showed any disappointment in me if I failed. In fact one time when I only got second in a company picnic contest where I usually won everything, he blamed himself. That was an unusual event where my dad had to lie down on his back in the center of a circle of kids and whirl a big hawser rope around in a circle about a foot off the ground. The rope was 20 feet long and it must have been an incredible feat for him to swing it around as each kid tried to jump the rope as it swung by. If the kid tripped, he or she was eliminated. It finally came down to just me and another kid, and neither of us seemed to be tiring. Daddy told me to take off my jacket, and as I was doing that, I tripped on the rope as it came around. Afterwards my dad said it was his fault for asking me to take off my jacket. I was surprised.

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