Backroads · Musings and Misadventures

Crows, Cows and Horsehair

My brother made a profound remark to me recently. He is the head farrier for an international Thoroughbred stud and racing stable based in Ireland. Farriery has led his life around the globe, while it has allowed me to remain firmly planted in rural Texas. On a holiday trip home he said “I hate shoeing horses, but I love being a horse shoer.” I knew immediately what he meant.

I have no love for stinking, muddy feet, tugging against a bored creature ten times my size or hard physical labor in oppressive South Texas summer heat. But there is a moment in every day that I stand and press my face into a horse’s shoulder, close my eyes and breathe in their dusty horse smell and listen to the sounds around me. A horse snorting the dirt out of it’s nose, a cow calling back an errant calf and always somewhere in the distance the conversations of crows. I think the soundtrack of my life is a soft “caw, caw” on the humming of the wind. It plays in the background every day and goes mostly unnoticed except for a few moments when I bother to be quiet and listen.

I never take money from someone I don’t like. I never take orders from anyone. I work on days of my choosing and arrive at the time of my preference. A rafter of wild turkeys lazily crossing a gravel road is about as close as I come to sitting in traffic. And every day I breathe in horsehair and listen to the music of cows and crows. I hate shoeing horses, but I love being a horse shoer.

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