Yesterday I stopped in the middle of my horseback ride to have a conversation with a fellow in town who trains, shows, and sells Tennessee Walking Horses.
My horse, Blue, has a tendency to become impatient if I stop and visit with someone while sitting astride him. He's liable to paw the ground, or even turn his head around and act like he's going to bite my booted toe (it's only an act). He wants to get on with the ride.
But he knows a horse-lover when he sees one. The whole time I was chatting with Dale, Blue had his face as close to him as possible, almost against his chest. He was relaxed and smiling (of COURSE horses smile). Dale, typically, was talking to him and petting him occasionally (and asking if I'd take $1,000 for him, because he knows I won't sell; I told him last year I wouldn't even take $10,000).
Then the horse-guy bent down and scrutinized Blue's unshod feet, and my heart sank, because this man is often critical of my lack of horse knowledge and I figured a lecture was forthcoming; Blue hasn't worn shoes since last fall.
"Bring him forward a step," he commanded. I did so, and braced myself for a tongue-lashing.
But no. He was quite impressed at Blue's feet which for two years prior to this had been chipping and breaking, with shoes on.
I explained to him how I had taken advice from an Internet friend who knows horses; she had assured me that Blue's hooves would toughen up eventually, if I rode him barefoot awhile.
"Well, she told you right. I've got two I'm letting go barefoot myself. Those feet look good! Of course, you're still using that supplement in his feed, right?"
"No." (The stuff costs $70 a bucket, and didn't seem to help a bit.)
"Oh my, get him back on that immediately, and be sure and put Hoof-flex on his feet a couple times a week!"
OK, I have to remember with whom I am dealing. I am making a mental note, next time he asks, to lie. "Oh, of course I'm giving him the supplement and putting Hoof-flex on his feet."
Does that sound convincing?
Let's see, what are some other areas I'll need to tell stories about. Oh yeah, this man thinks you ought to give horses lots of grain, twice a day. The horse experts I follow say horses don't need much grain, if any. Mark Rashid thinks overfeeding of grain is one of the main causes of horses misbehaving.
The only way to get along with some folks is to lie. And get along I must, if I want to pick this man's brain later on.
The trouble is, I'm not proficient at lying. Wish me luck.