Debby and Dennis had just moved to Colorado- a week and a half ago! There were still boxes everywhere, they had no idea where many of their belongings were, yet they still enthusiastically opened their home to us. It never ceases to amaze me the level of generosity people show us. It humbles me to realize how stingy my heart was before and that helping others should never be a ‘convenience’ when you are ready to help, but a willingness to offer whatever you have whenever it is needed. It didn’t matter to us that there were boxes all around the bed we slept on- we had a warm roof over our heads!
This sweet couple shared with us Dennis’ struggle with lung cancer and how God had blessed him with great healing. He was to go in for surgery to get rid of the last bit in just two weeks, so they were trying to get everything in order before then. Debby informed us that the weather for the next day was to be extremely windy with 30-40 mph winds all day and 50-60 mph gusts. The rest of the 10 day forecast was beautiful. She encouraged us to wait a day to avoid a miserable ride. We decided to wait and see what the morning brought. I knew Richard, waking up with the sun, had made an executive decision to stay when I finally woke up at 9:30 and he was still in his pajamas!
We spent the day visiting with Debby and getting to know her, running to town with her, and hearing heartwarming stories about her son who had been killed in Iraq. We were very touched when Dennis offered to us a light weight very warm army blanket that had been their son’s so we could put it over our sleeping bags on cold nights. We also learned about their 5 Chincoteague ponies, and I offered advice to Debby on hoof care. She was in the market for a new farrier after moving, so I was happy to help with suggestions on what to look for.
That night, I couldn’t get to sleep. Normally when my head hits the pillow, I’m out. But all I could think of was her two foundered ponies (a debilitating hoof condition that causes lameness and constant pain in horses feet) and I knew in my gut I could help them. I tried to put it out of my mind since I’ve seen tons of horses on this trip with horrible feet. I know I can’t fix them all. But this one really bugged me, and Debby was willing to learn and try new things. I woke in the morning with the sense that I was supposed to help her with her horses’ feet. So after checking with Richard, we decided to offer our help for one more night’s stay. Debby was very excited to get help, especially since she didn’t have a farrier yet and needed to get them taken care of asap so she didn’t have to worry about it for several weeks after Dennis’ surgery.
We spent the day trimming horse hooves- all 5 horses. It was most rewarding to trim the two horses who had bad feet. A foundered hoof often grows in a defective curl upwards. It is very painful for the horse. I was able to use my experience and knowledge of barefoot trimming gained over the past several years, as well as our observations of their hooves on this ride. Debby was so excited with how they turned out because “they haven’t looked like a normal hoof in a very long time!”
I was most pleased with the horse that had bothered me the night before in my sleeplessness. She had a pulled tendon, and during healing, her hoof had grown long and she had started to walk on the heel bulbs (the soft part) of the hoof instead of the hard hoof wall. Picture walking on your hands and knees, then imagine that your hands were deformed and you had to put your weight on your wrists. That’s how this horse was walking. I have never worked on such severely deformed hooves before, but I knew if I just stuck to the principles and went slowly, I could make some improvements. I had no idea how much those hoof trimming principles would work for a case like this. Richard and I worked together- there was nearly two inches of hoof to clip off. At first I was hesitant, but it became obvious that this would not hurt her, so we clipped and clipped. When we were done, her hoof looked wonderful in comparison and she was standing on it like a normal horse! I couldn’t believe the change, and neither could Debby. We were all so excited to help this horse and watch her walk away more soundly. Debby was sold on the idea of barefoot trimming, so we spent some time on the phone and found her an excellent trimmer who will pick up where I left off. After all the people who have helped us along the way, we were so blessed to use our skills to be able to help this sweet couple and their horses during a challenging time in their lives. It was definitely not a ‘lost’ day, but an opportunity to learn, to build friends, and to give back to someone in need. I am so grateful that God let the image of that horse nag me all night so we would stay the next day to help! Debby and Dennis, thank you for trusting us to help you with your horses, for sharing your home, and may God bless you with your new start in Colorado.