This life is a funny place. Saturday I took one of horses for a walk on the trails near the barn. The temperature was in the 40s, and for the most part there wasn't much snow left, just a little slush and lots of mud.
Horses, especially those wearing shoes, tend to get snow packed up into their hooves in the winter. These ice balls can be uncomfortable and dangerous--it's kind of like the horse is walking on hard, lumpy baseballs--so you have to stop frequently and chip them out.
The first time I took old Midnight out in the snow and he got ice balls on his feet, it took me quite a while to figure out what was wrong--why was he fighting me and stumbling on flat ground? I hopped off and saw that three of his four hooves were off the ground by a couple of inches. The packed ice was so hard that a stick wouldn't budge it. Instead, I had to search for a pointed rock and bash the ice out. You can imagine how much Midnight enjoyed that!
The tool of choice is a hoof pick, and most of us (including me, now) carry them in our pockets when we're on the trails. Saturday I thought about taking one, but decided there wasn't enough snow left to be a problem.
All was fine until we turned off the main trail and onto one that leads through a flat, open stretch between patches of trees. The sun doesn't reach that part of the path, and yes, it was still snow-covered and perfect for forming ice balls under a horse's hooves.
I started cussing myself out for not bringing the proper tool, and began to look for a suitable rock. But wait--what's that? Oh my goodness: a blue hoof pick, right there next to the trail, within easy reach.
I just stood there with my mouth open for a bit, thanked the Guides, or Providence, or Whoever placed it there for me, then picked it up and chipped the ice out of Midnight's hooves.
Yup. Life's a funny place.
[Cross-posted on It's an Alchemical Life.]
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