Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lost shoes and time I'll never get back

Well, we had a good run. Ri had gone without losing a single shoe this year. Alas, it came to an end on day 242 of 2012 -- Tuesday, August 28. I went out to ride last night, in a hurry as usual. I did my "lick and a promise" grooming, was girthing up the saddle, and happened to glance at his feet.

 The left hind shoe. Gone.

So, a lost shoe. You might say no big deal, but my farrier and I would disagree. He custom-makes shoes for Riley, and this one was about 2 weeks old. Expensive, but also a big pain to make. I needed to find that shoe.

On foot and on horseback: the search begins
The sun was getting low in the sky when I started the quest for Ri's shoe.  I wandered an unmowed pasture for the remainder of the daylight hours, from 6:30 to about 8pm. The search was oh-so-systematic at the beginning. Walking around the perimeter, then starting a grid, I scanned the ground with my head swiveling like a robot soldier. Nothing. Then I went strategic, investigating the low/wet spots, checking corners, looking for skidmarks, hoofprints. Nope. Then I started digging in the high grass. After the first hour a fellow boarder, god love her, came out and helped on horseback. She covered the ground just outside the pasture and then joined me inside the perimeter.

No. Go.

Must. find. shoe
I went home that night (Tuesday), texted my farrier, and there was more bad news. If I had the shoe, he could squeeze us in the Thursday morning. If not, it might take longer to  clear his schedule.  My next show was about seven rides away IF I find that shoe.

Damn, damn, damn. I made some calls, switched work hours with a colleague, and took Wednesday morning off. Wednesday I went back to the barn at 9am,  hoping the sunlight would help. This time I had a pitchfork to dig in the soft ground and thick brushy areas. I was pretty sure that shoe had to be in the bottom of a deep hoofprint somewhere.

Photo credit: seemann from
Two hours later -- no sign of Ri's footwear.

Now I was into this search for about four hours, with nothing to show for it except a backache and very disgusting shoes of my own.  This was the nadir of my shoe search, I thought. What a waste. And it is out here somewhere! Damn. Then someone else from the barn -- someone I don't know too well --  came out to look with me. My spirits lifted as I thanked her, feeling all grateful. She responded coolly that she had come because she felt  terribly sorry for the farrier. She wandered around a bit and wandered back to the barn.

Okay, so this is the nadir. 

It was 10:30am now, and I was almost ready to admit defeat -- off to shower and to work. By now I was zig-zagging aimlessly, not really expecting to find it.

I didn't see it till I was almost stepping on it. The shoe! The area was flat and the grass was short. I was looking for a glint of steel shining in the sun, but I forgot about rust. And it is amazing how fast things rust. The shoe was well camoflaged.

Jogging back to the barn, waving my shoe triumphantly to the empty stable yard. Dancing into the barn, I patted Harv and Ri and hung the lost show with Ri's halter. I texted my farrier. He's coming tomorrow am, and I'll be riding Thursday night.

Horses are good for bringing you back to the physical limits of our senses, our strength, and mostly, our free time. Here's to found shoes. I'll be knocking back a few glasses of Red Truck wine tonight after work. Anyone care to join me?


  1. I'll have a glass! I feel your Riva has a custom made shoe on her front right, club, foot. She has only lost this shoe in the pasture once. Husband and I thankfully had a Caboda vehicle to seach the mare pasture for the missing shoe. Think it took us about 2 hours...but we found it!

  2. You have made me extremely grateful that my horse never loses his shoes. LOL.

  3. My guy gets aluminum fronts, bare backs, and is in the early stages of a relationship with a chiropractor. So, of course, he throws a shoe at the same time that my farrier has a death in the family. Little bugger got two weeks off before the farrier was able to make it out. The chiro is going to love us. :)

    Oh, and I never found the shoe, even though alums stay remarkably bright.

  4. Great story! I wish that I could have helped you out. I am quite the finder.

    I once found my friend's diamond from her engagement ring in a stall full of shavings. A horse knocked it out of her ring. I walked in to find ten people crammed in one stall, crouched on the floor, sifting through shavings with their fingers. Before I could finish asking my friend what had happened, I saw the diamond peeking through the dust. It is always easier to find things when you are not really looking!

  5. Future niche market? Homing devices in horse shoes.

  6. Yay, you found it! I would have been looking for something shiny as well, so now we've all learned a lesson.

    Val - you are SO right! How many times have I realized something was missing, looked like a maniac to no avail, and then had the object turn up days later (often right were it was supposed to be). And it's also funny how some people are better "finders" than others; in my household growing up, it was my brother. He once found my lost contact lens downstairs, days after I had lost it sitting at my desk upstairs in my room (in that case we think it rode down in my pant cuff). I am still extremely impressed you spotted a diamond in a horse stall! The proverbial "needle in a haystack," for sure. :-)

    1. :)

      Thanks! My friend was happy, too. Her helpers looked a little annoyed though. They had been in their for half an hour.

      Funny about the contact lens.

  7. I agree with Val it is much easier to find things when your not looking or just about when you are ready to give in. I am so glad that you managed to find the shoe in the end though! The time and effort was deffo worth it and made what could have been an expensive mishap a lot cheaper!

  8. This made me laugh, cause I do the same thing (except I am the farrier) and when ever they lose a shoe, I assume they pawed the fence and caught it somewhere (9 times out of 10). But sometimes that isn't the case. I can never figure out why, on a dry lot, I can't find the shoe I'm looking for, and I always, always, always find other shoes...some that I never even knew had been missing. Nothing more frustrating than coming back with a couple shoes, which are not the ones you're searching for.

  9. Oscar has lost three shoes in the past year. We've found one of them. What's more galling is he's only shod on the front!

    Glad that your determination paid off and that Riley will have his shoe replaced shortly!

  10. I once had my whole family, all our workers, and my students all looking for a lost hind shoe in a 3/4 acre paddock for 4 hours. No shoe. I looked sporadically for the thing for several days and still no shoe. I wondered for months where the darn thing went. One snowy day, there it was - hanging in the no-climb fencing!

  11. Ah, yes we have shoe eating fields too. My friend and I spent hours finding my Draft cross' specially adapted new balance size 5 shoe, she lost. Great exercise and a good time to chat.
    I love when a year or so later the field decides to give it up and there it is laying in the field.
    Fly masks are another thing we are always looking for since our yearling pulls them off my boys.
    So glad you found his shoe.

  12. As a life long owner of Saddlebred show horses (with custom hand made shoes), the origin of the thought that finding a horse shoe is "lucky" has always made sense to me....

  13. My sympathy. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent looking for lost shoes.

    They rust instantly, I swear. And, I always find them weeks later after my saint of a farrier has come by to shape and fit a new one.

    Done the grid search dozens of times. And the horseback search. I am beginning to think it would be worth the investment to put a homing device in them. *S*

    Glad you found it and all will be well. No fun to miss a show when you are on a roll.

  14. Maybe a metal detector would work? That must have been an exorbitantly priced shoe!

  15. I'm a good finder, too. Found my riding instructor's gold hoop earring in the dirt of the outdoor arena, during a lesson. It pays to look down.

    Laughed at the boarder who said she felt sorry for the FARRIER. Nothing like a snotball to put things in perspective for you ;o)

    Happy riding! Happy showing! I'm narrowing my search for a suitable dressage saddle--am riding in a 17.5" MW Albion SLK which is perfect for the horse but too small for me. Have an 18" MW Albion SLK to try. Might need a bit of reflocking, but I think it will work. Fingers crossed.


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