Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: Learning to Love the Things You Hate

When I adopted Kaliwohi from the Bureau of Land Management back in April, 2014, he was eighteen months old and wild as a, well, a mustang. Like most mustangs who have been captured, he was scruffy and unkempt and largely unhandled.

Kiwi’s feet were a hot mess. The front feet were splayed with very low heels, and the hind feet resembled oversized clover leaves. Apparently, sometimes mustangs exhibit this “trefoil” look in one or more hoofs due to their primitive DNA. The hooves are not actually cloven in three parts, but there is a distinctly tri-part outline to the hoof, as opposed to the traditional round, healthy horse feet we’re all used to seeing. #WhoKnew? It takes time and an excellent farrier to help re-shape such feet.

Kaliwohi is solid and strong in body, and somewhat stubborn in mind. Any time he is asked to do something, his mind immediately asks one of three questions:

1. Why?
2. Do I have to?
3. Can I eat it?

Those first few months, as I was teaching him to stand quietly and be handled, I lost count of how many times he broke the safety breakaways on the crossties. The first time my farrier, Kyle, came to trim my young mustang, Kaliwohi plowed over me and Kyle, in turn. Kiwi is too sweet (or too lazy?) to kick or rear; his form of civil disobedience is to use his entire body weight as a battering ram of sorts. He’s the equine embodiment of “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” #WarHorseWannabe

Kyle Hancock is one of the best in the business, and he took his time and helped Kaliwohi understand the following things:

1. He was in no danger
2. He would not feel pain
3. He could, indeed, balance on three feet.

I, as Kiwi’s mum, added these other lessons into the mix in those kindergarten days:

4. This is not negotiable, and, despite being adorable and much loved,
5. You, sweet Kiwi, do not get a vote.

My horses may never be Olympic champions, but they will have manners. Even the wild ones.

So, Kaliwohi did, indeed, get all four feet trimmed that first day. And every six weeks like clockwork ever since, including one day this past week.

Farrier Kyle Hancock and his muddy mustang client, Kaliwohi. All photos by Sarah Frances Smith.

These days, Kaliwohi is a pedicure pro, and I never worry about him plowing over anyone. I just have to keep him awake so he doesn’t lean too hard on Kyle! #LazyWildChild

Kiwi observing Kyle as he works.

So what does hoof trimming have to do with us humans being “happy, healthy, & horsey,” you might ask?

Speaking for myself, I don’t like calisthenics or yoga or anything that makes me get down on the floor. As much as I love horses and the outdoor life, raw honesty — I hate feeling dirty. I will mend fence, or work hay fields, or ride all day with the best of them, but at the end of the day, I like a hot shower and feeling clean.

So while the videos of lean, lithe ladies in trendy yoga outfits seem to be (insert girliegirl voice) “oh soooo fun!”, for this farmchic, I feel like a beached whale wallowing in a sea of fine grit and cat hair. Yes, even if I clean my yoga mat with some of that specialty yoga mat spray. Those of you with indoor pets, I know ya feel me here. #YogaMatPetHairMagnet

So. I don’t like exercise that includes being on the floor. But. As I resume my yoga practice, I am realizing it is the floor exercises that are forcing me to work through the residual aches and pains and re-arranged soft tissue from last year’s smashup. The standing exercises are great, but the floor exercises are a necessary component to my complete healing. #GoFigure

Like Kaliwohi, the very thing I tried to avoid has turned out to be something I need for my best health. And, like my mustang, I’m learning to relax and enjoy the process. The wonderful benefit is, as I relax and learn to enjoy yoga — even the floor positions — my breathing is deeper, my muscles are toning up, and my overall being is more relaxed and happy.

Kaliwohi, cat-napping during his pedicure.

What are some things you used to hate but now enjoy (or at least tolerate) on your own journey towards being happy, healthy, and horsey? Post in the comments!

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Go Riding

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