One of the great things about being a horse owner is that I get to interact with a farrier. If you haven’t had the pleasure, a farrier is the person who puts shoes on horses. Formerly known as blacksmiths, farriers hark back to the old school. They tend to be burly and competent and given to facial hair. They wear leather chaps and unlike 95% percent of people who wear those fascinating garments, they actually need them.
A few days ago I got to meet Tango’s new farrier. The man was everything I hoped for. His name is Erl. Yes, that’s right. Earl without the “a”. If you think about it, those three letters are really all you need to get the thing pronounced correctly. This is exactly the kind of no-nonsense approach to things I associate with farriers.
Erl (I may never get over how much I approve of that name) has a very good moustache and looks satisfyingly outdoorsy. He was accompanied by an Australian shepard dog who wore a bandana, not in a fey, affected way, but rather in an I’m-the-dog-of-a-farrier-you-never-know-when-we-might-need-this kind of way. Erl drove a big truck. How satisfying to meet someone who drives a big truck who actually needs one!
Erl is not only very knowledgable, but he is also given to dry comments. He examined Tango’s feet carefully and talked to him kindly. Later, as I tried Tango’s new cooler rug on him, I asked Elena, whose pony was getting a hoof trim, what she thought.
“Hey, Elena! What do you think of the new cooler?”
“Oh, it’s nice,” she replied.
“You don’t think it makes Tango look like eurotrash?”
“No. Well, maybe he looks a bit metrosexual.”
“Does he look like a Fiat?”
“You know, do the stripes make him look like a mechanically-suspect sportscar?”
Suddenly, Erl, who’d been bent over his work, and hadn’t appeared to be listening, spoke up.
“I’m thinking he looks more like a BC Ferry.”
Elena and I both stared, struck by the truth of his words. The blue blanket with its white and green accents did make Tango look like one of our BC ferries.
“Yup. You could call him Spirit of Nanaimo.”
That’s when I knew I had the right farrier for Spirit of Nanaimo.