Splitting the atom is nothing compared to figuring out how to get hold of your farrier.
Why is the farrier more capricious than a rock star? Why does he hardly ever turn up on the day, much less time, he says he is coming? Why does he not keep a diary? Why does he never return calls? Why does he find it impossible to reply to a text, claiming all manner of bizarre contingencies including that his texts get automatically sent to his iPad, which he only checks at night? And anyway his iPad isn’t working so he didn’t see my 15 messages begging him to come and telling him that for the past two weeks I have been ringing him 75 times a day on average.
I may as well try to get George Clooney on the phone as my farrier. I would have more luck persuading Tom Cruise to visit my horses’ field than get a blacksmith there.
I don’t understand it. It’s not as though the equestrian world is full of sensible people queuing up to shoe horses. The barefoot craze is growing by the day as hippy-dippies decide it’s cruel (and expensive) to nail steel on to their horses’ hooves and much kinder (and cheaper) to force them to walk unsupported on rock-hard roads.
I’ve just totted up all my different farriers over the years and I reckon I’ve reluctantly, kicking and screaming, tried half a dozen. But it’s always the same.
Make no mistake, they were all really excellent at their job. I have no complaints about the quality of their work. Leaving each of them was like a painful divorce from someone you love but can’t live with. I begged and cried and asked if we couldn’t just work out our differences, but in the end it always came down to the same premise: if I didn’t leave and swap to another one, they couldn’t see or hear me any more. It was as though I wasn’t there. My call would come in on their phone and all they could sense was a vague feeling of something like static, or white noise.
‘Can you hear something, Marge?’ they would say to their wife, as their phone vibrated on the kitchen table, and she would shrug and say she thought the washing machine was rattling again.
If I left them, however, almost instantly they would bombard me with calls.
It’s a bit like switching your energy supplier, I suppose, although it must be said that switching farrier is not the best thing for your horse’s feet as it usually means a change of technique. But what can you do? It’s either that or no farrier at all.
Once you do leave, they become very dedicated about winning you back, but when you do go back they only turn up on time for the next two visits. After that, it’s service as usual, by which I mean service extracted by endless phone calls and nuisance texts from me to the point of me virtually sex texting them to persuade them to come.
And so as I sit here waiting for my latest new farrier to get back to me, I am drawing up a list of strategies:
1.) Pretend I now have 17 horses and will pay the £1,275 bill for 17 sets of shoes in cash, because since I last saw him I have become a bank robber.
2.) Tell him I have fallen hopelessly in love with him (it’s the leather apron and exposed bum cleavage) and can’t go a second longer than six weeks without seeing him. Unless he comes to shoe my horses tomorrow, I am going to have to turn up on his doorstep and tell his wife that I can’t live without him.
3.) I’ve been diagnosed with a rare and extremely fast-progressing fatal disease that is going to finish me off before the end of the week and it’s my dying wish to see my horses shod one last time, so I’ve got a TV camera crew awaiting his arrival today at, say, 2 p.m.?
4.) If he doesn’t come soon, I am going to set light to myself, the world’s first case of self-immolation in protest at farrier waiting times. Does he really want to go down in history alongside the Republic of Vietnam?
That’s it. I have no other ideas. If there is anyone out there who either has a farrier who turns up, is a farrier who turns up, or can recommend strategies for making a farrier turn up please get in touch. Farriers offended by this article or (more likely) groups of people claiming to be offended on behalf of farriers, even though they have never even met a farrier, I’ll see you on Twitter.