In July, David Landerville, a cowboy from Tucson Arizona, held a barefoot (no horseshoes) hoof trimming clinic outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I attended the workshop with two friends from Grand Junction. For two days we watched Landerville tirelessly bend his back and gently cradle hoof after hoof in his gnarled hands, skillfully shaping the horny keratin into a capsule of beauty and health. From the alpine aspen-studded country, we took away more than hoof trimming skills. His quiet, deliberate movements were mindfulness in action.
Landerville draws an analogy between living harmoniously to trimming a hoof. Done with patience, precision and reverence, the technique is analogous to cultivating a relationship with our Earth Mother. Walking upon Her skin, our feet absorbing Her healing energy, we are but moving extensions of Her. Horses marinate in this intimate truth.
But it is more intense for an equine than a human. Each horse hoof is equivalent to only one human toe, the other four toes having morphed into leg bones, or gone vestigial. The evolution of the Equus foot has culminated in the entire weight of a large animal balanced on four tiny toes bursting with neural sensitivity. Healthy feet are crucial to their survival. A wild horse does not need our help, but our domesticated friends are not walking the 30 miles a day needed to keep the hoof worn into perfect entrainment with Earth power.
This savant cowboy has trimmed thousands of horse feet and maintains all horses can be healed from the foot foundation. He insists his finely honed skills are available to all who practice. But hoof trimming is not instant gratification. Returning a hoof to health takes incremental, consistent discipline. A Zen Buddhist chops wood, sweeps the floor, serves tea, and (trims hooves). A consecrated lifetime routine.
A vibrant horse foot treads upon home Earth with a somatic intelligence that allows the creature to thrive and survive. I intend for each keratin foot I trim to impart this knowing to me.
Several evenings ago, Traveler shifted his great mustang body onto my own foot, fracturing my navicular bone. He has been asking me to slow down and I dismissed his signals. He meant business, and I had not been listening. They want us to listen. And trim their feet. Between Landerville and Traveler, I may yet learn.
Me with Mr. Traveler