Welcome to my blog - a diary about living with donkeys, notes about care, my training sessions and the absolute pleasure of donkey companionship.

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Fall again and thoughts about donkey "clothing!"

Fall descended upon us so quickly this year!  I love Fall but the rains have begun with intensity already ... and that part, I don't love!  The ground is already soggy and will stay that way until it gets cold enough to freeze.  That doesn't always happen on the west coast.  Some winters just stay wet and soggy.

This can be a real problem for donkey hooves.  While my donkeys have a lovely barn and dry breezeway area, I never lock them in at night.  I do shut the big metal gate to their spacious barn paddock and I do feed indoors on dry footing.  However, it's important for them to move around, so I encourage that.

I'm not big on "clothing" ... rain sheets,blankets, etc.  Healthy donkeys shouldn't need the added protection.  But I do have rain sheets and fleece liners for everybody just in case.  I have found that if it has been raining for a few days and the donkeys are reluctant to leave the barn, a rain sheet offers them a bit more encouragement and they will readily come out for a short walk.

I'm cautious though about not wanting to spread any kind of skin ailment under a rain sheet (the perfect environment!) - rain rot or ringworm will go awol under a raincoat!  And I only put one on if their hair is dry, i.e. not over top of wet bodies.

I'm always concerned about hoof health once the ground becomes saturated.   Frogs, which are supposed to be weight-bearing, wash away and hooves become spongy instead of hard, as they are during summer months.

Out comes my spray bottle of apple cider vinegar and I use this a couple of times per week after cleaning out hooves in the evening.  I also keep a mix of calendula oil + tea tree oil in a bottle.  This is great to apply to keep thrush at bay or for any bruising or abscess.

Over the years I have tried numerous hoof remedies.  Now I only use these, plus my homemade remedy posted on the first page, right side. 

Seems there's one donkey in every group that has softer, more sensitive feet and here, that donkey is Rose.  I've written before about trying boots on her, especially if I take her out on our gravel roads.
The boots I had for her though, were made for big dogs (Neopaws.)  And while there are things I like about them, they didn't fit correctly and kept swiveling around and were fussy to do up with a long strap that had to be wrapped and wrapped and wrapped around her fetlock and then tied.

So ... now she has a pair of EasyCare boots made for miniature horses and these seem to fit better.  You can order them here:  https://www.easycareinc.com/our_boots/easyboot_mini/easyboot_mini.aspx

Horse hooves are not as long and narrow as donkey hooves though, so I have been pondering
how comfortable they actually feel.  I also got another pair that the other donkeys can share if need be and they seem to fit Heather and Siog but not Dorrie.

I don't intend that anyone wear boots full time - they are really for road walking and for sore feet if need be.  I have been putting them on Rose's front feet for short periods of time so she can get used to them!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Outings ....

Finally, after not moving the trailer for a year,  I hitched it up and took both Rose and Heather for a ride to the beach!  Phew!  Big deal for all of us!  They did so well but the roads are bumpy and I felt every one of them - they must have really been bracing.

We didn't go far though - only about a 15 minute drive each way, They were exceptional about loading and waiting to unload.  We have played a lot in the trailer while it has been parked.

We parked on a seldom-used road and walked to the beach and back.  Ran into some donkey-lovin' folks who couldn't believe their good fortune to run into us and I was happy too, cuz the guy helped me turn the trailer in a rather tight spot!

Last night, Dorrie and I went for a fabulous long walk into the setting sun.  Of course, I never remember to take my camera, so sorry there are no pictures. It's lovely to have some time now that the studio tour is over for this year and I am having an official "summer holiday!"

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bomb Proof?

My donkey Rose, now 19 years old, was said to be bomb proof when I got her three and a half years ago.
Meaning that she has a calm temperment and doesn't spook at unfamiliar things.  Of course that's a desirable thing, especially in an animal that you plan to take out hiking or for walks in traffic or to the Fall Fair where there are kids and dogs or any number of scenarios.

But when you think about that expression: "bomb + proof," it seems a rather unfair term to apply to animals, doesn't it?

So how does a donkey become bomb-proof?  Is it just a quality of character (calm, unflappable?) or is training involved?  After all, donkeys are prey animals - it makes sense that if they feel threatened, they will run away.  And you can't train for every occurrence.

I remember the day that five emus walked onto our property - they had escaped their enclosure and set off on a walk-about.  There was no way I could have anticipated that!  Or the time when two donkeys fled their paddock near the road and ran down the meadow to the farthest corner in the woods.  I couldn't imagine what had scared them until I heard the quiet sound of snuffling and caught sight of a wandering piglet in the bushes!

Last night, Rose and I headed out into the cool evening air for a walk to the beach.  She was a happy
companion taking in everything along the way and enjoying an occasional stop for some huckleberry twigs.

Suddenly she froze, ears forward, body tense, almost quivering.  I couldn't detect anything but it's not unusual that the donkeys will hear something long before I do.  I always give them the benefit of the doubt and let them assess the situation.  So we stopped along the road and waited.  Sure enough, from a long driveway appeared a dog and its owner, out for a walk.  Phew!  "Just a dog, Rose," and we continued.

But for some reason, that dog set Rose on edge for the rest of the walk.  Later, we were at the path that leads down to the beach.  Rose practically jumped out of her skin and would have bolted towards home had I not asked her to stay with me!  Same dog, not at all interested in us and posing no threat.
Interesting reaction from Rose who was quite familiar with dogs in her previous home.

Every rustle in the bushes last night set Rose to quivering and wanting to flee.  And that's where clicker training is SO useful!  In spite of the night frights, I was able to ask Rose for something simple "touch my hand" and "stay with me" and she was able to refocus. 

Because of the work we have already done, she was also able to trust me and that's HUGE!  I wouldn't want to test this with a cougar at our heels but we will continue to work together, to build trust, to make our relationship rock solid so that we can depend on each other - positive reinforcement training works in many ways!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Rose's Birthday!

Today Rose is 19 years old - the sweetest, kindest soul you'll ever meet!

and she got new boots for her front feet!

  and got the whole small paddock in front of the feed room to herself for awhile ...

Her feet are sometimes sore in Spring.  She seemed to enjoy the boots and wore them for a few hours.
They are called NeoPaws, size XL and made for ... dogs!  What I like about them is that they have a thick sole to protect from sharp stones (we have many and the road surface is even worse!) And they come in many sizes so it wasn't hard to find a pair to fit Rose.  I have one smaller pair as well, in case I need them for one of the other donkeys.  I had to fiddle a bit with how to do them up so they weren't too tight but didn't swivel around either.  Sweet Rose was patient through all of my hovering, doing and undoing!

Happy Birthday White Star Red Roses!