This is my donkey on a stormy, windy day. I wanted to get a picture of my horsey hooligans to compare, but I missed my chance. They were running around like crazy, having a grand time. Pedro was just a little bit more watchful than usual. Oh, and he "spooked" at pieces of metal flying off my neighbor's nasty old trailer. And by "spooked," I mean he stopped to look at it for a minute.
I would need a much fancier camera to catch that kind of high speed action with any decent quality. They are so fast sometimes you don't even see them move!
My son really wants a chihuahua now that my sister and my mom have one. No thank you! I sure like them, but they're a little too high maintenance for me. I like to visit with them though.
Bob and I had an awesome training session today. I decided that I did not want to halter and hang on to him in order to pick out his feet. So, when I fed him his supplements (hay pellets, Equerry's vitamins, magnesium, and Probios) I asked him to pick up a foot. Once I had it in my hand he set it down and walked away, which is what he has done (or attempted to do) every time I've picked up one of his feet. I shooed him off, he went about ten feet, stopped, and I invited him back to his food. This went on for a few minutes, then I just followed him and asked for his foot again. It was done with! He stood stock still while I picked out that hoof (quickly, so I could give him a release soon, in case he changed his mind). Then we went back to his food and he let me pick out and treat the other three feet.
Calm persistence wins the day. I love it when it's that simple.
His icky frog looks much better already today. I treated it with apple cider vinegar yesterday. I'm really becoming a HUGE fan of vinegar. It's good in their water, they like the taste of it, it helps keep biting insects away, it cures skin problems better than the expensive treatments they sell at the feed store, and it seems to kill thrush really well too. For spraying on the skin I dilute it 10:1, but for bad thrush I've been putting it on straight. I tried it on my skin first, and it was only slightly irritating, so I figured it'd be okay on them. But the experts do advise a 10:1 dilution. For even better results, you could soak the hoof. I'm just squirting it in with an old agave nectar container (has a pointy squirty end).
Pedro had a deep painful pocket in one of his hind hooves yesterday, and that looked better today also. Of course I treated it again.
They both got to spend all day out in the pasture, and Liam reported that they were being "crazy" out there this evening, running around. I like to hear that! It's good for them. I will probably work them up to being out 24 hours a day now that the weather has turned. I'll keep a close eye on their body condition and hoof health though. What I'd like to do is build a track, 10 feet wide, around the whole property. Well, this side of the creek anyway. That would keep them moving around, and that's so good for them. But that's twice the expense of just fencing the perimeter, which I haven't even managed to do yet.
I'm considering introducing them to Scout. If they got along, he'd help encourage them to move around. But he might just be a jerk. Bella doesn't seem to like them, but maybe one day they'll all be a harmonious herd. I hope so.
I'll leave you with a photo from last week, of Katia and Bob going up the driveway. So cute!
Tonight I put away all my excuses (I'm tired, it's too much work, it's boring riding at home, he's not Tonka, what's the point anyway) and I got Scout out to play. First thing I noticed was that although I trimmed him recently, he needed a trim again. I hadn't pared out enough dead sole last time to get the hoof where it really needed to be. The sole was volunteering to come out very easily this time, so off it went, and now his hooves look very nice.
I opted to do some groundwork before I hopped in the saddle. I figured it's cold, he's young, he's fresh, he hasn't been worked in how long? and so it was necessary. I'm glad I did. He had some defiant bucks and goofiness at first, and then when we moved to another area he was worried about a couple things and bucked again. Then we checked those things out rather than making him continue to circle near them, and all was well. Especially because one of the scary things was hanging from an apple tree, which has very sweet apples still on it. :)
I rode for a bit, nothing special. Just walking around, following the dog, letting the dog follow us, following the dog, turning big round corners and small tight corners, keeping his ribs where I want them and his body as straight as it needs to be. He's still afraid of dogs. Which is probably not the right way to put it. He's not afraid of dogs, really. He'd like to stomp on them, yes. But when he jumps because of a dog, it's the motion that spooks him, not the fact that it's a dog. He didn't spook today, but then Blue was staying in the field with us, not coming running up out of nowhere.
I took a couple pictures when we were done, because what's a blog without pictures?
I like this one because his nose is cute, but I don't like it because it's his bad eye, which is pulled in a bit, and it looks like a little pig eye.
I like this one because he's being very curious and interested. Very engaged. But it's a little blurrier.
Neither one is excellent photography, but it's a fun way to document the day. :)
While Scout and I were working, Pedro was wearing the bit again. He doesn't like it. He throws a little baby fit. He chases Bob around some, stomps on his feed pan, and generally acts like a toddler. But by the time I got back to him he was just standing quietly, hoping I was there to feed them.
Bob gave me the CUTEST bray! It was kinda warbley like a whinny. I can't describe it, and I'm sure I couldn't imitate it. I tried to get a video but of course he was already done.
I checked out the donkey hooves more closely today, especially Pedro's bad front foot and Bob's bad hind. I still can't do any more fixing on Pedro's yet, he needs to grow them some more. I don't think his coffin bone is far off the ground on that one. But he was so good for me! I didn't even have to halter him, he just stood and let me pick out all of his hooves very carefully. Bob has a nasty infected frog on the foot that's been popping strangely. It's not your average thrush, it's white and puffy and way too flexible. It's obviously painful so I'm guessing the popping is coming from him stepping wrong to protect the frog. Plus that poor frog isn't doing much to support the inner structure of the hoof. I'll get more active about getting that healed up.
On Sunday we were going to take Pedro and Bob for a hike. But Bob's foot was popping (don't know what that's about and I don't like it) and Pedro didn't want to go without Bob. He still loaded really well, but he was agitated, and I don't want his first trip out from home to be a bad one, so I put him back. I learned that yes, they are very attached to each other, and yes, they will plow right into me when they're worried. So it was a good learning experience.
We went hiking without them, careful to wear our orange since it's still hunting season.
It was a cloudy, cold day, but no rain. Beautiful views.
Liam collected so many rocks (and a couple sticks) that he could barely walk on the way back.
Break time. I forgot how wonderful it is to just lay down in the woods and be silent.
When I was a teenager in New Mexico I spent a lot of time hiking around the mountains with my dog Harpo, and if I got tired or found an inspiring spot I'd sit, or lay down, and just enjoy the silence. I remember once I fell asleep in a little grove of scrub oak and woke up with a cute little fuzzy caterpillar clinging to my shoelace. Another time, I watched ravens flying in the wind, sometimes flipping upside-down, and I realized for the first time what a great sense of fun they have. It's funny (but not really) how we lose that ability to just be when we hit adulthood and have to focus so much on goals and getting stuff done.
Even my son was quiet for a little while out there in the woods the other day. Amazing.
It was a nice day.
And I didn't even regret not being able to bring an equine along. It was actually much more relaxing without any four-legged friends to worry about.
I wanted to go riding today, and when that didn't work out I wanted to do some training today, and when that didn't work out I was glad I'd taken some quiet time with the equines at lunch time.
Pedro seemed kind of cranky. I had interrupted his nap time. He got up and hassled Bob while I was picking his hooves, and I told him no and he went to take a nap somewhere else.
Bob had to butt in on the photo session. He is pretty darn cute with those fuzzy ears.
I went out to visit Bella and Scout and decided to check the fence. They followed me out and ate some dead thistles. When I was done I sat down. They thought that was great.
Bella stood guard over me like I was a baby.
I love this picture. This must be what a foal sees when he looks up at his momma protecting him during a nap. Peaceful, happy relaxation.
I played with the camera on my phone and soaked up the sunshine.
Bella is so special. Words can't describe her.
She snuffled my hair a lot.
I didn't feel the least bit nervous sitting in front of her.
Then Scout, the big dork, came and stood over me, and his intentions were anything but protective or relaxing. He was an agent of chaos looking for a place to happen. I got up, petted them both, and went in.
Yesterday was a big trimming day. I did hinds on Bob, Pedro, and Scout. I had already done their fronts. Having learned that Bob and Pedro will just walk off if I try to leave them loose while I trim, I tied them up next to each other instead. That worked perfectly.
The guy I bought them from said his farrier didn't show up for their last trim. I think it's fair to say this kind of overgrowth doesn't happen after just one missed trim.
Considering that donkeys often pile on excess sole, even after I trimmed down to the sole there is some excess there. They also don't grow hoof as quickly as a horse, so I wouldn't be surprised if it's been a very long time since they were last trimmed. I had to go around the hoof and trim it twice, my nippers just can't handle that much hoof. The dogs got some great chewies out of the deal!
It was pretty funny, while I was finishing up Bob's hooves Pedro untied himself and started grazing. That really made Bob jealous! He didn't do anything bad but he made it clear he didn't think that was fair.
When we were done I turned the boys out into the pasture for the first time. I had been waiting for some rain to rinse some of the sugars out of the grass. When it's dry and hot, the grass is stressed and not growing, and it may look dead and worthless, but it can really make a horse fat. It's a definite founder risk. Donkeys are even more sensitive so these guys have been in drylot this whole time, and their previous home was basically a big poopy corral. I think it's been a couple years at least since they've had this much room to move. I wondered if they'd take advantage of all that freedom and choose to avoid me, but they didn't.
Here comes Pedro to say hello:
Then I put Bella and Scout into the round pen and trimmed Scout's hooves. He was such an angel, just stood and let me trim him with no halter. That's pretty normal for the other horses here, but he usually likes to see if he can wander off or eat grass, and this time he just stood nicely. Maybe he's growing up?
Not long after that the farrier showed up to pull Bella's shoes. He really wanted to put some wedges on her instead, but I'm not ready to commit to that. When I can afford it she'll go to the vet for a full lameness exam. For now she'll go back to being a pasture pet.
The longears came in voluntarily and I gave them their daily supplement and closed the gate. They had only had about an hour or so of grazing. I'll turn them out for a little bit longer today. We had a lot of rain overnight, and with the heavy overcast and the warm weather the grass ought to be safe.
My favorite breed of horse today is the Tennessee Walker. We did dentals on three of them today, and they were all very nice and very good looking. The other three horses were also nice, but I liked the Walkers best.
In other news, I finally got to take my ass for a walk this evening. I haven't been able to play with either of them all week. Pedro really likes to get out and cruise around.
Here is Bella's funny shoe and pad. They look to me like they're set on crooked. They are coming off tomorrow. I'm going to leave her barefoot and hope I can afford to take her to the vet instead and get a real diagnosis. I couldn't find any pain or lesion in her tendon today when I palpated it as per vet's instructions. So... Who knows what the heck the problem actually is. Can an old splint cause permanent lameness? She has a big one on that leg.
Well, that's it for me tonight. I'm going to sleep like a baby, and I am not getting up before dawn!
I've really been missing my Tonka the last couple days. I used to say I couldn't understand people who "used to have horses." How could you not be a horse person forever? Or a friend of mine who had horses, but both died before their time, and she spent many years without horses before she could consider getting another. Now I get it.
Not that I'm going to get rid of any horses at the moment. But it's just not the same.
I love the donkeys a lot already, though. They're so sweet and cuddly that you can't help but fall in love. I read somewhere that horses are like cats, they can take you or leave you, but donkeys are like dogs and they love to be with you. Definitely the case here. Although for the most part Scout is a lot like a dog too. But he's not at all like the donkeys. They just love to have their whole head hugged, and lay their foreheads against your belly while you scratch their ears. It's a very relaxing experience.
According to a book I was reading, I shouldn't be calling my boys
donkeys. You should never use the term "donkey" to refer to mammoth
jacks. Whatever. They're not jacks, they're geldings. I guess I could
call them mammoth jackstock. But that takes too long. They're my
sweet donkeys. And if you've ever heard Pete Ramey say, "donkey," you'd
know just how very cute that word can be. (He has a kind of a
southern accent. Sounds like Bobby Hill.)
I moved Scout and Bella into the pasture next to the boys today. Scout was very excited. Bella was a little excited. Pedro was scared. He would do the baby mouth thing, saying, "don't hurt me," and then he'd run away. Bob wasn't as worried.
This afternoon I took Scout to the mountains for a ride with my sister and her friend. I wasn't really looking forward to it. He'd been such a spaz in the pasture earlier in the day... And he's not Tonka.
But we had a great ride! I got out there and thought I heard a gunshot, realized I had nothing to make us stand out. My sister loaned us a halter and a hat. We ran into a hunter and it turns out hunting season doesn't start until tomorrow. I'd better start decorating my stuff with blaze orange.
I think Scout looks super cute in this picture my sister took"
His chin looks funny here. I think it's just the camera, his head isn't shaped like that.
This girl was so extremely fat I had to take her picture. Wish I'd gotten a head-on shot. I've seen a lot of fat cows but this one takes the cake!
Today I had lots of fun with the boys. First I took Pedro up the driveway to the mailbox to send back the first Pete Ramey donkey trimming DVD. (I joined Giddyupflix when I got these guys, 'cause I need to get educated.) He was so good! I wasn't sure how far we'd get because I thought he'd be upset about leaving Bob. He didn't give a darn about that. He was scared of the two wild mustangs galloping around acting like idiots though. He hid behind me, and then trotted forward (rather slowly). I convinced him he was okay and we survived the excited curiosity going on next to us. The horses haven't been that close to the donkeys before, except the time Bella saw them. Scout was super excited. Our mission was accomplished, we made it to the mailbox and back. I think it might be close to a quarter mile each way. I'm pretty impressed with Pedro's willingness. He wasn't as willing to go back though. He got slower and slower as we got closer to his corral, and I really had to convince him to keep going. I think he really enjoyed being out.
Later he got to wear a bit for the first time. My 5" Myler snaffle bit fits perfect. He didn't like it much though. He'll get used to it. This headstall fits pretty well, now that I added a much bigger throatlatch strap.
Here are the excited horses later in the day when I took both boys out for a walk:
I think Pedro was hiding behind Bob because of the horses. They're like zebras, their similar color makes it hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. :)
Wandering, with Pedro first. He doesn't seem very familiar with leading on the left side. Bob mostly prefers to hang back a bit. But really they were both trucking along. I had a hard time getting far enough in front to get a picture. And if I stopped I had two hungry donkeys thinking about grass, so it was hard to juggle a camera.
They were really loath to return to their drylot, so I figured I'd give them some more things to play with. I dragged an old tarp in there, then remembered this barrel. I'll have to find other things for them to play with too. And I think I'll start letting them out in the pasture for a few hours in the mornings. I'm afraid to let them graze too much though.
They were really curious, marched right up to check it out. They were also pretty curious about the tarp, but they didn't touch it or walk on it. I wonder what they did after I left. I often find things rearranged out there, but when I'm there they stand there like a couple of duds. I even saw them chasing each other one day, but as soon as they knew I was there, they stopped. Just stood there and stared at me. I'm not sure if they're trying to be secretive or just watching to see if I'm bringing food.
Oh! I heard Bob do a nice loud bray today! It was when I was bringing Pedro back from our walk. He was very happy to see his friend again! The dogs were very alarmed though. They didn't know what made that sound.
So, that's my donkey day.
I don't have an update on Bella yet. I kinda neglected her today. Someone asked if I'd had her to a vet for her lameness, and I had to think about that one. She's been to the vet several times for a different lameness problem, and for some other things, but nope, not for this one. I had a couple different chiropractors check her out though. She's an expensive pet. I had given up on her, actually. She was retired at the young age of 6 (having never done much work anyway) until Tonka died and I was hopeful she could be my new riding horse. I don't know if I'll take her to the vet again anytime soon. I'm not feeling overly hopeful that she'll ever be sound. The shoes were kind of a last-ditch effort. With her stifle problems, even without the front end lameness, she might never make a good trail horse. She's such a good girl though, it really is a shame.
Maybe some of you have a lot more experience with horse shoes than I do. I have virtually none. Maybe you could tell me what you think about this scenario.
Bella had shoes put on a week ago, with pads that have a thicker area under the frog (extending downward from the pad when the hoof is on the ground) to keep some frog pressure rather than letting her frog dangle in the air once the shoes are put on. It all sounded like a good idea to me. BUT now she's landing toe first, which I really don't like to see. It started out REALLY pronounced, but has become more subtle.
Bella already had a slight case of thrush when the shoes were put on. I thought something should be put in under the pad to keep this from getting worse. But he didn't, and he's the farrier, so...
Also, the frog pad is slightly thicker than the shoe, which seems like it would cause excessive pressure.
Seems to me it has to be heel pain causing her to land toe first. I'm not sure what else would cause that, unless her toes were too long, which they aren't. Can you think of any other reason for a toe first landing?
He said on Wednesday to wait it out, see if it gets better, since she was just getting used to the shoes. It seems like it has gotten better, but she's not landing heel first. She is slightly less lame at the trot though.
Today we saddled up the donkeys and did a little riding. It was fun!
First I rode Bob. He's not a speedy guy, but he was mostly trying for me. He really is magnetized to Pedro, and the food was just slightly tempting too.
Then Liam rode Bob. He was sometimes really willing.
And sometimes it went more like this:
I love bob's face in this one:
Then my mom got to ride a little
Then everyone wandered off.
Then it was Pedro's turn.
Isn't he handsome?
I didn't have anyone to take pics, so this is it:
I only rode Pedro very briefly, because of my weight and his feet. He was more mobile than Bob, which makes sense because he's the leader in their little herd. But he wasn't real keen on going where I asked or stopping when I asked. They just haven't had any good riding training (and a halter can be very confusing and easy to lean on). That's fine. All the more fun we can have together!