Monday, January 11, 2016


Well yesterday we loaded up corral panels, halters, leads, butt ropes and animal crackers and headed out for adventure with wild donkeys.  The area they live in is rather "rustic", at least the roads are, up in the hills east of where we live.  There were patches of snow along the highway to get there, and once we turned off the highway, the dirt road was really rough.  It was about 4 or 5 miles in, with some real interesting hills to climb.  Would be great for sledding, but not really fun dragging a trailer.  About halfway in a SUV came up behind us, so we pulled off the road, so they could go around us.  They pulled up and the woman said, "I'm Beth", which is who we were going to see.  So we followed them home.  Pulled in and the 1st thing we noticed was they were minis..........What?  



Chloe came right up to us and wanted treats.   After talking with Beth, I realized real quick that treats are how she communicates with them.  The 1st clue was the extra weight they are carrying.  It didn't take long to figure out the people really love these donkeys, but didn't know anything about how to feed them or take care of them.  

I decided to see how much I could get away with, and started rubbing my hands all over Chloe, rubbed her ears and her butt, reached down and picked up her feet.  She seemed to think it was just fine, and I did introduce her to animal crackers, which really cinched our relationship.  After that I couldn't get away from her.  Beth said the donkeys always ran away, if they tried to work with them.  I explained to her that if  you start something with them, you have to finish it, rather than just let them walk away.

Since Momma was laying down I asked John and Chris to get the panels and we'd just build a pen around her.  That idea went out the window when she saw the 2nd panel, she got up and started trying to escape.  But her feet hurt, so she didn't go very far.  

I had already tried to use one of the halters I brought on Chloe and the noseband hung below her mouth, so that wasn't going to work.  I know how to make a halter with a lead rope, but if your victim gets uncooperative it doesn't work very well.  

So John and I went to her, made friendly gestures and she was just fine.  This is before I got it adjusted, but she really was a good girl about the whole idea. 

She was limping on her left front and holding up the left rear when she would stand.  I checked both legs and feet and didn't find anything except a little warmth in the hooves.  Her front hoof has some changes that lead me to believe she has been chronically foundered for sometime. I would imagine the cold, damp nasty weather we've been having has tipped her over the edge.  She let me pick up her feet and I cleaned them, saw nothing out of the ordinary. 

Come to find out these donkeys have roamed the hills and valleys for years.  When I say years I mean years, Chloe was born in the area over 9 years ago and they have never been penned.  Their owner moved away a couple of months ago and Beth had been making sure they had water etc, when the woman wasn't home for months at a time.  So she said she would take care of them when the owner left for good.  She said sometimes they will be gone for days and all the people in the area know them and watch out for them.  She loves them and has been very upset because she lives so far out, none of the area vets will go out there.

Then we discussed treats.  Needless to say they pretty much feed themselves for the most part.  They have access to miles of desert flora and fauna depending on how far they roam.  She gives them grass hay in the winter when it's like it is now,  but not much.  Other than that they are responsible for feeding themselves, and seem to be doing a good job of it.  But Beth has also been giving them whole carrots and whole apples which of course help make the foot problem worse..........YIKES, I can feed 20 donkeys with one apple and they think they really got something...............and only 4 of mine are minis.........!!!  So these little girls have been living a little too high on the hog and Beth promises to take care of the problem.  I left some animal crackers with her, like I said Chloe seemed to think they were really good.  They might not appreciate the change in their diet, but it is for their own good. 

One good thing is they move around so much and the ground is really rocky, so their feet are actually in really good shape except for the distortion in Momma's front foot.  I just hope my WAG (Wild Ass Guess) is in the ball park & she gets better real soon.  Beth has my number.  We also told them how to build a small corral to feed them in, so they have someplace to work with them, if they need to. 

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