Adventures With A Wild Donkey.

I got in touch with a woman who had a jenny for sale over the weekend.The jenny seemed perfect; she said she could be hard to catch but was great when she was caught, easy to load, and all that. She was the perfect size, a good protector, and possibly bred. So, I attempted to schedule a time to see her, and it kept falling through. The lady wouldn’t respond to me for hours, then, we managed to get a day scheduled and I told her that I was going to plan to have a hauler come with me so she could come straight home if everything went well. She was a great price, much cheaper than the other jenny’s I’d seen, and I didn’t want to miss out on her. We proceeded to leave the house, ready to meet the hauler halfway there so he could follow us and…he didn’t show. We waited for nearly 30 minutes then went on to go see the donkey, and finally, he called, said he was sorry for running late, explained what had happened and said he’d be there shortly. I met the jenny, “Anna” (although she’s now renamed to Blossom) and they basically corralled her away from her herd and into a separate pasture. She was very shy, but after about 25 minutes of me being there, I was able to scratch her ears and she seemed to be very calm with me, I asked if I could go in and get a halter on her so we’d be ready, and she decided to be hard to catch. Long story short, I spent some time in there being patient, let her come to me, and I had the halter halfway on when one of her owners came in and all hell broke loose. She took off running, absolutely freaking out, and jumped the short side of the fence and ran out.

We spent a couple hours just trying to get her, and finally, our hauler showed up and he helped us get her in the trailer. We ended up having to back his trailer into the pasture, block the short side of the fence and run her into the trailer so she had nowhere else to go, and at this point my mother and I are thinking, “Oh gosh, what did we just get ourselves into?” I mean this girl was wild with those people. They then decided to tell me that she has a habit of dragging people around, she’s awful on the lead, she will hurt you, and so on. I freaked out, but she was on the trailer, we’d paid them, and we had the hauler to pay. He calmed our nerves and said that he would take her if she didn’t work out (he has a huge farm, absolutely beautiful, and said he always has room for another donkey since he always needs more protectors for his farm animals and they’re such easy keepers.) and off we went with her. I talked with a few people in a donkey Facebook group and they all told me to give her a chance and see how she acts when she’s with different people. The owners seemed rather harsh in how they interacted with her, so they told me to try a very gentle and soft approach and see how she’d do, so we kept in touch with the hauler, who turned out to literally be a God send despite him being late because I don’t think we could’ve gotten her in the trailer without him, and told him that we’d let him know how things go in a couple of weeks.

The calm before the storm…also when there was a fence between us, lol.

So, she got home, she was crazy. Would not let me within 50 feet from her, but on the brightside, she acted very calm with the herd on the other side of the fence, she went straight to grazing and other than not liking us very much, she was doing really good and behaving. I went back up this morning around 6am, she let me touch her nose then bolted, so I talked to her a bit more and left, then went back again a couple hours later and stood next to her, talked, turned my back and next thing I know, she’s behind me and sniffing my shoulder like, “Hey, you’re that person I liked yesterday.”

I discovered that the head and neck are good places to scratch, but anything behind her wither is no bueno. I tried, and she bolted pretty quickly but was able to contain herself and came back to me when she saw I wasn’t upset or going to run after her. Then, she let me touch her a bit more. I think all she needs is some time with no pressure to do anything, to realize that my touch isn’t bad. Her hooves are pretty bad, the front right is a mess, so I’m nervous to see how that first farrier visit will go. She’s a bit overweight, too, but not bad. I need to have my vet come do all of her vaccines and check her teeth out to see if we can figure out an age. She doesn’t look old to me, I’m thinking she is probably under 12-13 just by looking at her.

I walked off to go get something for Halfpint, and she ended up following me to the gate and taking a small piece of carrot out of my hand and let me hug her neck and touch her more. I’m eager to see how she does, we’ve started on a really good note.

First attempt to wrap my arms around her, she’s very unsure, leaning away from me.

Another carrot, she says!

In the future, I’d love to see her pull a cart. In all honesty, she’s big enough that I could even ride her without an issue so who knows, depending on her age we may give that a try, haha. Either way, she’s already been a fun addition and I’m loving the project.

Surpriseeee!

Well, update; didn’t ride over the weekend because my body still hated me and I managed to get another fever, it was literally 100 degrees outside and humid and terrible, then when I felt somewhat human on Sunday, well, it just wasn’t a good day.

I did spend part of the day on Saturday dosed up on cold medication and ibuprofen to go look at something of the four legged variety to bring into the family. What, you say? Most people assumed it was another horse, but it’s actually not a horse. Technically.

Image result for donkey

not my actual donkey.

All I have to say is….wee snaw.

Backstory, we have a bit of a coyote problem. When I say a bit, I mean the stupid things (I love all animals, but EW) have not only started killing our neighbors animals, but they’ve decided that that should bring them into our pasture and drop them off when they’re done doing coyote things to them. We have our dwarf miniature horse and he desperately needs to be moved to the farm because he’s literally in our backyard right now and he’s running out of grass, it’s turning into more of a dry lot. Plus, it would be nice to feed all of the animals in one place as opposed to running around everywhere to feed in the evening. So, he needs to be up there but also needed a protector. Enter donkey. It’s taken some convincing on my mother’s part. She knows nothing about donkeys, never been around them. I’ve met a few and know a little, but we’ve both been nervous and unsure about bringing in another animal. We found out that they’re pretty low maintenance, so we took a chance and went to go see some on Saturday and holy cow, I watched my mother fall in love with a donkey foal. Those, sadly, didn’t work out for us because the price was a bit too steep, but that night I found a cute standard jenny for sale. She’s also bred, which is exciting because we were hoping for a bred one or one with a foal for the experience. (btw, although we don’t know much about them, we have a lot of people around who do, so the donkey is totally safe so don’t worry about pregnancy or labor, haha.) The lady didn’t tell me how far along she is, only that she is “very pregnant”

We’re going to go see her tonight and bring her home. I called dibs on the baby since I wanted a yearling or a weanling really bad in the beginning of the year and gosh darn, I’m getting a baby. So, here goes a fun new chapter – donkey owning!

DY-ING.

First off, let me say this; my life hates me. Like, seriously. Red has been sound for over a week now, he’s doing really well although he’s been enjoying running the fields and being a hot, slightly spooky mess on the lead when I go on little walks with him (which is being fixed, because uh, disrespectful pony on the ground is no bueno) and I know it’s all from him not DOING ANYTHING SINCE JULY. And he actually got the clear to ride…ahem…awhile ago. Everyone in my life is currently enjoying making fun of me because I’m an anxious wreck and I don’t want to screw things up by riding him too quickly (although, in the words of one of my favorite horse people in my life, “Dude, he gallops and bucks around the pasture all day. You’re going to put a saddle on him and do some light work and ease him into things. Do you think adding a saddle and working him lighter than he’s working himself is going to make an abscess appear or something?”) but I finally got up the nerve to hop back on and then..that day I planned on riding..I woke up feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. Probably one with a horse trailer attached to it, because horses hate me, too, apparently. And I’m still feeling slightly like a run over person, and I can’t quit coughing, but I am so riding tomorrow if I can actually manage to get, uh, on my horse without dying.

I have ridden once since he’s been lame, I hopped on Stormie for a few minutes. Stormie is out of shape, fat, cranky and a very different ride. I love that horse, I swear I do, but she’s not my type at all whatsoever. She has a few problems under saddle; she likes rooting and pulling at her bit, and she is very barn sour from not being worked often enough so she likes running to the gate any chance she gets. So our ride mainly consisted of getting her to accept the bit a little more, and doing fun circles until she realized that her behavior wasn’t cool and Stormie you’re going to go in a straight line away from the gate at the trot without running me literally INTO the gate. Riding her made me miss riding Red even more, and I’m beyond ready to be over this huge hump and be able to start working with him again.We were really making progress before this happened.

A great sight to see after my horse was three legged lame for so long.

Not really much to write about when the horse is out of commission, and now the rider is out of commission. I’ve gotten behind on reading blogs, too, just because I’ve had no interest to read about riding when my horse was so lame and I was stressed, as slightly terrible and rude as that sounds. Oh well. We’ll be back soon.

Thankful.

As y’all know from my last post, Red has been put through a ton since the first of July. I’ve had so many people out to check him over, I’ve dotted all of my I’s, crossed all of my T’s, and I’ve stressed myself sick. Last week, he was in so much pain he was laying down for about an hour a couple times a day to relieve the pressure. While I’m relieved to know the news now after yet another visit from my amazing chiro, I was a worried mess last Saturday and that worry continued on til around  Wednesday when I started seeing improvement. Thankfully, Red is nearly sound now and he’s well on the way to a full recovery from two abscesses from hell and thrush. I’ll give the quick report from my chiro- I had her double -and triple- check his tendons, his shoulder, his legs, everything, to make sure this is definitely not a problem in his legs and all of the issues are stemming from the problems in his hoof (abscess and thrush) and she said his tendons feel great, leg felt perfect. Only area that was sensitive was his chest, near his “armpit” and that is just from how he’s been holding his leg out from that abscess. She worked on that for a bit and we already saw a difference when he got turned out and was walking. He had a bit of sensitivity on his neck and was stiff all over just from not moving as much and being tense from pain, but that all worked itself out. She will be back on Friday for a recheck and she’ll be doing another nice massage + probably using the tens unit on his neck.

So, I was able to have a nice sigh of relief. He’s okay, he’ll be fine, needs some more time to recuperate, but he should be good to go very soon. I’m giving him the rest of August off simply because he’s been through so much and deserves it. I can wait to ride until it’s cooler and I am 100% that he is back to himself. He was running in the field this evening and I could barely tell that he was gimpy at the trot which is where it shows itself most, BIG difference from how he trotted off yesterday evening, so I really think his chest is really sore and she relieved a lot of that pain from the massage. AND we get to stop the cold hosing now, his abscess is healing great, his swelling seems to be gone. Woot woot!

Poor guy gets to wear a pink halter because it’s the easiest to put on in the pasture, hahaha.

I will say, this experience has taught me a lot about myself, and this horse. And about abscesses. I can now treat an abscess with the best of them. I’ve learned that this horse tries his best to behave as much as possible, even when he’s in pain. He proved that when he continued to let me ride him even when he was about to blow an abscess, how he worked so hard for me Saturday, right before he came up lame. I’ve learned that when he starts tossing his head, something is not right, and I need to get off and figure it out. He’s figuring out how to send messages across to me, and he’s been trying to send messages for awhile and I’m just now figuring out what things mean – like shaking his head like he wants to rear means “I’m hurting, mom!”and his little playful nodding on the ground means something like “I’m going to grab the hose and spray you” or “give me that treat right now or I’m going to kick the epsom salt and get it all over you” Even though he hated the cold hoses, he got used to it quickly and he has really tried his best to behave at all times, even with my mom who he has never liked. She’s even admitted that through this she’s gotten really fond of the big dude.

It also proved to me that this horse could never go anywhere else but wherever I’m at. I can’t even describe my feelings when I went up to the barn before church on Sunday evening and saw him laying down. Let me put this into perspective; I am an independent baptist, and I go to a very conservative church with a dress code. So, I’m in an ankle length maxi skirt and sandals and the hottest cardigan known to man, and I drop everything to just make him feel okay. Staying up there all evening while he was laying down, calling everybody that could possibly figure out why he’s doing this, my emotions were crazy. And as I’ve watched him improve, I’ve realized that no matter how many times I doubt myself or doubt him, he’s the horse for me, and I’m very lucky to be able to be his human. There is no doubt in my mind that letting go of him would rip my heart out of my chest and all of the threats I made earlier in the year or in 2015 when we were going through our rough spell about selling him or leasing him out could never actually come true, because the minute I saw him leaving, I’d chase the trailer down and tell the people I changed my mind. There is something about this horse, and he’s my partner.

ca yuteeee.

My relief when my chiro said that this is nothing major, just a minor setback and “He’s kinda wimpy.” which I already knew but still, it’s nice to know.

This horse will never be a show horse, will probably never win me money or ribbons, not because he’s not capable or I’m not, but because that just doesn’t fit into my life right now.But man, he makes me happy, and stressed, and anxious, but mostly happy. He’s the light in my very dark days. He’s the first thing I wanted to see after my father passed away in June. First thing I wanted to do was just run, and so I ran away on him. He’s been there through thick and thin with me, through my awkward years, terrible haircuts, me grumbling into his mane about how much people suck, me crying into his neck when horses die, people die, friends leave…and he’s stuck around with me through everything, so he’s pretty worth sticking around for.

Don’t judge the butt, this is what happens when you don’t do anything but eat for like a month and a half

So thank you, abscesses, for teaching me to appreciate my horse more.

Abscess From Hell

Since I wrote my last post, things have…happened.

I rode Red again a couple days after my last post and he was wonderful. Then, I went to ride him on Saturday and he felt off. We started out with ground work and he looked stiff, but not necessarily lame, so I decided to hop on him and do some very light work to see how he felt and when I hopped on, he did not want to move, walked as slowly as humanly (horsely?) possible, and then started throwing his head. I dismounted, and untacked. I figured it was the heat, but when I came back to feed him, I found a lame horse.

Awesome.

Cue freakout. We realized pretty quickly that his abscess had returned, and after calling my farrier (actually three farriers) my vet (actually two vets) and messaging my chiro, we realized that we simply didn’t do what he needed to keep that abscess opened and it closed too soon, leaving lots of nastiness still inside his hoof. I didn’t panic until the next day when he was extremely lame. I mean, he had three legs, did not want to move. He started laying down, and I, of course, got in touch with vets, my farrier (and another farrier that we’ve used for our worst rescue cases who is just amazing) and our old barn manager from when we boarded because she has lots of experience with this. Thankfully, we did find out that it was an abscess and nothing more…my friend called it “the abscess from hell” and I agree wholeheartedly. He explained why he was laying down and said he see’s that a lot with bad abscesses, especially the recurring ones, because the hoof is already sensitive, and not to panic too much. He told us to up the cold hosing and soaks to 3-4 times a day and for 25 or so minutes each time, so we started doing that. Thankfully, I started seeing the abscess want to burst on Monday, and it blew yesterday. He stopped laying down yesterday and is getting around much better, still lame and a bit uncomfortable, but our farrier said that with this abscess, it’s going to take a few days for him to be completely recovered because of where it’s at, and how big it was. His swelling has gone down a lot and he’s actually willing to walk with me, and he’s getting around. He’s been in our front pasture again so he’s enjoying that.

Walking yesterday.

My vet and farrier recommended to hand walk him as soon as I felt that he was able to walk enough without a ton of pain and yesterday we were able to start that. He walked quite a bit with me and he was looking pretty good. I’m seeing even more improvement today.

I have been a nervous wreck with this, we’ve all been, and I’m so ready to kick this abscess completely. I’ve never been so happy to go up to the barn and see pus leaking out of my horse’s hoof before, rofl. Luckily he’s been a pretty darn good patient, especially now that he’s feeling better, and even though we got attacked by horse flies last night he seems much happier.😉 He even managed a little buck yesterday to get them off which was great. Keep sending prayers and happy thoughts to us!

 

All Clear

My chiro came back out on Friday to do a recheck on Red; very, very good news. His swelling was gone, he was 110% sound, his abscess was no longer sensitive, and even the places in his neck and hindquarters felt great and were no longer stiff. I’ve been told to massage his neck as often as possible to keep it from getting stiff again. Overall, he was ready to ride. I tacked up Saturday evening and took him to the arena, used the longer shanked hackamore because he has been wired from not having much turnout time and from not being worked in nearly 4 weeks other than a very small ride just at the walk. He was fairly well behaved. Extremely barn sour, very lazy unless we were going towards home, and it took a lot of leg to get him moving forward which is very typical for him when he’s had time off of work. We did lots of halts, lots of circles, just to get his mind on me, and after about 10 minutes of doing that, we tried the trot. Like I said, lots of leg, but his trot felt pretty nice.

After riding for 20 minutes, I took him out to the field and got halfway up before saying uh, nope, because he was very spooky and felt like a live wire. We made it back down without him going too crazy, and I made him walk back to the barn slowly.

Not much to report considering it was a short ride and I’m still letting him ease into work, but I plan on riding again tonight, weather permitting, and continuing to ride a lot in the next few weeks. He’s been a live wire in the pasture and he desperately needs work.

But..good news, he’s ready to ride!

RELIEF.

Chiro came out this evening; I had planned on writing this post tomorrow since I posted a brief update on Red earlier, but I’m way too excited to leave it for tomorrow. First off, she got there and asked me to walk him, her first thoughts were, “He’s nearly 100% sound.” She checked out his swelling which was the same as earlier, pretty puffy to the point where you couldn’t feel any bones or tendons or anything. The heat wasn’t bad, but it was there. She said her first thought was a bowed tendon, but she still thought it could be an abscess. After some feeling around, he wasn’t ouchy at all no matter how hard she pressed….until she got to his coronet band area and bang. Red was not a happy camper. As she felt around, Red stomped and bam, a huge abscess appears. She had felt something, and right as she was saying she thought she felt an abscess, we turned around and it had blown. And this thing is massive. Crazy amount of drainage and nastiness. She felt around, put some stuff in it to help it, and the swelling is nearly 80% gone now. It started draining and his swelling went down so quickly it was insane.

You can see the drainage in this, just a bit. Bad photo because he wanted to walk and eat.

The more she looked, the less concerned she was about his tendons. Came to the conclusion that this abscess has been brewing for awhile, and it just would not blow. The cold hosing helped it like soaking it would draw it out, and since I had just started hosing longer and really focused on getting the leg nice and wet, it blowing now makes sense.

Once we were less concerned with his leg, she moved on through the rest of his body. I asked her a few questions about his issues with bits (i’ve heard of horses having stuff out of place in their heads which makes bits painful) his issues with collection, and his cantering issues. After looking, she only found two places that needed some work- the top of his neck, and a place in his hindquarters. She gave me the technical names but I knew there was no way I’d remember. These places weren’t bad, his neck was fairly stiff up there and she showed me how to work on that, and by the end of the session his neck felt WAY better and his hindquarters seemed to be doing great. She said she found nothing that would cause pain while riding, and said she thinks his issue with cantering sounds completely like pure bad behavior and not pain at all. Very relieved to know there was nothing out of place or crazy sore, he’s held up very well.

She comes back on Friday, he will definitely have time off probably through the weekend but she said if he’s still doing good and that abscess is cleared up he should be good to go very, very soon. Until then, I’m working on his neck.

She did the tens unit on his back, where she thought he may have shown a very small amount of pain, after looking she said she didn’t think it was anything but worth putting them on just in case there was some slight sensitivity, maybe even from his bad saddle fit months ago, and she placed them on his neck as well. He  loved this and yawned the entire time with his head down low. He’s not a personable horse on the ground with anyone but me and a few other people, and he was all over her, he definitely enjoyed the process.

Abscess gunk😛

When I came back to feed, he was 99.9% sound. Honestly very close to perfect unless he took a weird step or something, there is a tiny bit of swelling left but it had even gone down since I had been up like an hour before. If he still has any swelling left tomorrow I’ll go ahead and cold hose again just to get it down quicker. She said she doesn’t expect any issues at all after this. So happy that it wasn’t anything major and it was just a big, slow abscess.