The friend whose motorcycle picture I posted yesterday (who I shall call Forest Guy), showed up unexpectedly for a visit this afternoon and we decided to take my herd out for a ride/walk. We had just gotten a little ways into the woods (on a trail that I both rode and walked on yesterday,) FG was on Tessa, I was leading Emma and Ramsey was loose. He was on the trail about 30 feet behind Tessa and just in front of Emma and I. He stopped to nibble a beech leaf directly above a seething mass of furious wasps whose nest Tessa had just unknowingly stepped on. The air was suddenly filled with a boiling mass of psychotically angry wasps, panicking donkeys, flying hooves and me screaming run, run, RUN!
We made it several hundred feet up the trail and thought we were safe, but soon there was again a cloud of wasps chasing Ramsey, the dark (bear-colored) shape that they had already scent marked with their stingers to attack again. Ramsey took off back down the trail, veered off just before he hit the nest again and headed for home. At the same time, I lost my grip on Emma's lead and she also took off to escape the wasps, save her baby and get back to safety. Tessa was getting a bit excited by now because her donkeys were completely freaking out, but was still clueless about why they were freaking out. Good thing too as a completely freaked horse going bonkers and pitching FG into a tree would have been just a bit more chaos then is really warranted at any one time.
I tell FG to ride on fast, make sure the donkeys made it across the road and home safe and to get Tessa out of there ASAP. I make my slow, ponderous way back to the barn and find everybody there. Tessa, still looking a bit confused, but happy at all the fun. Emma, clearly favoring her left hind and both donkeys looking a little shell-shocked. Ramsey had been stung at least 6 times, Emma 2 or 3 and me 5 times.
I reassure myself that Emma is favoring her leg because it got stung and not because she broke it in her mad-dash gallop. Everyone looks OK and I set about offering comfort, reassurance and painkillers - those suckers hurt. All seems fine for several minutes and then the fun really starts.
Both Ramsey and Emma start looking a bit off. Ramsey in particular, is breathing funny, acting wobbly kneed and lethargic. The dopey donkey look...
Another 20 minutes and both donkeys are acting fine, but irritated at the stings. I start thinking that everything is OK and I really don't want to end our walk on such a bad note and it would be good for both donkeys if they were to move around. It helps take the swelling down and alleviate pain. We decide to just go out a little and see what happens. Both donkeys perk up immedialty and are happy to be out. we get across the road, they are a little nervous so I let them munch on their favorite beech leaves for a bit. They relax and become happy and eager to move again, so we did.
Unfortunately, we aren't quite done yet. We were returning home (down the same path that Emma and Ramsey had used to escape the wasps earlier with Tessa and me following. We all used the same path again on our way back out), everyone was happy and relaxed. Tessa was again in the lead with Ramsey just behind her, Emma and I about 100 feet back. We walk over a small log and Emma gets attacked by MORE wasps.
She didn't mess around this time, just took off, grabbed Ramsey on her way by and headed back home. She got stung on her face and twenty minutes later, she was acting lethargic and breathing oddly. She would breath very hard for a short time and then not breath at all for 40-50 seconds. I called the vet.
Of course, the long distance line to my main vet wouldn't work for some reason and I got an answering service at the other and had to wait for a call back. Just minutes before the phone fianlly rang, Emma snapped back. She shook her head, took a deep breath and moved into the barn for a drink and started nibbling hay. She and Ramsey have been fine ever since.
I am really at a loss about this. If it wasn't for the scary breathing thing, I would be inclined to think this is donkey reaction to extremely painful stings. The vet I spoke with does not know me or my animals and he was very vague in that I-don't-want-to-get-sued way that vets so often use these days. I will speak with my regular vets in the morning.
Meanwhile, a question for all donkey owners out there, have you ever seen reactions like this to bee/hornet/wasp stings? Is this a donkey thing or should I be freaking out about sting allergies?