I am sorry to say that the trip was a rough one for my little brown donkey. He was much more stressed by it than I had thought he would be and things were not helped by the fact that the route to New Paltz was three hours of twisty, windy, hilly driving that went straight through the heart of the Catskills. If I had known ahead of time what the drive would be like, I don't think I would have taken him. It was a beautiful drive and I would like to revisit some of those mountains, but NOT with a loaded horse trailer.
Once we got there and Ramsey was off the trailer, he took in everything with this normal aplomb and started to settle down.
He had his own stall in the barn with a friendly donkey gelding next to him for company. He was not happy about it. Ramsey hates, HATES(!!!) being locked up away from the action. It is the one thing he just is not good at and even though I was only a few feet away from him, he was not happy. He wanted OUT.
And, he missed his mom.
Emma seemed to do just fine without him, but Ramsey was not a happy camper. He did finally settle in a bit. He charmed everyone he met (as usual) and garnered much sympathy with his sad warbling.
He really did very well given the circumstances, his history and his age. The one thing that really surprised me was just how uninterested he was in meeting the other donkeys. He just wanted to be with me, out of his stall and away from all the other donkeys. It just goes to show, yet again, how different donkeys are from horses.
There is no way that I can encapsulate the entire clinic for you. What I would recommend if you own a donkey or have any interest in how to care for them is that you get a copy of Pete Ramey's DVD set, Donkey Hooves Inside and Out. Even if you are not interested in trimming yourself, the DVD is an excellent resource for all donkey owners. Most of what was covered in the clinic can be found there. I've watched just about every donkey hoof care video that I have ever come by and this is by far the best.
The one common theme that came up over and over in both the clinic and the conference that followed was nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. No amount of trimming will ever grow a healthy foot without the right nutrition.
This is something that I know very well and can attest to personally. Trying to trim an unhealthy, poorly nourished hoof is an exercise in profound frustration. You will never fix a hoof problem without first fixing the underlying nutrition and/or metabolic issues.
I actually have several blog posts on this subject that I wrote over a year ago and never published. I am not sure why exactly, except that I got discouraged by how much active resistance I kept running up against. People just did not want to hear about it. No one wants to believe that the way they are feeding their animals may be the cause of all their problems nor will they believes there even IS a problem until the horse or donkey comes up dead lame. I think I will try to dig those posts up and brush them off. I know there are at least few people out there who may appreciate them.
Below are some preserved cadaver hooves from a donkey who certainly could have used a change in his diet. This is by no means the worst foot I've seen, but you can clearly see how the hoof wall is separated from the bone at the toe. This is very common and the primary cause is too much sugar in the diet.
On the other hand (or hoof) this is a very nice little hoof on a mini donkey that Pete had just trimmed.
Aren't they just the cutest little feet?
There were ten minis at the clinic and they made Ramsey look huge. The tallest was around 32 inches and the smallest was barley knee high. I think I could have picked her right up and carried her off. They were all very sweet and adorable, but I think I like my standard size donkeys - they are just the perfect size for hugging, no bending or kneeling required:).
Then there was this poor creature. Not cute at all.
You can see from her radiographs that her coffin bone has sunk down into the hoof capsule quite a lot so, even after her trim, her feet will still look long. With regular care that should improve.
After trimming the heels and giving her a stable base, it is time to whack off those crazy toes.
It was very encouraging to see her legs pop back up and allow her to stand more normally. She will need time for her tendons and ligaments to readjust themselves. As she begins to move normally again, her feet will improve even more.
With regular care, she will be able to live a comfortable, happy life.
If anyone has specific questions, I will try to answer them. In my next post, I'll tell you all about what you really want know - how Ramsey's feet measured up.