Monday, May 23, 2016

Watering Hole

I think I have mentioned before that Ramsey likes to dig holes - turns out that many donkey do.  It is a habit that I find mildly annoying and baffling.  When I took Ramsey to the Pete Ramey hoof clinic last year, he had been very busy digging holes and had worn the front of his hoof back at an odd angle.  Pete was convinced that I had trimmed it that way, but no, Ramsey did it all on his own, much to my dismay.

Since he generally uses his bad foot for most of his digging, I often wondered (and still do) if he digs because the foot feels odd or is painful.  Then I watched this video of wild donkeys digging watering holes in the desert and all the animals who make use of them:

....and it occurred to me that the Ramsey's three main holes are each at the farthest points in the pasture away from the water trough.

I use a track system to limit the amount of grass they have access to and to try to make them move around and get more exercise.  There is one hole at each of the farthest corners of the track.

I still wonder if Ramsey uses his bad foot for digging because of odd nerve impulses inside the hoof or maybe he is just right handed, but I think I figured out why he is digging holes in the first place.  If you are thirsty in the desert, dig a hole.  Or find a donkey.

The rotten stinker has outsmarted my attempts to make them exercise.  Although, I do have to admire the work and tenacity it takes to dig holes in this "soil".

I guess that explains why his toe is worn down at a funny angle.


  1. Wow, that is very interesting. Instinct is a wonderful thing.

  2. That is amazing...I knew donkeys were smart, I have worked with mules and they sure are but this behavior really makes sense!

  3. Yet another interesting tidbit that I never heard of before. Wow, your water table must be just barely below the surface.

  4. True, you do have to admire their smarts. We think we humans are so smart trying to control/manage their actions - HA!

  5. Huh. I'm impressed that he did it and that you figured out why.

  6. My guess would be that having all his weight on the bad foot while he digs with the good foot would be less comfortable for him than what he currently does, which is digging with his bad foot and resting his weight on his good foot.

  7. The PhD student (Eric Lundgren I think) who's doing this work spoke last year at the donkey symposium. It was a fascinating talk!