When the weather is dreadful and the fields are a mess it’s helpful if you have an area of hard standing to keep the donkeys on. This helps with their weight, keeps their feet in good condition and is ideal in wet, icy, frosty or snowy weather. Grazing in sunny weather after a frost increases the chances of a laminitic episode as sugar content in the grass shoots up.
So, if the donkeys are on the hard standing with no grass and straw on offer how do we keep them entertained so they don’t chew the stable or shelter to pieces?
I have a lovely pair of foster donkeys with a high play drive at St Hilda’s Priory, Sneaton Castle in Whitby. Sister Jocelyn OHP (Order of the Holy Paraclete) is their carer.
Uisce (we pronounce it Ushka and think it’s Gaelic for water or Irish for Whiskey) went to the Priory originally with his mother Rose. Sadly a few years ago Rose died so along came Billy. Until this point Uisce had been quite a quiet donkey. Billy brought out his playful side which has helped keep Uisce trim. When I first met them within minutes Uisce had given me his front leg to shake “hands” and Billy undid the zip on my waistcoat.
Jocelyn has a long history of toys that have been marmalised by these two. Lots of pairs of wellies (a particular pair I donated didn’t last long!) , dog raggers, rubber dog pull toys, knotted ropes, footballs, pieces of blue pipe, ship ropes, Happy Horse Ball (another donation of mine that didn’t survive), a treat decagon, car tyre, and flexi feed buckets. A tip from the Sanctuary of putting an apple in a welly had a particularly messy end, they grabbed the welly and mashed the apple up inside as couldn’t work out how to get it out.
Uisce is very clever with the treat ball (Billy can’t work it out), but now Billy grabs the treats as they come out before Uisce can get them. Billy has a tyre with treats of carrots and apples hidden in the rim which he won’t let Uisce near!
Billy has a section of log he likes to stand on, the picture shows him and Jocelyn at our latest visit.