I recently received a call about two donkeys in a field with very overgrown feet. Nothing particularly unusual about this because sadly this and lack of shelter are still the most common complaints we receive at The Donkey Sanctuary.
I had been given good directions but unbeknown to me at the time the field extended to well over 100 acres split into different paddocks with open gateways. I arrived at where I thought they might be but after several hours of searching was unable to find the donkeys until suddenly from a wooded area emerged two brown donkeys. I could see from a distance and with binoculars that the donkeys were ‘paddling’ a term I use where the hooves are so overgrown it gives the appearance of paddling or wearing flippers when walking.
The donkeys were very nervous and despite their hooves managed to move around the field at great speed. It never ceases to amaze me how these stoical creatures continue to walk with painful and overgrown hooves. It was impossible on my own to get close enough to fully assess the donkeys. Also there were cows and their calves in the same field who were eyeing me with a menacing stare, I therefore, decided it was time to leave the field and try and find the owner.
This was surprisingly easier than I feared and with the help of other support networks, I managed to locate the owner.
It was explained to the owner that the donkeys required immediate farriery but due to the over growth, veterinary examination and x-rays would be required. When the hooves become too long resembling ‘Turkish slippers’ often the heels are too long which causes the flexor tendons and joints to be under great stress. This will be painful for the donkey requiring pain relief.
X-rays will determine the position of the pedal bone and determine any changes within the foot. This gives the farrier guidance on how to trim the hoof.
The Donkey Sanctuary recommends that donkeys’ hooves are trimmed every eight weeks by a registered farrier, but Chocolate and Brownie had not had their hooves trimmed for at least a year.
The owner was very remorseful and voluntarily relinquished his donkeys to The Donkey Sanctuary for a life time of care. I learned that the donkeys are mother and daughter and under 10 years old. They once had been much loved pets but due to personal circumstances, they sadly had been ‘forgotten’.
I arranged transport to deliver the donkeys to a local equine hospital where they were to receive pain relief and a thorough vet check. Of course these things happen at a weekend and so my thanks go to Les who responded to my shout for help in transporting the donkeys. On arrival at the hospital he asked me the names of the donkeys and I said that they didn’t have any. He was so taken by these young donkeys that he asked if he could name them. You can see why he chose their names by the photos and hence Chocolate and Brownie were officially christened by Les.
The donkeys were very frightened, cold and wet when we arrived at the hospital but soon settled into their dry, deep bedded stable under the watchful eye of the caring veterinary nurses.
I left the hospital relieved that two more donkeys now had a safe future and said goodbye to them as they tucked into delicious hay.
The donkeys are now at The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth where they will receive much attention and care, and one day may be able to go out on our rehoming scheme. So anyone with a sweet tooth, look out for Chocolate and Brownie!