I was asked last week to attend a call regarding two donkeys that had been abandoned near a remote bridge in Newry in Northern Ireland. On arriving at the location I spotted the donkeys from a distance who appeared to be grazing amongst the pickings on the rough ground where they had been deserted.
I made my way across to them and identified that they were two mares in good body condition. Charlotte, the dark brown mare, was affectionate and friendly while Cobweb, the grey mare, was quite shy and hesitant.
I talked to the donkeys persuading them with a bucket of feed to follow me over to the gate so I could see their hooves on a more level and clear surface. Past experience has taught me that neglected hooves tend to go hand in hand with abandoned donkeys in Northern Ireland.
Cobweb's hooves were a little long but nothing drastic. However poor Charlotte was struggling to walk evenly. Only when she was clear of the grass could I see why. Her front hooves were horrendously twisted and mis-shaped. They were not good at all and clearly needed immediate dressing, possibly even an x-ray.
I spoke to a local farmer who had reported the donkeys to the Sanctuary. He told me that the two donkeys had been dumped in the area some weeks ago. Nobody knew where they had come from and nobody had come forward to show any interest or ownership for them.
He kindly helped me 'herd' them across a road, down a lane away and into a holding area where we could contain them for loading into the trailer. He confessed to having no 'equine' knowledge but shook his head when he saw Charlotte pathetically hobble down the lane way with her disformed hooves, turning to me and commenting that it wasn't right to leave an animal in that state. I winced as I saw her take each painful step.
The donkeys were soon loaded and on their way to the Sanctuary. Having serious concerns about the state of Charlotte's hooves, I actioned the farrier and vet to assess her hooves within 48 hours. Charlotte stood patiently allowing the farrier to work away at her hooves and trim them back into a shape resembling 'normal'. Cobweb quietly watched on waiting her turn next.
I am pleased to say that Charlotte's hooves have come good and she has not looked back since that initial trim. I thought there would have been more underlying damaged caused but it seems that we reached both donkeys in time.
We will monitor the growth of Charlotte's hooves from here on in. Often it appears in the case of neglected hooves that they will grow slightly erratically veering towards distortion again.
Both Charlotte and Cobweb were kicking up their heels in their paddock this morning, cantering side by side, free from pain and discomfort. Enjoying life thanks to TL(D)C from the Sanctuary.