A mule who was proving challenging for her owner has come on leaps and bounds since entering our care.

Violet, the mule, had been proving difficult to catch. Unable to catch her, her owner could not provide any topical treatment for her sweet itch, a condition caused by midge bites that makes the skin itch and causes distress.

It also meant that a farrier had not seen Violet for many months. Her owner knew that she needed help and support to safeguard the mule's future welfare, which led to them contacting us in 2019.

When we arrived to help, it was clear that catching Violet would require careful planning to ensure her safety.

She and her field companions lived on a track system. Track systems are great for weight management, enrichment, and increasing exercise, but they can be challenging when catching nervous animals as space is limited.

The perimeter fencing was also in a poor state of repair and unsafe, so we needed to minimise any risk of injury to Violet.

We approached World Horse Welfare for support as they have handling pens that they use for nervous or semi-feral horses. Mesh panels slot together to create a large holding pen, which helps safely guide the animals to where you want them to go.

Two World Horse Welfare field officers joined our Donkey Welfare Advisers, Jenna Goldby and Georgia McCormick, and Driver Tony Down on the day of collection. They set up the handling pen next to the field gate and placed some feed inside. Feed encourages the animal to move into the space and helps to keep them calm inside the area. They then quietly guided Violet towards the pen.

They quietly shut the gate and opened the panels onto the ramp of the waiting trailer. With someone walking at a safe distance near Violet, she quietly entered the trailer, and the team calmly shut the doors.

We then transported Violet to a holding base that specialises in equine behaviour.

Under the experienced hand of Sue and John Jones at the holding base, Violet made swift progress and eventually became relaxed when being caught, started to lift her front feet and was leading over poles in her yard.

Sue and Violet quickly developed a deep bond, and as a result, Sue decided to offer Violet a home for life through The Donkey Sanctuary's Rehoming Scheme.

Violet's confidence has gone from strength to strength, and she now enjoys long walks through the forest. She is confident crossing streams of water and even enjoys agility and learning new skills.

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