hoof care

Donkeys, Donkeys ,Every Where and Why We See More Then Our Fair share.

Donkeys are making a come back in West Virginia and many other states that have large herds of  cattle. With their protective nature and over all hardy bodies many people find them the perfect guard animal for the hilly mountains of West Virginia. With the increase in use as guard animals and the discovery that they make wonderful pets our farrier business is booming with the once over looked Donkey.

Teaser and Baby Levi 6 days old

Teaser and Baby Levi 6 days old

What you might not know is with the growing population of  Coyote in West Virginia  farmers have taken to using them  as second set of eyes on their farms. Much like sheep herders have used dogs for thousands of years. They have a natural instinct to protect and alarm if some thing is just not correct in their pastures. This could mean any thing from a pack of coyotes is hunting a new-born calf to a cow down in a creek bed. They seem to know when to sound the alarm when a fence is down and 1/2 the herd is wandering down a road way or a strange person is near the barn. They save small-scale cattlemen ( less than 300 head) from having to worry that while out working their day jobs( most farmers need that income too!) that there is some one who will be on guard protecting the newest members of the heard.

Donkeys are hardy animals most have heavy bone structures and can easily survive on a grass alone diet.They tend have more of a fighting instinct  and a higher tolerance to spending lots of time alone then their cousin the horse. They rarely have the health issues of the other equine, so  farmers commonly add one or more to a herd of cattle and leave them to do their job for long periods of time.

This is where Toms second job as a farrier comes in to play. After turning out a donkey for several years you may end up with a crippled guard animal if they are forgotten and not regularly cared for.

Front Feet of apple jack

Front Feet of apple jack

hind foot of apple jack

hind foot of apple jack

Apple Jack is a wonderful donkey that a farmer decided to sell at a local stock sale. He ended up with an animal hoarder and placed on a hundred acre farm with 22 other equine and left for three years. Apple Jack and friends were eventually confiscated by the local police and transported to a horse rescue. The owner eventually faced 24 counts of animal neglect. The owner of the rescue took this photos for her files and asked Tom if he could save him. Apple Jacks’ feet were one of the worst we had seen that summer. Tom got to work trying to remove the excess hoof and correct the twist of his front legs caused by the  long hoof growth.In months Apple Jack was ready for adoption and found a good home with friends of our family who love him and take great care of him and his horse buddies. This is Apple Jack today seven years later.

Christopher riding Apple Jack

Christopher riding Apple Jack

 

Although Apple Jack is not a guard animal for cattle, he does watch over a small herd of goats. He is also  a wonderful mount for a boy Christopher’s age. He is friendly and enjoys us coming to see him about every 3 months to keep is feet healthy

This is a case that Tom just finished up this week (6-9-2014). This is the hooves of a 7-year-old Jenny Donkey with sever neglect . It is hard to believe that she was able to walk at all but some how she managed to get around for about 4 years like this.

7 year old jenny Donkey left in pasture 4 years with out hoof care

7-year-old jenny Donkey left in pasture 4 years with out hoof care

With just a little effort Tom was able to get her feet looking like a normal animal and she should remain looking healthy for a few months but the long deformation of her hooves will return if the are not trimmed regularly.

 

7 year old Jenny Donkey after 1st trim in 4 years

7-year-old Jenny Donkey after 1st trim in 4 years

 

Donkeys are also great for showing and jumping contest. Our communities have several Mule and Donkey shows every summer. People show their Donkeys at Halter ( for confirmation), in riding classes and driving classes. Donkeys and mules also show in a class that is all their own ” The Coon Jump”. Mules and donkeys have a wonderful ability jump great heights from a stand still. Frontier-men and Coon Hunters discovered that their mules and donkeys could jump fallen logs or  tall fences while in the woods from a dead stop. With a little encouragement these animal leap feet into the air to clear a wooden bar set on two posts ( think the Limbo except going over not under). It is exciting to watch a mini donkey of  32 inches tall challenge a standard Donkey at 45 inches to see who can jump the highest. In our area usually it is a mini donkey who wins.

Jose at the Wayne county Coon Jump

Jose at the Wayne county Coon Jump

Vicky with her newest Jumping mini Donkey Levi... his dad is a Champion Coon Jumper

Vicky with her newest Jumping mini Donkey Levi… his dad is a Champion Coon Jumper

 

 

Black mini Donkey 6 days old in the weeds

Black mini Donkey 6 days old in the weeds

 

 

Donkeys are also generally more suspicious of strangers then horses.When working with them it may take more time for them to get to know you and understand that you are not going hurt them. So Tom and I take our time talking and petting them before handling them.

Gab Garvin and Tom working to get to know a Donkey they call Eore.

Gab Garvin and Tom working to get to know a Donkey they call Eore.

 

Gab Garvins' little herd

Gab Garvins’ little herd

 

Just for fun I will remind you why many people chose not to have donkeys……. they bray! The bray is a farmers alarm clock, fire whistle and general alarm sound off  in the pasture and you either love it or hate it but it is all Donkey either way.

One of the funnest things that we deal with when working with Donkeys is that we usually get to hear their bray either when they see Tom walking out to the pasture or on our way out. They maybe saying , “Hell No We Wont Go.” or maybe” Get the Heck Outa Here.” either way, we always get them stirred up and hear the bray while we are around.It is one of the traits that sets these wonderful animals apart from the reset of the equine world and Tom and I just love it.

Donkeys are unique and wonderful smaller equine.They can be trained to pack, ride, drive, show or just enjoyed as a pet . Tom and I find that we are spending more time with these funny animals and we are both glad about it. I hope that post has put a smile on your face because I can not hear a Donkey bray without laughing just a little…. LOVE THEM LONG EARS. One day I am sure to have a bunch myself.

Jerry Posey leading his grand daughter in the St Patrick's day celebration in Ireland, West Virginia on her Donkey Heidi

Jerry Posey leading his grand-daughter in the St Patrick’s day celebration in Ireland, West Virginia on her Donkey Heidi

 

Categories: animal health, blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., Founder in Horses, hoof care, photo review, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Summer and the Importance of Regular Hoof Care.

horse hoof in need of repair and trimming

horse hoof in need of repair and trimming

I understand that we all get very busy with summer but please let me remind everyone that we should have regular hoof care for our 4 legged friends. Sadly this summer some of our friends have forgotten or be lax about keeping their horses trimmed or shod and this is the result. Lighting is a 5-year-old Painted Quarter horse that is more of a pet then an actual ridding horse. Lighting is out on a large pasture and received no foot care or contact this summer. I just happened to call his owner and say “It has been about 6 months since we were out your way how is Lighting’s hooves doing”?  Well the owner responded “well he could use a trim”. We made the appointment and headed out the next evening.  

As you can see from the photo of his hooves they are over grown by inches, split and chipped. In this case the owner was lucky the horse was not lame and limping. All four feet were in this type of condition and this horse was not suffering from the condition if “Founder” this is simple neglect.

Tom has removed the excess length of hoof and shapes what is left

Tom has removed the excess length of hoof and shapes what is left

 As you can see from this photo the extra length is removed and the hoof is being shaped. This foot will still have a large chip in the toe that will have to grow back out to make the foot look normal, also their maybe an issue with the bottom of this foot, it appears a crack forming on the bottom left, between the hoof wall and soul. After Tom finished the trim  Tom warned the Customer of the soul issue. These cracks often lead to abscess forming inside the hoof wall as sand and small stones get worked into the crack.

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  This is what Lightings’ feet looked like after a normal trim. Hoof care is normally done every 7 to 8 weeks or every other month.  In our state ( West Virginia) it is illegal to keep a equine animal with feet in poor repair. My husband has been on many animal cruelty calls from local sheriff’s departments where it was just a case of poor hoof care that caused a complaint. Having a good farrier is part of equine management and the cost for farrier care is part of the over all cost of owning any animal. The average horse needs  trimmed more often in the summer and spring as they eat more fresh grass. The extra nutrition in the fresh grass encourages hoof growth and longer feet.

We did encourage Lighting’s owner to call us sooner and more often but seeing that the owner is 79 years old the whole future for Lighting is up in the air. I think that he loves his horse but is also getting to a place where he is not able successfully take care of him and over the next two years he will be in a new home.

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In most cases it is possible to find a farrier through other horse owners, feed stores, and veterinarians who all see and deal with horses on a regular basis. Their goal is to keep you friend and companion healthy and happy so please remember to make your appointments regularly before you equines feet looking healthy.

Categories: blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., hoof care, horse health | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Springtime and the Danger for Your Pony

WELSH PONY

 Welsh Pony

   Everyone looks forward to spring time and animals like horses and cows rejoice in being able to get out and eat the fresh green grass. With cows we all look forward to spending less on hay and grain but in the case of your pony, ( Donkey, Miniature Horse) danger comes with each acre of fresh grass. The problem is “Founder” and how unmanaged diet of fresh green grass can end up looking like this. As you can see in the following photo this pony is actually in the process of having the excess( Horn) hoof removed. Tom has removed the toe of the front foot and reshaped it to look normal. The hind hooves show the typical slipper and curled growth of  Founder.

Founder in a welsh pony

Founder in a Welsh pony

   “Founder or Laminitis, has been a problem associated with Equine mismanagement for Centuries.” [Founder]… “is commonly caused by over feeding, feeding large amounts of rich feed to inactive horses.” Diets high in carbohydrates including spring grass and treats like marshmallows, white bread, apples, all are too rich for the equine diet. ” Many horses fed this way only need a small amount of stress to cause an attack, over working for the condition of the horse, a case of colic or a fever.” states Don Baskin author of the Western Horseman’s book “Well-Shod”.

The onset of Founder is easy to spot as the pony becomes sick and is listless and lazy not wanting to stand and seems in pain as it walks. At times the animal may appear  very ill from other conditions like colic or a fever and will have heat in the hoof. Most animals will go off feed and will remain sick for several days. By the time many owners react it is too late for the ponies feet. The hoof is already damaged and bones inside the hoof begins the process of rotation. Because of the bone rotation the hoof will grow deformed and the process continues.The condition never ceases and the foot grows uncontrollably and in a matter of months looks like Midnights’ feet above. Sadly the animal that is not managed carefully can have more attacks and cause more damage to the hoof making management of the hoof  impossible and may lead to having the animal put down.

  This story gets even sadder as we will see in the following photos as Midnights’ barn mate and best friend is a Jenny donkey who is also foundered. At the time of our visit Jenny was experiencing Colic again from the lack of diet restriction. She was unwilling to stand and was weak in all four limbs at our arrival. Her feet were on average 3 to four inches to long and curved and twisted. While waiting for additional help to arrive Tom began to trim some of the toe off her feet without much reaction.

Tom trimming to sick foot of a Jenny Donkey

Tom trimming to sick foot of a Jenny Donkey

Tom, the owner Bob and jeff looking over sick jennys feed

Tom, the owner Bob and jeff looking over sick jenny donkey

After The owner arrived at the barn Tom decides that Jenny’s situation is more serious than her barn mates. The plan is to cut Jenny’s feet with the help of power tools. He will use a grinder and saw to remove the 3 extra hard inches of hoof. As a team we begin to hold her legs and head as Tom begins the long process of removing the extra horn that has not worn off the hoof.  The frist step is to notch the hoof with a grinder so that the saw does not bounce loose and cut either the animal, the handlers or the Farrier.  At this point there are two of us holding her head and body and one holding her leg as Tom cuts. The animal fights slightly and we all try our best to keep everyone safe from the flying hooves. 

Grinding a notch in hoof

Grinding a notch in hoof

Like our finger nails, horse hooves have no nerve endings in the nail portion, and like humans the flesh that attach to the nail or hoof wall is very sensitive and full of soft tissues.  With a Founder issue, the soft tissues are so damaged that they die and the hoof wall grows so fast that there is nothing but dead tissue in the bottom portion of the hoof. No blood, no pain, no feeling, nothing but rotting tissue and nail. This is what Tom aims to remove without hitting anything that is alive and growing in a semi normal fashion.

In the picture above the hoof would normally trimmed to where you see the spilt start at the top of the hoof but the foot is so deformed that  he must leave several inches of extra hoof on the donkey so that the bone that has rotated is still safely inside the hoof wall and has some padding to protect it from the ground. The foot is trimmed, angled, dressed to make it look as normal as possible and give good support to the Donkeys legs.  This trim will last about 5 weeks and the hoof will grow at twice the rate of a normal hoof. If Jenny is left to eat as much green grass as she wants and  the owner continues giving treats like marsh mellows, white bread, doughnuts, apples, she may actually Colic or Founder to the point of losing her life.Marshmellow

    It is wise for the pony  owner to mow down spring hay,dry lot or stall keep their animals for the first few months of spring to prevent these painful situations. Tom also advises NO TREATS… just like you and I, Ponies do not need marshmallows, sugar cubes, or anything full of sugar. If you want to “treat” your donkey or pony spend time with a brush and groom them. They want the attention and love the feeling of being clean and you will  save them from years of pain. Also watch your small equine for signs that  green grass is a problem and remove them from the source if possible. A day in a stall with limited turn out is cheaper than the cost of a Farrier visit to care for your Pony.

Categories: blacksmith work, Farrier work., Founder in Horses, hoof care, horse health | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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