Posts Tagged With: equine health

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

Turning a Blind Eye, Blindness in Horses, and the Choices Owners Make

Winter has really had a terrible affect on my husbands Farrier business over the last few weeks. With temperatures dropping below zero for several days in a row we just could not make our usual January rounds to the farms as every creature big or small was hiding out looking for some where warm. This is the slowest January in the 9 years, But we did make it out to see one of our oldest costumers last weekend. The Peoscek farm is home to 6 wonderful horses and two dogs and a fuzzy cat.

Austrian Shepherd named Savannah and Christopher in barn

Austrian Shepherd named Savannah and Christopher in barn

As a farm hand I met my friend Mark Peosek around 15 years ago. We have spent lots of time together over the years. It was back then, while I worked at the Hill Crest Farm, that Mark stopped in looking for a well-bred Gelding that would make a fine trail horse. He found a nice little guy about 2 that we all called “Tee Sign” at the barn. He was small for his age but he was loving and quite. Born a sorrel with a big bold blaze and white socks was a handsome young horse.  Mark had other horses and  was looking for something easy to train and ride. He got everything that he wanted from “Tee” and more. After taking Tee home things settled into a nice orderly routine. Tee was broke to ride and healthy and happy he lived in a herd with other horses mostly mares that tormented him. But he was happy, well feed and the favorite mount of my friend… ” He’s bomb proof” Mark would add to any conversation about his horses.

After the next 12 years passed  Mark started to notice a change in Tee’s behavior that could not really be explained. Instead of staying with the “girls” like  he usually did in the pasture he would be alone grazing and nickering all afternoon. This continued until poor old Tee would lose his voice from the constant calling to his friends. He would not return to the barn at a fast gallop at feeding time in the evenings. It was summer time so Mark thought maybe he just did not want to come in from the green pasture.Their was plenty of hay in the field and water to drink so he was able to stay outside if the horse wanted to. The questions began a few months letter as Mark noticed that Tee was thinner when he did come down to the barn and was now spending most of his time in the upper portion of the pasture still crying for his friends when they moved away. Soon Mark had to walk the long hill to find Tee and call him to come in as the summer ended and fall began.

This is when Mark  finally realized that their was a real problem. Mark checked Tee’s eye sight by moving his hand around Tee’s eye looking for some reaction, a wink, a flinch or just a tightly closed eye. Nothing happened, Tee’s reaction was as if noting was moving near his eye. He didn’t have any idea that some one was standing to his  side moving a hand within inches of his face. Things progressed from their and Mark new that Tee was losing his sight. He called his Veterinarian and found out that Tee at about age 14 was going blind  from Moon Blindness. That Tee’s case had gone on so long that it was not really treatable. Moon blindness was going to change their relationship forever.

Moon Blindness in 14 year old Quarter horse owned by Mark Peoscek

Moon Blindness in 14-year-old Quarter horse owned by Mark Peoscek

Moon Blindness as described at this link is a general name for many problems with equine eye but most are progressive and about 20% will blind both eyes. In Tee’s case both eyes went blind in a few months of each other. By the end of last fall Tee was totally blind and Mark was facing the hard questions about what to do next.

Mark asked everyone who knew anything about horses  what they though about Tees situation. He asked his Vet, he ask Tom and I, he asked friends and family. What do you do with a blind horse? There is never an easy answer to these questions. Caring for any blind animals is  time-consuming but there is a way to keep them healthy, happy and safe. The answer that Mark got from most of us in the horse industry was a resounding, Yes! Tee could be well cared for and live a happy life with a few adjustments and the commitment of his owner.

Blind horse care is possible and  just as enjoyable if the horse is given some time to adjust to the new world that they live in. This link shares a short guide to a few often asked questions faced by the newly blinded horse owner and those who care for these animals. Blind Horse care changed a few things for my friend and his horse. Tee spends a few more hours in the barn in the winter because of ice, Mark  also watches how the mares treat him more closely and he added a bell to the halter of a mares to aide Tee’s ability to keep track of the herd. All of these things are important changes but, as you can see from this photo of Tom trimming  his feet and Christopher taking time to grooming him, things have not really changed for Tee. He is still well fed, has farrier work done and is groomed regularly.

Blind horse getting groomed by Christopher

Blind horse getting groomed by Christopher

As long as Tee’s health stays good I think we can all agree that this horse has a bright future with people love and take great care of him and there is no reason to think of putting him down. He even still enjoys a little ride time with his friends when they come to visit.

Mark Peoscek with Tee gving Christopher to ride of the day

Mark Peoscek with Tee giving Christopher to ride of the day

I am so thankful that my friend Mark took the time to let this new adjustment settle in before making up his mind about what to do with a blind horse. He did not fall prey to the myths listed below.

  1. Blind horses can not have a great quality of live .
  2. Blind horses are more dangerous
  3. Blind horses are sickly
  4. Blind horses can’t be pastured
  5. Blind horses are useless.

Mark and Tee have gained a deeper more understanding relationship over the course of the last two years and Tom and I are happily a  part of this new part of their lives.

Categories: animal health, blacksmith work, equine health, Farrier work., horse health, Horses | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

GE DIGITAL CAMERA

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

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