Four steps forward, only one step back!


Well … it arrived … The day that has been looming large in my mind for three months … Farrier Day. The donkeys and I have had 80 practice runs at this … and … it worked – almost. And since close counts in horseshoes I figure it’s an achievement of sorts here too. Let’s cut to the chase:
Farrier3Here is Paco – haltered – tied – and meeting Dale Gladwin (The Hearthstone Farrier). This  is a MAJOR step. Dale, myself and Paco are all in the barn stall at the same time. Earlier Paco had willfully SPIT the apple with sedative gel out and declared he wasn’t having another bite – even though apples are one of his favourite treats. So I just went ahead with our morning clicker training routine which led to his haltering and tying as usual. It was only when the ‘untying’ part did not happen that he knew for certain that something was up. I stayed with him and soothed him and told him that Dale was coming and explained what would happen. He curled his face into my chest clearly asking to be let go. I was very disappointed that we were going to have to try Dale’s visit without any sedative … but determined to give it a go.
Farrier4We got a lot further than I had hoped for! Dale is so great with the donkeys. He has such a gentle manner and a comforting tone of voice. Paco was happy to let him scratch his neck and stroke his back – and even did well with Dale handling his legs. The biggest test – lifting his hooves – was a success! Yeehaw! However … the step that involved actually trimming or shaving – not … yet …
Farrier5We decided that was far enough for Paco to progress in one day. The girls were ready to see what was going on and were waiting for us when we stepped out of the Bully Barn. I sure could see that all of those afternoons of patiently working our way through ‘lessons’ had paid off. The girls were curious to check out Dale’s tools and excited for their turn to ‘play clicker games’ with him.
Farrier6Soon the stall floor was covered with nail bits and toe ‘rings’. Darby had managed to gobble up the apple bits that Paco had turned down. She was loopy and happy to work for carrot treats.
Farrier7Rosie was her usual patient self – she had already watched every step of Darby’s appointment and knew what her job was. Dale really was having to scrunch down to get to her level.
Farrier1By the time ‘wee’ Bella was up we were thinking up inventions for a donkey hoist! 😉 Bella was fine until she ran out of patience. Then we had a chance to experience what it might be like to clip the hooves of a jumping mountain goat. I totally can see how she managed to jump onto Paco’s back a while ago!
Farrier2In a little over an hour everyone was looked after. After filling up on munchies and hay Bella was ready for a mid-day snooze in the sunshine. Me too! I was exhausted – half a mind happy with the progress we’d made – half disappointed that we still hadn’t managed to trim Paco’s hooves. Admittedly … I could have had our vet here and had him sedated with a shot. But that had the potential to undo a lot of the work he and I have been doing. Dale took a good look at his hooves and felt they can manage just fine a few more months. They may even chip back as he spends the summer on the gravel paths and rocky hillside … For now I’m just going to let us all relax a few days and then think about my next plan.

7 comments on “Four steps forward, only one step back!”

    1. Funny you should mention that! 😉 We did use peanut butter in our training cycle. But after a few days the stickiness of it all turned him off of it. I think it isn’t so much the flavour as the texture of the sedative he doesn’t like. Too bad there wasn’t a crunchy textured sedative to use …

  1. I’m so glad it went well! I’ve been following your progress. 🙂 Pablo has made excellent progress. Your training methods are paying off!

  2. Sounds like a fairly successful visit. A couple of suggestions….if you are using Dormosedan gel, it needs to be given under the tongue to work properly. Feeding it on treats will give very unpredictable results. Also, make sure you wear gloves when handling it. It is safe for equines, but very hazardous to humans, if you get it on your skin it can make you ill.

    My other thought is that you could buy a rasp (they cost about $25) and incorporate it into your clicker routine so he will know what it feels like. Rasping just a little off each day will get him used to it and help maintain his feet so they don’t get too terribly long. You can practice rasping on a pieces of lumber to get a feel for it and how to handle it. It is really not that hard and if you would like some trimming pointers, take some pictures of his feet and send them to me. I’d be happy to give you some guidance.

    1. Hey! Thank you for the tips. Yes – I realized the dormosedan gel needed to go under his tongue … the apple was a ‘second best step’. His confidence with the farrier with no sedative has my ‘pumped’ today. I am ready to begin to plan out my next stage of lessons. The rasp idea is excellent. I will pick one up next time I’m in the city and contact you. I have a DVD made by Erin Wolfwalker called ‘Trimming Donkey Hooves for Owners and Farriers’. I am going to revisit it. It always seems to me that a ‘little’ experience leads to more questions. I’ll know more about what I ‘need to know next’ when I go through it again. I appreciated her diagrams and shots of hooves. Plus, our farrier is excellent – so patient. I have no qualms about calling him again when I think Paco is ready for the next try.

      Thanks for being available! You’ve been such a great help so far. Yesterday’s success were partly due to your suggestions. Thank you!

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