Donkeys DO suffer laminitis and founder. Getting them into the barn is no fun, either…

Don’t let anyone tell you that donkeys don’t suffer laminitis or founder. I’ve herd that falsity over and over.

Well, let me tell you, it isn’t true.  I know this because Norma, my donkey, has laminitis right now.  Very serious stuff.  Nothing to take lightly.


Yup.  Sure, donkeys are not prone to the same leg and foot problems that plague horse.  But, given incorrect foods (too many sweets), donkeys can and do succumb to laminitis and founder.

My curly haired Norma, after the rain...


I didn’t.  Well, maybe I did, indirectly, but I wasn’t there at the time.  You see, five years ago, I left Grass Valley for two years.   I could only take 5 of my horses with me so I needed to temporarily place Norma and the ponies… I knew my neighbor coveted Norma and only Norma.  But since they were a trio, she offered to take all three.  I was thrilled because this is the neighbor that already brought two horses into their 40s and presently had 9 cows in their upper teens.  I knew Sonja would take extra special care of my three.

What I didn’t consider in this fostering was that Sonja loves to feed — especially treats.  Since Sonja’s animals are very large, this ‘need to feed’ was no issue.  I mean, 9 – 2000 lbs cows can put it away, if you know what I mean.  But, my Norma, at that time,  weighed only about 400lbs and was as dainty as a teacup.

Norma became Sonja’s favorite (of course!).  She was brought into a lovely stall at dusk and received the full 4-Star treatment with special love, affection and a bucket of apples/carrots/donkey treats nightly.  Norma became a bit portly and then … suffered laminitis.

It was at that precise laminitis moment that I returned to Grass Valley.  Sonja called me in a panic to bring Norma and the ponies back to the ranch.  Norma was lame and I was flabbergasted.

A donkey, lame?  How could this be?

Sonja told me that the vet told her to quit the sweets and she would be fine…

She came back to me a bit portly. My farrier calls her, "Enorma".


Norma was willing to walk home to the ranch, very tenderly.  She wobbled like the largess donkey she had become and I was a bit frantic.  I had no idea how long this had been going on or if there had been any founder.  Immediately, I called out the vet and his Xray machine.

Luckily, no rotation.  We gave her some Bute, put her in a heavily bedded stall and waited.  Within a week, she was fine.


So, for the last three years, Norma has slimmed a bit (those last 50lbs are hard for a poor donkey to lose!) and she lives in a mostly barren pen that she and the ponies scrounge around, eating anything that dares peep its little green head.

About once a week, I let all three out to romp around the irrigated front lawns and other areas, just to exercise themselves and their little pony/donkey minds.  They love it!  And, for three years, no problems.

I didn't see the signs...


Except, there was a problem today…  I had let them out two days ago and the next morning, Norma was sore.  I actually didn’t connect the dots…  I cleaned out her hoof (felt no heat) and thought she might have been playing too rough with the boys. Since there was no heat and no swelling, I thought it was her shoulder.  It never occurred to me that the grass had gotten to her.

Yes, it had been raining this week and the grass had grown in a powerful, sugary burst.  I should have realized that it was more potent right now.  But still, they weren’t out on the grass for that long…  I missed the ‘green grass = trouble’  idea completely.

Today, she was worse.  So much worse that I knew it wasn’t her shoulder.  Either she had an abscess or laminitis.  Doh.  I felt so stoopid.


OY.  Trying to get Norma to the barn was a nightmare for her and for me.  Poor thing.  She wanted nothing to do with moving towards the barn and everything to do with eating more grass.  It went something like this:

You want me to do what??!

Me:  Norma, we need to go to the barn so I can take care of you.

N:  I’m fine.

Me:  No, you are limping and I need to help you now before it gets worse.

N:  Look.  I’m fine.  (standing upright and square)

Me:  No, you’re faking it.  C’mon.

N:  No.

Me:  Norrrrmaaaa, c’mon to the barn (in my singsongy voice)

N:  Nnnnoo (mocking me).

Me:  C’mon, I’ll give you a treat.

N:  There’s lovely gren grass all around.  Why would I go to the barn, silly human?

Me:  Puleeze.

N:  Uh.  No.

Me: I’m insulted.  I’m hurt (trying to lay the guilt trip on her) and I love you and let Mom help you.

N:  Ha! Nice try!  Nope.

Me:  (pulling like mad)  Come!  NOW!

N:  (digging in her heels)  The fact that you are puuuullling so hard AND YELLING makes me know that coming with you is a bad idea.  NO.

Have you ever tried to move a donkey that didn’t want to move?  Useless effort.


(I’m not making light of this.  I know laminitis is a solemn illness.  But, getting her to the barn was kinda funny…)

So, I had the great idea to let the ponies out and then rattle some grain so they’d follow me to the barn and she would follow them.  As I went to the barn to get the grain, Norma hobbled up, quite well, to where the ponies were eating grass and proceeded to join them.

Seeing her nibble on more green grass, I went berzerk.  NOOOOOOOOOOOO!  I went charging up the hill with my grain spilling everywhere… NOOOOOO.  All three scattered like Mom had just turned into a beast with three heads, which I had…

Both the ponies ran to the barn.  Yay!  I let them in.  Perfect!  Mission accomplished… except, not really.  Norma held fast, back out on the green grass.  She wasn’t falling for it.  (Donkeys ARE smarter than horses in many ways…)

Me:  Lookey, Norman, the boys are in the barn having treats (sometimes you have to lie to a donkey…).

N:  Fine.  I don’t care.  I have green grass.  They are stoopid to fall for your tricks.

Me:  Hmmmmm (me rubbing my forehead)   She’s right…

OK, now what do I do?  I have the ponies in the barn, which I don’t want, and Norma is outside the barn which I don’t want either.  I decided to drive Norma to the barn.  I threw some pellets to the ponies to keep them away from the gate (instead of putting them in the stall right there in front of them… you can see where this is going…).

Gently, I carefully walked behind her.  Since she knew exactly what I wanted the entire time, she sighed deeply, OH ALRIGHT,  and hobbled down to the barn.  However,  silly me, not planning this well, had not left the barn gate open and Norma took a quick veer left and ran/gymped back up the hill.

Sheesh.  I should fire myself.

Now I was really frustrated because I didn’t want her to irritate that foot (or the other one) any more by taking one more step than needed.   So, I gently drove her back to the barn and cornered her at the gateway.  Good idea.  Bad execution.  The ponies had finished the pellets and they were now both at the gate, blocking Norma’s entrance.  HEY, LET US OUT TO EAT GREEN GRASS.

Bad plan.

So, I left Norma to her own devices and muscled my way into the barn (past pony patrol) and put them both in a stall – like I should have in the first place.  When I returned to get Norma, all I could see was her donkey patootey.  Once again, I ran in front of her and drove her into the barn. OH NOW JUST COOL YOUR JETS… I KNOW WHAT YOU WANT.  SHEESH.  STOP ALREADY.

Phew.  She was in!  But, so were the ponies…

After a Keystone Cop kinda shuffle, I got the ponies out and Norma settled.

Getting a donkey to go anywhere she deosn’t want to go is an incredible feat of trickery and bribe.  Even when she loves you.


At this point, we are both already exhausted.  But, I knew Norma needed pain relief, swelling relief (although I saw no swelling and felt no heat) and stress relief.  So, I gave her some apple flavored bute and proceeded to create cushy hoof pads for her night in the barn.

My left over blue foam cushy pad with the outline of her hooves.

You see, I’m fairly familiar with laminitis woes since my mare suffered with pregnancy laminitis during her last quad-mester.  I still had all the tools.  Blue foam, vet wrap and boots.  Unfortunately, all my boots were horse-sized, not the dainty size I needed.  But, I made do.


(This is what my vet had me do whenever my mare got worse and before he could arrive.)

First, I put Norma’s bad foot on the foam and drew a line around it.  I cut it out and vet wrapped the new cushy pad on her foot so it wouldn’t slide (or so I thought).  Next, I made a cut-out of the good foot based on the bad foot (since she wouldn’t put weight on her bad hoof).  I tried to vet wrap that on but she wouldn’t keep her foot up long enough so the application was not very secure.

It was on there but not on well...

Hmmmm.  I decided to keep the good foot wrapped poorly but secured in a boot.  I had no donkey-sized boots so I used the temporary lightweight trail fix boot that I used on Tess.  It is a flat cut-out with velcro tabs that allow you to “wrap” the hoof.  I did this.  It wasn’t pretty but it worked.

I wrapped the other foot, with the pad, in the flat boot. Not pretty but it did the trick.

I gave her some grass hay and left her for a bit.

Go Away! Leave me in peace, woman!

When I came back, the pad on the bad foot had slipped.  So, I Ninja wrapped it again and it seemed better.


I am hoping that some soft bedding, bute and no green grass will help the laminitis subside.

I Ninja wrapped it and went inside to study...

In the meantime, I’ve been scrambling to learn more about feeds/supplements that might help promote and strengthen the system against laminitis, if there is such a thing.  Or, a supplement that helps the circulation or something like that.  People have given me many ideas that I’ve stored in a folder for future use.  Well, the future is here.  I’m going to order something tonight and I will keep you posted.

For now, I’m sitting on pins and needles, waiting for the morning.  I sure hope she is better.  Laminitis is NOTHING to play with.  And, once it occurs, it can always reoccur.  Even in donkeys.


Donor Gift Certificates! Click here

HELP WITH PAYBACK!!   Donation Gift Certificates are here! Yup, if you donate to help Tullie (the burned horse), Gump (the ugly horse), Dixie (the starved horse) or the Wild Mustangs/Burros (the gathered horses), you can now get a “A Donation has been made in Your Honor” certificates to give as gifts!  You can use them for coworkers, family, friends or in lost pet’s names…  Yay!  INSTANT KARMA  Click here to go to the certificates page!  THANK YOU.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

November Bucket Fund, the gathered Wild Mustangs and Burros! Click here!

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Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!

Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

DIXIE! Our final stocking stuffer story! And, the certificates are IN!

I finally figured out how to do all of this so today is the day!  I will also keep a button up for you to get certificates (via email) up until Dec. 24th.


Meet Dixie.

Dixie whinnied as the volunteers left... so sad. She was so sick and hungry.

This is sad and touching for me because I have a place in my heart for the older horses.  They’ve been there, done that and they have a silent wisdom about them.  Older horses are usually very loving and like to share (except for the grumpy ones…)  They enjoy the comfort of companionship.  They are wonderful buddies.

Her head lowered as she coughed...

So, this story breaks my heart… as do all stories of the older ones who just get dumped because they have ‘no job’.

Dixie came to her family when she was 2.  Her owner hunted off of her and used her for a while.
Sadly, when the owner quit hunting, she was turned out and forgotten.  For 18 years, she stood in the pasture.
A while ago, Dixie started coughing and becoming skinny.  Something was wrong.  The owners did nothing.  Dixie got worse.
According to her owners, they figured that there was grass in the pasture and they were giving her a scoop of grain in the morning and a scoop in the evening.  (That’s it – no hay.)  So, she got skinnier and skinnier and more sick every day.  No one cared — except a neighbor.  The neighbor noticed that Dixie always hung her head and she had begun to cough often…

She is a big, sick, skinny girl... (this photo was taken shortly after she was rescued.)

The neighbor was so concerned, she called for help.  Here is where Beauty’s Haven Farm and Equine Rescue comes in.
BHFER rushed over and met Dixie.  They described her as a big, buckskin girl who was so skinny that her bones protruded everywhere – no fat or muscle.  Dixie’s coat was filthy and matted.  She had an untreated cut on her rear leg from barbed wire.  And, no shelter.  She was a mess.

She followed Theresa all over. Theresa couldn't say no.

Theresa was taken by this mare right away.  She had a soft nicker and a big, kind eye.  The mare mustered her energy to follow Theresa around and beg for attention.   She was very vocal, chatting every moment…  Right there and then Theresa struck a deal with the owner.  He told her to quick take the mare before he changed his mind.  And, she did.

Theresa fell in love with her soft whinny and kind eyes.

Dixie was immediately evaluated as a 1.5 on the Henneke Scale  (Very emaciated).    Her cough was COPD.  Dixie had long feet and bad teeth.  She needed much support to survive.

Dixie is evaluated by Dr. Ryan.

Here is what Theresa said:
“She definitely has COPD and likely Cushings.  She’s not drinking so we’re giving her electrolytes via syringe and in her feed.  She gets soaked alfalpha cubes throughout the day.  She’s a very sweet mare.  She’s gotten so many hugs and just loves the attention!  Dixie is being treated for her COPD and monitored closely.  A CBC was also pulled.”
But, what was very interesting to Theresa was that this mare seemed to thrive on LOVE.  Dixie nickered and followed the volunteers as much as she could (even when she had hay in front of her!).  Dixie put her head into anyone’s chest and seemed so grateful for the attention and care.
She is receiving her meds for the COPD and her Cushings is being evaluated.  Everyone is monitoring her eating (special diet) and drinking.  Her feet have been trimmed and she visited with the dentist!  Through it all, Dixie was a dream to handle.  She loves being groomed and cared for.  Her blood work is looking good so all are optimistic.  Dixie is responding!

Sweet Dixie with the equine dentist... such a good girl.


Dixie has fallen in love with Prince.  This poor herd animal horse who has been alone for many, many years is finally able to socialize with other horses and with the humans who are caring for her.  What a dream come true for this (finally) lucky horse!

Dixie and Prince. Awww. Finally, a friend.

From Theresa:
“Dixie is doing well.  She is gorgeous and has a beautiful whinny!  She now holds her beautiful head up high and proud!  Her whinny is stronger.  When we groomed her and put a blanket on her a couple of nights ago she was a doll.  Her eyes spoke volumes of the appreciation that she must have felt for the warmth of a blanket – even if the blanket was a little small on her.  A new blanket that fits her has been ordered.  She had a hooficure and her feet look much better.  I’m so thankful that we were able to bring her here before the cold arrived – I hate the thought of her being cold and with an empty tummy.”
Dixie was a deserted, mal-nourished, unloved older mare, who had given her life to her family and in return was ignored and left to suffer with illness and starvation — in her family’s backyard!
This story of neglect for the elderly is why she is our final Stocking Stuffer story.  Dixie deserves to be loved.

Sweet, kind, trusting Dixie... totally neglected and forgotten by her family.


Finally I have it all organized.  The Holiday Donation Gift Certificates details:

You can give these as holiday gifts!  And, another fabulous idea from one of you readers, someone just bought these to give in honor of another person’s lost pets!  What a great idea!  Thank you Terri!!

–2 denominations ($10 and $25).  (You can get as many as you’d like.)

–Each horse has his/her own button so you need to purchase from his/her  button

–Decide which horse and how many for each horse

–Click on the ‘donate’ button below the Certificate you’d like and you will be taken to Pay Pal.

–Add up your donation (ie: For Mustangs:  2@$10 + 1 @ $25 = $45)

–Put your total in and Click!

***Make sure to designate in the Pay Pal ‘notes’ box, the giftee(s) and the name of the purchaser (you?).  If you forget, don’t worry, I will email you and ask.
OK, here we go!

Click here to read Tullie's story


If you receive this via email, use this link to purchase for Tullie.

Click here to read Forrest Gump's story.


If you receive this via email, click here to purchase for Gump.

Click here to read Dixie's story.


If you receive this via email, click this link to purchase for Dixie. 

Click here to read all about the gathered Mustangs/Burros


If you receive this via email, click this link to purchase for the Bucket Fund Mustangs/Burros.


HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

Riding Warehouse
Your purchase with Riding Warehouse through this link helps the Bucket Fund!

Supporting The Bucket Fund through Amazon Smile
Please choose HORSE AND MAN, INC when you shop via Amazon Smile through this link.

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!