Those hard times with Mama Tess left me with so much…

Three years of laminitis and founder with Mama Tess taught me so much…

I remembered that this Sunday when Norma Jean – my 30 year old donkey – was ‘off’ and laying down under an oak tree.  This was not normal.  Norma never laid down unless she was in her barn.

Her ears were up and she seemed OK, but she never laid down outside.  I watched her for an hour and made the call.

Even on Sundays, our wonderful equine hospital has vets on the ready 24/7 (Thank you Loomis Basin Equine Hospital!).  So I called in an emergency.

Very quickly, the vet arrived.   Neither of us could figure out what was ailing Norma.  We thought colic but it wasn’t colic… we thought old age… we thought organ failure… we thought arthritis pain… we thought liver issues… but we never thought laminitis because there is no green grass (yet) and she doesn’t get rich food.

… and then, when Norma stood, we figured it out.  Although she wasn’t standing in the laminitis stance, she didn’t want to walk.  Her pulses weren’t elevated, she had no temp and her feet were not hot to the touch nor to the hoof testers, but she was sore – no doubt about it.  And, donkeys are stoic – so if they show pain, it is probably worse than it appears.

Norma never lays down outside. She wasn’t in colic, but what was wrong?!


Luckily, I had all the necessary tools on hand because of Mama Tess.  (Regrettably, I sold my Theraplate when we moved, but I had almost everything else.)

We made little cushion boots out of garden kneeling pads, vet wrap and duct tape.  (Soft Ride boots are expensive – these homemade boots work and are relatively inexpensive to create.  I got good at it with Mama Tess…)

I started soaking hay in a small-holed hay net drenched in hot water.

The vet gave her IV banamine and took blood just to make sure there was no other issue.  (The blood work came back fine.  She’s old but good.)

I opened all of the shavings bags I had and made a big, cushy area for her.  I brought water there and hung her wet and tasteless hay (she ate it) for her.  I also gave her the other meds before she started eating…  I always like to give meds on a full stomach, with a clear mouth.

After the vet left, I ran inside and ordered more supplies.  On Monday, I raced down to Loomis Basin Equine Hospital because they have Soft-Rides on hand (with no shipping costs).  Although Soft Ride hopes to come out with a donkey size, they haven’t yet… so I got the best size I could and will make due.

Thank horsegods that Norma will survive this – and I thank Angel Mama Tess for teaching me so much.

Put a small holed hay net in a bucket and fill the net with hay (or stuff hay into a net and then put the net in the bucket), add hot water and mush it around. The water will turn brown. That brown is sugar… let it soak for 20 minutes. Then hang it up and they will eat it.

I have these garden kneeling pads on hand – from any hardware or garden store. I cut the shape of the foot and then vet wrap it on and put on an equine slipper, or make a duct tape bootie.

I only had one equine slipper in her size so she has one pad in a duct tape/vet wrap bootie and one in a slipper.

I ordered more supplies and they came the next day. I also ran down to the vet hospital and got the Soft Rides.

Her stall was deeply bedded. Here she is, mad at me for giving her medicine

Although she protested, I hung up the wet hay without all the sugar, and she ate it.

Here are the new Softride boots for her. They aren’t made for donkeys, so I will have to modify the width, but I think they will work. We will see in the morning. If they don’t work, I can keep making the homemade boots – but these are easier.


Well, there was a patch.  I went looking and found it.   There was a tear in an irrigation hose where I couldn’t see it… I think some rodent bit through it… Norma found the wet spot and the green grass.   It was obvious that she had been feasting there.


Grazing muzzles are great!  Norma always protests but she wears hers all Spring and the start of Summer.  In this way, she can still roam around – which is so good for her mental and physical health – but not get in trouble with the green grass.  I also limit her outings when there is lush grass.  (If you buy one for Spring, spend the little extra money to get the muzzle that fits like a halter.  If not, they can wriggle out of them.  Also, get one with a small hole.  If not, it defeats the purpose.)

It needs to fit snug, like a halter. This one is adjustable with velcro, which I like.

Also, make sure the bottom feeding hole is small.




FUND TOTAL AS OF TODAY:  $25 (Thank you!)   We’ve saved POWDER PUFF 2/7/22 ($800),  EDDIE 2/9/22 ($1200), SURSHA 3/16/22 ($780),  BABY FRED 4/7/22 ($650), “CC” Close Call  5/17/22 ($550), PACIFICA  5/22/22 ($780), DONNA 7/25/22 ($600), MAXIMILLIAN 11/8/22 ($1300), “TJ” 1/8/23 ($1000), SWEETIE 1/8/23 ($700), MAMA and BABY 5/9/23 ($500), SHANGHAI  8/23/23 ($1200),  VICTORIA AND PIXIE  10/8/23 ($1000)

Horse and Man Foundation, Inc has a new Fund button. KEEP THEM OFF THE TRUCK FUND. This Fund will go on all day, all the time. It will always be here. If you want to save a horse or donkey from slaughter, you know we will do that here.

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2 comments have been posted...

  1. Rox

    The emotional roller coaster with a laminitis/founder case is I think the worst part for the human caretakers so much worse than the labor (and financial) challenges. Been there, done that, doing it again with the new foster here. The days when there’s a happy face peeking out over the stall wall, ears up, nickering for breakfast – those are the good ones. The days when there are too many lie-downs in the no-grass paddock where there are some sand-filled “hollows” for standing and rolling, not so happy. For your Norma also crossing fingers and everything else and prayers to the horse god Epony who I do believe cares about donkeys yes very much indeed. At least there’s Teff hay available here, it’s not so available in other places, it’s kind of a miracle hay.

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