HEIRO! Norma’s day out…!

Friday, May 4th, 2012 | Filed under Medical

You might remember a few weeks ago that my donkey, Norma, had laminitis from the tiny bits of new green grass that wasn’t already eaten in her pasture.  (click here to read about it)

Well, she’s fine.  Thank horsegods I was able to catch it right away.  I gave her Bute upon onset.  Then after that, I gave her Anti-Flam twice a day for two weeks plus Adren-X.  She was fine the first morning, but I kept her in the barn for two weeks to make sure she had no abscesses and that she was truly OK.

Anyway, during that time, many of you commented/emailed on what helped your horses who had laminitis or chronic laminitis (thank you).  One of the names that came up often was HEIRO.

So, I went online and read all about it.



What I liked about the product was that it was created to help a laminitic animal get back out on pasture.

Let me say that again…


To me, that was a tall order and I wanted some for Norma.

So, I wrote to them.

I told them all about Norma (included a pic) and asked if they would be willing to send to me a sample.


Not only did they send a sample, but they said they were happy to be on TEAM NORMA.

How nice was that?!  (They had me at HELLO for sure with that one!)


Click image to go to the website.



So the people at HEIRO sent a sample to me and added no strings.  Basically, it was a ‘here you go’ thing.

But to me, if they were so generous to send it to me, I had better return the favor and be accurate in my testing.  So, I asked about that.  And they told me that if I wanted to be accurate with results, I should have her insulin and her ACTH (Cushings) tested .

Sounds easy, right?

It isn’t.

However, I thought it was my duty to really know, scientifically, whether this was helping Norma.

So, I prepared to test the donkey.


Norma has only left the farm twice – on entire family moves.  The few times that she has been in a trailer has been when the entire herd has been on the trailer with her.  Security in numbers.

I would not say that Norma was trailer savvy.

I have had Norma for 17 years.  Since she was 2.  I can remember when she arrived.  The poor jenny was a wreck!  I remember thinking that she looked horrible when she emerged from her first trailer ride – and that I would never ever get that girl back into a trailer.  She was wringing wet and shaking.

Yet, I have to say that her subsequent rides have been far easier.  If the other horses were in the trailer, she’d go.  Sure.  She wanted to be with them.

But solo –

Well, we found out today…

My heavy and curly coated donkey - soaking wet with nervousness and waiting at the hospital for her test.



The protocol for the insulin and ACTH testing is not difficult but it was particular.  My vet didn’t have the equipment so I called the nearest equine hospital to see if they had the capability to spin the blood and freeze it.

Bittersweetly, the nearest equine hospital knows me quite well as that is where Aladdin spent 3 months of his life and eventually passed.  So, they know me and are very kind to me.

“Sure!” they said, “Bring her down… we’ll take her blood and send it off to Cornell!”

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, Cornell is the only place that performs this exact testing sequence.


Yup.  Here is how it works… You go out and buy the Red Karo Syrup (the lite version).  You give your horse a certain dose of it (70 ccs for a 1000lb horse) and then 1.5 hours later – exactly – you draw blood.

That’s it.

Except that you have to have the vial of blood spun, frozen and sent to Cornell immediately.


As I was setting this up, the HEIRO company told me that Cornell was very familiar and a pro at this test.  Cornell had tested many, many HEIRO horses and would know exactly what to do with Norma’s sample.


So, I called them.  They were very nice as well… I spoke to an attending vet who explained the whole process.  I asked her what she thought of Heiro, since she sees all the results.

She told me that the studies weren’t hers to compile… but she indicated that she felt it worked.


I then told her all about Anti-Flam.  She was on the internet and she looked it up as we spoke.  She listened to me and we chatted.  I liked her.

I felt secure.

Cornell's website. They were really nice!



I had set up the appointment to have Loomis Basin Equine Medical Center draw the blood.  Unfortunately, they don’t come to you – you have to bring donkey to them.

Easier said than done…

Have you ever tried to get a donkey to do anything the donkey didn’t want to do?

Remember, a mule is only HALF donkey – the stubborn half.

Actually, the donkey is really, really smart.  The ‘stubborn’ is their self preservation.  Donkeys don’t just go along because you are telling them to.

–Therein lies the problem.

There was an exact procedure we had to accomplish with an animal who didn’t know our agenda.  We had to give Norma her “light” Karo syrup and then make sure she was loaded and down to the equine hospital (which was an hour away) in time to draw her blood 1.5 hours exactly after she ingested the syrup.

Oy.  I could already feel myself pulling on the leadrope with all of my might before I even had my hands on it.  This would not be easy…

So, I called in my friend, Leslie, to help me.


Our plan was to get Norma into the trailer and then give her the Karo once she was safely inside.  In this way, we knew we could get to the hospital in time.

(I will not bore you with the donkloadingstruggle.  Suffice it to say that we were about to give up…)

We tried everything to ease Norma into the trailer.

No dice.

Na da

Uh uh.


Not gonna do it.

Finally, I brought Finn out and tied him to the trailer.  Leslie was inside holding the leadrope and I was outside with my irritating ‘flag on a pole’.   I have no idea what made Norma finally decide to end the bruhaha and just get in… but that is what she did.

At one point I almost heard her say to herself, “Oh the heck with it.  Fine.  Awlright for criminy sakes.  I’ll do it.  Just leave me alone!”

In one huge jump, Norma threw in the towel,  jumped into the trailer – and stopped abruptly.

S’OK with us!  We gave her the Karo (a great way to reinforce the trailer experience…), shut the trailer door and Leslie drove off with Norma in tow.

Look how wet she was after the trailer ride...



As usual, the vet hospital was incredible.  Upon arrival, Norma was a wringing wet mass of nerves and sugar overload.

The head of the hospital came out and greeted Leslie immediately and told her he would be out precisely when the 1.5 hours was up to pull her blood.  And, he did just that.

They called Cornell and made sure everything was exactly as they needed it – and they sent Norma’s sample off.

Nice.  Done.  Easy.

The wonderful vets at Loomis Basin. The man is who drew Norma's blood at exactly the correct time.



Norma was a sweaty wreck.

First she had us badgering her to get into the trailer, then she had sugar rushes, then she had to endure a trailer ride alone, and then a POKE!

But, she knew the trailer was her ticket back home and on the way back, she hopped right in!


I heard the trailer and Leslie arrive so I ran outside.

Poor Norma.  She was literally dripping in sweat.  Dripping.  The poor girl looked like she was just been through a car wash.  My heart went out to her.  Norma’s eyes have never looked so large and so bewildered.

The wind was kicking up and Norma started to shake as we brought her to the barn.

Not on my watch!

I took out the ladder and climbed into the barn rafters to find a blanket that would fit her.  Actually, Leslie is taller so she grabbed the blanket bag.  Anyway, we found the perfect blanket for her, we added a ton of shavings to her stall, we shut the windows and than led her into her bedstall for the evening.

Norma has never worn a blanket but she looked as if she was in heaven – her body warmed beneath the plushy fabric.

Poor disheveled Norma.  She is very hairy, a curly donkey.  The fact that she was shedding and also totally sopping wet gave her the look of a…. well, I’m not sure… but she had clumps hanging everywhere.  I figure this will help the shedding process.  Tomorrow, once she is totally dry, I will give her a nice ‘once-over’.

Norma snuggled in her newly bedded stall and wearing someone's plush blanket - warming up.



Anyway, after all of this, I am allowed the priviledge to start her on the HEIRO tomorrow morning.  Insulin levels are highest in the morning so that is when you feed it to them.

I am totally excited to get the test results and then to test again after a month.

Nothing would make Norma happier than to be back out in her pasture with her buds –

If HEIRO can do that, I’m a devotee!


My girl does like to eat...

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7 comments have been posted...

  1. Cindy

    Well, it’s been seven years now. Surely you’ve had time to write an update. Did it help?

  2. dawndi Post author

    Norma Jean has had no more bouts with founder or laminitis since this incident. I think the experimental drugs we IV’d into her hoof was what did it. I haven’t used Heiro consistently to really know. However, those who use Heiro do recommend it highly.

  3. diana reese

    its been over 2 years since this post on Norma and I can find no followups. Does any one know if the Heiro helped. There are hardly any cases involving donkeys the followup is important. thank

  4. Sherry W

    I just ordered HEIRO for my pony. He has improved from a bout of severe laminitis last year but we can’t seem to get to 100% and he’s very sensitive to everything. I have found a lot of positive testimonials and hope it will help him. I enjoyed your blog about “The Donk.” Best wishes and thank you for sharing.

  5. Kathy

    I hope this helps Norma. I am one of the people that recommended Heiro to you:) I have a mare on it. She foundered every spring for years. This is the first spring she did not. My sister also has a gelding on it and she swears Heiro saved his life. I’ll be looking forward to hearing how Norma does.

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