Long Term Hoof Care
Back in 2013 I get a call about a donkey that was in desperate need of a trim. She had recently been rescued and rehomed with a new family that had a small farm with a bunch of other critters. She arrived at their farm, half wild with horribly overgrown hooves. Unbenounced to the new owners she was also pregnant, so within a couple weeks they had another little jennie to add to their herd.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw her hooves that first day. At the time they were the most twisted hooves I had ever seen. (Unfortunately now I have seen so many like her, and many worse off as well) The "Before" photos I have here don't even do it it justice, I didn't have my camera on me the first day so these photos are after the first trim. Every one of her hooves had twisted out laterally. Her left front was the worst one, it was so twisted that she was walking on her coronary band. It was evident that her hooves had been like this for a long time, the twist in her hooves had deeply affected her posture. Both of her shoulders were twisted out because the twist in her hooves had manipulated her stance and gate.
Between the degree of twisting in her hooves, the damage it had done to her body, and the extra weight she had been carrying with her baby she was in a lot of discomfort. Even after she foaled, and the extra weight was lifted, she was still laying down a lot to keep her own weight off her legs and feet. Putting her to sleep had been seriously discussed, and getting her trimmed was the last stop before that possibility. After an animal's hooves have been out of balance, or in this case twisted, or years on end there is a great chance that the bones have gone permanently out of alignment (Particularly the bones in the hoof itself) So in some cases even after a year of corrective trimming the bones will still be twisted, and the animal will still be in pain.
Thankfully her new owner was willing to give her a chance, and we started biweekly trims to ease along the healing. She however, wasn't so into the idea of being a tame donkey, and gave us a lovely little rodeo show every trim. We started using Calm Ease (A natural, plant derived, calming paste for equines) which helped keep her mind calm enough not be afraid of the trimming process. I also started working with the owner on daily training methods they could use, they had never owned donkeys before, but they did a great job of sticking to the daily gentling of their new family member. Jasmine became more and more trusting, she overcame her fears of me and my tools, and with each trim she got better and better at standing like a champ.
Over the span of three months we had stopped using calm ease, she had stopped laying down every day, and she was able to run through the pasture with her baby.
After nine months we had switched to monthly trims, almost all of the twists had been completely eliminated. (There was definitely angles to correct still at this point, but the hard part was over) She now stood like an angel, and normally greeted us at the gate to be trimmed.
Truthfully her front left (The hoof that she had been walking on her coronary band) did suffer permanent damage in the bone structure, and it will never perfectly strighten out. But it is straighter than I could have ever hoped back in 2013. But it is sound, she holds weight on it, she doesn't walk with a hitch in her step, and it only needs minimal corrective trimming to keep it balanced every 4-8 weeks.
After all these years Jasmine is still one of my favorite animals to work with, she's always up for a treat or scratches. She stands like a dream to be trimmed, and I often trim her by myself with the lead rope draped over her back. She happily watches over the sheep and lambs in her pasture, and occasionally trots after the young ram to teach him a good lesson on manners.