Worse Donkey Woes

We’d hoped Fiona was over her rough spot with her hooves, but a sad sight greeted me when I went to feed her this weekend. She would not come up to be fed, so I gave her food to her in the field.

When Mandi and I went to check further on it, she was barely able to put weight on her left front hoof, and was even hopping around on three legs. That couldn’t be good.

Fix my foot, mommies! (This is pre-grooming)

Once we got her feet all cleaned out, we could see that it almost looked like her outside hoof was shorter than the inside. That would be like walking on your nail bed. So, we figured a vet visit was called for.

In anticipation, we moved the horses to the smaller paddock near the tack room. It had been shredded recently, so wasn’t all full of clover anymore, plus the clover is on its last legs. Moving the horses went fine. We have hay to supplement the grass, so they will be okay for a couple of days.

Moving Fiona was more of a challenge. We just took our time and walked her a few feet, then let her rest. Meanwhile I removed the hundreds of burrs from her coat, and was relieved to see she’s shedding at last. As always, she enjoyed the attention. She’s so sweet.

I called the large animal vet and he said he couldn’t come out until today (Tuesday), so Mandi has been keeping an eye on everyone. She’s put cold packs on Fiona’s hoof and has gotten a better look at it. That has led to much panic on my part.

The hoof in question. Those cracks are the bad parts.

Mandi says it looks like her hoof is separating from the wall, a condition called white line disease (or seedy toe!). My friends at the Donkey Sanctuary in the UK have this to say about it:

When a donkey gets seedy toe, otherwise known as white line disease, the white line area becomes weak and crumbly. Seedy toe lesions are rarely painful unless there is extensive hoof instability, but the widened white line may allow the entry of foreign objects and organisms. Often little stones and dirt can get stuck in the space under the horny part of the hoof, causing the donkey pain or an infection.

Seedy toe is treated by cutting out the affected part of the hoof wall. All dead and discoloured material should be removed to allow the new healthy horn to grow down. Exposure is necessary to minimise the chance of infection. In severe cases, your farrier should work with a vet to make sure that the work does not cause any instability to the hoof.

Once treated, the donkey must also be kept on clean, dry ground until fully recovered.


Well, I can’t say I’m surprised, since it’s been so damp. I’ll just keep waiting to hear from the vet, who still hasn’t called back. We are so worried.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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