So, I started yesterday feeling all fancy and business-like as we got our pictures taken by the Chamber of Commerce, because Hermits’ Rest Enterprises is the July Business of the Month. Mandi and I had on nice clothing and jewelry, and Mandi’s hair was all straight and fancy. (See the Hermit Haus blog for more details.)
Then, by mid-afternoon we were back at the ranch, and I had morphed into Cowgirl Suna, with jeans, boots, and hat to meet Trixie the farrier to look at the horses and Fiona. I asked Mandi to come along, since she’s the one who doctored Fiona and knows more about horse health than I do.
Fiona went first, and she was pretty good, though she did get the idea to try to file her own hooves. It didn’t work out.
Trixie said that Fiona’s “bad” foot was really interesting, and that she’d never seen one like that. The footbed still seems longer than the outer hoof wall. We went over a lot of possibilities for what could have caused it. We settled on the bag abscess she had on that front hoof causing the outer walls to not grow like usual, which caused separation and other issues.
So, today I went to visit my dear horse and donkey, who I hadn’t seen in a whole week! They’d already been fed, and Sara had ridden Apache in the morning. But I just had to say hi.
I brought Apache and Fiona out for some loving, and it became clear she had to be groomed, big time. She was almost all bur.
To remedy the situation, Sara and I chatted and groomed. Fiona was in heaven. She leaned on us and practically sighed with joy at the attention. After 15 minutes or so, she had a lot less hair and burs.
She happily showed us her feet, so we could check her progress. Eek! All sorts of cracking and ugliness. However, she seems happy and able to run and trot. We will see what the farrier says.
I’ve been so busy writing about Fiona that I haven’t had a chance to talk about the horrible weather that’s been going on here (what else is new? the weather has been bad everywhere!). But I know the donkey fans out there will also want to know how the little darling is doing.
Well, she hasn’t injured anyone since Wednesday! Hooray! Actually, when Mandi and I went to feed and medicate her yesterday, it went really well. She is always so glad to see me that it makes my heart swell. It’s great to be loved! And with me holding her head and Mandi squirting the medicine in her mouth, everything was over in a moment.
Fiona even took a treat right after the medicine (when I first was working with Apache, he would not take a treat from anyone until at least a day after you gave him his worming medicine, but now he trusts me not to worm him twice).
She is not walking 100%, but is not hopping or anything. Whew.
All of you who are following the woes of Fiona the mini donk already know that she has been dealing with a list of ailments (one, I really wonder about as far as accuracy in diagnosis goes) for a couple of weeks now. I’m going to recap just a bit, and explain why I’m involved at all in this.
I worked on a horse farm with many horses all at once, from the time I was 14 until I was 28. Before that, I grew up in the saddle with my Pa. When you deal with that many horses at a time, someone is always injured. Sometimes it isn’t bad, other times, it can be severe. I’ve seen simple scrapes, bone breaks, one stallion who put a T post through his chest and had to have wound care for months, colic, mares struggling with birth, abscesses on all parts of the body, mild and severe hoof problems, etc. I sure haven’t seen it all, but I have seen a lot!
I learned how to make first aid items from scratch in the field to save a life and stop bleeding. I’m fairly confident in what I can do. I also know when I need more help, a second opinion, or I do not have the tools/gear/equipment to handle a situation.
How I helped Fiona
I originally felt like Fiona’s foot was trimmed too short. With the gap that developed in the way that white line disease (hoof wall separation, seedy toe) does, I felt like she may have developed that.
There is no conclusive evidence as to what exactly causes white line disease. Theories go from poor diet, wet/humid climate, soft feet, trimming the toe too short, injury/abscesses, and the list goes on. What the veterinary world has seen is that there will be horses and donkeys that develop this disease that do not fall into one category, or it seems to come out of nowhere. It develops on healthy feet in dry climates as well, although it is not as common.
It is characterized by the gap in the hoof wall that was shown in the picture, and the gray, crumbling of the soft tissue behind the outer wall. Fiona had that, but she also had a bulge under the foot that seemed like she couldn’t stand flat on it. The cold water treatment probably helped by relieving the inflammation. Horses and donkeys typically do not become lame from white line until it becomes severe and the cannon bone begins to shift down.
Hey there. It’s a three-blog day for me. Here’s a quick update on our donkey friend, Fiona. The vet finally arrived around 4:30, right when Mandi had just left to do something for her own family. Sigh. But, it worked out okay.
According to Dr. Richter, whose father apparently treated Mandi’s late horse, what happened was our first theory: her hoof had been trimmed WAY too short by the farrier. It’s made her swell to where the inner part of the hoof sticks out too far.
He gave her some pain medication to give for the next five days, to see if that helps. The cure, however, is for her hooves to grow some. Mandi plans to wrap her hoof again, and we are leaving her in the more dry paddock for the next few days, since more rain is on its way.
Fiona did NOT like the sound of the rain falling on the shed, so it got hard to medicate her. Whew, it all was a success, and we are now just waiting to see if she needs more treatment or not.
I’m so grateful that she got looked at and it wasn’t the fungal infection. We now want to avoid getting one until things dry up!
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.
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.
First, don’t worry. No one is hurt. However, on yesterday’s ride, a bit of freak-outage did occur with Apache.
Oddly enough, our ride Saturday was practically idyllic, as we traipsed all over the ranch, through beautiful tall grass (pre-baling) with Fiona in tow. Fiona always needs to be rounded up when it’s time to go through a gate, so our herding practice is fun (however, Apache sucks at it).
But yesterday was different. First, we decided not to bring Fiona, since she was still limping a bit. And second, the baling operation was going on pretty close to where we were riding. Some combination of these things did not please Apache, though he was doing what I asked him to, including squishing over a wet spot.
He kept turning around and looking urgently toward his pasture, ears up, all attentive. We finally figured out he was hearing Fiona braying in her loneliness. I guess he’s used to having her around now!
Then, when the tractors got close, everything he encountered suddenly became A Big Deal. Trees, cactus, the overhead power lines. He’d turn around, start randomly trotting, and basically act like he was on his last nerve. He used to act like that often, when I first started working with him four years ago, but he hasn’t done that recently.