Guest Post: Donkey Mayhem

by Mandi Shuffield

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!

Here’s my horse, Ricci, who I nursed back from a long illness.

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.

Fiona’s foot

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. 

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