December 31, 2004
My Donkeys' New Winter Coats
Here is a funny story that I thought you might enjoy reading. Two years ago my local tack store was having a sale on their horse blankets, so I bought several nice new winter horse blankets for my donkeys.
They don't really need them in the winter with their thick fuzzy coats, but with the cold weather (snow) at Montana Mule Days the summer before, I thought it would be a good thing to have on hand incase we found ourselves in a situation like that again where the donkeys are already clipped or shed out and need some extra warmth and protection from the weather.
I brought the new blankets home and took one out to try on my big girls. I tried it on Lily first, and she sort of just stood there and tolerated it. I don't know that she really enjoyed it, but she is a patient girl, and will put up with almost anything I ask her to do.
After fitting the horse blanket on Lily, I took it into Pansy and Smokey's pen, and showed it to them. They both had a chance to sniff it. Traditionally Pansy has been less likely to be scared of new things than Smokey, so I thought I'd put the blanket on her first. Pansy wasn't to sure about that, but I took my time, and quietly spred the blanket out on her back, and buckled the buckles without much fuss. Then I wanted her to try walking around with it on a little bit to get used to the sound and feel of it, and see what she'd do.
I walked to the middle of their field with Smokey following right along beside me. Then I stopped and looked back at Pansy. What a sight! She was still standing where I left her, with this pitiful look of distain on her face. She looked like she was thinking "Mom, do I have to wear this thing?!? It's ugly, and feels weird! All the other donkeys are going to laugh at me if I have to wear this thing!!"
I finally convenced her that she could still walk with it on. So she started gingerly walking toward me like "Mom, these clothes don't fit, and I just don't look good in this style! Do I have to wear this thing? What ever made you think I'd look good in something like this!!" It reminded me so much of some teenagers complaining about their clothing choices. Pansy was the youngest of these three jennets, and was about 3 1/2 yrs old at the time. She was in the "teenage" phase of donkey development, so it fit perfectly! She looked so funny I just had to laugh at her!
Next I took the blanked off of Pansy and put it on Smokey, who had been trying desparately to get some attention. Smokey loved the blanket, and was eager to do whatever I wanted her to do with it on! We walked and ran around the pasture, and she wasn't scared of it at all even with it flapping on her legs and the buckles clanking when she ran. I took it off and she was ready to sniff it and have it put back on! If she could talk, she probably would have said something like "Oh mom, this is the most gorgeous dress! I just love it! Don't I look so beautiful in it?"
Donkeys sure do have character, don't they!
Have a great day!
December 30, 2004
Make Your Own Donkey Sunglasses
So what do you do if you need to protect your donkey's eyes from bright sunlight? Here's how I solved that problem.
About two weeks ago one of my donkeys developed an eye problem. One of his eyes was really tearing a lot and was obviously irritated and bothering him. So I scheduled an appointment with my vet to have him checked right away.
The vet checked for a corneal ulcer, but didn't find any. He didn't see anything specific that seemed to be causing the problem. So he sent me home with an Aspirin power (to go in my donkey's feed), an antibacterial eye ointment, and another ointment to dilate his eye.
My donkey was a very good patient. He stood very still and didn't give me any trouble when I put the ointments in his eye. He didn't particularly like the powder in his feed though.
While I had him on the Atropine dilator ointment, I needed to protect that eye from bright sunlight during the day. So I made homemade "sunglasses" for my donkey.
First I found a fly mask that fit my donkey well. Then I cut a patch of soft cloth to go over his eye. If I am only shading one eye, I prefer soft dark colored flannel. Dark colored cloth doesn't seem to let through as much light as white or real light colors.
If I had to shade both eyes at the same time, I think I'd try to use a loose mesh type of material in a darker color to reduce the sunlight but still allow the donkey to be able to see. With only one eye covered, my donkey was still able to get around his pen fine, and didn't act bothered in the least.
For my mammoth size donkey, I made the flannel patch about 7 or 8 inches square. Then I stitched the patch into the flymask with a needle and thread. It doesn't have to be fancy - just enough stitching to hold the patch in place.
Once it was finished, all I had to do was just put the mask on my donkey and his eye had great protection from the sun!
After a week on his meds, he is doing much better. I took Andy back into the vet on Monday to have a check-up, and the vet said he looked great, and could stop taking the medicines. I left the mask on Andy a few more days until the Atropine wore off, and now he is back to normal again.
So if you ever need to temporarily protect your donkey's eyes from the sun, try making your own donkey "sunglasses"!
Just remember, eye problems are nothing to mess around with. If your donkey or mule develops an eye problem, contact your vet right away. Often times eye infections or injuries will heal quite quickly when treated promptly, but procrastination can cost you an eye, so don't put it off!
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December 28, 2004
"Happy" the Donkey Wins!
I hope all of you have been enjoying the holidays! I just received an exciting update from Crystal Ward about "Happy" the donkey!
From Crystal Ward:
Thank you to ALL of you and your friends who wrote letters on behalf of Happy and the Carpenter family. Good news, the Judge ruled in favor of Happy. Now Happy is free to stay outside guarding his sheep and no monetary damages is awarded to the complaining neighbor.
Lisa Carpenter will be contacting the media today to tell them the good news. I will be getting a copy of the Judge's ruling (hopefully today before I head out for the Rose Parade) and give you the details later.
I sent a package of 56 letters (many very well written) from all over the country to the Judge. So far it appears that within a day or two of him receiving the package he made his ruling.....hmmmm. Thank you all! More later.
December 17, 2004
So How Do You Speak "Donkey"?
In Yesterday's article, I wrote about the value of learning to use donkey body language to discipline your donkey. Here are several of my favorite disciplinary donkey body language signals, and some suggestions on how you can enact them.
I like to use this one when I am carrying hay to the feeder and a donkey is following too close behind me. It is a very mild first warning for them to back off and give me a little more room. You may think at first that this would be a really hard thing to imitate since we humans don’t have tails. But when I started pretending to act like a donkey, I found that swishing my arm back and forth like a tail behind my back worked very well as an alternative to a real tail.
Here is another fun one to do! I have been teaching my donkeys to wait to approach their hay feeder at feeding time until I tell them they can. As “Boss Jennet” I should have the authority to tell them they have to wait patiently until I’m ready to let them eat.
I like to dump the hay in the feeder, and then stand guard beside it. I find it funny to watch the donkeys’ reactions. They’ll wait out of my way, and watch me closely for the sign that they are allowed to come eat. Sometimes if I feel like one is thinking about testing me and stepping closer, I’ll glare at them and stare them down. It usually doesn’t take them long to look away in a submissive move.
Maybe the glare or evil eye is more about communicating my mood in more subtle ways, but I like to pretend like I am a mad donkey with my ears laid back against my neck warning others to leave me alone!
Some of my donkeys can make a terrifying snorting/hissing sound when they want another donkey to bug off and leave them and their space alone. It’s one of the first warning signs, and means “Get back and leave me alone! I’m not in the mood to have you bothering me (or my food).”
The volume of the snort or hiss gets louder in relation to the size of the offense. It’s kind of like when you tell someone “No.” If you want him to stop something he shouldn’t do, you may calmly say “No, don’t do that.” But if whatever he is doing is a major offense or if he is ignoring you, you might yell “NO!” in a stronger tone of voice.
The stomp should be pretty easy for you to figure out. It is a more moderate warning sign. A stomp accompanied by a glare and sometimes a snort can usually be pretty convincing for most donkeys who are not really serious about testing their limits.
If you donkey is still ignoring you and doesn’t back off when you stomp, you can do a warning kick in the air out behind you – try to make it just like what your donkeys do to warn other donkeys not to approach.
Sometimes if a donkey is getting pushy walking into me, and won’t back off when I give other warning signals, I may actually make contact and thump the donkey on the chest with my heel. My intention is not to hurt the donkey, but just to bump them and warn them in language their herd mates would use. In donkey language this is a punishment to be taken seriously. It means “Momma means business! So cut it out right now!”
I’ve found it very funny to watch the expression on my donkeys’ faces when I thump them on the chest the first time. Prior to that I can feel them saying “Oh, so you think you can make me do what you say. What if I just ignore you? Then what??? Do you really mean it?”
After I give them that one little thump just like another donkey would, their whole expression and attitude changes to one of “Oh no! Mom is really mad now! I better be good!” Sometimes they look so shocked that I actually meant what I was telling them, that I just have to laugh!
Shuffle or Charge:
This is a stronger warning to your donkeys to keep back from you. You’ve probably seen a donkey charge or lunge a few feet toward another donkey to chase them off. She doesn't run very far, but those few feet are enough to convince the other donkeys to stay back.
Jump or Bounce:
This is one that I use when I don’t have much space and I want my donkeys to back off. I usually accompany it with a snort, after trying some of the milder signals to leave me alone. You’ve probably seen donkeys do this one before. It looks they are thinking of nailing another donkey with a big double-barrel kick with both back feet, but they are too lazy to really do the kick. So they just bounce, bounce, bounce with their hindquarters.
To do this one, just pretend like you are one of those donkeys, and jump up and down a few times while snorting, with your back turned toward the donkey you want to move away. I’ve found that if I jump faster and act more irritated, they take me much more seriously.
Of course whenever you reprimand your donkey, it is important that it be fair punishment for the crime committed, and be immediate. If it is not immediate, your donkey will have totally forgotten what he did wrong and have no idea why he is being reprimanded. My instructors have always said to use the 3 second rule – you have three seconds from the time of his offense to tell your horse, mule or donkey that he has done wrong, then you just forget it and move on.
Watch your donkeys interact together, and they will teach you a lot of body language signals and what they mean. Then just use your creativity to figure out how to do them yourself. Watch your donkeys and learn their signs for communicating their different feelings – “Leave me alone”, “Let’s play!”, “Let’s just hang out and be friends”, “Don’t be scared, it’s ok”, etc.
Your donkeys will learn to have a much greater respect and confidence in you once you learn to talk to them in their own donkey language.
As always, remember safety first when working with your donkeys, mules and horses. And good luck learning to speak "Donkey!"
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December 16, 2004
Donkey Body Language
Do you have a donkey or mule who doesn't respect your space? Who crowds you or pushes you around at feeding time? I have several donkeys that can sometimes be pushy, and here are some ideas of how I like to handle this problem.
I have found that body language can often be a great training tool to discourage bad behavior, and to communicate with your donkey in many ways.
I like to watch my donkeys and learn from them. If another donkey is crowding or bothering the boss donkey, the boss will lay her ears back, give the offender a mean look, stomp her foot, and snort loudly to tell the offender to move back and leave her alone. If the offender doesn't take the warning, the boss donkey will kick her back foot in the air as another warning, and may even lunge a few steps toward the offender.
If you have a donkey who is crowding your space and not respecting you, you may find it very helpful to try imitating some of these donkey body language signals. It can be pretty funny to watch their reaction, too!
Next time your donkey starts getting too close, tell him through donkey body language to respect your space. Make sure and give him the warnings though before he gets so close that you don't have space to perform them.
The first time or two, he will probably give you a really surprised look. Then he will start learning to respect your space.
You may look like a total fool to some people when you are talking to your donkey in Donkey language, but you will have a much better relationship with your donkey or mule if you can communicate with him in a language he knows. If you are fair, and he knows where his boundaries are and has respect for your authority, you will have the foundation to a great life long relationship.
December 14, 2004
What an impressive sight!
Since it is late, you are probably more interested in something light. I thought I would share with you a couple of real neat pictures from Bishop Mule Days.
This is Ray Jensen's Wagons West 20 mule team that he brought to Bishop Mule Days in 2003. Quite an impressive sight!
December 13, 2004
"Happy" the Donkey Needs Your Help
"Happy" the donkey is being sued by his neighbors for braying. Please help support Happy and the rest of the longears community in this court case.
“Happy” The Donkey, being sued for braying by his neighbors...
Well, I wish I had good news to report. The small claims court case was held today (12-10-04) in Roseville, CA. Happy’s owners, Darrell & Lisa Carpenter were there, along with the complaining neighbor Mark Gentry who was suing for $2100.
Unfortunately court started off with a substitute judge, a local attorney named Joe Marmon(sp?) was sitting in as acting small claims court judge.
Mark Gentry started off with saying the donkey arrived about a year ago, the donkey brayed at all hours of the night, preventing him from sleeping whenever Happy brayed. Mark stated that Happy brayed quite often 2 to 3 times per night. Each bray lasted up to 15 seconds. At least an hour of sleep was lost per night, which he attributed to loss of at least one hour of work the next day. Mark charges $100 per hour to do his work as an electrical contractor and general contractor, so he figures the brays should be worth at least $100 per night (or per bray). Further, he stated that sometimes he would wake up in the morning and was unable to do the work because he was tired, groggy and sometimes had to sleep in. He repeatedly said the donkey has been a nuisance due to his braying at all hours. Mark Gentry lives on 1/4 acre.
Happy’s owners gave an articulate summary in defense of Happy. They had him castrated when they first acquired him. After the neighbor started complaining, they had the vet out to check his hormone levels to see why he was still occasionally braying. They also tried (without success) a dog shock collar. They stated their property was zoned residential/agricultural and they could have legally up to 3 donkeys, and 9 sheep on the 1 1/2 acre parcel. Happy, besides being a great pet for the Carpenters and their son, was also purchased for the purpose of being a predator control animal, to guard the sheep. Lately, while trying to appease the neighbor, Happy has been locked up at night and is only being let out during the day. This leaves the sheep without any protection during the night hours when the chances of predators are the greatest.
Eventually I was asked to answer the question of “why a donkey brays in the first place”. Perhaps it was because he was answering a donkey up the street or across the canyon, or possibly it was because he was alerting his companions of a potential predator in the immediate area. But because Happy lived in the country with the proper zoning, Happy was simply being a donkey, just like any cow or horse or any farm animal would occasionally communicate.
As the Judge began to make his decision, it was apparent he was struggling. (Note: city boy attorney unfamiliar with living in the country). He commented that the donkey was indeed interrupting the neighbor’s sleep and was therefore was a nuisance. He also agreed that the zoning allowed for said animal. But he said to charge $100 per bray was a little too much, so he reasoned that $750 would be more appropriate. Tension filled the air and Lisa said that nothing would change, the donkey was legally allowed there, what would happen if the neighbor continues to sue over and over again in the future. I spoke up and said that this case could potentially affect livestock owners everywhere. It could affect farmers, dairies, ranchers, horse owners, 4-H’ers, FFA’ers, etc. Every person who happens to own a pet goat and lives in the country could be affected. This case could snowball with this ruling. This (local attorney) Judge, who was merely sitting in for an absent Superior Court Judge, could be setting a precedent by ruling against a pet farm animal who is clearly not violating any zoning requirements established by the county.
In the future, could any person who has a dispute with his/her neighbor (unrelated to the livestock), retaliate by suing in court claiming their goat is making too much noise, the chickens cackle every time they lay an egg, the rooster crows early in the morning, the horse whinnies at feeding time, the dairy cow moos at milking time, etc. Will the farmer be required to get rid of his farm animals because of the neighbor? Will the farmer be fined on a regular basis every time the neighbor takes him to court? When one lives in the country where farm animals are legally allowed, one can expect to hear noises associated with farm animals. These animals cannot be successfully trained to not communicate. When one visits the city, we can expect to hear cars honking, freeway noises including sirens day and night, children outside playing, airplanes, helicopters, lawn-mowers, leaf-blowers, etc.
By this time the Judge (who decided now not to rule immediately on this case), decides instead to take this case under submission. A decision will be announced at a later date. Several television and newspapers are watching this case closely.
Please, after you have read this article, we need your help! If you have a few minutes to spare, write a letter in support of farm animals in general, and donkeys specifically. Either email your letter to: firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to: Crystal Ward, P.O. Box 246, Placerville, CA 95667
Letters should contain your own words, or consider the following letter as an example:
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing about the potential ruling against donkeys (and potentially all farm animals) living in the country. For land that is currently zoned residential/agricultural and farm animals are legally allowed there, the noise associated with said farm animals should not be considered a nuisance. Farm animals cannot be trained to not communicate. All farm animals (assuming they are housed and fed properly) will make noises from time to time, just like any cow will occasionally moo, any pig will occasionally oink, and any donkey will occasionally bray. For any city person who does not like “country noises”, they should move back to the city.
Farm animals add so many benefits to living in the country, they provide food, companionship, responsibility to youth, social and educational benefits such as 4-H and FFA, predator control benefits to smaller livestock, etc. To deprive a family the interaction of having farm animals in a area where the zoning allows it, would be potentially inviting numerous lawsuits to every farmer, rancher, horse owner, and every back yard pet owner everywhere. In this day and age where latch key children grow up with minimal responsibilities and even less supervision, it has been proven that children growing up with pets and livestock assume more responsibilities, less gang affiliations, and become more productive adults.
Ruling against donkeys (and potentially all farm animals) in the country could potentially overwhelm the courts with lawsuits. Realtors who sell ranches and homes in the country have always advertised property as “horse ranches” or smaller parcels as ranchettes. What is a ranch if the neighbor doesn’t want the horses whinnying or the cattle mooing?
Please rule on behalf of farm animals, and Happy the donkey specifically. Happy is simply being a donkey, a well fed, well housed, member of the Carpenter family.
December 09, 2004
What's New in Mules & More
I just got my December issue of the Mules and More magazine, and found a couple really great articles.
One that I really enjoyed reading was the article on page 64 about Oris Reed and his two mules Kate and Molly that have been invited to participating in the America's Cavalry entry in the Rose Parade on January 1, 2005. You can read more about their parade entry and see some great photos of Kate and Molly at http://www.fasterhorses.com/7thcav/
Oris has owned, raise and trained mules since he was a young child many, many years ago. He is also a great storyteller, and I always enjoy reading the stories he writes about his longears adventures from years gone by.
You'll have to watch for Oris with Kate and Molly in the Rose Parade! I know they'll be great ambassadors for the longears community. Way to go, Oris!
December 08, 2004
How Do You Soak a Donkey's Hoof?
Does this sound like the last time you had to soak your donkey's hoof?
How To Soak A Donkeys Foot!
1. Get bucket or low tub, fill with warm water, add Epsom salts until fully diluted. Get donkey, place in cross ties, pick up foot, slide bucket or low tub into place, place donkey's foot in tub.
2. Retrieve tub from corner of barn, get towel to dry off your face.
3. Refill tub with water and Epsom salts. Shorten cross ties. Pick up donkey's foot and place in tub.
4. Retrieve tub from other horse's stall, retrieve donkey from his own stall. Find bailing twine to fix broken crosstie. Wrap towel around head to dry hair. Check rapidly bruising toe for signs of breakage.
5. Place rocks in bottom of tub to weigh it down. Snub donkey to wall of stall, refill tub with water and Epsom salts. Pick up donkey's foot and place in tub. Hold up other front leg.
6. Pick self up off of stall floor. Find place outside where tub has been flung. Retrieve donkey from neighbor's garden, pull rocks out of donkey's water bucket, call spouse for opinion on whether or not wrist may be broken. Explain multiple times to emergency room staff that you did not fall off the donkey.
7. Return to home, enlist spouse to hold donkey, hobble hind legs, tie up front leg, fill tub with water and salt, slide tub into place, while pinning donkey against wall.
8. Apologize to spouse as they view hoof prints across favorite shirt. Wonder if water and Epsom salts is bad for new wrist cast. Check out burgeoning black eye from broken hobbles. Retrieve donkey from cattle farm across the road. Share laugh with cattle farmer about how fast a donkey can move on only three legs.
9. Go to grocery store to purchase ice packs, ibuprofen, more Epsom salts, and scotch.
10. Call vet and ask them to come over and show you how to soak a foot. Pour self tall glass of scotch while waiting.
While I was writing about winter donkey hoof problems, I got to thinking of a neat trick I just kind of stumbled across last winter.
I had only tried to soak my donkeys hooves once before, and it hadn't worked very well. My experience wasn't quite as exciting as the story above, but I didn't really feel like it turned out very well. First, donkeys often don't seem to like getting their feet wet. And second, the rubber feed pan I tried to use was too big and heavy to move around easily, and my donkey, Elsie, didn't think she should have to step into a big feed pan. So I finally gave up on foot soaking for that day.
Last winter when Lily had ice scald in her front hooves, I found a great new way to soak hooves! I had a heavy duty thick plastic dog food bowl that I was no longer using. It was about 7 or 8 inches across and 2 1/2 inches deep. I filled the bottom of the bowl with the warm water I was using to wash Lily's hooves.
I picked up Lily's hoof like normal, moved the plastic dog dish to where her hoof was sitting before I picked it up, and then set her hoof back down in the bowl. Lily never even questioned my motives.
The dog food bowl is a heavy duty enough plastic that it can handle the weigh of the donkeys standing in it fine. It is small enough that I can easily move it where it needs to be, and put the donkey's hoof in it without any fuss. Another important feature is that the bowl is plastic so it won't make any funny clanking noises on the floor like a metal bowl or bucket would.
Here is a picture of Andy with his front foot in the bowl.
So next time you need to soak or wash your donkey's hooves, try using a large plastic dog dish. It really works great!
December 07, 2004
Winter Hoof Troubles
Do you find that your donkeys and mules seem to have more hoof problems in the winter time?
This last weekend my mammoth gelding came up lame with a hoof abscess. Now that the vet has drained and packed it, he should feel better soon. That got me started thinking again about hoof problems that seem to creep up during the wet winter months.
Last winter I had another donkey that got ice scald when it got wet and really cold. After comparing these two situations, I have some hypotheses about several things that I think might contribute to these kind of problems, but I would love to hear what your experiences have been and what seems to trigger these kind of problems.
So I started a new topic this evening on the LongearsMall Forums about hoof problems. You can add your experiences to my new topic entitled Hoof Abscesses, or you can start your own topic.
Thrush Prevention and Treatment
While we're on the subject of hoof care, here is a neat tip that you might find useful.
Thrush can be an especially aggravating problem this time of year when the ground is often wet and muddy. Our donkeys and mules tend to collect lots of wet manure and mud in their hooves. If this is not kept cleaned out on a daily basis, they can quickly develop thrush in their hooves.
Would you like to know a simple and inexpensive cure for thrush? Mix half water and half 3% hydrogen peroxide in a plastic spray bottle. 3% hydrogen peroxide can be purchased in the medical section of your local grocery store.
After you clean out your donkey or mule's hooves, thoroughly spray their sole and frog with the peroxide mixture. Let it soak in a little bit before you put their hoof down. The peroxide kills the bacteria that cause thrush, and after several days of this treatment, their hooves should be nice and clean again.
I've also heard of other treatments that cure thrush, but I've had such great success with the peroxide mix that I've never tried them.
Don't forget to keep your donkey and mule's hooves cleaned out regularly. Thrush only grows in areas without oxygen, so keeping their hooves clean will greatly help avoid this problem.
December 06, 2004
I recently ordered a copy of Mike Kerson's "Longears Everywhere" video of Bishop Mule Days 2003. After watching it, I have to say this is an excellent video for those who want to catch a glimpse of the thrill of Bishop Mule Days.
From big teams of draft mules pulling old-fashioned wagons to the colorful Mule Days drill team, the challenge of Gambler's Choice Driving, Donkey and Mule races, fancy parade entries, barrel racing and pole bending, the two awesome 20-mule teams that were at Mule Days and more - I think Mike's "Longears Everywhere" video does an excellent job of condensing the excitement of a whole week and the diversity of activities down into an hour of highlights. I have really enjoyed watching and re-watching this video.
I can't wait until Mike's next Mule Days 2004 video is out. This last summer among other things he was able to film the Mule Days Pack Scramble from down in the arena, in the middle of the action! I hear that had some exciting moments while all the mules were running around!
I even got a few photos of Mike while he was filming the Pack Scramble. In this one you can find him near the middle in the dark shirt with his assistant, in the blue shirt, standing nearby to pull him out of harms way.
December 05, 2004
New LongearsMall Forums
I really appreciate all the good comments and suggestions for ways to make LongearsMall.com an even better place to visit. A number of you have ask for a LongearsMall.com Forum section. Recently I purchased the industry-leading Invision Power Board Forums package. It is now set up for your enjoyment. You can access it at LongearsMall.com by selecting Forums from the main menu.
When you access the LongearsMall.com Forums you will see "Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )" in the upper left corner of your web page. You can read all of the posts as a Guest. If you would like to contribute new questions, or respond to existing questions, just click "Register" to create a login. You can immediately log in and start posting to the forums.
The Forums login and password is maintained independently from the login and password for maintaining Store and Classified listings. You can make them the same if you would like.
Here are the headings we currently have for the LongearsMall.com Forums:
- News and Updates
- User Feedback
- Miniature Donkeys
- Standard Donkeys
- Mammoth Jackstock
- Buying and Selling Issues
- Stud Care
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