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January 31, 2005

Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 5

Now are you ready for the next step in training your donkey for hoof care and handling? If you've completed the steps in my previous articles, you should be well on your way.

Now that your donkey is comfortable with you picking up both his front feet and back feet, you are ready to start teaching him to accept actual hoof care and trimming. I usually work with the front hooves first.

Start by picking up your donkey's front hoof and holding it like this.


While holding your donkey's hoof in this position, you can use a hoof pick to clean the dirt out of your donkey's hoof. Try to be aware if your donkey has a sensitive spot in his hoof when you are picking them out. Usually he shouldn't mind you picking them out, but sometimes he will have a more tender area, and will flinch when you pick hard or deep there. I try to be gentle in tender areas, so that I don't teach the donkey that it will hurt if he stands still while I clean his hooves.

Next, once your donkey will stand happily while you pick his front hooves out, you can teach him about hoof rasping. You can usually purchase a good hoof rasp through your local tack store, or you can also order them online.

Note: I suggest that you wear a pair of leather work gloves to protect your hands while you are using a hoof rasp or hoof nippers. It is too easy to slip and rasp your skin if you don't have gloves on.

When I first start rasping, I hold the donkey's hoof in the same position shown above, and gently rasp across the bottom of their hoof a few times. It will cause their hoof to vibrate a little as the rasp is moving across, but usually the donkey will learn pretty quickly to not worry about that.

Next you can teach your donkey to let you hold his front hoof between your legs like a farrier would. This usually works better with standard and mammoth size donkeys. I don't think I'd try it with miniatures. Their legs are shorter and lower to the ground.


Stand close to your donkey's side, facing his tail. Lift his front foot up like before, and then put it between your legs. I usually hold it about where my knee is. Try not to bend the donkey's leg to far out to the side, as that will be uncomfortable for them.

While gripping the foot between your legs, your hands are free to trim with hoof nippers or rasp their hoof more quickly. If you practice these things with your donkey before the farrier comes, it will make it much easier for the farrier.

For miniature donkeys, once they stand quietly while you hold their hoof, you can kneel down on one knee beside them and rest their hoof on the other knee while you work on it. This only works if the donkey will stand still, but it is much more comfortable for the miniature donkeys than holding their hoof between your knees.

You can also practice tapping and rocking your donkey's front hooves while you hold them in these different positions. They should learn to be comfortable with you messing with their feet and doing whatever you might need to with them.

That should give you plenty to practice for this week. Next week we'll talk about working on the back hooves.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 11:15 PM | Comments (0)

January 28, 2005

Donkey Visitor on the Beach

I think I'm in the mood for a story today. How about you?

Here is a great story that I found recently. I thought you would probably enjoy reading it as much as I did. I want to thank Michael Mendick for letting me share it here. You might enjoy reading more about his travels, on his website.

So now it's story time...

Kristie Jorgensen

Mikey's Donkey Story
by Michael Mendick

When I went to the Virgin Islands by myself in the summer of 1994, I stayed at the Cinnamon Bay campground. I had a cottage by the beach, and it was quite lovely. I had taken along several bags of fig newtons, as I knew that sort of thing was quite expensive down there. The second evening I was there, I took my beach chair, a book, and some fig newtons to sit and read until the sunset. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. After an hour or so, the sun slowly set over the ocean, and I sat there in the chair staring the whole time. The small ocean waves were advancing, and retreating serenely, making that wonderful ocean noise, all the while getting a little higher. Right before the sun set completely, the little waves were starting to rise over the seat of my chair, making me quite wet, but I was completely rooted to the spot, and did not want to move even one inch. After the sunset, I went to my cottage, set all my stuff absent-mindedly on the table and went to sleep.

When I woke, I realized that ants had gotten into my half-eaten package of fig newtons. I threw them away in the little trash can outside my cottage, and thought nothing more of them. I had another glorious day in paradise, and came back to my cottage blissfully tired again that night.

When I woke the next day, right after sunrise, it was to an awful racket outside my room. It sounded as if a steel drum band was trying to destroy all their equipment. When I opened the door to see what the racket was, I saw a large wild donkey on my porch, trying frantically to get its mouth into a rolling metal trash can with fig newtons at the bottom of it. He was kicking and pushing the can into the wall, the picnic table, and all other impedimenta on the porch to try to get those fig newtons. When he saw me, I can swear he looked at me with desperate supplication, "Come on guy, help out a poor donkey who is down on his luck, huh?" I patted the donkey on the head, reached into the trash can and pulled out the fig newtons. I hand fed this donkey about a half pound of the chewy cookies, the whole while he looked happy as can be. When the package was empty, he looked at me as if to say "Thanks a bunch, guy, you're a trooper" and he moseyed on off to see what other trash can goodies he could find at the other cottages.

The next morning, I woke to an odd knock on my door. There was my friend of yesterday, "Hey bro, got any more of those fine fig newtons?" I couldn't say no to something like that, so I broke open another bag of fig newtons, sat on the picnic table and shared my breakfast with a wild donkey, next to the beach, with the Caribbean sun coming up and the marvelous sound of the waves on the air.

This pattern repeated itself, over the next few days, until my last day there, when he came to my door, I was out of fig newtons. I patted him on the head and said I was sorry, but no cookies today. He just looked at me again, "That's alright man, I'll see what else I can find, take care" and went off down the beach.

To this day, there is a donkey necklace hanging in my car, celebrating my friend, the fig newton loving donkey of Cinnamon Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands.


Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

January 27, 2005

Treat of the Week - Juicy Orange Appetizers

Here is another treat that my donkeys absolutely love! But it can be a little sticky.

Select a nice fresh orange. Wash it and slice it in round circles. If you want to get fancy, you can garnish it with fresh green mint leaves.


Fresh oranges are one of my donkeys' favorite treats! If you are in a hurry you can just slice them in quarters, and the donkeys will enjoy them just the same. I give my donkeys up to one orange a day for the standard size, and sometimes two for the big mammoths.

I have also heard that some people have had success significantly reducing or eliminating problems of their donkeys chewing the wood off their barns and fences by adding a quarter if an orange per day to their donkeys' feed.

I didn't personally see a big difference in my particular donkeys last summer, but it is something worth keeping in mind to try if you have a longeared "beaver". From what I've heard, for some donkeys it can be pretty effective.

Either way, I'm sure if your donkeys are like mine, they'll love oranges! Last summer I bought a big box of navel oranges, and gave the donkeys a few slices every morning when I went out to check on them. They started looking forward to they morning orange slices, and would give me such pitiful neglected looks if I forgot to bring their orange slices one morning! They can be such characters sometimes!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 09:39 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2005

Longears Friendly Bridles

So how do you find a bridle that will fit those big long donkey and mule ears? That can be a challenge sometimes!

KristieJorgensen.jpgHere are several ways I have found to solve that problem.

There are bridles specially designed for longeared equines, that have a snap on one side of the crown piece. These are usually called "Be Kind To Ears" bridles, or some people refer to them as BKTE bridles. The only places I've found to get them are either mail order from a specialty tack supplier or custom made.

But suppose you just want to be able to find something locally. Here is a great solution I have found. First go to your local tack store and find a bridle headstall that fits your donkey or mule well. I usually have to look for headstalls with large throatlatches. The throatlatch on most horse bridles is a little too small for my donkeys, so I make sure to check that first. I also make sure the bridle has a large enough brow band that it will fit around my donkey's big forehead and ears.

I prefer brow band headstalls as opposed to one-eared headstalls with a loop around one ear. My donkeys' ears are bigger around than most horse ears, and I find that the brow band headstalls have more room to accommodate them.

Once I find a headstall that fits well, I get two large snaps of the style pictured below.


Then I attach the snaps on the end of the bit holders on either side of the headstall. Now I can easily snap and unsnap the bit off of the headstall.


With this arrangement I can unsnap the near side of the bit, then gently slide the bridle down over the donkey or mule's ears. Then I reach across and lift the bit into their mouth. Once they have the bit properly in their mouth, I clip the snap onto the bit on the near side. Next I can finish buckling the throatlatch and making any minor adjustments, and I'm all ready to go!


If I have a larger bridle and my donkey is used to bridles and used to me messing with his ears, I have found that I can get by without the extra bit snaps. I just lengthen the check straps to a looser hole, then put the bridle on like I would on a horse - gently guiding one ear at a time into its place. Then once the bridle is on, I tighten the check straps back up to the proper place.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 25, 2005

How Do I View Past Articles

Thanks for all your great comments and suggestions! One of you just asked me a very good question - How do you view past articles?

All of the articles posted on the Longears Mall website are archived where you can access them anytime. First select the column you are interested in from the News and Articles Menu. In this example we will look at the "It's All Happening At The Mall" column.


A screen will load with several of the most recent articles in this column. On the right side of the screen you will see a little calendar for the current month. You can click on any of the underlined days to view the articles from that day.


You will also see a search box below the calendar. If you remember part of the article's title or a keyword in the article, just type it in the box and click the "Search" button. A list of all the articles that match that criteria will be displayed.


Below the search section, you will also find a list of past months under the Archives heading. You can click on a particular month to view the articles from that month.


And lastly, you will see a list of "Recent Entries" below the Archives section. This list shows the headings for the last 10 articles. You can click on any of these headings to read the articles.


So you don't have to miss any of the great articles we've posted here. Just find them in the archives!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 09:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 24, 2005

Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 4

In part 3 of this series on Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care, you will remember we talked about getting your donkey used to letting you lift his back feet with a thick cotton rope.

Still using the rope, ask your donkey to let you lift his back foot off the ground and then set it back down again. Repeat this several times while lengthening the time you ask him to let you hold his foot up. Some donkeys will get impatient or nervous if you hold their foot up for more than a few seconds at first, but with practice and patience they will soon learn to wait for you to set it down again.

Once the donkey is completely comfortable with that, and no longer hesitating or fighting it, but just peacefully standing there while I lift and hold his foot with the rope, then I will move to lifting his foot with my hand.


First I run my hand down the outside of his back leg from his hip down to just below his hock. Then I gently lift up with my hand cupped around his leg as show in these pictures. With my hand in this position, I can pretty well keep my body out of kicking danger while still lifting his back foot with my hand.


I lift his leg then set it down, repeating the process until he is completely comfortable with it.


Once he's happy with that then I'll start handling farther down his leg, holding his back foot down near the hoof, and eventually rocking and tapping his hoof in preparation for actual hoof care. Take things slow and easy so that you can build your confidence as well as your donkey's confidence along the way. If you are relaxed and your donkey is at ease with what you are doing, it will be a much more pleasurable experience for both of you.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:27 PM | Comments (2)

January 21, 2005

Hoof Boots for Mini Feet

Recently I received an email from one of our website guests with a great suggestion.

Pauline wrote, "Just thought I would give you some info about how we take care of hoof problems. We bought a Donkey that had White Line Disease. It was pretty far gone and being novices we called the Vet and Farrier. The Vet suggested having the Farrier out once a week to cut away the hoof.

We found that trying to keep the hoof covered so the medicine could work was a problem. We solved it by getting "Dog Boots". We ordered ours from Lewis Dog Boots - Tel # 580 237-1292. The XX Large size is a perfect fit for our miniature donkeys, and is made of thick durable rubber. A set of four boots costs $27 plus $6.95 S & H. We get the boots with ventilation holes. Since then we have used these boots for other hoof ailments, too.

Adam our white line disease little guy has recovered fully. It took almost a year for his hoof to grow back. We were new to having donkeys, and if we had not had the Farrier out we might never have noticed until it was too late. I would suggest at least a once a year check with a Farrier. Hope this is helpful."

Thanks Pauline for sharing that great tip! I know that it can be hard sometimes to find ways to keep our equines feet clean and dry while we are treating hoof ailments. This sounds like a really good solution for the little miniature donkeys and mules whose hooves are too small for any traditional horse hoof boots.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2005

Treat of the Week - Watermelon Wonder

Sometimes it's nice to just have a simple juicy sweet treat. Here's one your longeared buddies will love!

I think every one of my donkeys absolutely loves watermelon. Usually when we have watermelon to eat in the summer time, we will give the fresh rinds to the donkeys. They chomp them right down.

Something else fun to do is to take a whole watermelon and cut just the very end off so that they can smell the sweet juicy inside but have to work a little bit harder to get to it. Then give it to your longears and see what they do. It can be very entertaining to watch them try to figure out how to eat such a big piece.

Here are some photos of my donkeys enjoying their watermelon treats!


Elsie is wasting no time in eating her watermelon. She has to hurry before someone else comes along and takes it.


Here Lily and Pansy are sharing a big slice of watermelon rind.


And another picture of Pansy eating her watermelon.


I like to call this one my "Hoover Donkey". Look at that mouth! It looks like Lily is about ready to just slurp up that juicy slice of watermelon in one big gulp!


Next time you have extra watermelon, try giving some to your donkeys or mules and see what they do. I bet they'll love it!

Just make sure the watermelon is fresh and still good. You don't want to feed your longears anything that is old or spoiled that would make them sick. But they will love fresh watermelon treats!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2005

Hay Feeders

What kind of hay feeder should you use?

I have found that there are quite a variety of options when it comes to choosing a hay feeder for your donkeys or mules. I tried several different kinds before I found one that I liked.

When we got our first donkey, she was able to eat her hay out of a large bucket with our two pet sheep. Often they would dump the hay out on the ground, but the bucket worked pretty good until we bought more donkeys. Then there got to be too many heads and too much hay for just one bucket.


So we started feeding our donkeys and sheep out of a modified wooden calf hay feed bin. It was big enough to hold their hay, but it was so shallow that they would end up tossing about half of the hay out on the ground after only a few minutes at the bin. And also since the bin was made of wood, it eventually got chewed up quite a bit and we threw it out.


After we got into mammoth donkeys, we moved the sheep to their own pen, and I decided it was time to buy a bigger and better hay feeder. I went down to my local horse supply store, and found a great looking metal feed rack. it was made out of rebar and 55 gallon drum halves welded together to make a sturdy feeder with troughs about waist high and the hay rack above.

You can sort of see the metal hay feeder standing behind my donkeys in this picture.


That feeder worked okay for the adult donkeys, but it was too high for foals to reach very easily. So after a few months I decided to go shopping again for a different kind of feeder. I also didn't like the way the donkeys always ended up with grass, leaves, and hay particles all over in the fur on their faces when they ate out of the metal feed rack.

So I started shopping. I wanted a feeder that was low to the ground so the donkeys' faces would be above the hay instead of below the hay. I also needed a feeder that was big enough for several donkeys to share, and that wouldn't get eaten like a wooden bin.

I found a great solution to my problem. At my local feed store I found a heavy polyethylene trough that perfectly suited my needs. It is made by a company call Tuff Stuff. It looks just like this one that can be ordered through Aubuchon Hardware.


This trough is big enough that my 5 donkeys can all eat out of the same bin. The hay is fed at ground level, but the sides are high enough that usually very little hay gets tossed out. But the sides are still low enough that my mammoth jackstock foals can reach the feed easily. The polyethylene is very durable, and handles the beating it gets very well. Cold weather doesn't seem to effect its strength either.


While we are talking about feeders, here is a good article I found on EquiSearch.com about the advantages of feeding your equines at floor level. It looks like a very good article to read, and can give you some more pointers in choosing your mule or donkey's feeder.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 09:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2005

Bishop Mule Days

I think it's time for some more photos! How about you?

Bishop Mule Days is coming up again in about 4 months, and I can't wait! I think they are sending out entry books this week. It's time to start deciding what events you want to be in this summer.

While we're waiting for the entry books to get here, I'll share a few more of my photos from Bishop Mule Days 2004.

This is SCMM Merlin navigating the U-turn in the Donkey Gamblers Choice Driving Class. Merlin and his owner, Jim Porter, are a legend at Mule Days. They are a great team to watch, and always have a good sense of humor that will make anyone laugh!


This second photo is of Five Mile Farm's Booger Bear ridden by Dr. Kelly Riccitelli. In this photo they are participating in one of the jumping classes.


Here we have a pair of team ropers practicing their stuff. Those mules can run pretty fast.


And last for today, here is a neat team of draft mules pulling their chariot around the track. I think it is always fascinating to see all the different types of mule drawn vehicles that are brought to Mule Days.


There are so many exciting things to see and do at Bishop Mule Days, you won't want to miss it!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2005

Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 3

So what is the next training step once your donkey will let you pick up his front feet, and is comfortable with you rubbing all over and in between his back legs?

For the next step, you will need a 3/4" thick cotton rope. It is very important that the rope be cotton, because synthetic ropes can give you or your donkey rope burn. I found that cotton rope with that large a diameter was hard to find locally, so I ordered mine through a place like Valley Vet Supply. You will need at least 15 feet of rope. I just bought a 50-foot roll and cut it down.

First I hold the rope loosely looped through my hand, and I start rubbing the handful of rope all over the donkey, starting on the shoulder and moving back. This teaches your donkey that he doesn't need to be afraid of the rope. It feels good to get a back rub, so he soon learns that it's just fine to let the rope touch him and flop around on him.

Once he is comfortable with me rubbing the rope it all over his back and hips, I run the rope through between his back legs and around to one side, so that I have two ends of the rope in my hands and the loop going loosely around his back leg above the hock (see picture 1). This part should be done with the donkey either tied up or with an assistant holding the donkey's lead rope so he can't run away.

Picture 1: Rope above donkey's hock.

If the donkey is comfortable with that, I gently slide the rope back and forth to get the donkey used to something moving around his leg. As he becomes comfortable with that, I let the rope slide down lower and lower until he is comfortable with me sliding it up and down and back and forth all around his leg (see picture 2). If at any point he starts fidgeting and becoming uncomfortable, I back up to a place he was okay with and start again from there.

Picture 2: Sliding rope around all up and down the leg.

The beauty of doing this with the long rope is that you can stand out of kicking range while your donkey is getting used to his legs being handled. That way if he does get upset and kicks, you are out of the way and safe.

Once I can slide the rope all around the donkey's leg, I let the rope slide down around the bottom of pastern just above the hoof (see picture 3).

Picture 3: Rope around pastern.

I then gently pull on the rope a few times, applying pressure to that area. Usually at this point the donkey may hesitate or show signs that he is unsure about what I'm doing (see picture 4). I go back to sliding the rope up and down and around his leg, and then go down and apply the pressure again.

Picture 4: Donkey is hesitant and pulling away from rope.

Once he stops hesitating when I apply pressure, I ask him to let me lift his foot off the ground and set it back down again by adding more pressure to the rope. Usually this is the point where most donkeys that are going to kick will do it. The goal is to try to avoid getting to the point where they decide to kick, and giving them a release just before they decide to kick so they will learn they don't have to kick or don't get into a struggle with you.

Once your donkey is relaxed about letting you move the rope all up and down and around his back legs, and doesn't mind you lifting his back feet with the rope (see picture 5), then you are ready to move on to the next step.

Picture 5: Donkey is relaxed now and letting me do the lifting.

If you have any question along the way, please email me and I'll try to explain in more detail.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2005

West Nile Virus

I know it doesn't seem like it yet, but it won't be too many more weeks until spring will be here, and mosquito season will start again.

It is important that you consider taking precautions to protect your donkey and mule buddies from West Nile Virus in the coming mosquito season. Fort Dodge recommends that previously unvaccinated equines receive two doses of the vaccine at 3-6 week intervals with the second dose completed at least a month before mosquito season starts. Previously vaccinated equines should also receive at least one yearly booster. In some areas it is recommended that equines receive more than one booster per year. Please consult your veterinarian for a plan specific for your area.

Fort Dodge has a lot of information about Equine West Nile Virus and the West Nile-Innovator vaccine at http://www.equinewestnile.com.

The Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website has some good information and links about West Nile Virus in equines as well.

Here is a map of West Nile Virus cases in 2004

Now is the time to talk with your veterinarian about what is best for your area, and start planning your 2005 vaccination schedule.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2005

Treat of the Week - Strawberry Sunshine Sandwiches

Here is a pretty quick and easy treat that your donkeys will enjoy. And it's a great snack for us people, too.


Strawberry Sunshine Sandwiches

1 16 oz. Package of Frozen Strawberries (unsweetened - no sugar added)
2 1/4 cups Apple Juice
1/4 cup Corn Starch
1/2 cup Sugar (optional)
Whole Wheat Bread

Combine the frozen strawberries and 2 cups of the apple juice in a pan, and start heating them on the stove. The apple juice sweetens the strawberries some, but if you prefer an even sweeter sauce, you can add the optional sugar to the strawberry & apple juice mixture. Next mix the other 1/4 cup of apple juice and the corn starch in a seperate cup and set aside. When the strawberries start getting soft, mash them with a fork to break them up in smaller pieces. Continue heating until the strawberry/apple juice mixture comes to a boil. Once the strawberry mixture is boiling, remove it from the stove and immediately stir in the corn starch mixture to thicken it. Now the sauce is done.

Next use metal cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the whole wheat bread slices. I chose longears shaped cookie cutters for mine. You can then make sandwiches with the strawberry sauce between bread shapes, spread strawberry sauce on single bread shapes to make open-faced sandwiches, or you can also use the strawberry sauce like a gel to decorate cakes, cookies or other treats.

What did my donkey taste test crew think of these goodies? Yummmmm!

By the way, my donkeys also like fresh strawberries. In the summer time when we have ripe strawberries in our garden, I will sometimes throw a few across the fence into the donkeys' pen. When they hear one fall, they will start sniffing the ground and searching for it until one finds and eats the little sweet morsels.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2005

More About "Happy"

I was just thinking about "Happy" the donkey who got sued for braying. So I started looking on Internet to see if I could find any more information about "Happy".

On the website for the The Sacramento Bee, I found several interesting articles about "Happy" and his trial case with the neighbor who was complaining about Happy's bray. They also have some great photos of Happy and his family.

Neighbor says nay to donkey's brays - October 14, 2004

Judge hears noise lawsuit over Happy the donkey - December 11, 2004

Donkey's braying won't cost Meadow Vista owner - December 29, 2004

Happy the donkey can bray away, judge rules - December 30, 2004

It looks like Happy is a sweet tempered donkey, and a much loved member of the Carpenter family. I am sure they are glad that Happy can stay. Thanks to all of you who wrote letters to Judge Marman in support of Happy.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)

January 11, 2005

Where Shall We Go?

This winter weather is getting kind of old. Are you itching to travel some place warmer like I am?

I thought it would be fun to take a tour through some of the store listings in the Longears Mall, and see what great places I could find to visit on my next vacation trip!

So to start my journey, I clicked on the "Stores & Classifieds" | "Stores" menu.


There are quite a few Store categories to choose from, but for now I think I'll check out the "Tours & Travel" section.


The "Tours & Travel" category lists quite a number of great longears related places from all over the world that you can visit while on your next vacation trip. Here are just a few of them:

One place that caught my eye is Molokai Mule Ride, Inc. If you get a chance to go to Hawaii, it looks like it would be well worth your time to visit Kalaupapa National Historical Park and take their guided mule tour. On the tour you will ride down the spectacular sea cliffs on the northern coast of the island of Molokai. Then you can tour the site of the leper colony that was served by Father Damien many years ago. It sounds like this tour is filled with beautiful scenery and fascinating history. Even if you never get to go to Hawaii, you might still enjoy visiting their photo album.


Another place I'd like to go someday is down into the Grand Canyon on mule back. You can find out more about the Grand Canyon and their mule rides at their website. I imagine they don't have very many rides going this time of year, but during the summer time they probably have quite a few.


And if you are looking for something a little less strenuous, you might enjoy spending your vacation time at Mule Power Farms. I'm sure it is a little warmer in sunny southern Arizona, and it looks like they have some beautiful areas to ride as well as a great place to stay.


So next time you are planning a vacation, you should look through the listings in our "Tours & Travel" directory and see if there are any places you'd like to visit along the way.

Oh, by the way, if you know of any great places to go trail riding, we'd love to have you join our favorite trail rides discussion on the Longears Mall Forums. Several of us have shared information about neat trails in our areas. Please come join us, and tell us about your favorite places to go riding!


Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 06:38 AM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2005

Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 2

KristieJorgensen.jpgSo is your donkey happily allowing you to brush him all over yet? Once your donkey is comfortable with letting you brush his hips, down to his hocks, and in between his back legs, you can move on to this next step.

It may take a few days to accomplish each step, but take your time and don't try to move on until your donkey is ready.

The next few steps are easiest done with an assistant to hold your donkey's lead rope or with your donkey safely tied up, so that he can't wonder too far to move away from you while you are first teaching him to lift his feet.

I usually start with the front feet first since in my experience my donkeys are less concerned about that. I start by brushing the donkey and going through the previous steps to get them comfortable and relaxed.

Then while facing toward their tail, I lean over and gently slide one hand down the front side of their front leg to just above the fetlock joint. This is the hand that their lower leg will rest in once they pick up their foot. I am right-handed and use my left hand to pick up their foot, so that my right hand is free to operate the hoof pick or what ever else I am using on their hoof.

With the other hand I sort of gently squeeze-release or tickle the back side of their front leg at about the same point - usually on either side of the flexor tendon. This tickling will usually encourage them to pick up their foot. As soon as they let me lift their foot, I set it back down immediately, but gently, and lavishly praise them!

Make sure to set their foot down instead of just dropping it as this can hurt and cause them to be more reluctant to let you have their foot in the future.

Also the immediate praise is very important. Usually they will be a little startled the first time the pick up their foot and you catch or old it. By setting it back down right away and praising them, they know they did the right thing and it was a pleasant experience. At this stage in training I usually use a combination of food treats and rubs in favorite places as a reward.

Once I have praised them, I start over again brushing the donkey's shoulder and leg until they are relaxed and comfortable. Then I ask for them to pick up their front foot again. I usually repeat this a few times with each front foot.

Your donkey may catch on fast or it may take a few days before your donkey is completely comfortable with this step and ready to move on. Just take your time and in the end you will have a donkey who trusts you and has a good foundation that you can build on in future training sessions.

Next time we'll move on to the next step - picking up your donkey's back feet!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 09:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2005

Back Country Pack Stations

I think it's time for some more pictures! Have you ever wondered what a back country pack station is like?


While we were at Bishop Mule Days last summer, we took a short trip up to Mammoth Lakes. While we were there we stopped at the Mammoth Lakes Pack Station. They had not opened up yet for the summer season, but I enjoyed getting to see how they had the station layed out.

I could imagine what it is like during the summer season when the corrals are full of mules and pack teams are coming and going. It would be fun to go back and visit sometime when they are open and operating.

While we were there, I took a few photos of their facilities.

Here are some corrals where it looked like they might keep their pack mules.


This little building has a sign labeled "Mule Train Depot" on the front, with a place on one side for "Pack Tarps" and a place on the other side for "Lash Ropes".


This looks like where the mules stand waiting for the show to begin. The rail in front looked to me like a hitching line/feed trough arrangement. Behind the rail, there are several buildings. If you look closely you can see that it looks like they are for storing things like pack saddles and pads, etc.


Here is a closer picture of some of the saddle racks. I enjoyed reading all the mules' names on the nameplates above each one!


The Mammoth Lakes area has some beautiful backcountry to explore. I would love to have the opportunity to pack into that backcountry area someday!


Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2005

Treat of the Week - Apple Molasses Cookies

If you are like me, you are always looking for great new treats for your mules and donkeys (and for yourself). So I thought I would post a new treat recipe and review every week. Here is the first one.

These Apple Molasses Cookies are simple and easy to make. My donkeys gave them 5 Stars on the taste test. Even my gelding, who is a pretty picky eater, was begging for more!

These cookies are also human edible, and are a great healthy snack. They are soft, with little bits of juicy baked apple throughout. If you prefer sweeter cookies, you can add a little sugar to the dough to sweeten it to your taste.


Apple Molasses Cookies
2 cups Rolled Oats
1 3/4 cups Diced Apple
1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 tablespoons Molasses
1 cup Hot Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients thoroughly.
Spoon dough onto non-stick cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes.
Remove from cookie sheet, and put on plate or cooling rack to cool.

This recipe makes approximately 24 cookies.

Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:28 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2005

Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 1

In yesterday's article, I described several reasons why your donkey might choose to kick. One situation where he might kick is when you are handling and/or trimming his hooves. Here is the first step I take to gain his confidence and teach him that he doesn't need to be scared and kick when I'm working with his feet.

My very first priority is to remain safe. Donkeys can kick back as well as out to the side. When I don't know how my donkey will react to my handling his legs and feet, I try to stay close in near his shoulder or as close as possible.

I start with something my donkey is comfortable with. A good place to start would be brushing his neck, shoulders, and back. Don't start off with something he is uncomfortable with or scared of. This pleasant brushing will calm him down and get his mind off of the scary things you might do.

Then while I am still standing in a safe place and watching his reaction, I start brushing down his front legs. If he is uncomfortable with me brushing his front legs, I brush a couple strokes on his shoulder or neck, and then let one stroke go from his shoulder part way down his leg. Then I just brush his shoulder a few more times. I repeat this, while increasing the frequency I brush down his front leg and the distance I go, as he is comfortable with it. He will start to learn that nothing bad happens when that "accidental" brush stroke goes further down his leg, and that he doesn't need to fear your touching him there.

Once my donkey has completely accepted my brushing all up and down and around his front legs, I move on to working on his back legs. I start off brushing his back - the place he is comfortable. When he is relaxed with that, I start brushing farther back on his hips. If he becomes uncomfortable at any point, I move back to an area that he is comfortable, and then try again.

Once he is comfortable with me brushing his hips, I start brushing farther down toward his hocks, around his flank, and between his back legs. Take this slowly at a rate that he is comfortable with.

You may have to start by stroking him with some kind of extension (i.e. a glove on the end of a short stick, or a whip), so that you can stay out of kicking range until you are sure that he is comfortable with what you are doing, and won't kick you. Then once you feel he is ok with you brushing him with the extension, you can switch to using your hand to brush him in the same areas.

Just take things slow and safe. Depending on your donkey's past experiences and confidence level in you, you may be able to cover this first phase in a few minutes or it may take you a few weeks. Just be patient and watch your donkey's reactions to know when he is comfortable and ready to move on.

Once your donkey is completely comfortable with you brushing or rubbing him all over up and down his front and back legs and in between them, you are ready to move on to the next step that we will discuss later in part 2.

Happy Donkey Training!

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2005

What do I do if My Donkey is Kicking?

KristieJorgensen.jpgKicking can be a very dangerous vice if allowed to become a habit. Here are a few things you might consider in deciding how to deal with this problem.

Start by looking at what is happening and what might be causing the donkey to react that way before you decide how to respond. The donkey could be kicking because he is angry, scared, hurt, excited, upset, or even just happy (as in running around kicking up his heels).

Once you have figured out why he is kicking, and what caused him to decide to kick, you can use appropriate measures. If I have a young donkey who is excited and energetic because of a cool summer rain storm and breeze, I may decide that it is best to just let him frolic around the pasture and enjoy kicking up his heels, instead of trying to approach him to halter him and do a training lesson right then.

If it is feeding time and your donkey is trying to kick at you while you are getting his dinner ready, he may be trying to boss you around. I don't consider this acceptable, and will tell the donkey in no uncertain terms (using donkey body language) that I expect him to wait respectfully until I let him approach the feeder and eat. As "head jennet", I should be able to decide when he is allowed to approach the food or should wait.

If you have a jennet that has a sore udder and is kicking at her foal when it tries to nurse, she may be kicking because every time the foal nurses it hurts her. By taking this into account, you can react to the situation in an appropriate manner.

If I am trying to trim a donkey's hooves, and his is trying to kick, it may be because he has had a bad experience with hoof trimming before, and is scared. Or maybe he has never had someone try to handle his back feet, and he is confused. With patience I can help him overcome these fears and learn that I won't hurt him when I handle his hooves.

Usually once you figure out why your donkey is kicking, you can find a way to resolve the problem without intimidating the donkey and forcing him into submission. The key is to take things slowly and always keep safety in mind.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 08:27 AM | Comments (2)

January 03, 2005

Happy New Years!

I hope you all had a great holiday season! I'm sure, like me, you are looking forward to the coming months - many great trail rides, shows, time with you're longeared buddies, and many experiences along the way.

While I was thinking about the new year, I was surfing on Internet and found this fun list of New Year's Resolutions for the Horse Lover. I think a lot of them could apply to us longears owners, too!

And while we're making our resolutions, here are a few for your favorite longeared buddies:

Your Donkey's or Mule's New Year's Resolutions

- I will only wiggle a little (just enough to stay out of his reach) when the vet comes to give me shots.

- I'll reserve my chewing on the barn for times with mom and dad can't see me. Then I can surprise them!

- I will only toss the best hay on the floor. Then I can more easily sort through it and find the best tasting morsels before anyone else, while leaving the rest in the manger for later.

- When mommy brings out the halter I'll be the first to meet her - but only if she's coming to take one of my buddies out instead.

- Clean shavings are a wonderful gift of love from my mom. So I'll do my best every time to show her how much I appreciate my freshly cleaned stall. The ultimate way to do this is by peeing right in the middle of the shavings as soon as she is finished cleaning my stall.

- I will always load in the trailer when daddy asks me to, but only if he isn't in a hurry and we aren't going anywhere. Moving floors were not meant to be stood on.

- Mom always says we need to be clipped for shows in the spring. Maybe I'll start working early and surprise her with my excellent barber skills on my herd buddies. It can't take too long to remove a mouthful of hair here and there, and a chew off their tails.

- Humans don't like too much noise. So I will be polite and only bray when I have a good reason to. That may include feeding times, whenever I see a person that might come talk to me, when I'm board, when mommy is training my buddy, when mommy leaves without giving me a treat, or any other time I feel like it...

- And lastly, I'll be the most lovable mule or donkey in the whole wide world!

Happy New Years!
Kristie Jorgensen


Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)