January 10, 2005
Training Your Donkey for Hoof Care - Part 2
So 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!
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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at January 10, 2005 09:42 PM