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.
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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at January 31, 2005 11:15 PM