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March 31, 2009

Observant Equines

Have you ever noticed how fast your mule or donkey can pick up on something having been moved or out of place? Or how easily sometimes they can notices the smallest detail that you might have missed?

Observant Donkey

I had a funny experience with my gelding Andy a few weeks ago. Andy is the sweetest, most cooperative, best trained donkey. I ride him, drive him, show him, etc. But Andy hates shots, though he has gotten better about them since I got him. He's good for the vet treating him for other things, but every time he needs shots of any kind he either has to be put in vet stocks first or twitched tight, then he'll stand nicely for the needles and we can get his shots or coggins done with little or no fuss, fight or ruckus. I've gotten to where I always use a twitch while doing his shots. That makes it so much faster, easier, and the unpleasant part is over before he has a chance to get all unhappy. Just put the twitch on, give the shot, then take the twitch off and give a treat. It's all over in a matter of seconds and no one gets all worked up about it.

He's always been good for me doing any other kind of doctoring he's needed, bathing with a hose, clipping him, etc, even stood nicely while I rinsed the back side of his ears off with the hose last time I bathed him.

A few weeks ago he had a small scabby spot on his side that I wanted to wash with nolvasan. I had a 30cc syringe (no needle) that I thought would work well for holding the nolvasan and applying the nolvasan to the spot I wanted to treat without spilling it all over the place. So I filled it with nolvasan, then walked over to Andy to squeeze it out onto the spot.

When Andy saw me holding the syringe and walking up to him, he got really worried about it! I found out he actually is very observant, and recognizes the difference in the way a syringe looks compared to a hoof pick, brush, other miscellaneous item of tack, etc! I know it had to be visual recognition, because I certainly wasn't nervous about treating him, and I was actually quite surprised at first when he so quickly shied away from me when I walked up to him!

When I realized what was happening, I stepped back, put the syringe out of view, soothed him with some calming words, then relaxing scratches on his neck and shoulder. Then I slowly re-introduced the syringe by quietly bringing it out from behind me and scratching his shoulder with the plunger end of it for a while. Once he decided that needles weren't involved he relaxed, and then he was fine with me using it to squirt the nolvasan on him, and didn't react so much when I went back to refill it and walked up to him again with it to apply more nolvasan.

Very observant donkey!

So don't ever think that your mule or donkey doesn't notice even the smallest of details.

Kristie Jorgensen

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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at March 31, 2009 11:32 PM