Equines need routine and consistency in their maintenance and training program to keep stress levels low and to promote healthy bodies.
The training approach should be slow and meticulous with special attention to both core and bulk muscle development in good equine posture in order to keep equines happy in their work and to encourage longevity.
A healthy training approach will promote good equine posture, keep the skeletal structure aligned and will keep internal organs operating properly throughout the equine’s life.
This postural training will become their natural way of moving. They will travel straight and erect, and will begin to square up on their own with equal weight over all four feet even at rest.
We feed all of our horses, mules, donkeys and miniatures the same way although the amount will vary with each individual animal. We feed grass hay only in the mornings and grass hay with their oats mix at night. We feed our average sized mules 1-2 cups of crimped oats, 1 oz. of Sho Glo vitamins (by Manna Pro) and 1 oz. Mazola corn oil (for hooves, coat and digestive tract regularity). The oats must be broken open in some way (crimped, steamed, rolled, etc.) as equines cannot digest whole oats. A trace mineral salt block is always on hand.
What vaccinations you will need to give can vary depending upon your area, so ask your veterinarian what is appropriate. Vaccinations should be given in the spring and booster shots should be given in the fall. We do them in April and again in November.
If your mule or donkey does not like shots or worming, you can use what I call the “Face Tie” to restrict their movement. Do NOT try this with a horse! Mules and donkeys will respect a hard tie where a horse or pony will not. Give the equine time to first respond willingly and only use the restraint if needed. Tie it more loosely each time to give the animal room to improve. Always try to “fade out” the restraint and only tighten it down when absolutely necessary.
When you are patient, polite, respectful and considerate of your equine, most will not give you any trouble with shots or worming. Just remember that equines are as diverse in their personalities and abilities as human beings are, so be willing to slightly modify your approach to accommodate these differences.
Your equine should have his hooves checked and trimmed or shod every 6-8 weeks. Horses, mules and ponies can be dealt their rewards for sanding still for the farrier, but donkeys may need the extra incentive to behave by having their “friends” close by and/or their head in a bucket!
When you minimize distractions and lower the stress level caused by confusion, it is easier for your equine to behave as he should. When he know what to expect from you, anxiety is no longer and issue and you can then engage in a mutually satisfying and safe relationship with each other.