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Removing Chasity’s Shoes11

Chasity’s Challenges: Removing Chasity’s Shoes

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4-2-20:

Our farrier, Dean Geesen came out to take care of Chasity’s feet. The first order of business was to introduce himself with an offer of oats! She did not want my veterinarian, Greg Farrand, to pick up her feet on Tuesday, but during grooming on Wednesday, Ranch Manager, Chad and I cleaned her feet, so she was much more compliant today. Getting her hooves in balance will greatly improve her overall body balance. And, getting the shoes off her overgrown front feet will enable the frog to do its circulation job!

Her front hooves were exceptionally long with Borium shoes (non-slip) on them and her back feet were long and uneven. All four feet had been trimmed out of balance.

Dean showed us how the shoes had been abnormally and unevenly worn.

Dean removed the shoes and trimmed her hooves in the best balance that he could for now. Her hooves had been pressured to one side and would need several trims to get them properly symmetrical in alignment.

Dean is a correctional farrier and knew just what to do to get her started off on the right ‘foot’ so to speak. It was a definite improvement from where she was!

She will need to be checked periodically to keep her feet in good shape as she moves forward in her therapy. Sometimes these kinds of things just take time!

She was rewarded with oats in appreciation for her cooperation! Chasity seemed thankful for her newly balanced hooves.

Diary Of A Rescue Part 2 8

MULE CROSSING: Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue, Part 2

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By Meredith Hodges 

In Part 1 of Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue, we learned about the discovery and rescue of Belgian draft mules, Rock and Roll, by Meredith Hodges and her team of experts. As the pair’s rehabilitation continues, the road to recovery gets tougher.  But for every health setback, there is a personality breakthrough with these courageous and now-trusting gentle giants—and always a reason to hope.

By May of 2011, both mules were beginning to bond well with me and I was able to separate them during workouts. I knew I would have to develop a strong bond with Roll in case Rock didn’t make it, and we all knew the odds were not in Rock’s favor. Being alone with me in the round pen helped Roll to concentrate on the tasks at hand. His way of going was markedly improving with each new lesson.

Both mules could now square up properly and move in a much more balanced frame, although holding that balance was intermittent. The personality of each mule began to emerge and they became more willing to play games and to be touched and kissed about their heads. Rock was much more overt about his pleasure during the massages, and we could finally tell that they were beginning to trust us.

By mid-June, we were able to take the pads off Rock’s back feet and reset the shoes without the pads. He had grown three-eighths of an inch of sole on both hind feet and the rotation began to improve in one back foot. Both mules were feeling much better and were actually engaging in play during turnout. Next, we discovered that due to the concussion to his rear feet from improper use during driving in the past, Roll had side bones in his right hind foot. This caused him to twist that foot as it grew out between trims, so we put shoes on his back feet as well.

Rock loved our newly acquired mini donkeys and, during turnout, he would stand by their pen for the better part of the day. Here they all are on the Fourth of July, 2011.

By that time, Rock and Roll both looked magnificent! Considering the extent of Rock’s past neglect and injuries, he had gained incredible muscle tone and balance. His eyes were bright and alert, his coat was shiny and his feet were much improved (although they still exhibited a hint of chronic founder).

Roll’s fat and lumpy body had changed dramatically. Now his body was more symmetrical and balanced, and he also sported a shiny coat and balanced feet. His eyes were alert and his appearance of laziness had completely vanished.

However, by the end of July, Rock once again began to lose muscle tone over his right hip and his front feet became very sore. We thought he and Roll may have been playing too hard, which could have caused Rock to injure himself again, so we separated them into adjoining pastures during daily turnout. At night they remained in their respective stalls and runs, side by side. Custom-made boots were ordered for Rock’s front feet to help alleviate the pressure, but unfortunately we had to wait until the first of November for delivery of the boots. By the time they arrived, they were of use for only about two weeks before the weather changed. The wet snow and mud became packed in the boots, causing Rock too much pain on the dropped soles of his feet.

While Rock was on three weeks of rest during August, he developed swelling in his sheath. He was treated with an anti-inflammatory for two weeks, but the swelling didn’t go down. Since his front feet seemed better, I decided to resume his physical therapy. Although the structured movement helped the swelling go down, it migrated to the midline of his abdomen. After two weeks of hot packing the abdomen twice a day, the swelling finally disappeared. Because Rock was becoming stronger and getting up and down more often, he was beginning to develop sores on his knees, fetlocks and hocks, and “shoe boils” on his underbelly (pressure sores caused by his hooves when lying down), all of which needed to be frequently tended to.

In September, once again there was swelling on Rock’s underside midline, which also seemed to cause him to get weaker musculature in the hips. The swelling was hot-packed, and it disappeared fairly quickly this time. By mid-October, Rock was lying down for prolonged periods of time—unhealthy for an equine—so his support team of three veterinarians, two equine chiropractors, his equine masseuse and I got together to assess his condition. All 2000 plus pounds of his weight was being shifted off his three bad feet and onto his left hind leg, causing it to track behind the right front when he walked. We decided on a regimen of phenylbutazone (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), minimal exercise, plenty of rest and icing of his feet for 15-20 minutes twice daily. Things were not looking good.

No matter what was asked of him, Rock always gave it his all. We babied him through turnout, chiropractics, trims, and massage, but it finally got to the point where we could barely get his back feet off the ground to apply the hoof dressing. We decided to remove his shoes. That day, he was so weak in the hindquarters we could not replace them and couldn’t even trim the feet without running the risk of him falling down. We waited a couple of weeks before we trimmed his heels with the aid of a custom-made, six-inch equine jack stand. That seemed to help through November and part of December, but Rock still needed the Thrush Buster and Rainmaker for hoof health. He was able to tip his hind feet forward and let us have the bottoms of his feet for a few seconds at a time so the medication could be applied. Finally, he just couldn’t manage having his feet elevated at all—the pain was too great. Around this time, we noticed that the swelling had again cropped up in his midline abdomen, which led to another week of hot packing it twice a day.

After Christmas, I decided to resume a modified version of his physical therapy. Trooper that he was, he tried with all his might, but his hips were listing terribly to the left, and the first time he went over the three one-inch ground poles, he crashed into every one of them. His third time over, he grazed just one. When I put him back in his pen, he immediately laid down. I then noticed the bulging in the coronet band of his left hind foot. He was “sinking!” We immediately called the vet and he confirmed my fear. The lamina was pulling away from the hoof wall and allowing the bones to “sink” through the sole of Rock’s hoof. It wouldn’t be long before the other feet would quickly follow suit. It was clear that he was in agony and would have to be put down, so our vet came out the ranch, loaded Rock up with anti-inflammatory and pain medications and said he would be back the next afternoon.

Every day for a year, I prayed for a miracle for Rock and each time I prayed, he got better. I now wondered if God would give us yet another miracle and let him live—but it wasn’t meant to be. On December 27th, 2011, surrounded by his Lucky Three family, our beautiful Rock took his last steps.  We all knew it was time for us to let him go. Rock was euthanized at home and died peacefully, with his head resting in my hands.

My vet Greg Farrand informed me that the president of Colorado State University had pulled together a team for Rock’s necropsy and the preservation of his skeleton as a teaching aid for the CSU Veterinary Sciences department.

When the necropsy came back, it showed not a single fracture of Rock’s pelvis, but rather multiple old fractures in the socket of the hip joint. The bottom of the socket was almost completely gone and there was a hole the size of a dime at the top of the socket. The head of the femur had no cartilage left and there was fibrosis and cysts full of fluid the entire length of the femur stem.

I have come to realize that our courageous and noble Rock gave us more than one miracle. He had been able to live one more year of life with a severely shattered hip joint and compromised femur. He proved that our balance and core muscle therapy can work wonders! And he lived long enough to give his half-brother, Roll, the chance to bond with people who will love and care for him for the rest of his life. Thank you and God bless you, Rock. We will miss you.

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2012, 2016, 2020, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rock And Roll Diary Of A Rescue Part 1 4

MULE CROSSING: Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue, Part 1

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By Meredith Hodges

I first saw Rock and Roll at the National Western Stock Show in January of 2010. The two Belgian draft mules looked enormous in the 12′ X 12′ stalls in the holding area. They had been rescued from slaughter at an auction in Kiowa by my two friends, Fran and Larry Howe, owners of the Bitterroot Mule Company in Bennett, Colorado. My friends explained why they couldn’t resist trying to help the two draft mules. They were the largest mules any of us had ever seen. Roll was supposedly 16 years old at 17 1/2 hands and Rock supposedly 17 years old at 18 hands. Both mules were severely underweight. Rock had recently been treated for abscesses, which required the removal of two molars. The two draft mules stood quietly, seemingly unaffected, as we stared in total amazement. A rescue attempt was certainly worth trying.

In August of 2010, I saw Roll again at the Larimer County Fair. Larry drove him in the Single Hitch classes and, when I was able to speak to him, he and Fran told me Rock could not come to the show. He had come up lame. Roll had put on weight and was looking better than he had looked in January however, he still appeared to be stressed. Longears have been known to die from depression, so one of my main concerns was if Rock died, Roll could become depressed and might not live very long. Fran and Larry decided that this rescue was more than they could handle and asked if I would be interested in taking the pair. I agreed, and after we had quickly made a suitable space for them, Rock and Roll were delivered to the Lucky Three Ranch on December 5th, 2010. One look at the way Rock was moving and we knew this was going to be difficult at best.

Rock and Roll were obedient, but suspicious animals. Their eyes lacked expression and were cloudy in spots, and their coats were oily and dull, something that is not apparent in photographs. Their hooves looked irregularly trimmed and out of balance, with prevalent stress rings on all four feet of each mule. They had clearly been foundered more than once and their bodies were riddled with scar tissue. Roll listed to the right and walked with a twist to the right hind foot. Rock had to lift and swing his right hind leg to the side in order to walk forward. The leg appeared calcified and restricted in every joint. Neither mule could freely reach forward through the shoulders and hips, nor place each foot in a regular rhythmic fashion. There was muscle atrophy throughout their bodies, and their bellies hung from the spine, with no apparent musculature in the abdomen or over the top line. There was hope for some recovery with Roll, but when my well-respected equine masseuse, Joanne Lang, C.M.T. and I assessed Rock, we knew there would be limitations as to what could be done for him. We both knew we might be setting ourselves up for a broken heart, but for Roll’s sake, we agreed to try to make Rock comfortable for as long as we could.

Before beginning therapy, Joanne and I gathered all the information we could on Rock and Roll. This was not an easy task, as there were no registration or health papers, only the information that Bitterroot Mule Company could provide. The pair was not eating very well, and by the way he was turning his nose up at the feed, I suspected Rock might even have ulcers. Fran and Larry told me what they had fed the mules. I promptly took them both off the feed that would clearly be, in my experience, too rich for them and put them on our standard equine diet. Because both mules were branded, we were able to identify the brands as coming from the Hunt Limousine Cattle Ranch in Elizabeth, Colorado. We later discovered that the Hunt Limousine Cattle Ranch had obtained Rock and Roll when they were just three years old from an Amish Family in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Both Rock and Roll were out of sister Belgian mares, and by the same jack. Rock and Roll mostly pulled a wagon for birthday parties for 6 yr olds at the ranch. They also pulled the wagon for a nearby church so they could sing Christmas carols in the towns of Elizabeth and Kiowa, Colorado, and were also used to pull Grand Marshalls and other dignitaries in local parades.

Rock and Roll, along with two other teams were well taken care of and loved deeply by the family who cared for the ranch. A ranch wife to one of the hands took the responsibility of scheduling routine farrier appointments and vaccinations for them and ten other ranch horses. Unfortunately the ranch was eventually in a position in 2002 when they had to be sold. The family who cared for them was “heart broke and sad.” At that point, they were healthy and weighed 2500 pounds each. What happened afterwards is still a mystery, but one thing was tragically clear—they were overworked, out of good posture and not properly fed. Many people just don’t realize that even big draft mules need the benefit of a healthy diet and a specialized exercise program, especially before starting work in harness.

Within days after changing their feed to our crimped oats mix with Sho Glo, Mazola corn oil and grass hay only, the two mules’ appetites improved. There was a drastic change in their coats and their eyes began to come alive. We gave them a small turnout area just off their runs and along the county road, so they could watch the people going by and the cattle grazing on the other side. Rock would go into the corner of the pasture and just stand and stare for hours, not moving until he was called back in.

I noticed that Rock did not lie down or roll, but considering how neglected they had been, this didn’t really surprise me. Because of the muscle atrophy in his right hip, we decided that we should get started with Rock immediately. So, the very afternoon they were delivered, Rock got his first massage. He was tolerant of the massage, but we soon discovered that touching his face was out of the question. Both mules would shy away if anyone so much as raised a hand or made any small abrupt movement in their presence. We also noticed that Rock had a perpetual and distinctive worried “V” in his eyebrows over both eyes. A health check with our veterinarian was scheduled and we continued equine chiropractic, using the same equine chiropractor that was used when Fran and Larry first got Rock and Roll. After a couple of months of chiropractics, regular farrier and vet visits with massage and physical therapy done on a weekly basis, Rock was finally able to get down on his left side and roll. He and Roll then began to play!

Our farrier Dean Geesen came out to the Lucky Three and gave both mules their first official trims. Our support team agreed that it would be a long time before their feet would begin to look normal. During a farrier visit in March, we discovered that Rock had two old abscesses in his left front hoof. Dean was guarded about whether or not Rock’s hooves would ever be okay again. But Rock was a real trooper and although it was very difficult for him, he managed to yield all four feet when asked.

When our veterinarian Greg Farrand checked his eyes, he found cloudiness and thickening over the corneas. He was put on a regimen of eye drops three times a day to stave off chronic abrasion of the eye. Within days, Rock was chasing bunnies around the small turnout pasture—no more standing in the corner! Greg also did a walking palpation to see if he could determine what was causing the lameness in Rock’s right hip. He thought he felt a fracture on the face of the pelvis, but there was no way to really tell exactly what was going on. To find out for certain, Rock would have to be taken to Colorado State University, sedated and turned upside down in order for any necessary radiograms or ultrasound tests to be performed. We all agreed that this process would be far too traumatic for him. We opted to just be
very careful and not to do any manual range-of-motion movements on that leg for fear of making it worse. Instead, I discovered a way to have Rock do range-of-motion exercises on his own during physical therapy and my adjustments worked well. Rock and Roll continued to improve. Roll even graduated from the leading core muscle exercises to the round pen core muscle exercises. Rock and Roll began to play and argue with each other. The pair seemed to be gaining strength and proprioception (body awareness), and both seemed to be feeling much better overall. After a very short time, both mules complied—on verbal commands alone—to correct their own balance and square up at every halt…because it felt good!

In mid-March, we had Rock’s feet x-rayed and it was found that there was 45 degrees of rotation in both hind feet. There was no rotation in front, although the front feet did have multiple stress rings, collapse of the hoof wall and were starting to exhibit seedy toes. Rock couldn’t stand on the four-inch blocks the vet used to x-ray him, so we made do with a couple of two-by–four boards. Even when the farrier worked on him, we would have to put Rock’s rear feet on an equine jack stand to trim him. After learning to successfully execute his balancing pattern during physical therapy, we noticed that the soles of Rock’s feet were beginning to wear away. When the x-rays came back, they showed that only a quarter of an inch of sole was left on the bottoms of each of his rotating hind feet. We then immediately got shoes on those back feet! We began a regimen of Thrush Buster and Rainmaker hoof dressing by Farnam on both mules’ hooves in order to help the hooves to begin to grow back in a healthy way. By April, Rock had grown three-eighths of an inch more sole on his hind feet and was actually trotting over his ground poles!

Now that Rock was feeling better, the worried “V” over his eyes began to disappear. He was actually getting up and lying down, but due to the difficulty he had, he began to get sores on his hocks that needed to be wrapped and tended with Panalog ointment. Although the sores were obviously very painful, Rock allowed me to wrap them and doctor them with little complaint. Once wrapped, he happily munched his oats reward for his stellar behavior and gently placed his forehead on my chest in a clear gesture of gratitude.

In Part 2 of Rock and Roll: Diary of a Rescue, Rock’s roller-coaster progress of victories and set-backs continues, as Roll slowly comes out of his shell and learns to trust us and—even more importantly—himself. Our regimen of compassion, patience and therapy goes on as Rock and Roll touch everyone’s soul by proving that they are ready and willing to give it everything they’ve got, right from their hearts.

To learn more about Meredith Hodges and her comprehensive all-breed equine training program, visit LuckyThreeRanch.com or call 1-800-816-7566. Check out her children’s website at JasperTheMule.com. Also, find Meredith on FacebookYouTube and Twitter.

© 2012, 2016, 2020, 2021 Lucky Three Ranch, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Lunge Line Training: 7-21-20

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Chasity is eager to go to the Round Pen and continue her lessons. Being polite, considerate, respectful and consistent in one’s approach will create a happy and willing partner. Most resistant behaviors arise from anxiety in the animal as a result of an unpredictable approach. Equines love the company of their own kind during training whenever possible. It gives them confidence, and a more experienced animal can show them how things are done with a compliant attitude. Breaking training down into very small steps assures that your equine will NEVER be over-faced with any tasks. It is paramount that you train your equine how to lunge on a lunge line for the first few times in the Round Pen.

Lunging in the “Elbow Pull” is critical to helping Chasity maintain her good posture and balance throughout her workout. It allows full range of motion, but will prevent any hollowing of the back and neck, and give her something to lean on when she has weak moments and cannot sustain her own good posture and self-carriage for a few strides at a time. Consistent work in the “Elbow Pull” will actually change the equine’s habitual way of moving. Chasity is becoming more and more comfortable in her new and more correct equine posture! This is most evident when she is at rest with equal weight placed over all four feet underneath her body. This is true whether at work or in turnout.

Chasity is now holding her own self-carriage in good posture for more and more strides during each new lesson. It takes a lot of time to stretch and rebuild the elements that support the skeletal frame such that the body becomes strong and movement becomes more flexible and habitual.

At walk and trot, Chasity and Wrangler maintain an erect body carriage and bend through their rib cages to the arc of the Round Pen circle. Wrangler can be a bit lazy and will carry his head too low, so I add the bridle reins to prevent him from becoming a “peanut roller!” Chasity carries her head higher, so she won’t need them.

After being warmed up with her familiar lunging of five rotations in each direction, I add the lunge line. I always keep it loose, dragging on the ground. Then I give an occasional “squeeze-release” as the outside front foot comes forward. This is her cue to stay on the circle later in the open arena and not pull on the lunge line.

My end goal is always to keep Chasity as light in the bridle as possible to get the desired response. Using all this gear in the beginning allows me to do minimal pulling on the lines and later the reins. The animal is in control of the adjustment of the tension. They learn quickly what I am asking with the lightest cue from my fingers.

Chasity is now comfortable and relaxed, knows what my cues mean. With the slightest pressure on the lines, she executes a lovely reverse and continues on in a really nice posture.

Being cognizant of how you do certain moves, like going through gates, will assure that the equine responds at all times with very SLIGHT pressure on the reins or lines, or even on the lead rope…no more BOLTING! You will never need to PULL on a lunge line again in any open areas. Loss of balance is the number one reason for resistance and bad behaviors. Building this precise foundation will carry through to Chasity’s under saddle work. Building core strength that symmetrically supports the skeletal frame makes everything you want to do a lot easier for your equine. When he is strong, balanced and comfortable in his body, he is better ABLE to be a willing and compliant companion!

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Ground Driving Chasity: 7-7-20

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Chasity continues to improve. We have cut the size of her obese, cresty neck by 70%. Her back is finally elevated. The spinal and abdominal muscles are much better conditioned and support her good posture. She has come a long way. She is submissive to the “Elbow Pull” and ready to begin her combination exercises in Lunging and Ground Driving. Chasity is happy that she gets to do these exercises with her “boyfriend,” Wrangler! He is her inspiration. They are so funny together!

Chasity executes the gate perfectly and then stops to pose for a picture with me. Then we adjust her “Elbow Pull” and make sure she flexes at the poll to submit. This self-correcting restraint will provide resistance if she tries to carry her head too high which would result in hollowing her neck and back, and thus, compromising her good equine posture.

Once everything is adjusted on Chasity and Wrangler, we pose for a picture. Then they both go obediently to the rail and begin work at the walk. I have added the reins to Wrangler’s bridle to keep him from carrying his head too low. That is not an issue with Chasity. It is not usually a problem with with Wrangler either, but it is in the nineties today and very hot. Wrangler gets very lazy in the heat!

They are both stepping out nicely and exhibiting a pretty fair “working walk.” After five rotations at the walk, I ask for the trot. They are both stepping well underneath their centers of gravity and Chasity is submitting to the pressure from the “Elbow Pull.” This means she is in better equine posture with improving self-carriage.

After five rotations at the trot, I ask them for a halt and they are prompt in their response. They are rewarded and then proceed forward and after one rotation, I ask them to reverse. It is the best reverse yet!

I am so proud of Chasity! She is really holding her good posture nicely for prolonged periods of time now, even at the trot!

Chasity is gaining a lot of core strength and power to her gaits. The halts are mostly square on the landing and do not need to be corrected. Chasity is finally learning to use her hindquarters properly and she is no longer getting locked up in the right hip joint. It is now adequately supported symmetrically by the core elements: muscles, tendons, ligaments and soft tissue. Her joints operate correctly and will not wear irregularly.

After five rotations at walk and then trot in the opposite direction, Chasity was finally ready for her first Ground Driving lesson! When asked, she walked off nicely.

I had Ground Driven Wrangler first, so Chasity got to see what this was all about. She submitted softly to the lines and remained “on the bit” as we walked along. She turned easily when asked to do the “S” turn through the middle of the Round Pen.

But suddenly, we had a “Donkey Moment” when she abruptly bolted toward Wrangler! I let the lines slide through my hands, hoping she would slow down…but she didn’t! I dug my heels into the ground to try to stop her, holding the lines with just one hand so I wouldn’t lose my balance. Wrangler just dropped in behind her at the walk.

Chasity was at a fast trot around Wrangler when he decided to help me by leaning his body into the lines. This put more pressure on her bit and helped me to get her slowed down…Thanks, Wrangler!!!

Once she had slowed down, Wrangler moved away and allowed me to turn her into the rail and ask for a reverse to the right. Chasity calmed down immediately and decided to comply with my wishes… thankfully!

Chasity was still full of energy, but submitted to the pressure on the lines as I walked behind her in sync with her hind legs. I slowly crept back up the lines with my hands and got a bit closer to her hindquarters

Then I asked Chasity for the halt and a few steps of the reinback…not too many steps at first. I rewarded her efforts with a handful of crimped oats. Her first time on the drive lines had gone very well indeed… even WITH the “Donkey Moment!” It’s always good to keep your sense of humor when working with donkeys and be ready to be VERY patient! Donkeys need to process things THEIR WAY!

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Hot to Trot: 6-30-20

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It was a rainy day, so I decided to have Chasity and Wrangler’s workout take place in the indoor arena Round Pen. I had not planned to film this workout, but since the Round Pen was a lot further from the Tack Barn than my outdoor Round Pen, I decided to take my chances and try to lead Chasity and Wrangler together! I thought that would be film-worthy for sure. Those of you that have tried to lead ONE donkey around puddles in the road and other such “scary things” know that you cannot count on their compliance. All you can do is HOPE for it! As it turned out, Chasity and Wrangler were very good all the way to the Round Pen, but there were still surprises to come!

They both stood quietly while I unlatched the gate as they had done dozens of times before, then waited patiently as I opened it.

They executed the gate perfectly together. This is a testament to my belief that when these kinds of movements are consistently done exactly the same way, it eliminates confusion and promotes compliance. They happily received their rewards of crimped oats from my fanny pack.

I then tied Wrangler to the fence with the “Elbow Pull” where he would wait while I adjusted Chasity’s “Elbow Pull.” Chasity checked out the new work space.

First I adjusted Chasity’s “Elbow Pull” and then I adjusted Wrangler’s to keep them from raising their heads too high and inverting their neck and back.

They both walked casually with no pressure from the “Elbow Pull” at all. When asked to trot, Chasity was “up against” the “Elbow Pull” at first, but was still stepping well underneath her body and striking her hind feet directly under the center of balance.

It was after the reverse that I discovered that Chasity was in heat and Wrangler decided he would like to mount her! So, I deliberately and quietly took him from the Round Pen and tied him up outside the fence. Chasity resumed her workout alone. She did lovely at the walk and kept the “Elbow Pull” loose, even throughout the reverse!

When I finally asked for trot, she was hot to trot! Chasity was definitely improving her ability to maintain her self-carriage and good posture. When the “Elbow Pull” is properly adjusted, it will encourage each individual equine’s BEST posture. It should NOT force their head down.

When asked to “Whoa,” Chasity happily complied and then turned to me for her next command. I asked for the “Reverse” and she was prompt in her response.

Then Chasity resumed her calm forward motion at the working walk, maintaining a loose “Elbow Pull.”She has made marked improvement in just 4 short weeks of Round Pen work after 3 months of leading for core strength and balance in the “Hourglass Pattern.”

When I asked for trot, she showed me she was a bit tired and was back up against the “Elbow Pull,” but she was still tracking well underneath her body and holding an acceptable posture.

When my female equines are in heat, I lighten the pressure on them and quit when I see they are tiring. This keeps them from getting “grumpy” and helps them to maintain a happy attitude toward me and the training.

Chasity and I exited the Round Pen in perfect form and then went to get Wrangler. Building a good relationship with your equine makes EVERYTHING easier!

Wrangler was standing sideways to the fence, but moved over promptly upon command. I wanted him on my right. He was still mesmerized by Chasity in heat, but he was still a gentleman and complied with my wishes! I love it when they behave so well!

Chasity flirted with Wrangler and he reciprocated while I untied his “Elbow Pull” and released him. Then we all marched together to the Tack Barn where they were untacked, then returned to the barn yard for turnout and more intense flirtation! Love was in the air!

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CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity Meets the Monster Vac: 6-2-20

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Chasity is now regularly coming to her stall door and is always anxious to see what the next challenge will be. The one thing she HAS learned is that she will never be hurt by anyone here. Cleaning her ears was a necessary evil at first, but she now enjoys the gentle cleaning as I wipe the rag with the grain of the hair to get the dirt from her ears. And she loves having clean ears! We are ALWAYS consistent and stay with the routine about everything we do with all of our equines. They appreciate knowing what comes next. Ours is a NO ANXIETY zone, but that doesn’t mean we do not challenge them and set boundaries for good behavior. Chasity is about to be tested to the max with her next new challenge!

Chasity really enjoyed the brisk brushing with the multi-bristled human hair brush. It is the only brush that I have found the really expedites shedding and leaves the coat soft and shiny. It reaches deep in the coat and aerates the hair shafts. After the brushing, it is followed with either the shedding blade to remove the loosened hair laying on top, or….there is an introduction to the VACUUM CLEANER!!! Chasity was not too sure about this BIG BLUE THING that rolled!

We always take the introduction of new things slowly. I gently coaxed Chasity toward the vacuum cleaner. This was an approach that she recognized from her obstacle training and moved furtively toward me to receive her reward of crimped oats.

She watched the cameras while I went to plug it in. The loud sucking noise startled her! I acknowledged her concern and calmed her with a soothing voice.

But then it was time for the business of vacuuming HER! I use the cotton lead rope for control, but she is prevented from going backwards with the second hitch rail tie made of a stout braided nylon rope with bull snaps on each end. The last thing you want is for the rope to break! I talked to Chasity and ask her if she would rather calm down and step forward to receive her reward…she thought about it…I waited patiently…

…and she decided that was a pretty good idea! She tentatively accepted the vacuum on her forehead. This is a spot where they generally like to be vacuumed first.

I laughed as she made a plea for help from the camera people! Then I had to straighten out the hose and she was certain that big black coiled “snake” was going to get her!

She wasn’t exactly pleased, but she allowed me to begin to vacuum her neck…and then her shoulder. I kept a hand on her so she could feel my caring support.

It didn’t take long for her to calm down and allow me to vacuum the rest of her body. She discovered that it actually felt pretty good!

Then I looped the “BIG BLACK SNAKE” over the hitch rail to prepare to do the other side. She sat back on the rope again, but was easily coaxed forward again.

Things are always different from one side of an equine to the next. So, when I approached from the other side, she again sat back on the rope, but came forward again quickly to receive her reward.

I did her forehead again while she fixated her gaze to the camera people. When I got to her body, she was fixated on the BIG BLUE BOX, but not bothered at all by the suction, or the hose.

After I finished her right side, I knelt by the BIG BLUE BOX and asked her to come and investigate which Chasity did willingly. She had conquered the challenge of the MONSTER VAC!!!

Chasity’s Farrier Visit 5 22 20 12

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s Farrier Visit: 5-22-20

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5-22-20

When Chasity first arrived, her hooves were inordinately long in front with Borium shoes and her back feet were worn unevenly and at the wrong angles. Because her body was in such bad posture and her hooves so out of balance, we knew it would take quite a while and lots of frequent trims to get her hooves balanced and aligned properly. This would have to be done in conjunction with getting her body into good posture with the core strength to support that good equine posture. This would be Chasity’s  challenges!

Chasity is now standing quietly and picking up her feet easily, but she still wasn’t sure about standing still without being tied up. A small challenge for her would be to learn to stand quietly in the alleyway of the barn while our farrier, Dean Geesen works on her instead of being at her work station in the Tack Barn. Because she stood still, she was rewarded with her favorite crimped oats. The misshapen hoof is beginning to rotate into a more balanced position, but we still have a lot of work ahead before the hoof will be correct.

Dean is a therapeutic corrective farrier that is familiar with Longears. This is a critical element in your Longears’ welfare. Longears have angles and hoof construction that is quite different from a horse and it takes a knowledgeable farrier to keep from doing them harm. Chasity feels the difference in the balance of her feet, however slight, and it affects her whole body!

Chasity’s hind feet appear as if they have been done like a farrier would do a horse. Her rear hooves are not as upright as they should be with insufficient heels. Dean leaves the heels, rasps the front feet and rolls the toes a bit to promote more proper action and healthy growth. As long as I have had donkeys, I have never had to put shoes on them. It is my experience that when they are in good postural balance in their body, they generally wear their feet evenly and vice versa. When fed properly, the hooves remain hard and balanced. They don’t even need to be trimmed all that often if they are not consistently standing on soft ground, or in mud. We use pea gravel in our runs and driveways. In the runs, we put about four inches down. It drains well, is hard enough to promote hard hooves, is rounded and does not chip the feet and is soft enough for the equines to lie down comfortably.

Chasity is tolerates yielding her back feet much better after having a chiropractic adjustment in her pelvis and hip joints yesterday. This is a dramatic beginning for her toward MUCH better balance and posture. She had to be a very sore and uncomfortable animal when she first arrived. She is now feeling some relief and is much more cooperative.

The front hoof on the opposite side reveals the compromised imbalance that she had when she came to us. However, the first trim put her on the road to recovery and her feet are beginning to grow in the correct direction. She has gained a lot more heel in the rear in the past eight weeks.

Chasity has learned to be sent into her stall and then to turn and square up for her reward! Her gait has improved substantially in the past two days with chiropractic work and another trim!


Chasity’s First Chiropractic Adjustment 5 21 20 11

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Chasity’s First Chiropractic Adjustment: 5-21-20

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Although we were working on uneven ground in Chasity’s last lesson which made getting in sync very difficult, it was clear that it was time for a chiropractic adjustment of her skeletal system. Doing chiropractic adjustments can put the practitioner in very precarious positions, so it is wise to build trust with the animal before attempting to do these kinds of adjustments to their body. After more than a month of intensive care, Chasity has learned that we have her best interest at heart and is more than willing to cooperate with anything we want to do with her. Even though she is perfect about walking in sync, it is clear that her left hip is locked up, highly immobile and chiropractic adjustment is in now desperately needed!

Chasity walked out in the driveway so our equine chiropractor, Dave McClain, could assess her condition. She had better range of motion in the right hind leg than she did with the left. She was getting better in her spine, but her abdominal muscles still needed more work. Once the left hind leg and the rest of her body is put back in alignment, there will be more of an effect on the abdominal muscles at the walk in her lessons.

Dave agreed that the fallen crest could be straightened out, but it would take some time and serious therapy. Bailey showed Dave the progress in Chasity’s Diary that had been made already since she came to us on March 29th 2020. He was pleasantly surprised at the progress we had made considering we could not use his services during the COVID-19 shutdown. But before we could go any further successfully, we really needed to have her skeleton professionally aligned!

Dave carefully palpated both hip joints…

and the pelvic area. She was exceptionally stiff and locked up on the left side! He rocked her pelvis to the right…

…and then rocked it to the left. Chasity yielded her hind leg and he adjusted the locked up hip joint! Chasity’s eyes lit up in pleasure immediately! It must have felt REALLY good!

Dave demonstrated to me how her hip joint was not only locked up, but completely misaligned and stuck at an upward angle. Chasity gladly leaned forward to aid in her spinal adjustment!

We then asked Chasity to engage her abdominal muscles, raise her back and then hold for sixty seconds. We will do this once per day, every day. Then it was time to adjust her neck, first on the left side…

…and then on the right side. She was stiff on that side, so I asked her to stretch her neck around my body.

Then Dave did a second adjustment on that side…it was much better! Dave watched her back up. There was marked improvement in her hind quarters and she was finally able to walk easily straight backwards. She had previously been very stiff through the back-through “L” obstacle during her workouts. She will no doubt do much better the next time!

We checked Chasity’s neck again and found that it, too, was much looser and not as hard and immobile as it was before the adjustments. As she left the Tack Barn, it was evident that she was moving much more freely and smiling to herself all the way back to the barn!

Circles And Stretching 5 19 20 16

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Circles and Stretching: 5-19-20

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5-19-20

Chasity is continuing to gain core strength, balance and even has a little “prance” in her step these days. The bacterial infection is almost gone and she is eagerly waiting at the stall door for her lessons each week. She gets structured leading exercises in her proper postural “gear” and in between, she has other things happening on other days like daily “soaking” of her infection, vet appointments and the farrier. Today, we will add circles at every cone to increase the intensity of her workout. Stretching is done more frequently now.

Chasity carefully walks in sync with me, no more pulling on the lead rope or charging ahead like she did in the beginning. She is happy on her way to the outdoor dressage exercise arena. Varying the location of her postural core strength leading training keeps her fresh and engaged.

On the way to the dressage arena, we stop to visit with Augie and Spuds, our delightful little mini donkeys. Chasity is intrigued. Where she is stabled, she can only hear them. Then it’s on to the dressage arena.

Since the arena is also used as a turnout area, it is a bit bumpy and the sand is deeper than the other places where Chasity has worked. It will increase the intensity of her work. Still, she is bending nicely through her rib cage while remaining erect in her body and doing her four-square stretches very well indeed!

Chasity is bending her joints well while walking in sync with me, however, I am noticing she is a bit stiff in her left hind leg, especially around the turns to the left. We added circles at every cone in the Hourglass Pattern to help to enhance her bending technique.

She steps out nicely with her right front, but as she brings the left hip forward, her gait is stilted and limited in it’s range of motion. The abdominal muscles are only moderately engaged and she stops short of reaching underneath her body to her center of gravity.

The right hind leg moves forward into it’s correct position, but she is just lifting and swinging her left hind leg forward instead of bending adequately through her joints, particularly in her hip joint.

As she steps forward with the right hind foot, the left hind has an abnormal look to the extension of the leg. It appears stuck in the hip joint and pelvic area, and is not swinging freely. Still, she is bending fairly nicely through her spine.

Another good stretch while standing four-square was in order and Chasity let me know that it felt VERY GOOD!

On straight lines with no rails, Chasity is able to reach underneath her body to the center of gravity, but going around the turns reveals some stiffness in her pelvic area while the rest of her spine bends easily.

Chasity really enjoys her stretches and does them with no problem at all. Then we begin to track in the other direction and it is clear that bending to the right is particularly difficult for her.

As we proceed around the cones to the right, her bending gets a little better and the right leg moves easily under her center of gravity. But when she approaches the rails, her pelvis appears to stiffen and inhibit her movement again.

There is plenty of “reach” in her front legs, but the rear legs do not seem to be able to consistently follow her forward movement. Her abdominal muscles are engaged and she is attempting to round her back, but her stiff pelvic area is inhibiting the ability to reach well underneath her body.

Traversing the rails is making it apparent that she should probably have a visit from our proficient equine chiropractor. Since she just arrived a short time ago, I did not think it would be prudent to expose her to chiropractic until I could loosen her stiff body a little bit and gain her trust first.

We finished traversing the rails and she had to “lean” on the “Elbow Pull” to keep her balance. She did pretty well circling to the right for the last time, but it was now clear that she would need to be adjusted with chiropractic before any further lessons could take place and be beneficial to her.

We ended the lesson with one more four-square downward stretch, then a stretch to the right…

…then she did a stretch to the left and left the arena in perfect synchonization with each other. Still, she didn’t have the “reach” behind that I thought that she should.

Just to make things a bit more interesting, we opted to investigate the lane to the small park to look at this new area. Chasity thought the steps looked particularly strange, but she was not fearful.

She navigated the steps like a champ and stood quietly while we took in the sights. She saw Robin Laws’ “Donkey Talk” to her left and J. Payne Lara’s “Love Me Tender to her right.This was a major accomplishment for Chasity since standing still was NOT something she wanted to do when she first arrived.

Then we went back up the steps, left the area and went to see the pack mules, “A Friend to Lean On” by Robin Laws. Chasity played “cute” for the camera. Then we went to see Bonnie Shields’ “Friends,” a bronze statue of Kylie, Moxie and Jasper from our children’s series. As you can see, her posture is greatly improved…the “Elbow Pull” is staying LOOSE most of the time now!








































Vet Check 51320 3

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Vet Check: 5-13-20

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5-13-20

After 14 days on antibiotics, our veterinarian Greg Farrand came out to see how Chasity’s bacterial infection was doing. He was pleasantly surprised to find that the old, incredibly swollen infection in her udder and teats had gone down a significant 70%! We knew it would take quite some time to deal with something that had been wrong with her for so very long. When we first began treatment, it was as hard as a rock and as big as a grapefruit, but it was now softening into very smaller lumps and shrinking more rapidly than we had originally thought.

Greg asked me what I had been doing with her and I showed him her “diary” where I had documented in text and photographs all the workouts and everything else that we were doing with her.

He asked if we had kept up on the soaking with warm water and we showed him pictures of the rigging we had for her to hold a heated wet towel between her legs and up against her teats and udder.

We all discussed what the protocol would be going forward. I asked if we needed to change the antibiotics to another type, or if it would be okay to continue with what had been working. We decided that another 14 days of the same antibiotics would be okay.

Greg gave my Ranch Manager, Chad, and I another 14 days of EQUISOL-SOT and explained that we would give it once a day in her feed as we had been doing.

Chasity was given a handful of her favorite crimped oats for standing still and for waiting so patiently while we finished our conversation with Greg. She was very grateful!

I asked Chasity to stretch to the right and she did very well indeed…

Then I asked Chasity to stretch to the left and she did well that way, too!

Our final stretch was downward and she does this with ease, following my hand as low as I would like her to go… and she is always rewarded for her efforts!

Then we walked in sync back to the barn, quietly and obediently! Chasity knows we have her best interest at heart and is happy to comply! She is beginning to really trust us!

Stretching The Spine 5 5 20 13

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Stretching the Spine for Optimum Flexibility: 5-5-20

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5-5-20

Chasity was very stiff and compromised through her whole body when she first arrived. She was extremely rigid over the top line and could not flex from the poll at all, much less through her entire spine. The “Elbow Pull” self-correcting restraint and work in the Hourglass pattern has helped her to be more flexible in her head and neck, and has produced some flexion through her back. Now we are going to ask her to extend that flexion the whole length of her spine. She has been learning how to stay erect around turns while bending through her rib cage, and easily flexes her neck and back when squared up at the halt. These subtle actions have reshaped the body fat evenly over her body and reduced the size of her enlarged neck by 50% in just one month! Her posture is already greatly improved!

Chasity began by leaning on the “Elbow Pull” to keep her reasonable good equine posture. After a month of work, she is now able to sustain her own self-carriage a good part of the time. When she leans on the “Elbow Pull,” it is taut and when she is in self-carriage with good postural balance, it is loose. She started over the first pole and it was loose, then caught her balance on the second pole and it tightened…

On the third pole, she regained her balance and the “Elbow Pull” became loose again, but stepping over the last pole she allowed her balance to be too elongated and had to lean on it again.

As Chasity walked away, she again resumed her good equine balance and self-carriage and the “Elbow Pull” was loose again. We repeated the poles a little later in the Hourglass Pattern and she was then able to sustain her balance and self-carriage over the first pole…

…over the second and third poles, in good equine posture and not leaning on the “Elbow Pull”…

…and finished over the fourth pole with no loss of balance at all! As she is strengthened in good posture, her core muscles, ligaments and tendons will gain strength with symmetrical development and her time in self-carriage will increase. Ultimately, the “Elbow Pull” will remain loose at all times. She now walks in a rhythmic and cadenced fashion, matching every step that I take and halts easily upon request with no anxiety, or excess movement.

I asked her to square up and this time, instead of just flexing at the poll, I asked her to lower her head and stretch her entire spine from head to tail. Then we proceeded with more work in the Hourglass Pattern in the opposite direction and she practiced bending through her rib cage while staying erect around the corner cones.

Next, we negotiated the gate into the obstacles area, halted and squared up. I gave her a reward and asked her to stretch down again.

Chasity has been doing very well with breaking the bridge down into small steps. She halts easily, squares up and holds her balance in several new positions, with the front feet up, back feet down…

…with all four feet on the bridge and with front feet down and back feet up. She did very well at stretching her spine in all of these odd postions that added to her symmetrical core development.

Then she squared up again off the bridge and did one more deep stretch. Chasity was surprised to see the tarp where the tractor tire used to be and took exception to this “new” obstacle. The silly thing was that she side-passed the rail with her front feet on the tarp and her back feet in the sand. I thought, “Okay, now I know how to get her to side pass when I am ready! Silly Girl!” LOL!

We went back and tried again. She was hesitant, but realized what it was this time. I have to remember, Chasity has cataracts in both eyes and cannot see very well…trust is everything! There was no problem at all with the familiar smaller tires!

We reinforced her bending with the barrel exercises and practiced backing through the Back-Through “L.” She is still a bit “stuck” in reverse, but it will loosen up in time. She needs to learn to manipulate her body in a good postural balance and it is awkward for her now. It will just take patience and moving slowly. Speed will come with practice.

A nice deep spinal stretch relaxed and prepared her for the final obstacle! Chasity had been doing “Evasion Therapy” on me when I placed the tractor tire obstacle with too much open space around it. Boy, was she surprised to find out it was right there in front of her with no where to go but forward!

Chasity only put one foot inside the tire as she danced along the edge with her other three feet, so I opted to do it again the other way. This time, she put two feet into the center of the tractor tire… PROGRESS! Coming back through, she finally agreed to step through it with all four feet!

Finally, SUCCESS! My patience had paid off and our relationship was still intact! We finished with another REALLY DEEP stretch. Chasity’s flexibilty and elasticity were improving rapidly! Doing obstacles in confined spaces in the beginning promotes success and I am all about setting up your equine for SUCCESS!

Soaking The Infection 4 15 20 16

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Soaking the Infection: 4-15-20 & 4-20-20

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4-15-20

Chasity did not enjoy the soaking of her teats with the hose, so I opted to change my approach to make her more comfortable. Her posture has improved considerably with her postural core strength exercises in the “Hourglass Pattern” and with negotiating some of the obstacles to add coordination. She is now coming to the stall door to be haltered. She’s a very quick learner!

The infection is still draining and that is good. Each soaking, I groom her and scrape the discharge from her hind legs while she stands quietly.

I thought I might be able to make a “diaper” out of an old sheet to hold a wet towel wrapped around a hot pack instead of running a warm water hose underneath. First things first…I politely introduced her to the sheet, then began to wrap it around her!

This would solve two issues for me. She would not be aggravated with the water running down her legs and I wouldn’t be wasting water for ten minutes! She stood like a trooper while Chad and I wrapped the sheet into a useable position while Chasity looked on with a certain curiosity. “What  do you think you are doing? Very odd things these people do!”

Once in place with the hot pack held in the sheet, we realized it was heavy and was pulling the sheet down, so I still had to stand there and hold up both sides to bring it up to her udder. At least I didn’t have to bend over! Chasity received her oats once again for being a trooper!

After ten minutes of soaking, Chad and I released the “diaper” carefully so as not to startle Chasity. We now knew what we would have to do to modify the “diaper” for future use.

Chasity had her first lesson in neck stretches after her soaking. This would be another aid in shrinking the fat roll over her neck…first to the left…and then to the right.

She was hesitant to do another stretch to the left, so I put her up against the hitch rail and tried again. She was still uncomfortable about doing a really good stretch, so I asked her to wrap her head around my waist. She complied and was amply rewarded for her efforts.

4-20-20

The next soaking on 4-20-20, I had the diaper modified and left the job to Steve and Bailey to execute to make sure that Chasity would accept help from everyone and not just me. Steve led her from the barn and cleaned the crust from her eyes.

Bailey began work scraping off the dried pus on her back legs with the shedding blade while Chasity stood quietly.

I had told Bailey that she might try giving Chasity a massage on her neck to see how she would tolerate it. She loved it!

I also asked Bailey to try using the massager on the infected area with only the hot pack (without the wet towel) to see if it would break up the infection in the hardened teats. The new “diaper” design worked like a charm! Unfortunately, the massager really didn’t make much of a difference on the hardened teats, so we will just use it on her neck and body going forward.

After the soaking, Greg Farrand, our vet called and told us the lab work was back. Chasity has a bacterial infection and not mastitis. She will be on antibiotics and daily soaking for quite some time. When she is done with the Uniprim, she will go on a second antibiotic regimen. As always, Chasity was generously rewarded for her compliance! She is such a dear donkey!

 

Vet Checkup For Mastitis4 14 20 15

CHASITY’S CHALLENGES: Vet Checkup for Mastitis: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

Chasity continues to improve, however, the drainage from her teats was not receding and began to look suspicious to me so I called our veterinarian out to take a look at her. It has been two weeks since she arrived and had it been the result of a weaned foal, she would have been drying up by now. When he arrived, I told Greg Farrand that I suspected an infection of some sort and then I went to get Chasity.

Greg took a look at the discharge and agreed that is was not as we had originally thought, This was not milk, but a small amount of pus and some very hard teats.

Chasity was a star while we poked and prodded to get a sufficient sample to test. Greg and my Ranch Manager, Chad, finally got a large enough sample to be a viable test sample.

In the light, one could see that it was clearly pus and not milk. Greg put the sample in the holding receptacle and took it with him to be tested. He would call with results.

Not all my jennets from past experience were so cooperative and we truly appreciated  Chasity’s quiet demeanor! Greg commented how much better she was looking after only two short weeks!

I mentioned to Greg that I had found some spots on her chest that could have been an old bot-hatching ground. I told him that I had scraped off the crusty scabs and applied Neosporin to the affected area. Most of the scabs were gone, but he said that she probably aggravated the area by scratching her chest on the fence. Donkeys will do that! I showed him her diary. He said that doing the core exercises would also help get rid of the infection.

Greg prescribed a regimen of Uniprim for the next 14 days along with daily hot water soaking.

Chasity tolerated the water, but was not thrilled with the water continuously running down her legs.

I decided if it was going to be a prolonged therapy, I would need to modify my future soaking approach to make her more comfortable during the process. This time, despite her displeasure, Chasity had cooperated and was happy to obtain her reward of crimped oats when it was all over!

CHASITYS CHALLENGES 4 14 20 Grooming4

Chasity’s Challenges: Grooming Routine: 4-14-20

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4-14-20

Grooming is an important activity in your equine’s life and it need not be a struggle if it is done regularly. Chasity was not real sure of us, or what to expect when she first arrived, but she is gaining confidence and calmness with each grooming session that precedes her workouts. Right off, she is rewarded for going to her designated work station. This familiarity sets the stage for the tasks to come.

I begin with a wet towel to clean her eyes, then her nose and finally her ears. When cleaning the ears, I stroke upwards with the hair and try not to go against the way it grows. Most Longears enjoy having their ears rubbed anyway, but HOW you do it can make a huge difference in their willingness to comply.

Then I begin on her forehead and along her neck with a human, multi-bristled plastic hairbrush. If she had mud on her, I would have scraped that off with the shedding blade first. The human hairbrush is much more effective in getting deep into thick donkey and mule hair and will “aerate” the coat nicely where the shedding blade will only skim the top and often break the hair.

Chasity’s teats were as hard as a rock, but were draining a milky-looking substance. At first we thought she had just weaned a foal, but we found out later, that was not the case. At any rate, during grooming, I scraped the sticky drainage from her back legs. Then I discovered some crusty spots across her chest that resembled an old bot-hatching site that had not been addressed.

I used the shedding blade to scrape off the scabs and applied Neosporin to the area. Over several days now, the scabs are beginning to go away. Chasity enjoyed the scratching! They must have been itchy!

Chasity has an enlarged, crested neck and fatty deposits over her body that will need some attention. The crest has fallen over quite a bit, but I do think it is salvagable. It will just take the right kind of feed and exercise, and some time to correct.

On her withers, Chasity has some scarring where the saddles previously used on her were rubbing and turned the hair white. She is also sporting a bit of Lordosis (sway-backed) which should not be seen in an animal of her young age of 13 years. This will undoubtedly result in irregular movement when seeing how out of alignment her spine is with these issues. Equines are not designed to carry weight on top. Rather, their structure supports carrying their weight below the spine. This is why is is so important to pay attention to core exercises to strengthen the top line and abs to prepare to support the rider’s weight. Just because they are big animals doesn’t mean they can automatically carry our weight without undue stress on their bodies.

The crusty discharge on her legs is very sticky, so I sharpen my shedding blade before going after it. It is going to pull the hairs hard enough as it is. I want the shedding blade sharp so it will come off quickly and with as little pain as possible. Chasity appreciates my consideration for her!

Last, but certainly not least, I sprinkle Johnson’s Baby oil in her mane and tail. This protects the hair from drying out during inclement weather, will promote growth and keep other animals from chewing on it. Then I square Chasity up one more time in preparation for either tacking up or for leaving the work station. Although this all seems simple enough, keeping this routine weekly will keep things from getting out of hand and grooming will remain easy each time. A reward of crimped oats from the fanny pack around my waist is always in order for standing quietly in good posture!

If you have multiple animals, just take your grooming tools in a bucket and your fanny pack full of oats with you to their stalls and do them there. If they are all in one pen in a herd situation, do not wear your fanny pack until they can all be rewarded at the same time, at the end of grooming. Body clipping is not a healthy solution and should only be done when showing. During shedding season, it is impossible to get it all done at once and still keep the hair coat healthy. It is easier if you do it weekly and take off the excess hair gradually. When grooming is done regularly and goes easily, it greatly reduces anxiety and bad behaviors.

Chasity’s Week Two Bath9

Chasity’s Challenges: Chasity’s Week Two Bath: 4-10-20

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4-10-20:

It was the end of March when Chasity first arrived and the weather was much too cold to even think about giving her a bath, even with our indoor facility. Even though the equines come in to us with Health Certificates and a Coggins Test, we are still very careful about keeping them in quarantine for 30 days and bathing them for hygiene purposes. Chasity would be no exception.

Finally on April 10, it was warm enough to bath her. The water at the outside hitch rail would be too cold, so I opted to bath her in the Tack Barn where there was warm water. Chasity was about to experience her first bath at the Lucky Three Ranch! I began with the lower part of her front legs, then moved to her forehead and worked my way down her neck after spreading a line of shampoo across the full length of her body. I did not use the shampoo on her face.

Ordinarily, I do not use soap during the yearly bathing, but since she had come from another location, I used my Tres Semme Breakage Defense shampoo. It is not as drying as some shampoos and does not require any conditioning. As I sprayed her with water, the suds came up and I followed the sudsy water with my shedding blade to eradicate the dirt from her body as she was rinsed.

As I scraped her with the shedding blade, I just kept the water flowing until no more dirt and suds came from each area. Chasity was not exactly thrilled and moved into me and up against the hitch rail where I could not reach her. I just adjusted the spray to more power and aimed it at her flanks until she moved over. Then I adjusted the spray to be lighter and less penetrating again.

Once she was willing to stand still, I was able to check some questionable spots on her body. He chest had completely healed from the old bug bites, but I did notice a bald spot on her right hind leg. It didn’t look like much and I thought it would probably fill in with hair as her good hygiene was maintained. If need be, I would treat that with Neosporin, too. It works well on most things like this that donkeys seem to get quite often, including “jack sores.”

After the right side was all done, she was rewarded for being a good girl! After chewing her reward of crimped oats, we resumed first with her forehead on the left side.

I worked my way down the left side the same way as I had done on the right side…covered the length of her body with shampoo, followed by water and scraping the suds and dirt from her body with the shedding blade.

She was much better on this side! I sprayed her teats clean and she stood like a trooper!

She now knew what to expect and was amply rewarded for her efforts!

I had prepared to dry her with a hair dryer, but it was so warm, I decided to try her on the hotwalker. I wasn’t sure about how she would take it, but I took it slow, tied her with the chain looped through the ring on her halter and not under her chin. She walked right off as if she had done it all her life!

She dried much more quickly than she would have had I used the hair dryer! I was so proud of Chasity! I think she is finally beginning to trust us!!!

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Chasity’s Challenges: Chasity’s Week Two Workout: 4/6,8,10/20

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4-6-20:

Today, Chasity did much better after two days of rest over the weekend. Her hair coat is much softer and her color is becoming more brilliant. She was moving around quite a bit while being groomed and had to be corrected. After being corrected and rewarded, she stood still.

4-8-20:

Today she was much better during grooming after being corrected the last time, although she was still a bit impatient. She wanted to continue forward before she finished chewing during her lesson in the Hourglass Pattern. I expect that will change in time.

She stood still while I wiped the dried milk-like drainage from her teats and scraped off her legs.

I also found dried bug bites of some sort on her chest that I thought could be old scars from hatched bots. I scraped them off with the shedding blade and treated them with Neosporin. It worked well.

It has only been a week of lessons, but we have made some progress with her neck. It is difficult to tell much from looking at the left side of her body. But now, when you look at her neck from the right side, you can see her mane sticking up across the top. We could not see it at all before.

The neck sweat Velcro is overlapping a bit more and I am able to tighten the adjustment on the “Elbow Pull” since she is now more flexible in her neck.

Her back is beginning to look better even from the start of the lesson. Although she still leans on it, she is randomly submitting to the “Elbow Pull” and matching my steps more easily.

Chasity continues to improve. She is happy to stand quietly, is more balanced over the ground rails and squares up much more easily with only slight indications from the lead rope.

4-10-20:

With each new lesson, Chasity continues to improve. It is only necessary to do the Hourglass Pattern once in one direction and then cross the diagonal and do it in the other direction, at least once per week and no more often than once every other day. She is now learning to bend through her rib cage while remaining erect around the turns in both directions.

Again, she is balanced over the ground rails, squares up nicely and maintains her good posture. She resumes the pattern and goes over the ground rails again for a balanced finish! There was no need for pulling on the lead rope at all, just slight indications!

Chasity’s overall balance and core strength is progressing faster than I would have thought. This is the reason I tell people that these lessons on the flat ground will need to be done for 3-6 months to gain ultimate postural balance and core strength before moving on to obstacles for the addition of coordination. Some equines do progress faster than others. Chasity appears to be one of the faster ones!

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Chasity’s Challenges: Removing Chasity’s Shoes

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4-2-20:

Our farrier, Dean Geesen came out to take care of Chasity’s feet. The first order of business was to introduce himself with an offer of oats! She did not want my veterinarian, Greg Farrand, to pick up her feet on Tuesday, but during grooming on Wednesday, Ranch Manager, Chad and I cleaned her feet, so she was much more compliant today. Getting her hooves in balance will greatly improve her overall body balance. And, getting the shoes off her overgrown front feet will enable the frog to do its circulation job!

Her front hooves were exceptionally long with Borium shoes (non-slip) on them and her back feet were long and uneven. All four feet had been trimmed out of balance.

Dean showed us how the shoes had been abnormally and unevenly worn.

Dean removed the shoes and trimmed her hooves in the best balance that he could for now. Her hooves had been pressured to one side and would need several trims to get them properly symmetrical in alignment.

Dean is a correctional farrier and knew just what to do to get her started off on the right ‘foot’ so to speak. It was a definite improvement from where she was!

She will need to be checked periodically to keep her feet in good shape as she moves forward in her therapy. Sometimes these kinds of things just take time!

She was rewarded with oats in appreciation for her cooperation! Chasity seemed thankful for her newly balanced hooves.

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What’s New with Roll? Winter Work in the Hourglass Pattern

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Roll has been off for quite some time during this crazy winter weather that we have been having and due to the extra office work that I have taken on. Today we had an opportunity with warm temperatures, but avoided the mud from the snow by working indoors. First, I groomed Roll with a curry and then the vacuum cleaner. The vacuum cleaner is a great tool to promote circulation to the muscles over the body.

Johnson’s Baby Oil in the mane and tail help to protect the hair from the harsh winter weather, drying mud and prevents other equines from chewing on them.

Today we used my Kieffer dressage saddle that seems to fit most of my mules and Roll included with a girth extender. Then I put on the “Elbow Pull” and adjust it so that it helps him to keep his good posture throughout his lesson.

The “Elbow Pull” only prevents him from raising his head so high that he inverts his neck and hollows his back. Otherwise, it affords him full range of motion upward (to that point), downward to the ground and as far as he can stretch his head and neck to both sides.

We went to the indoor arena and he stood like a soldier while I closed the gate and prepped for our lesson in the hourglass pattern. It is extraordinary how core strength stays with these guys even when they are off work for long periods of time.

This is not true with bulk muscle or an animal that has not had the benefit of core strength postural  development. The core strength that we develop in good posture is sustained by the equines themselves in their daily routines even when they do not receive forced exercise as long as they continue to move in good posture and rest four-square. Equines that rest with uneven foot placement, or cock a hind foot and drop a hip are not balanced in good posture with a strong core.

When saddling, we do it from the left side (near side) as done normally, but to keep things balanced, we  unsaddle from the right side (off side) and pull the saddle back onto the rear end to loosen the crupper and  make it easy to remove. When the equine is routinely handled like this, they learn to relax and stand quietly because they know what to expect.

It is amazing to see how much Roll’s attitude has changed in the eight years he has been with us. When he first arrived, he would snort at everything and hide behind Rock. He is now a happy, confident and affectionate 26 year old, 18 hand draft mule. He enjoys his lessons and never forgets a thing!

Trying new things is now done with much less effort and thus, much less drama! Yes, Roll is a bit obese with atrophied bulk muscle right now, but with routine lessons, he will be back to peak condition in no time. An equine that possesses a good foundation built with core strength in mind will be in a position to excel in all kinds of equine activities…because they are never over-whelmed.

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What’s New with Roll? Happiness is getting back to good health!

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10/26/17: It is MULE APPRECIATION DAY today and the perfect time for an update on Roll! Roll has recovered nicely from his bout with White Line Disease in 2016. He had no workouts during that year, but surprisingly, he retained his core strength and balance throughout 2016 and came into 2017 still in good posture and balance. This leads me to believe that core strength does not necessarily deteriorate as rapidly as does bulk muscle.

Roll had his most recent “leading for core strength postural workout” on May 23rd this year. However since then, I have been unable to pursue any more lessons during the entire summer due to business obligations.

He was scheduled for his regular farrier visits on May 18th, July 14th and on September 21st. During that time, he also had two chiropractic visits and was doing very well with only minor adjustments needed.

On October 17th, Roll had a short ride with Brandy in the Lucky Three Ranch North Pasture after being off all summer. He was rather disgusted with Brandy after she unseated her rider, Bailey, at the beginning of the ride by spooking at a shadow on the ground. Roll did great although I could tell he was a bit stiff from the onset, but loosened up and gained impulsion by the end of the ride.

Roll had his last massage on July 13 and continues to thrive at the age of 26 years old. On October 25, we discovered a sarcoid-like tumor on his right jaw, x-rayed it and will do a removal following next week’s vaccinations. 

After being off all summer, I thought he did very well and this only reinforced my belief that core muscle really does sustain itself once the animal has spent at least two years doing very specific core muscle, postural exercises.

 

 

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