EmmaKate

So, yesterday I did something pretty crazy. I bought a donkey. Not just any donkey. I bought a 3 1/2 year old Mammoth jenny donkey named EmmaKate.

I had been looking for….well, for a long time, for a mammoth Jenny, but all were either too old, too expensive, or two far away. Then I stumbled on Emma’s ad. She was priced well, looked in good condition, and had the kindest eye I had ever seen. I knew she was meant to be ours.

So, why a donkey, you ask? I used to show hunters, and gallop racehorses, and this girl is about as far from both of those as you can get. But, I kept getting call after call from folks who just wanted to come out and ride, groom, pet, etc. a horse. Emma may not be a horse, but donkeys are much more affectionate then horses are, and they are easy to train, IF trained properly. I had a FB friend tell me that “Horses should be trained the donkeys have to be”. What great advice.

The main thing with a donkey, is that you can’t force a donkey to do anything. Case in point, there was a time yesterday, where I thought “We may be coming home with an empty trailer.” As Miss Emma did not want to leave. Her owner tied her leadrope as tight as it would go – any horse would’ve freaked over that – and we all just stood there, encouraging her. It was not a quick or easy process, but eventually she did get in.

When we unloaded her, she walked to the pasture like it was no big deal. There were a few fireworks between her and my large pony mare, but it seems to be getting a little better:

Although she’s still pretty scared of my mini gelding, Simba, 😂

At first she wouldn’t let us near her, but now, she follows us around wanting scratches.

My 15 year old son is pretty crazy about her, though have to wonder if part of the reason is so he can tell he friend’s that his Mom has a big ass.

I’m not sure how this adventure will unfold, but I wanted to document it, and share it, for anyone else considering getting a big ass.

Since she and Diva decided to have a throw down this morning, that involved Emma getting kicked in her back leg – she’s sound, and it looks to be superficial – today’s lesson will be about her letting me touch her legs without losing my head.

Stay tuned!

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Trimmed At Last!!!

EmmaKate has been doing pretty well, lately, but those feet of hers, were driving me crazy! They were terrible!

With EmmaKate – maybe all donkeys…I’m not sure? – any little setback can bring us back several steps, so when my farrier told me she was coming back on the 12th, I was hesatent. The last visit, didn’t go so well, though we did discover that she would sell her donkey soul for a banana. It was like those feet were the final frontier, though going to Mars looked far easier of a task to me.

After a lot of procrastinating, I finally contacted my vet who said he would leave a cocktail at the clinic. The last cocktail he left for her had no impact on her at all, so he made up a doozy of one this time. I’m trying to rationalize why I’m drinking $7.99 Moscato Wine, while the donkey gets a $45 a shot cocktail, but I digress….

So, we get the goods, compliments of a friend – I’m so glad we don’t live in a subdivision, otherwise someone might have turned me in, thinking a drug deal was going down, as she delivered the shot to me, lol. – and drugs in hand, on Saturday I go catch my donkey.

She’s actually starting to get better about being caught, though for now, she is still wearing her safety halter 24/7, since if I am holding a halter, she won’t get near me.

So, donkey caught, and drugs are given in the neck. As her ears start flopping to the side, I leave her ground tied, while my trimmer is working on my daughter’s pony, so that I can get some fly spray. I come out of the barn, just in time to see Emma ambling off into the woods. Crap. Not really knowing how she would react to this sedative, I had visions of her going down, in the middle of the woods, with kudzu, brambles and what not. We tried catching her, but she was having none of it. Thankfully, she did stop momentarily, on the other side of a gate, so that I could scratch her butt. I’ve never met a donkey who turns down butt scratches, and Emma sure fits that mold. As I scratch, my son and his friend managed to grab the leadrope, and she was caught!

My trimmer was skeptical, since she had wanted her one the ground, tranquilized, but my girl is not a cheap drunk, and thankfully, she agreed to try. God love her!

My trimmer uses a power angle grinder, which may sound scary, but in educated hands, it makes for a beautiful – and fast – trim. She did jerk away a few times, and EmmaKate’s MO, is to run backwards, but my wonderful trimmer just kept with her, and did what she could, which ended up being all 4 feet! Donkey’s do so much better with positive reinforcement, so I held her leadrope fairly tightly, and rubbed her head, talking quietly the whole time, while my trimmer told her what a good girl she was, as she quickly trimmed.

I need to get better pictures, but this was her feet before:.

I don’t think they had ever been picked out, much less trimmed, before I got her. They we’re bad enough that we even wondered if she had foundered in the past. Thankfully though, being off grass, and on a good diet has helped tremendously, and the toe buldges that she had a few months ago, are now gone. Sometimes toe buldges can be from founder, where the coffin bone has rotated, but other times they can be where the body has built up calluses, to protect the bone. We think in EmmaKate’s case, it was the latter of the two. Whew.

So much better!!

I am so thankful for my trimmer, Susan!

As crazy as it sounds, having my girl’s feet trimmed was the best Mother’s Day present ever!!!

Now, usually after something like that, it takes a week until EmmaKate forgives me. At least. But this time she did much better. Every night, when I feed them, I won’t let her eat, unless she allows me to pet her first. She used to be very skiddish during feeding time, but now she even let’s me brush her, while she eats.

One thing she still needs a lot of work on, is leading. Some days she will lead OK, while other days, it just isn’t happening. Yesterday though, I think we hit a breakthrough, and I could almost see the light bulb turning on, in her head. Here’s a little video I took, of her progress:

Shes doing so well, that this weekend, I plan on teaching her how to ground drive!!!

Last night, as I watched her munch on her evening hay, I just kept thinking how blessed I was, to be owned by a Mammoth Donkey.

They really are pretty wonderful!!!

~Kat

Ears, Hooves, and Everything In Between

I suppose it’s beyond time for an update, but to be honest, between the rain we’ve had, and the many back steps ate took after the big vet visit, there just hasn’t been a ton of training going on. Add to that, I’m now teaching lessons on a regular basis, to special kids.

So, we’ve mainly just been doing a lot of this:

And this:

And even this:

And, while at first, I was getting discouraged at the lack of training sessions, I had to remind d myself, that just being with her, loving her, IS training. And besides, it’s all way better then this:

I like to call this Pissed Off Donkey, and it is brought to you by my vet, an ear cleaning, and copious amounts of sedation drugs that would probably knock out an elephant. I had thought that she had an ear infection, since she kept shaking her head, became very ear shy, and starting g doing her best impression of an Airport Marshaller. See what I mean?

But, after a thorough ear check, and cleaning, the vet said her ears are just fine. My pocket book, however, is another story!

Not one to waste good sedation drugs, I took the opportunity to treat her many fly bites, and Thrush, and pick her feet.

The vet left a cocktail to use with the farrier, who was due in a few days, but unfortunately, the sedation didn’t do a thing. We did find out, that Miss Emma is a huge fan of Bananas, and I think my trimmer finally made a friend:

I think next time we are going to have to get the vet out, to fully knock her out. Yikes.

EmmaKate did get sat on a few days ago! 😂. As my student and I were tacking up my mare, I look up to see that his parents had placed his sister on EmmaKate! I was pretty shocked, but they of course held her the whole time, and Emma just stood there:

Wow!

EmmaKate really does love her little people. Not only does she try to comfort them when they cry, she also feels it’s her Godgiven duty to watch over them:

So, other then lots of lovin’, and a new halter that is padded, and is a breakaway, that’s about all we’ve been doing:

It’s a good thing she’s cute!

But Why A Donkey? Part 2.

I get asked a lot of questions about my Mammoth Jenny, EmmaKate. Usually, the questions come when I am walking with someone new, over to my horse pasture, and before they see any signs of life, they hear the broken foghorn go off. Then she cones into view, with her big ears, and all their glory.

Then I usually get, “Is that a mule??”

No.

“Well, it’s gotta be part mule, right?”

Nope.

“But, she can’t, have babies though, right?”

She could, if I bred her to another donkey, or a horse.

“Wait….she’s a DONKEY?! I had no idea they came that big!!”

“That’s a BIG ass!!!”

Yes, I’ve heard that joke a time or two. 🙄 And yes, she is big. She’s actually a Mammoth Donkey, or American Mammoth Jackstock.

“Wow! That is so cool!”

Thanks. I think so too.

“But…why a donkey?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That last question always gets asked. So…why a donkey?

Well, hopefully Part 1 of “But Why A Donkey” was enough to convince you, but just in case it wasn’t, here’s yet another reason….

Yesterday evening I was feeding my horses – and donkey – with my 7 year old daughter. She has PANDAS, and had been having a pretty rough day. She ended up tripping on a root, and started crying and screaming. You know..the crying where they are so upset, they start to hiccup?

I tried my best to calm her, but suddenly we both felt something, and look up to see EmmaKate, gently nuzzling her. Yes, the donkey who I sometimes end up spending half a day just trying to catch, was beside my screaming daughter in a matter of seconds. She’s only 3 1/2, but stood completely still, as my daughter hugged her, burying her wet face, in her neck.

So, why a Mammoth Donkey, you ask?

Because she holds the key to our hearts. ❤️

Retreat, Retreat!!

So, ever since the vet came and went, 12 days ago, I have been having to observe my donkey from afar.

Sometimes she would let me steal a quick pat on the nose, but that’s about it. In that time she got an abcess, but I was unable to treat it. I hated that, but sometimes it is, what it is, and thankfully, most abcesses resolve in a few days, regardless of what we do or don’t do.

But, I still had to figure out how to makes friends with my donkey again. I tried everything. I read books and just sat out in their pasture. I got all sorts of treats. I walked around, wearing halters draped over my shoulders. I even chased her away when she wouldn’t come, and stood when she relaxed, but nothing was working. At all.

I had panicky visions of owning a completely ferrel mammoth donkey, but then I switched my tactics, and slowed waaaay down to Donkey Time.

I gave her a quick pat on the nose, and quickly walked away. Every day I did this, and little by little she let me pet her, longer, and longer. But, just before I felt her walk away, I would retreat first. That’s the key. You have be the one to retreat.

Now, I think the organic carrots with tops may have been a big factor, but finally yesterday, we hit a breakthrough, and before I knew it, she was my BFF once again.

Donkeys sure can go from one extreme to the other!!

I still need to get her feet trimmed, and I have yet to put the purple halter on her, that I just bought, but she’s back to following me around the pasture, so for that, I’m grateful!

~ Kat

Enough is Enough.

Well, yesterday was most likely EmmaKate’s most eventful day in her entire life, since coming from Oklahoma, where she was born.

Wednesday, she came up totally lame. I had the vet and farrier coming already, on Saturday, so I picked out her hoof, and used Koppertox on it. Not usually my go to treatment, but I have small window of messing with her, so I did what I could.

Saturday, I came out to their pasture armed with plenty of carrots and celery – Emma’s favorite treats.

As I was walking out, the farrier shows up. I figured that would mean I would never catch her, but a few carrots later, and I had her. Unfortunately, the vet called, saying that he was an hour late, which normally wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except he has the good drugs.

Farrier was able to check the foot she’s lame on, and guesses she probably has an abcess. The good news is that he doesn’t think she has ever foundered!! Yay!! Of course, only X-Rays will show for sure, either way, but that was still good to hear. He left, but said he could come back another day, if I had drugs.

Then the vet showed up. All of mine were due for their routine vaccines, blood work for Coggins, and teeth floating. No big deal for horses who have had regular veterinary care, but not so easy for a donkey who has never had any of that!

He started with vaccines and bloodwork, and she surprised us all by being wonderful. Then it was time for the teeth. Donkeys usually require more sedation the horses do, and she was no exception. Once drugged, the vet puts a speculum on her, to keep her mouth open, and ties her head up, to support her, while she is sedated. I had visions of her running backwards, taking the roof of my barn with her, as soon as the vet turned on his power tool, but once again, she surprised all of us, by being an angel!!

I was holding her tail the entire time, to add some extra encouragement for her not to run backwards, so I didn’t get very many pictures, but I managed to get a few:

I was so proud to see how patient and slow my vet was with her. It really could’ve gone south, but I think his gentle touch had a lot to do with how good she was.

After he “floated” her teeth – this is where the vet grinds down any sharp points and unevenness, that develops from them chewing etc. Hers were pretty bad. – he had to pull her two wolf teeth.

These are teeth that sit behind where a bit would sit, and would cause a lot of discomfort for her, so out they had to go:

Thankfully, she was good for that too – the vet numbed her up – and soon, it was all over, and she was able to enjoy her drug induced trip to LaLa Land:

I jokingly told the vet that I may not be able to catch her for two weeks, after her “traumatic” day. Little did I know, how true that was!!

I was going to wrap her foot up, but since she seemed sounder, I left it alone.

Later, when I fed dinner, she was still one pissed off donkey:

Today (Friday) of course, she was much lamer. I cought her, again with carrots, but after that, things started to unravel.

With a horse, it’s pretty easy to get them moving forward. When they plant their feet, you just turn their head, until they eventually take a step. Then you just keep repeating the process, and while you may look like a drunk driver trying to pass a sobriety test, you can usually get from.point A to point B.

My plan was to get Emma in the Run-In shed, so I could treat her hoof. In reality what happened, is we ended up going in circles, in the woods, no where near the Run-In, and certianly no where near the barn – where the trauma of yesterday took place.

I finally just let her go, still haltered, and both of us sulked off, going our separate ways. I came back a while later to find Emma without her halter on, and not wanting to come anywhere near me.

Great. So, I turned a bucket over, and just sat down. Eventually, she did come up, and I gave her carrots, and pat’s, but never moved. Then I left.

When I fed dinner, I made her eat part of it while I held her feed bucket, and by the end, she seemed ok, though I won’t say she actually forgave me. Yet.

She eventually did at least let me pick out her bad foot, which, as much as I wanted to do more, I had to let that be enough.

Sometimes enough has to be enough, even when we don’t think it’s enough.

~Kat

Wet Boots and New Starts..

Wet Boots

It’s been a while since I updated, but it’s mainly been mud and more mud around here. Which of course means Thrush and more Thrush. But, today was absolutely gorgeous. I had wanted to work with Emma in the round pen, and treat the thrush in her hooves, but she was having none of it. Yesterday, during my lesson – more on that later! – she followed us around like a puppy. I mean, I couldn’t keep her away!! But, as soon as I pick up her halter, she’s gone.

I’ve noticed that donkeys, are great observers, so instead of wasting the day, walking around the pasture, I instead got myate, Diva for a good grooming, and quick ride. Of course Emma gave us the hairy eyeball when I brought out the Koppertox – green smelly stuff, good for treating Thrush, when it’s muddy – but, she stood and watched us the entire time. She wasn’t too keen on us leaving, but I never heard her Bray.

Now, I haven’t ridden The Diva in a long time, and it was our first time riding in her new hackamore, so, we had a few kinks to work out. We had planned on just riding across the street to meet the new neighbors, but they weren’t home, so instead we headed for the creek. The creek that she has willingly crossed many, many times. Only, as we approached, she grew about two more feet, and said “nope, nope, nope. I tried letting her cross the bridge instead, but that resulted in an even bigger “NO!!”.

Now, one thing with horses – and donkeys – is that you should never start a fight unless you know you can win. Of course, even better, is if you can avoid a fight all together. While I was fairly confident that eventually I would get her to cross, the last time I tried forcing her yo do something she didn’t want to do – closing a gate – resulted in her slipping, breaking her splint bones, which needed to be surgically removed.

So, instead, I got off. First we walked across the bridge. Back and forth, back and forth. Then we stood. After that we walked to the creek, and I led her in and stood.

She wasn’t too happy at first, but once she realized that the creek was shark free, she started pawing, and splashing water, and just having a big time. All while I stood in the middle of the creek, water rushing over my leather boots.

Training horses isn’t always pretty, or easy. Sometimes it gets messy, but I’d rather be messy…or wet…then ending up face down in the dirt…or creek. I led her home the rest of the way, and we ended our ride/walk quite happy with ourselves. :).

New Start…sort of.

Before I had my daughter, I taught lessons for a living. I had taught off and on throughout the years, but this was my first time doing it as my sole source of income, and I loved it. But then I got remarried, had my daughter, and was a stay at home Mama.

I loved that too, but when my husband died suddenly, six years ago, I knew I wanted, and needed more.

So, yesterday, I got”more” with my first student! Only, this time, I’m doing things a bit differently. I put up a few ads, in a few groups, asking folks if they had a child who was ADD, bullied in school, different, special needs, etc. I said that while I didn’t have an arena, I did have some sweet ponies, a round pen, and the coolest Mammoth donkey ever, as well as a heart for the broken child.

I thought I would only get a few responses, but so far, I have received dozens. I am still blown away at how many out of he box kids there are who just need love and acceptance.

So, yesterday, my newest student led mini gelding Simba, around, gave Diva a good grooming, and led her around, all while Miss Emma stayed right next to me.

She really seems to love little people.

See what mean?

Well, here’s to muddy boots and new starts – may we never be afraid of either one!!

~ Kat

Best Friends, and Yummy Wood, Makes for Happy Donk

While it’s been rainy here, off and on, lately, it’s also been downright warm, the past few days, which has been wonderful. I’m hoping this means we are done with blankets for the season, but who knows with Georgia weather, as bipolar as it is?

I had meant to set up the gang’s spring vet appointment – especially after feeling Emma’s teeth and realizing how terrible they are – but I didn’t get a chance to today.

No training has happened, but I think that miss Emma is starting to fit in well, in her new home:

How sweet is that?!

Of course, after I took that photo, Simba pinned his little ears, and chased her off, but it’s a start, I guess.

As I was walking around the pasture tonight, getting everyone’s feed tubs so I could give them their dinner – and, as a side note, I have never seen any of mine grab a feed tub with their mouths, but every day they end up across the pasture, so..I don’t know?? – and came across another Emma stick:

I don’t think folks realize how much donkey’s like wood. Remember, they are desert animals, designed to survive in a harsh environment, and eat crazy stuff, like wood. I haven’t seen her gnawing on trees yet, but I have seen quite a few sticks like this one, since she came. Guess she’s meeting her daily fiber requirements!

In other news, my daughter’s pony, Elsa, is doing great, in training, and should be home, in a few months. I can’t wait to see what she thinks of Emma! She’s a prissy little thing:

Well, that’s all for today.

~ Kat