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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Worth The Wait

I have wanted a Mammoth Jenny Donkey for many, many years. I’ve spent hours and hours researching them. So much so, that I was afraid if I ever got one, I would end up disappointed.

I saw quite a few advertised online. Some already trained. Some with better conformation. Some flashier. But, none of them stole my heart like my EmmaKate did.

I’m not even sure what why she did. I had quite a few moments of second guessing myself, when I first brought her home. Training a young Mammoth Jenny from scratch isn’t for the faint of heart – and that’s coming from someone who used to break racehorses for a living!

It hasn’t been easy, and Donkey Time is very, very….slow. I’ve heard it said that donkeys need to be trained how horses SHOULD be trained, and how true that is.

Really though, she has trained me the most, over the past few months.

Every day is a new experience with her. A new lesson. A deepening of our bond. While I would love to say that it’s due to some skill set of mine, it totally isn’t.

That’s just how donkeys are. They aren’t looking for an expert. They just want someone they can trust. I am still amazed at how she knows who she can immediately trust. Like the broken. The Special Ones. The shy ones. Those get her heart right away.

Me….I have had to work hard for that same level of acceptance. But, I’m ok with that. She is so worth the wait.

Guardian Of The Heart

True donkey lovers, and owners say that donkeys should not be used as guardians.

I totally get that.

But, my girl is the very best gaurdian there ever was. If there is a timid child, scared to even go in the horse pasture, EmmaKate is there, quietly nuzzling them.

If there is someone who just needs some donkey therapy, EmmaKate stands as still as a statue, while they brush her.

If I have a bad day, she never tires of resting her big head in my chest, while I rub her ears.

If my little mini horse needs a break from my two bossy pony mares, EmmaKate stands guard over him.

So, while she hasn’t done much to reduce the coyotes yipping in distance, she is still a mighty fine Guardian of The Heart.

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