Well … it arrived … The day that has been looming large in my mind for three months … Farrier Day. The donkeys and I have had 80 practice runs at this … and … it worked – almost. And since close counts in horseshoes I figure it’s an achievement of sorts here too. Let’s cut to the chase:
Here is Paco – haltered – tied – and meeting Dale Gladwin (The Hearthstone Farrier). This is a MAJOR step. Dale, myself and Paco are all in the barn stall at the same time. Earlier Paco had willfully SPIT the apple with sedative gel out and declared he wasn’t having another bite – even though apples are one of his favourite treats. So I just went ahead with our morning clicker training routine which led to his haltering and tying as usual. It was only when the ‘untying’ part did not happen that he knew for certain that something was up. I stayed with him and soothed him and told him that Dale was coming and explained what would happen. He curled his face into my chest clearly asking to be let go. I was very disappointed that we were going to have to try Dale’s visit without any sedative … but determined to give it a go.
We got a lot further than I had hoped for! Dale is so great with the donkeys. He has such a gentle manner and a comforting tone of voice. Paco was happy to let him scratch his neck and stroke his back – and even did well with Dale handling his legs. The biggest test – lifting his hooves – was a success! Yeehaw! However … the step that involved actually trimming or shaving – not … yet …
We decided that was far enough for Paco to progress in one day. The girls were ready to see what was going on and were waiting for us when we stepped out of the Bully Barn. I sure could see that all of those afternoons of patiently working our way through ‘lessons’ had paid off. The girls were curious to check out Dale’s tools and excited for their turn to ‘play clicker games’ with him.
Soon the stall floor was covered with nail bits and toe ‘rings’. Darby had managed to gobble up the apple bits that Paco had turned down. She was loopy and happy to work for carrot treats.
Rosie was her usual patient self – she had already watched every step of Darby’s appointment and knew what her job was. Dale really was having to scrunch down to get to her level.
By the time ‘wee’ Bella was up we were thinking up inventions for a donkey hoist! 😉 Bella was fine until she ran out of patience. Then we had a chance to experience what it might be like to clip the hooves of a jumping mountain goat. I totally can see how she managed to jump onto Paco’s back a while ago!
In a little over an hour everyone was looked after. After filling up on munchies and hay Bella was ready for a mid-day snooze in the sunshine. Me too! I was exhausted – half a mind happy with the progress we’d made – half disappointed that we still hadn’t managed to trim Paco’s hooves. Admittedly … I could have had our vet here and had him sedated with a shot. But that had the potential to undo a lot of the work he and I have been doing. Dale took a good look at his hooves and felt they can manage just fine a few more months. They may even chip back as he spends the summer on the gravel paths and rocky hillside … For now I’m just going to let us all relax a few days and then think about my next plan.
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