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July 2008

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Well, July got off to a frenetic start!   It was almost as if everyone was waiting for the end of my Leave before throwing all sorts of curved balls!  
 
As I have no animals of my own, it is going to be quite a gobsmack to get 'my' Vets bills!  But thanks to the generosity of so many of you, these animals are now being treated.  The fact of the matter is that the trust of the people has been gained and they have no problem in phoning to say 'my donkey/horse is sick, come fetch'. 
 
Treating the animals - Isn't this what it is all about? 

WHIPLASH - IF ONLY THEY COULD TALK!
I was called to collect 'my grandfathers donkey that is not eating' and duly complied.  The donkey did not look very happy at all and was swiftly loaded and transported to the Vet.  Nothing obvious stood out so he was treated for the 'normal' plastic ingestion just in case, i.e. tubed and dosed with electrolytic water and a painkiller.  We duly took him home, but he looked even worse!!  Walking around with his nose on the ground and his tongue hanging out, the tongue getting bruised and cut and swollen. I really was not getting a very good feeling about this one.
 
In desperation to try and figure out what his problem was and to assist us with feeding and drinking (with the Manhattan Ice Tea bottle!), I asked Craig and Alfred to lift his head up onto the fence pole.  It was almost as if the donkey smiled with relief?!  We continued with our regimen for a day and although he was not tied to the fence to hold him up (that would have been silly!), he was happy to stand with his head propped up on the fence!  Most puzzling and unusual! 
 
When he started showing signs of tiring, Craig had the bright spark idea to put a bale of (old) lucerne in front of him so that he could rest a little bit more and with a pair of donated old brushing boots to soften the pole, we did what we could.   (Your pic is attached!)
 
With his head on the fence, his tongue, once washed and desanded, decreased in size so that he was able to get it back inside his mouth and drink willingly from the bottle.   It was around about this time that I realised that he had probably undergone some sort of neck trauma and was literally unable to keep his head up of his own accord.   In we jumped with Arnica Ice on the neck and shoulders, and by this time, cubes had been introduced into the water bottle to soften and slide down his throat.  With bunches of carrots (bought both by us and also donated by concerned hospital visitors) thrown in, we soon has his undivided attention and with the related excreta being presented.  Our dog food manufacturer presented a tray full of fresh, green, succulent, carrot tops and this really piqued his appetite.
 
Not your usual 'supportive therapy', but it worked and within two days, he was walking around with his neck and head more uplifted and his tongue staying inside his mouth.   I can only surmise that he was perhaps hit by a car on the neck and head and therefore had a splitting headache and a very painful neck.
 
And in hindsight, that treatment for plastic colic did not go amiss either - it kept him nicely hydrated until such time as the penny dropped!   Once he realised that his day had not come there was rapid improvement to the extent that he was returned home to his delighted owner when all was 'normal'. 
 The only sour note was one young lady who saw him and decided that he was not going to make it and should be shot straight off!  We are so glad that we have Vets to advise on 'final solutions' where necessary and who are prepared to go the extra mile to assist us in making the right decisions and more importantly, giving us time to help as much as possible depending on the circumstances.

GELDING
As arranged with a Uitenhage 'customer', Socks was duly collected for gelding.  He settled in quickly and knowing donkeys from 'home', was utterly unperturbed with them braying in the next door camp.  His owner was very happy when he was duly returned home with a horseblanket for Socks and one for his pulling partner.  This of course has meant that another horse owner has said, "What about me!!??".   So, we just loaded his two horses up and they will be returned home next week.
 
The owner was having a really bad day, as he frantically phoned me in a flat out panic late in the afternoon to say that another of his horses was 'dying, he won't stand up!'.
 
So, it was all the way back to collect a colicking horse and get it to the Vet, who was waiting after hours as I had already warned them I was on my way in with a problem.  As the colic was in its 'early' stages, it was easily treated and therefore the completion of the 'job' was accomplished in short time and the horse returned to its owner a few days later (with new blankie and halter).
 
The geldings have been treated to a hoof-job and a dip and will be returned with horseblankets.  In other words, a 'full house' treatment.  And they will probably tell all their friends!
 
What stood out about this owner and his three horses is that when it came to loading into the horsebox, the horses did not perform as some do, they simply walked on with a voice command from their owner.    They are all quite placid when being worked on and in fact seem to be enjoying, if you can say that about gelding, their stay with us.

TACK DONATIONS
As with the cases above, old or unused tack that has been donated by you comes in for good use.  Owners are so happy to get their animals back and when they come with a halter and lead rein, they are blown away by your generosity.
 
Thank you for all those regular donations!

REPORT BACK ON FOAL RTA
I bumped into the little donkey foal the other day (reported on in the previous newsletter), and she is fit and well and sound!   Her many wounds, except for the last big on on the stifle, have all healed, and the wound that caused the vets some concern, has almost disappeared.

FRANTIC ACTIVITY
And then there was the donkey stallion who decided to visit some barren Thoroughbred mares down the road.  Naturally, the owner of the mares was not terribly happy, but with a little assistance from bystanders we managed to catch him.  Anyone who thinks of donkeys as meek and compliant needs to think again!   He pulled away from two of us, and so it took 5 of us to belay him, eventually after chasing the mares around a hectare, and tie him to the tow hitch on the bakkie!  Of course, he wanted to go and play with the mares again and was very difficult to remove from the scene, and I could just see him tearing through the traffic on Schoenies Road.  We made our way home not too far away at a sedate trot on the grass verge of the road, with Alfred bringing up the rear to keep us all moving forward!
 
It did not, however, prevent him from again going visiting at 4.30 in the morning.  This time the stud owner and I managed to catch him and get him home safely with just the two of us in the darkness of night.
 
The thing that I found most interesting was the reaction of one of the mares.  She was not going to take this invasion of privacy sitting down, no ways!   There was clearly nothing wrong with her 'fight' mode, and assisted us in getting him into a corner by kicking and biting him with great vigour.   What a feisty mare!  (And of course, I am glad I am not going to be around to try and catch her foal one day!)
 
And then it all fell into place:   Friday, the donkey stallion is actually a Hinny!   Described in the Donkey Sanctuary advice book as a Hinny having a pony for a dad to a donkey mommy, as opposed to a mule that has a donkey stallion for a papa and a pony for a mama.  This throws a completely new light on the matter and will also explain why he got so excited when he saw the two township Skewbalds in for gelding - he really thought he had Christmas and New Year wrapped into one!   And when you look at him, there is definitely a more refined conformation than in your normal run of the mill, donkeys.
 
I am proudly told by his owner that he is known as the best 'puller' in the township!   I think he just misses his horse friends from his foalhood.

VOLUNTEERS
From time to time, people volunteer to come and 'help the donkeys', but only occasionally does someone carry through with their offer.  Just recently, a volunteer arrived who had been 'sent' by her guide to 'help horses'.  We welcomed her when she arrived and gave her two brushes and a lead rein and sent her in the direction of the two new geldings.  She walked them to loosen them up post-op as instructed, and then gave them a good brushing and finished off with some treats.  The two newly gelded horses did not give her any trouble until she wanted to leave, refusing to budge from the gate!!

WELCOME
I have pleasure in advising that Craig Frazer has been employed as a Trainee Inspector at the ECHCU.  He will have to learn all sorts of things in the future, but has shown himself willing to learn, and he does have great empathy with the animals and the owners have taken to him and that is always a good start.  This in turn has freed me up to deal with other matters that arise from time to time.  Very quickly, he has seen with his own eyes why donkeys get rubs and galls, and this has led to some innovative harness making by him when he is not doing poulticing or dipping or learning his way around the townships.
 
Now, if I can just organise the laptop (from Highveld Horse Care) for the office, we, the team, will be a smoothly functioning Unit doing our best for the equines 'out there'.
 
All this, thanks to the donations that you pour into our coffers!
 
M

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