Yesterday the farrier came to trim Rufus's hooves. Brandon couldn't understand why I was so nervous. Actually, I couldn't understand why I was so nervous either! I was awake hours before the dawn, trying not to nervously anticipate this new experience. I worried that Rufus would resist and would have to be tranquilized, or traumatized. Despite my good intentions, I haven't been able to handle his back feet. He kicks hard when I try to pick them up, which scares me and discourages me from trying, so I couldn't imagine how the farrier would be able to trim them.
The farrier had me hold Rufus firmly by the halter, and had the first front hoof trimmed so fast Rufus and I were caught off guard. Rufus resisted some, but the farrier just had me hold him firmly in place, and he got both front feet done quick. I had hoped to watch his technique so I could learn how to do it, but all my attention was given to holding Rufus who decided that if he couldn't stand on all four feet, I could support him. I was a donkey prop.
The back feet weren't so easy to do. Rufus jumped and squirmed and jerked his leg back and forth so hard I was surprised the man was able to hold on without dislocating his shoulder. No wonder I haven't been able to do that! He finally asked me how I felt about an "ear twitch." He said with horses you can twist their upper lip and they will hold still. With donkeys, their ears are most sensitive, so he showed me how to hold Rufus's head, and twist the base of his ear a little. I felt awful, but I did it anyway, just a little. It worked too. He stopped kicking and the farrier quickly trimmed his hoof. I had to twist his ear for the other back foot too, although I tried not to twist very much and let up as soon as he stopped kicking. Poor Rufus.
My regret is that I haven't been able to train Rufus to hold still while his feet are handled, but despite having to resort to holding his ears hostage, I'm glad he was trimmed. We had already waited too long. I noticed a bad smell while the farrier was working on his back feet. Hooves that are dirty and wet, and don't get enough attention, get infections. The farrier didn't say anything was wrong, but he recommended that he get trimmed every two months, and everything I've read says I'm supposed to clean out his hooves with a pick at least every week, if not every day. In six months, I haven't cleaned his back hooves a single time. I will renew my commitment to hoof care, and hopefully the next time I won't have to twist his poor ears. Thankfully, Rufus doesn't seem to hold it against me.
Can you see the cedar tree fence posts that Brandon installed yesterday? They look just like trees that grew there naturally, but with the branches sawed off. Brandon is on spring break this week, and his plan is to divide our pasture with some interior fencing that will allow the goats and the donkey to each have their own yard attached to their stall, with gates to the big pasture. This will allow me to manage who gets access to the grass, without having to keep anyone confined to their stalls. Brandon said the cedar posts, which he recently harvested, were super heavy and hard to work with since the bases were bigger than the size hole the post hole diggers or auger make. He got a good workout wrestling these heavy posts.