Pancho Gets A Pedicure

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My brother-in-law Jim took a look at Pancho the Donkey’s legs last Saturday evening while visiting. “We need to trim his hooves,” he said and promised to return the next afternoon with his trimming equipment and some fence panels to build a temporary pen. We would have to hem Pancho up to perform this process. Neither a donkey nor a horse is going to just stand there and let someone mess with their hooves.

Pancho is on permanent loan from Jim, who knows about equine issues. He showed up with his trailer and toolbox with trimming tools. Using the three-sided shed that provides Pancho shelter (and which he rarely uses, preferring to stand under trees during a storm), he created a temporary pen. The trick would be persuading Pancho to go inside it.

The key enticements are food and females. Pancho is quite fond of granola bars, carrots and apples, and he is delighted whenever my Beautiful Mystery Companion or daughter Abbie come to visit, bearing treats. Abbie stuck a piece of a granola bar under Pancho’s nose and slowly backed into the pen. Pancho dutifully followed until Jim was able to shut the panel. The team went to work.

I decided my best course of action was to document this event and hand over treats out of the feed bucket from outside the pen when ordered to do so. Jim slipped a halter over Pancho’s head and handed the lead rope to my BMC. Her job was to keep him distracted with the treats. Meanwhile, Abbie was handed a crookneck wooden cane, with which to lift up Pancho’s hoof and put it on a circular metal stand, so Jim could clip and file his hooves. An equine pedicure, as it were.

Donkeys’ hooves need to be trimmed regularly. Take it from Martha Stewart, who wrote in a 2020 blog: Their hooves are constantly growing, and they support the entire weight of a donkey’s body, so if left unmaintained, they can split or get too long causing uneven strides and soreness. If Pancho regularly walked on concrete, his hooves would self-trim, but he is strictly a pasture donkey.

Abbie was quite the sight, in her shorts, Hunter rubber boots, Buc-ee’s T-shirt, wearing a Kelly Tractor gimme cap, her immaculately manicured, bright-yellow nails gleaming in the sunlight as she hung tightly on the cane, trying to keep Pancho’s leg still as Jim worked. My BMC tightly held on to the rope and steadily fed Pancho treats to keep him distracted. I took photographs.

Few donkeys or horses tolerate someone messing with their back hooves. That is an invitation to get kicked. Fortunately, Pancho was relatively calm, only balking a few times as Jim trimmed his hooves with a thick clipper, and then filed them away. This is clearly a three-person job, made easier since Pancho is by nature a friendly, affectionate creature who gallops toward us anytime we show up. Still, a few times he resisted and tried to pull his leg down off the stand. Abbie held on to the cane and dug her boots into the sand.

At last the job was done. Pancho bolted out of the pen and promptly rolled around in the dirt a few times, glorying in his freedom. Then he graciously accepted another granola bar from my BMC and went off to graze in peace.

Meanwhile Jim invited Abbie to slowly drive the tractor while he sprayed herbicide on the fence lines. I had spent the previous two days mowing as closely to the fences as possible. I believe we might make a farm girl out of her yet. She didn’t break a single nail during this entire process.

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